VIDEO GAMES AT THE MOMA!
With video games making their way to museums around the world, New York’s Museum of Modern Art provides the latest proof that they are now enjoying proper art form status, and that my mother is not always right. This past Friday, the art institution premiered a permanent video game expo in the Philip Johnson gallery.
Tetris, Pac-Man and the Sims are just a few of the classic games that will be housed inside a building that also displays works by Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Frida Kahlo. And though some may question whether video games are even art, the museum is incorporating the games into its Applied Design installation.
MoMA consulted scholars, digital experts, historians, and critics to select games for the gallery based on their aesthetic quality – including the programming language used to create them. MoMA’s senior curator for architecture and design, Paola Antonelli, said the material used to create games is important in the same way the wood used to create a stool is.
With that as the focus, games are presented in their original formats, absent the consoles that often define them. Some will be playable with controllers, and more complex, long-running games like SimCity 2000 are presented as specially designed walkthroughs and demos.
MoMA’s curatorial team tailored controls especially for each of the playable games, including a customized joystick created for the Tetris game.
Some of the older games, which might have fragile or rare cartridges, will be displayed as “interactive emulation”, with a programmer translating the game code to something that will work on a newer computer system.
The museum has acquired 14 games out of its approximately 40 game wish list, which includes Pong and the original version of Snake (pre-Nokia phone).
The 14 games acquired from the wishlist include:
• Another World
• SimCity 2000
• The Sims
• Katamari Damacy (Hours of FUN!)
• EVE Online
• Dwarf Fortress
They hope to eventually acquire: Spacewar, an assortment of games for the Magnavox Odyssey console, Pong, Snake, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Zork, Tempest, Donkey Kong, Yars’ Revenge, M.U.L.E., Core War, Marble Madness, Super Mario Bros, the Legend of Zelda, NetHack, Street Fighter II, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario 64, Grim Fandango, Animal Crossing, and Minecraft.
I’ll wait till Street Fighter arrives and gladly drop my quarter next to the joystick.