When you think of the word “art”, what comes to your mind? Picassso, painting, drawing, Michelangelo, photography, and….video games? Most people would probably not associate that last term with art. But the truth is, video games are being acknowledged as an art form. In fact, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is so convinced of this that it is currently hosting an exhibit called “The Art of Video Games”.
The Smithsonian’s increasingly popular exhibit features about four decades worth of video games. It displays games created in the 1970’s and 1980’s, such as Space Invaders, Pac Man, Combat, Super Mario, and Pitfall, and later games such as Heavy Rain. The exhibit is interactive, and most people come not to observe, but to play. “The Art of Video Games” has been such a smash success that there are plans for it to move to 10 other cities.
One of the reasons the Smithsonian decided to acknowledge video games as works of art is the sheer prevalence of them in the modern world. Betsy Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, pointed out that up to 6 million copies of a single video game have sold in just one day. Obviously, there is something unique about video games that captures people, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum wanted to find out what that was and expose it.
But what is it about video games that is so artistic? To find the answer to this question, begin by considering the games’ images. “Indeed, when you look at some of the images from games, they can resemble moving paintings, from abstract to figurative to landscapes.” There are probably dozens of artistic features in your favorite video games; it is just a matter of recognizing them.
The intense creative process that must take place for a video game to be born is another validation of a game’s artistic nature. After all, art is always the product of some type of creative work, no matter how simple or intricate. In the case of video games, the process of creation tends to be quite complex.
By creating “The Art of Video Games” exhibit, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is challenging people everywhere to open their minds and hearts to the possibility of new art forms. The droves of people that are visiting the exhibit are proving that they believe video games are works of art — do you?
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