Which video games deserve to be honored for their art? Heavy Rain or Final Fantasy? Grim Fandango or Fallout? In the Smithsonian's upcoming "The Art of Video Games" exhibition, gamers decide which titles make the cut.
"The Art of Video Games" is an ambitious exhibition launching at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. in March of 2012. It's goal is to explore 40 years of the evolution of video games as an art form, and for many it could be the final nail in the coffin of the tired 'are video games art?' debate.
But how do you narrow down the tens of thousands of games that have come out over the past 40 years into one manageable exhibit? Simple. You let the gamers decide.
"Playing video games involves many personal choices, so, in keeping with the spirit of the
exhibition's content, we want to involve the public in helping us select games for the exhibition," said
Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in an official press release.
Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and video game collector will be acting as the curator of the exhibit. He helped out by narrowing down the choices to 280 games spanning five different eras, from the Atari 2600 to the Xbox 360, by merit of graphic excellence, artistic intent and innovative game design. Each era is broken down into systems and genres. Once Melissinos made his decisions they were approved by a board of industry professionals including developers, designers, and members of the gaming press.
"I want this exhibition to include the collective voice of the video game world, which is not limited to the developers, designers and artists but also the game players," said Melissinos. "It is important to me that when gamers visit the exhibition, they find the experiences that most matter to them."
That sounds perfectly acceptable to me.
When the dust clears, 80 video games will represent four decades of video games as art, so choose carefully.
To cast your vote, head over to the Art of Video Games voting page, where your email address is all you need to have your voice heard. Voting kicks off today and runs until April 7, with the results posted online in May. The exhibition is scheduled to run from March 16 to September 30, 2012, giving you plenty of time to plan a trip to D.C. to see this living monument to the art of gaming.