Video games get proper recognition as art

The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) is installing 14 video games as exhibits, meaning you can go to the museum and play these games.  Starting with the most important note:  Yes, Tetris is one of the first fourteen games going in, so they can be reasonably trusted to have some clue how to figure out what games are important.  (Tetris is the best game.) As far as I know, reasonable people no longer defend the premise that video games aren't an art form, but it's cool that some of the best games are getting the formal recognition they deserve within the larger art community, rather than only among the gamer community.

From Slate:

How will the video games, which necessitate personal human interaction to be fully experienced, be exhibited for the masses? MoMA says that visitors will be able to play the entirety of short games and experience “interactive demonstrations” or emulations of longer and older games. As for the complex universes of games like Dwarf Fortress andEVE Online, MoMA claims it will provide “guided tours of these alternate worlds.”

MoMA is defining the medium that games take place in as the code -- which seems to me to be a good way to categorize it.  They consider the playability of a game to be its essential component, the thing that distinguishes video games, not just as an art form, but as their own art form.  Slate points out that this differs from arguments that video games are art in that they consist of narratives.  It also differs from the point made by Penny Arcade that the collected works of art that go into creating a video game are what make it art ("If a hundred artists create art for five years, how could the result not be art?) -- so, pixel art isn't what earns the video game its status.

Boing Boing posted a list of the 14 games going in to begin with, alongside their years of publication -- the starting number for a collection aiming at 40 games:

  • Pac-Man (1980)
  • Tetris (1984)
  • Another World (1991)
  • Myst (1993)
  • SimCity 2000 (1994)
  • vib-ribbon (1999)
  • The Sims (2000)
  • Katamari Damacy (2004)
  • EVE Online (2003)
  • Dwarf Fortress (2006)
  • Portal (2007)
  • flOw (2006)
  • Passage (2008)
  • Canabalt (2009)

Emphases mine.  Bold=games I've never played.  Italics=games I've never heard of.  I think I've got some reading up to do.

And congratulations to MoMA for making the right decision and including Tetris in the initial selection.