New York's Museum of Modern Art to Celebrate Video Games

Games as art. International art museum to celebrate video games from Pac-Man to EVE Online.

One would assume that the Venn diagram displaying art lovers and video games players would find the intersecting demographic to be a rare breed. However, they are a group of people for whom MoMA aims to cater, with its planned exhibition showcasing video games as art.

The selection of games chosen for the initial installation in March 2013 may be a surprise for some – with classic titles like Pac-Man and Tetris sitting side by side with more modern games such as Dwarf Fortress and Portal. Clearly this is about more than just visual aesthetics.

The curious choice of titles becomes slightly more clear when the selection criteria is explained. Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of MoMA's Department of Architecture and Design explains that the 14 chosen games have been selected as “outstanding examples of interaction design.” In the article, Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters, Antonelli explains that many parameters were considered, such as the use of available technology and the inventiveness of design, as well as how player behaviours were encouraged and what emotions would be elicited.

Before the internet pitchfork brigade starts to lobby for the inclusion of their favourite game, Antonelli gave this explanation, “Because of the tight filter we apply to any category of objects in MoMA’s collection, our selection does not include some immensely popular video games that might have seemed like no-brainers to video game historians.”

Many more video games are planned once installation of the first 14 are complete, but here is the initial list.

  • Pac-Man (1980)
  • Tetris (1984)
  • Another World (1991)
  • Myst (1993)
  • SimCity 2000 (1994)
  • vib-ribbon (1999)
  • The Sims (2000)
  • Katamari Damacy (2004)
  • EVE Online (2003)
  • Dwarf Fortress (2006)
  • Portal (2007)
  • flOw (2006)
  • Passage (2008)
  • Canabalt (2009)

In many cases, the original game and supporting technology will be displayed for visitors to sample, but in the case of grander concepts like EVE Online, an interactive element would not accurately portray the subject matter, so publishers will be invited to provide a “guided tour”, to which CCP Games has invited the EVE community to contribute on 9 December.  

The exhibition will be open to the public in March 2013 in MoMA's Philip Johnson Galleries.

Featured Columnist

Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.

Published Dec. 10th 2012

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