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.

A whole new kind of 3D image

(via Boing Boing) Some of technological advancement is stuff like confirming the existence of the Higgs Boson, studying the fabric that gives particles mass and making huge leaps in the most basic levels of understanding -- or, getting a vehicle the size of a Mini Cooper to land on the surface of another planet intact and send high-resolution photos.

But sometimes, technology is some people figuring out clever uses for old knowledge, maybe noticing that we can do something now just because we have refined enough tools, that we always could have imagined, but didn't.

These may be less awe-inspiring, but I think they're way cooler to learn about -- perhaps only because I can wrap my head around the whole of their implications (maybe), but mostly just because they're so damn clever.

Scientists at the University of California: Santa Cruz have figured out how to print a 2D(ish) picture that looks 3D, but not the 3D we're used to -- this kind of image reflects light as though it were a 3D object in the paper.

I don't know how to describe what this does, because I've never seen anything like it.  In the realm of image creation, it's basically a totally new thing, and that's one of the coolest things that technology gives us.

Right now, the technology is at about the level of dot-matrix printers, which is so out-of-date we don't even generally use it for receipts anymore, but I can only barely imagine what it will be like to look at one of these pictures in five years of improving technology, and then in five more years of price dropping.  I want a Van Gogh print that responds to light like you're looking at the actual shape of the oil paint sticking off the canvas.  And I really want some of the art made specifically for this medium.

Here's the video about it.  Watch it.  They manage to successfully explain what they're doing.