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Thread: How the Smithsonian screwed up its video game exhibition.

  1. #1
    is so full of shit, seriously. Poopporn Smutton's Avatar
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    icon33.gif How the Smithsonian screwed up its video game exhibition.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2...ame-exhibition

    So much fail.

    Here is the link for the games list - http://americanart.si.edu/exhibition...nninggames.pdf

    In 2009, when the Smithsonian began planning an exhibition devoted to video game art, I became kind of ecstatic. I was in the midst of writing a book whose narrative thread included an arc that showed how video games could be artful. Literally raising my fist in the air at the news, there was a sense of triumph, a sigh of relief. The word "finally" escaped from my lips.

    I could hardly believe it. An institution as lauded as the Smithsonian would devote gallery space to a look at video game art through the decades. That, indeed, would be amazing. And because of the historic nature of the event, I began to plan to write various magazine stories.

    And then, the Smithsonian and its freelance curator screwed it all up.

    I'm certainly not the only one to think that video games can be artful. Video game critics, game developers and fans have long wondered why the medium is rarely considered to be art. Certainly someone at a prestigious national gallery could find a few frames of a game that moved them to the point of considering a show. As proof of artfulness, critics pointed to the better works by teams of artists at Irrational Games or by small, independent game makers, some of whom were still in college. "Why not consider the best of these games to be popular art and present them as such?" they asked in their blogs or in their fan-based magazines.

    Last week, the Smithsonian unveiled a curious exhibition called The Art of Video Games. This show has taken years to put together, and because of the time it has taken, I just have to wonder if the museum needed a great amount of persuading to do it in the first place. What was the Smithsonian's idea of popular art and what is the freelance curator's idea of art, and how did they mesh? For whatever reason, someone apparently said, "Let's get the in-crowd in on this." Because what happened next was that a committee of game developers, journalists and experts was created to do what committees do: They made a list.

    Chris Mellisinos, a game collector and programmer who is the curator, has assembled exhibits at video game conventions in the past. Despite these credentials and a marketer's passion for the medium (he gestures with his hands to convince you, like a politician on the stump), he didn't choose the games on his own, or even have the committee choose them. Instead, to narrow it down to the 80 games shown, the committee chose 240 games and posted the list online for the public to examine. Then, in American Idol fashion, there was a vote.

    When I reviewed the Smithsonian's web pages made for the show, I saw that the process had given short shrift to many games that moved the medium forward as far as artful content is concerned. There is nothing from Ralph Baer, the National Medal of Technology winner who made the original Magnavox Odyssey. Baer is often considered to be the father of videogames.

    And there is nothing from Rockstar Games here, the Grand Theft Auto company that made the touching, brilliant western Red Dead Redemption two years ago, or any of the Sierra adventures so popular in the 1990s. Fans voted for Tim Schafer's middling Brutal Legend to be shown in the nation's capital instead of the far better Grim Fandango and Psychonauts.

    Some might say the beauty of this exhibition is that fans online voted for what ultimately would be presented. But sadly, that is the very root of the problem.

    Imagine the hubbub, the outrage, if MOMA asked its members and the general public to vote on what should be shown. Can you imagine the resounding discontent you'd hear had the public voted for the current Cindy Sherman or Diego Rivera exhibitions? Writers like Peter Schjeldahl and Jerry Saltz would have had field days blasting the very idea. And we'd have to endure tweets like "We all gotta get together and vote for Agrarian Leader Zapata, y'all."

    To me, this videogame-oriented People's Choice Awards is all about the madness of too many cooks, and it's why the exhibition, while groundbreaking because it's there at all, feels kind of horribly generic. With the exception of the inclusion of Irrational Games' BioShock, Bethesda Softworks' Fallout 3, Valve's Half-Life 2 and Clover Studio's Okami, The Art of Video Games is never boldly disruptive. It is therefore tragically disappointing and often suspect - at its very core.

    Harold Goldberg is the author of All Your Base Are Belong to Us, How 50 Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture.
    What a long, strange trip it's been. And still we roll down this baffling road, missing those who have left us. Daisuke Jigen, Sifl, SNK4EVER, Nightmare_Tony, Boog. Gone but not forgotten.

  2. #2
    Yosh Plz cdamm's Avatar
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    what? brutal legend isnt art?



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    is so full of shit, seriously. Poopporn Smutton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdamm View Post
    what? brutal legend isnt art?
    Sure it is.

    I think is the most important point is that they skipped the arcade completely.

