The world of video games is about to make another step towards mainstream acceptance on a nationwide scale: The renowned Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. is preparing to host an exhibit entitled “The Art of Video Games.” This is slated to run from March 16 to Sept. 30, 2012.
“The Art of Video Games” is set to feature 80 games in the final exhibit, but the Smithsonian staff is interestingly not doing the selection process. They are allowing the public to vote to determine which video games make the cut. The Smithsonian has already whittled the countless games released in the last 40 years down to a total of 240.
For the sake of constricting voting to one per person, prospective voters must register to vote. The daunting task of voting on hundreds of games is made easier by the grouping which the Smithsonian has instituted, which organizes games by genre and era.
The only caveat to this excellent opportunity to help create a Smithsonian exhibit honoring the long-ignored video game medium is that voters are supposed to choose games based only on their artistic merit and use of technology; it is a significant omission that story and gameplay don’t factor into the voting process, as these are, arguably, the two most important parts of a video game.
This is a monumental advancement for video games nonetheless. This is a very important happening because of the implications it has toward the acceptance of video games in modern, mainstream society. Video games have come a long way from Roger Ebert’s infamous quote: “Video games cannot be art.” This statement once gave anti-video game activists the ammunition they needed to criticize violence, lack of educational value and, most of all, lack of artistic value in video games.
The fact that the Smithsonian, one of the most respected institutions in America, is proclaiming from a national podium that video games are, indeed, art quashes these sentiments easily. Although gamers have known video games to be worthy of the title “art” for some time, society as a whole is just starting to see the emergence of video games as a driving force in today’s media and art worlds.
Video games used to just be something that “nerds” took a part of, but now it is uncommon to find someone who hasn’t ever played a video game. Readers of the Herald can also see this transition into the realm of art as they read this column on video games in the “ArtsEtc.” section.
Readers interested in taking part in the selection process should head over to http://www.americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games to place their votes. Voting began Feb. 14 and goes until April 7. Video games are finally getting their artistic due, and gamers have the chance to take part in this historic moment. It would be a shame to let it slip away.
Regen McCracken is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Any questions or comments can be directed to [email protected].