As reported in The Wall Street Journal:
The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington will showcase more than 80 videogames in “The Art of Video Games,” one of the first major shows to explore the artistic power of the medium. Games—from 1970s “Space Invaders” to recent offerings like “Flower” in 2009—are featured for their visuals, narratives and music, as well as their reflection of world events and popular culture.
The show, which will travel to 10 other U.S. venues, includes still images, video, playable games and a piece called “Gamers”—clips of players talking to the screen or reacting with emotion. In a nod to the interactive nature of the medium, voters from 175 countries cast 3.7 million ballots to narrow down the selection of games, which are grouped by themes such as action and tactics. The show is meant for a general audience and attempts to avoid violence and gore.
Artistically powerful certainly, many of these early games have achieved iconic status in the global visual culture. And their popularity continues to grow.
Currently 183 million Americans play – 25 percent over age 50. What’s behind the fascination? The games have become more realistic, more engaging, more hypnotic…a siren song luring us into alternate realities that are infinitely more attractive than our mundane lives.
Yale professor Paul Bloom, author of “How Pleasure Works,” points out that Americans find many products of the imagination – games, movies, TV – more interesting than real life.
A powerful art form indeed, one that combines the art of the illustrator with the art of the storyteller, transporting the player to an alternate universe.