    Why wasnt there an OG Tron cab in the show? Seriously.

    The perpetual snubbing of neo geo is something I've come to accept over the years, but there was so much wrong with this exhibit concept to begin with. I would bet this curator only became interested in the "concept" of video game art recently. He outsourced his whole job to a community of voters.. I mean come on...

    As we all know, the majority of gamers are fucked in the head.

    ...at least Shadow of the Colossus and Rez were featured.
    Last edited by Poopporn Smutton; 03-27-2012 at 02:13 PM.
    What a long, strange trip it's been. And still we roll down this baffling road, missing those who have left us. Daisuke Jigen, Sifl, SNK4EVER, Nightmare_Tony, Boog. Gone but not forgotten.

  4. #4
    Mac's Bar Bouncer
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    Not having anything on Ralph Baer is just a slap in the face. You could go on about certain games and companies not being represented but not recognizing one of the founding fathers of the industry? C'mon. I knew this was going to be a crock when I saw Walter Day and Billy Mitchel got involved. Whenever they do something with Twin Galaxies it's nothing but a circle jerk anyway. Still surprises me that their's nothing about arcade games, so that's another strike out for me too.

  5. #5
    this ISNT the HISTORY of VIDEOGAMES.

    You can omit great games and historical games.

    Just another internet whine fest.
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  6. #6
    Gal Ageise's Demon
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    i voted and then they spammed me every 2 weeks for about 4 months or so.

  7. #7




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    Wait is this videogames as art or videogame art? Either way it's a failure.

    Seems to me that it's just videogames. Needs to be more focused, no voting and get someone awesome to actually curate it.
    Spoiler:

  8. #8
    Lucky Glauber's #1 Fan
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    I reviewed the list.

    And, wow, somehow they managed to make interesting subject--well--boring.

    IMO, thier exhibition needs a rework.

  9. #9
    Mickey's Coach
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    It really isn’t possible to put together something like this without pissing off more people than you could ever hope to impress. Still, the complete omission of the entire concept of arcade games is a bit unforgivable in this case.

  10. #10
    is so full of shit, seriously. Poopporn Smutton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSneth View Post
    this ISNT the HISTORY of VIDEOGAMES.

    You can omit great games and historical games.

    Just another internet whine fest.
    ok CALM down RAYPHEX

    One would think that a passionate art curator would think outside the box. The art of arcade hardware coupled with the art of the game itself is somehow not worth recognizing?

    And what, the huge improvement and innovation that SNK brought to pixel art is not worth the slightest mention in the Smithsonian exhibit on video game art?

    Puh-leez.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyranix95 View Post
    And, wow, somehow they managed to make interesting subject--well--boring.
    This.
    Last edited by Poopporn Smutton; 03-28-2012 at 01:11 AM.
    What a long, strange trip it's been. And still we roll down this baffling road, missing those who have left us. Daisuke Jigen, Sifl, SNK4EVER, Nightmare_Tony, Boog. Gone but not forgotten.

  11. #11
    Milky's Massage
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    The curator was unqualified for a task of this magnitude, he has no idea what to display, hence the joe8 poll. XD

  12. #12
    What? They aint got no Turbografx?

    And guess what? Tomb Raider beat NiGHTS. They've also got Dreamcast listed in the wrong generation.
    Last edited by Neo Alec; 03-28-2012 at 07:40 AM.

  13. #13
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    Shouldn't be in the Smithsonian.

  14. #14
    whinny little kid
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    Quote Originally Posted by Popcorn Sutton View Post
    ok CALM down RAYPHEX
    He'd probably be able to put together a great exhibit on this actually.
    Quote Originally Posted by GregN
    By this time, I had to piss really bad, my dad was close, but I wouldn't be able to get to a gas station to piss for awhile. What the fuck do I do? I talk to my Dad and said - Why not just go on the side of the road?" "Too risky. I told him. I risk indecent exposure." "Do you have an empty can or bottle." "Yea, I said - an empty coke bottle." "Just use that." Good idea, I thought. I got in the back seat, pissed in the bottle and dumped it on the side of the road.

  15. #15
    Mayor of Southtown



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    Arrow

    OMG everyone! The Smithsonian doesn't know about obscure video games and publishers and instead went with much more mainstream stuff... I'm so surprised. Seriously, who gives a shit? I mean really... You guys are upset over this?

  16. #16
    Aerobics Instructor


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    Who here has actually been to the museum? Exactly.
    There's nothing here. Look elsewhere.

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