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The above image is from the 1982 title Microsurgeon, one of the many that are getting nods from an unsuspected group of people — museum curators. Reaching beyond the  much exhausted ‘Video Games As Art And Culture’ argument, this fine group of people essentially says “yes, video games are and they deserve to be appreciated as such.”

More than just talk, they back it up by opening up museum exhibitions like those found in Germany and Rochester, N.Y. Now, gamers can add two more to their list of places to visit — the mecca of the gaming world San Francisco, Calif., and Washington D.C. Unlike the fun-to-say-three-times Computerspiele (Berlin) and hard to find ICHEG (Rochester), the two new exhibits are treating games like they are supposed to be treated — for the gamers.

The San Francisco Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE) is on a mission, one that posits “[a]ll exhibits should be playable: games are to be played, not viewed from afar or watched on video.” This is a far cry from the antique-roadshow slant of other game museums. According to MADE’s director, Alex Handy, this will be one of the many features of this unique space housing items from his own personal collection as well as those of others.

MADE is still in the development stage and plans on getting its start with traveling exhibits and social events. Handy gives the museum 15 years before it is fully ramped. By that time, he hopes it will be as big as the Guggenheim.

More than 2,000 miles across the country, a heavy hitter in the museum scene is creating its own video game exhibit which it plans on unveiling March 16, 2012. For a little more than six months, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will host The Art of Video Games. Since we’re throwing numbers around — approximately 42,000 people from all over the world visit this particular museum per month according to the Smithsonian. That means nearly 250,000 people will enrich their cultural sensibilities with video games.

What’s even more significant is the fact gamers get to vote on what games are shown to these 250,000 through a special website. Games are broken down into five eras (Start!, 8-Bit, Bit Wars!, Transition and Next Generation) and touch upon all the main consoles from the Atari VCS to the Playstation 3. You’ll be surprised by what games the Smithsonian is considering.

If ever video games are considered art, then they are part of a culture. For us as gamers to consider ourselves part of this culture, there is a mighty imperative that we participate in any way we can, whether if its volunteering to bolster a museum by gamers for gamers, or voting for your favorite games. Shameless plug or reach at dynamic journalism, I peppered this article with screenshots of some of the games I voted for. See below for more.

  1. avatar Sanders

    Ok….what you have hear is really more videogame art than videogames *as* art. There’s a big distinction.

    Really though it all comes down to how you define ‘art’, and if there’s no definitive answer to that (and I don’t think there ever will be) I don’t think the discussion is worth having. I agree that games are art, but that’s because they fit within my own rather broad definition.

    • avatar FreshestWun

      Dude, video game art are images (drawings, render screens, etc.) and music. Video games as art is exactly what homie is talking about — video games that should be played in the exhibit. MADE. Did you even read it?

      The fact that gamers get to vote for Smithsonian exhibit is dope, too. I don’t know what ur talking about.

  2. avatar Bolo

    Hey, calm down, guys. They’re not even having the argument. They’re ‘Moving On.’ I dig the whole thing. Intrigued by the moving art exhibit. MADE, come to Ohio!

  3. Art is in the eye of the beholder. By nature, it is subjective.

    When paintings on cave walls were cool enough, they became art.

    When storytelling became cool enough, it became “the art of storytelling”.

    When music was cool enough that people would go through the effort to record it, singers became “musical artists”.

    After the 1920s, when film was popularized, movies became “the art of filmmaking”.

    Games haven’t gotten mainstream enough yet for the masses to call it art.

    Throughout history, you had naysayers of art, calling all of the above “not art” through some sort of restrictive criterion they made up on the spot. The whole point of art is that there are no boundaries. I know Francisco dodged a bullet here (rightfully so!) on purpose, but if FreshestWun thinks video games are art – they’re art.

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