Sometime during the last couple years, you may have heard about “The Art of Video Games,” an exhibit which “identifies video games as a new mode of creative expression.” It had a temporary stay in 2012 and is now on tour around the country. It’s pretty cool that video games are being publicly appreciated in that way, even if it’s only for a limited time, right? Actually, it gets better. The Smithsonian American Art Museum has decided to start permanently inducting games into its collection.

Flower and former Microsoft employee Ed Fries’ Halo 2600 are to be the first video games accepted into the art collection. Flower is described as presenting “an entirely new kind of physical and virtual choreography unfolding in real time” while Halo 2600 is said to compress the essence of the high-tech Halo franchise “into just 4K of RAM, creatively reversing the dramatic evolution that video games have experienced during the past four decades.”

Here are the descriptions as well as the pictures provided:

Flower represents an important moment in the development of interactivity and art. This innovative game puts the player in an unusual role—the wind—and uses minimal controls to create an emotional, immersive experience of the landscape which changes in response to the player’s actions. Conceived as an “interactive poem” in response to tensions between urban and rural space, Chen and Santiago imagine an unexplored land for the player to discover. Flower presents an entirely new kind of physical and virtual choreography unfolding in real time, one that invites participants to weave aural, visual and tactile sensations into an emotional arc rather than a narrative one. While visually beautiful, Flower also demonstrates the importance of the interactive component. The work cannot be fully appreciated through still images or video clips; the art happens when the game is played.”

Halo, a series of popular science fiction games begun in 2001, has become a phenomenon with millions of players worldwide captivated by the multifaceted narrative and sophisticated graphics. In Halo 2600, Fries recreated Halo for the 1977 Atari VCS (more commonly known as the Atari 2600), distilling the essence of the action game to its elemental parts while also paying homage to the classic elegance of early game design. The resulting experience compresses the complex, contemporary game into just 4K of RAM, creatively reversing the dramatic evolution that video games have experienced during the past four decades. Commonly referred to as a “de-make,” Halo 2600 deconstructs the gamers’ visual and virtual experience and returns game play to its most basic mechanics. Through Halo 2600, Fries illustrates the ever-changing relationship between technology and creativity.”

The Smithsonian promises to “continue to acquire works that explore and articulate the unique boundaries of video games as an art form.”

Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum via ThatGameCompany

Our Verdict

Barry Herbers
I write editorials here at Gamnesia and occasionally some news (though far less often than I used to). Here's some of my work, long-form game essays, if you have any interest in that sort of stuff: The Amount of Content in a Game Has Nothing to do with its Price A Game's Atmosphere is Defined by its Mechanics, Not its Aesthetic The Witcher 3's Introduction is Terribly Paced and Too Restrictive of its Players I'm looking forward to The Last Guardian (had it pre-ordered since 2010), Rime, Night in the Woods, and Vane. If I had a niche, it would probably be the somewhat higher fidelity indie games, as take up most of the spots on that list. I'm also developing a no-budget video game with a friend, and you can follow me on Twitter (@TheVioletBarry) to hear about that and anything else I feel like saying. Film, games, it's that sort of stuff.


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