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The Smithsonian Has Picked the Games of Its Art of Video Games Exhibit

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum revealed the winners of its public vote to decide what games will be featured in their exhibit, The Art of Video Games, today. The exhibit creates a visual history of the evolution of gaming from its humble beginnings through the present. The vote, which took place between February and April, helped to pick the majority of the exhibit, with only a few iconic selections guaranteed entry.

The games are split into five eras, each focusing on a generation of gaming. The Smithsonian was egalitarian in its selection, leaving very few consoles unrepresented. (Sorry, Jaguar!) Each game was selected to represent the gameplay and artistic style of its generation.


Their classification of games doesn't exactly match the classifications made by gamers. Fable and Shenmue are "adventure" games, Sim City represents strategy games, and so on. Both shumps and dungeon crawlers share the "Target" category, because they all revolve around players selecting a target and (generally) pressing a single button. Certain genres bounce around: Doom II is an action game, while Goldeneye is a "target" game. While these generalizations might seem abnormal to some, putting an emphasis on how much games have evolved in forty years shows many of these games in a different light.

Want to see if your all-time favorite game made the cut? Here's an alphabetical list of all the games featured in the exhibit.

  • 1943: The Battle of Midway
  • Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
  • After Burner
  • Attack of the Mutant Camels
  • Bioshock
  • Boom Blox
  • Brütal Legend
  • ChuChu Rocket!
  • Combat®
  • Desert Commander
  • Diablo II
  • Donkey Kong™
  • Dune II: Battle for Arrakis
  • Earthworm Jim
  • Einhander
  • Fable
  • Fallout
  • Fallout 3
  • Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • flOw
  • Flower
  • Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
  • Goldeneye 007
  • Gradius V
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Halo 2
  • Heavy Rain
  • Jumpman
  • Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II
  • Marble Madness
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echos
  • Minecraft
  • Myst
  • Okami
  • Pac-Man
  • Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei
  • Panzer Dragoon Orta
  • Panzer Dragoon Saga
  • Phantasy Star
  • Phantasy Star IV
  • Pikmin 2
  • Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
  • Pitfall!
  • Portal
  • Rez
  • Shadow of Colossus
  • Shenmue
  • Sid Meier's Pirates!
  • SimCity
  • SimCity 2000
  • Sonic Adventure
  • Space Invaders
  • Spy vs Spy
  • Star Fox™
  • Star Fox™: Assault
  • Star Strike
  • Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
  • StarCraft
  • Super Mario 64
  • Super Marios Brothers
  • Super Mario Brothers 3
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Super Mario World
  • The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Walker
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • The Secret of Monkey Island
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
  • Tomb Raider
  • TRON: Maze-Atron
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
  • Utopia
  • World of Warcraft
  • Worms Armageddon
  • Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
  • Zaxxon

Looking at the list, some of the games chosen are obvious shoo-ins: Mario 3, Metal Gear Solid, and Bioshock, to name a few. Others—Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 and Metroid Prime 2—for instance, are more interesting. Certain series are very well represented: Zelda, Mario, Panzer Dragoon.

Tim Schaffer isn't a game series, per se, but he is very well represented here too.

Though the games of the exhibit have been unveiled, the installation is far from complete. The Smithsonian plans to open "The Art of Video Games" on March 16th, 2012, with the exhibit running from March through September.