MoMA Says Games Are Art, Bitches!

by CulturalGeekGirl, last updated 17 Jan 2013 22:30


Updated: Now with 100% More John Hodgman.

Today on his Tumblr, John Hodgman was asked the question: Are Video games art?

He responded with the best definition of art I have ever seen.

The answer is: obviously. The only question about art is: does it occupy space that previously had been empty, having been summoned out of nothingness by imagination, and presented for your trouble and distraction, and does it have a portal gun in it?

This only serves to reinforce and confirm MoMA's earlier assessment, which filled me with such glee.

the Museum of Modern Art has a video game collection. It's official. Games are art.

/drops mic

/picks up mic, dusts it off a bit, clears throat.

Ok, so here's the list… and I think it shows that MoMA has a lot of the same ideas as I do about games as art. Very different kinds of art.

• 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)

Pac-Man is art in the classic Pixel art and music way. Tetris too. Myst is about art, music and story. Vib-ribbon gives us another way to interact with music. Sim city and the sims give us a different perspective on life and civilization. Eve is a new context in which to play out human drama. Dwarf fortress is about generating events on which to hang a story. Portal is movement in space plus well-written character drama. You get the idea.

You do also get a lot of "meaningful movement through beautiful pixel space" here, and I don't think that's a bad thing. A painting you can dance through is one of the most accessible ways you can expose someone who isn't familiar with games to their artistic qualities. I'm also going to have to make sure I play the games in here I'm not as familiar with… they're in startlingly good company.

This collection looks like a very good start, from where I'm standing. I'm a little sad that it isn't going up until after the holidays, because I would really, really like to visit this gallery arcade and bask in the juxtaposition of fun, technology, and the purported sophistication of modern art.

Oh… one more vindication of my previous hubristic ranting?

Games were selected by the curator of architecture and design.


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