The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has deemed video games worthy of artistic appreciation and preservation. While, of course, the artistic value of games would never be contested by the geek world, there would be those who would claim that games are simply a waste of time and brain power. It’s gratifying to have an authority in modern art validate those artistic claims, and to have them preserve it for future generations.
The collection begins with a selection of 14 video games to be installed in March 2013 in the Museum’s Philip Johnson Galleries. These are:
- Pac Man
- Another World
- SimCity 2000
- The Sims
- Katamari Damacy
- EVE Online
- Dwarf Fortress
Now I’m going to stop you before you stomp your feet in outrage and demand why your favourite and most respected video game hasn’t made the list. This collection isn’t about the popularity, or even success of the games. It’s about what the museum is about: design. The games have been carefully curated in consultation with scholars, legal and digital conservation experts, critics and historians. They’re looking to the elegance of the coding, to the behavior of the game, to the time scale within the game and in reality. There are a number of factors involved that have led to this list.
It’s also not the be-all and end-all of the list. Over the next few years, MoMA hopes to expand the collection to include many other games. Including the 14 above, 40 are on their current “wish list” to be acquired in the near future.
The games will each have a customized display according to the specific characteristics of the game. Some will be available for full gameplay, if the game is short and simple enough to do so. Others will exhibit playable portions, while others will be displayed as a demo video, or a sort of guided tour through the game world.
While this isn’t a new category for us, it is for the art curation world. It is proof that geekdom is no longer a scoff-worthy world.
Today, the MoMA; tomorrow, the world.