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Art-cade: Super Mario Bros. and Other Video Game Classics to Become MoMA Exhibition

New York's Museum of Modern Art announces video games are art, and adds 14 titles to their collection.

Back in the day when I was hopping on mushrooms and stomping on turtles in Super Mario Bros., I would have never imagined my cherished video game would one day be deemed "art." Nor would I have thought it would be exhibited in one of the most prestigious museums in the world.

Today, New York's Museum of Modern Art announced that it has acquired 14 video games including Pac-Man, Tetris, The Sims, and Another World for their esteemed collection of art and design objects. And over the next few years, they hope to add nearly 40 additional titles like Spacewar!, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter, and Minecraft, to that list.

To come up with their list, the museum took a number of criteria into consideration, which, they say, may explain why some of the popular games one might expect to be included, are not. "As with all other design objects in MoMA’s collection, from posters to chairs to cars to fonts, curators seek a combination of historical and cultural relevance, aesthetic expression, functional and structural soundness, innovative approaches to technology and behavior, and a successful synthesis of materials and techniques in achieving the goal set by the initial program."

The move is significant for art and art history, simply because the MoMA has not only included these games in their collectionwith an exhibition scheduled for Spring, 2013but have declared video games an entirely new category of art. They elaborate on their website:

Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity. Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects—from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior—that pertain to interaction design.


So hold onto your copy of Dance Dance Revolution, it might just end up in a museum one day.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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