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A New Exhibition At The Smithsonian Celebrates The Art Of Videogames

The sprawling survey includes 80 videogames created for 20 gaming systems, from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation 3.

  • <p>Bioshock. Ken Levine, creative director and <br />
executive producer; Paul Hellquist, lead designer; <br />
Dean Tate, senior designer and artist; Scott Sinclair, <br />
art director, Microsoft XBox 360, 2007.</p>
  • <p>Earthworm Jim. Doug TenNapel, original concept, <br />
character designer and voice actor; Tommy Tallarico, <br />
composer; Steve Crow, lead artist; David Luehmann, <br />
producer, SEGA Genesis, 1994.</p>
  • <p>lOw. Jenova Chen, Nicholas Clark, game design, <br />
Modern Windows, 2006.</p>
  • <p>Flower. Jenova Chen, creative director; John <br />
Edwards, lead engineer. Developed by <br />
thatgamecompany, LLC, Playstation 3, 2009.</p>
  • <p>Heavy Rain. David Cage, writer and director, <br />
Playstation 3, 2010.</p>
  • <p>Marble Madness. Mark Cerny, Steve Lamb, <br />
SEGA Master System, 1992.</p>
  • <p>MassEffect 2. Casey Hudson, director;  Mac <br />
Walters, Drew Karpyshyn, writers; Casey Hudson, <br />
producer, Microsoft XBox 360, 2010.</p>
  • <p>Minecraft. Designed by Markus Persson, Modern Windows, <br />
2009.</p>
  • <p>Pitfall! Designed by David Crane, Atari VCS, 1982.</p>
  • <p>Super Mario Brothers 3. Shigeru Miyamoto, <br />
Takashi Tezuka, Hiroshi Yamauchi, directors; Satoru <br />
Iwata, executive producer; Konji Kondo, composer, <br />
Nintendo Entertainment System, 1990.</p>
  • <p>Tomb Raider. Jeremy H. Smith, executive <br />
producer; Toby Gard, Heather Gibson, Neal Boyd, <br />
graphic artists; Jason Gosling, Paul Douglas, Gavin <br />
Rummery, programmers, SEGA Saturn, 1996.</p>
  • 01 /11

    Bioshock. Ken Levine, creative director and
    executive producer; Paul Hellquist, lead designer;
    Dean Tate, senior designer and artist; Scott Sinclair,
    art director, Microsoft XBox 360, 2007.

  • 02 /11

    Earthworm Jim. Doug TenNapel, original concept,
    character designer and voice actor; Tommy Tallarico,
    composer; Steve Crow, lead artist; David Luehmann,
    producer, SEGA Genesis, 1994.

  • 03 /11

    lOw. Jenova Chen, Nicholas Clark, game design,
    Modern Windows, 2006.

  • 04 /11

    Flower. Jenova Chen, creative director; John
    Edwards, lead engineer. Developed by
    thatgamecompany, LLC, Playstation 3, 2009.

  • 05 /11

    Heavy Rain. David Cage, writer and director,
    Playstation 3, 2010.

  • 06 /11

    Marble Madness. Mark Cerny, Steve Lamb,
    SEGA Master System, 1992.

  • 07 /11

    MassEffect 2. Casey Hudson, director; Mac
    Walters, Drew Karpyshyn, writers; Casey Hudson,
    producer, Microsoft XBox 360, 2010.

  • 08 /11

    Minecraft. Designed by Markus Persson, Modern Windows,
    2009.

  • 09 /11

    Pitfall! Designed by David Crane, Atari VCS, 1982.

  • 10 /11

    Super Mario Brothers 3. Shigeru Miyamoto,
    Takashi Tezuka, Hiroshi Yamauchi, directors; Satoru
    Iwata, executive producer; Konji Kondo, composer,
    Nintendo Entertainment System, 1990.

  • 11 /11

    Tomb Raider. Jeremy H. Smith, executive
    producer; Toby Gard, Heather Gibson, Neal Boyd,
    graphic artists; Jason Gosling, Paul Douglas, Gavin
    Rummery, programmers, SEGA Saturn, 1996.

This time last year, the Smithsonian Art Museum invited the public to help select the videogames to be featured in an upcoming exhibition. The overwhelming response temporarily brought down the institutions’s server. By the end of the polling period, 3.7 million votes were cast by 119,000 people in 175 countries—and the top picks are now on view in the new exhibition titled "The Art of Video Games," a look at how the medium has evolved and infiltrated pop culture over the last 40 years.

The show’s central premise is that, despite Roger Ebert’s protests, videogames constitute an art form, one that—like film, animation, and performance—invites audiences to enter imagined worlds. According to the museum’s press release, the exhibition "focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology, and storytelling," with 80 videogames created for 20 gaming systems, from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation 3. Aside from still images and video projections of the games themselves, the galleries contain video interviews with developers and artists and historic game consoles.

Heavy Rain, 2010

But the fun part of videogames is playing them, right? The interactive component isn’t lost on the curator, Chris Melissinos, the chief gaming officer for Sun Microsystems and founder of Past Pixels: Visitors can sample four games, one from each era, including Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Myst and Flower. We shudder to think of the full-on fights that will likely ensue among gaming geeks jockeying for position at those precious few consoles.

"The Art of Video Games" is open until September 30, after which it will travel to 10 more U.S. cities. Admission is free; go here for more info.

Tomb Raider, 1996

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Courtesy 2K Games, Inc., and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.; 02 / © 1994 Interplay Entertainment Corp.; 03 / Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC; 04 / Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC; 05 / Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC; 07 / © 2010 Electronic Arts, Inc. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.; 08 / © Notch Development AB; 09 / Activision Publishing; 10 / Nintendo of America, Inc.; 11 / © 1996 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.;