Friday, December 7, 2012

Museum of Modern Art adds video games to its collection

Concept art from a pending PC/Mac/Wii U RPG

Few things in the art community can start a fight quite like asking whether something is considered art or not.  Cliched as the expression might be, "...but is it art?" has ended its fair share of friendships, tenure track positions, and internet romances (probably).

The debate about what does and doesn't fit in with the definition of art has reached a fevered pitch over the past few days, as news broke that MoMA would be adding 14 video games to their collection as art.  Of the 14 games selected for the launch of the curation, MoMA's Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the department of architecture and design at MoMA, chose classic titles like Tetris and Pac Man as well as newer offerings like PortalEVE Online, and Katamari Damacy round out the collection.  All games were released between 1980 and 2009

Antonelli notes that this is just the beginning of MoMA's acquisitions and it seems likely that other seminal titles like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers would likely follow.

This flies in the face of the traditional (read: outdated) assessment of video games as an artistic medium.  In 2010, Roger Ebert famously declared that video games can never be art which bespeaks of a complete and utter lack of familiarity with the medium.

Is it Art? Maybe, maybe not, but I'll never forget that moment in FFXI...

Setting aside the emotional ties that many gamers form with their games of choice, the sheer amount of art and design that goes into making modern games is nothing short of staggering.  To claim that video games "can never be art" is as closeminded as it is invective.

...and it's nice to see MoMA add "wrong" to that list as well.

MoMA plans to expand the exhibit to include "about 40" video games in the future.  Here's to hoping that at least one Final Fantasy makes its way onto that list.