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Smithsonian Art Exhibit Recognizes Games From  Pac-Man  To  Heavy Rain
Smithsonian Art Exhibit Recognizes Games From Pac-Man To Heavy Rain
May 5, 2011 | By Kris Graft

May 5, 2011 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC, Art

The Smithsonian Art Museum on Thursday afternoon revealed 80 games that will be part of its "The Art of Video Games" exhibition, which covers 40 years of visually-striking games.

On display from March 16, 2012 to September 30, 2012, the exhibition is yet another indication that video games are being accepted as an art form.

The Art of Video Games "is one of the first exhibitions to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium," according to the exhibition's official website.

An advisory group made of game industry, media and other experts proposed 240 games, and had the public vote to choose 80 games in total. In all, 3.7 million votes were cast by 119,000 people worldwide.

The exhibit will feature the 80 games through still images and video footage, while five games -- Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst and World of Warcraft -- will be playable.

Split across various eras, games that will be part of the exhibit include games spanning the life of the medium, including Pac-Man, Utopia, Attack of the Mutant Camels, Super Mario Bros. 3, 1943: The Battle of Midway, Earthworm Jim, Doom II, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Final Fantasy Tactics, Halo 2, Metroid Prime 2, Mass Effect 2, Boom Blox, Heavy Rain and many more.

Curating the exhibit is Chris Melissinos, founder of PastPixels and avid collector of games and game systems.

"In the same way as film, animation, and performance, they can be considered a compelling and influential form of narrative art," the exhibit's website states. The full list of games selected for the exhibition is below [PDF]:

1943: The Battle of Midway
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
After Burner
Attack of the Mutant Camels
Boom Blox
Brutal Legend
ChuChu Rocket!
Desert Commander
Diablo II
Donkey Kong
Dune II: Battle for Arrakis
Earthworm Jim
Fallout 3
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy VII
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Goldeneye 007
Gradius V
Gunstar Heroes
Halo 2
Heavy Rain
Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II
Marble Madness
MassEffect 2
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Metroid Prime 2: Echos
Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Phantasy Star
Phantasy Star IV
Pikmin 2
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Shadow of Colossus
Sid Meier's Pirates!
SimCity 2000
Sonic Adventure
Space Invaders
Spy vs Spy
Star Fox
Star Fox: Assault
Star Strike
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
Super Mario 64
Super Mario Brothers 3
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario World
The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
Tomb Raider
TRON: Maze-Atron
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Worms Armageddon
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

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Jonathan Escobedo
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A rather impressive list. It has a good balance of both obvious and not so obvious games, which is nice.

Cordero W
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I don't know about you guys, but I don't see a single sports game on there. Not that I'm into sport games, but I played a good amount back in the day, and I think some games need mention. At least the old NFL game that got Madden started on the NES. And FIFA is actually pretty successful.

Jose Talbott
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Yeah defiantly Madden or Tecmo Bowl maybe Ten Yard Fight....

Sports games get no respect : (

matt landi
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Yup. They didn't even make a category for sports games. Each generation there has been a sports franchise that has evolved.

Kris Graft
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It's true that Madden and FIFA are hugely successful.... but just making sure you guys do realize that these are games for an art exhibit. As the article states, the exhibit is meant to highlight "visually-striking games," not popular, commercially-successful or even critically-successful games. Not that in some cases sports games can't be visually-striking, I just didn't see you folks mention anything about the visuals of those sports games you'd like to see on the list.

Eric Geer
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Baseball Stars--NES

Atle Hillmann
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I might be wrong here, but should Minecraft maybe have had a spot here?

Not because it is immensely popular, but because it shows a very distinct visual style and is a great testament that the art of games is more then just its visuals.

Bart Stewart
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Atle, it looks like Minecraft *is* in the full list of included games.

Michael Yochum
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im glad that their are no sports game that made it. this exhibit is about the art of games. i really dont think a game based of a sport is very original or artistic.

Bart Stewart
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Not a terrible list, but to my mind there are some odd omissions and inclusions: Attack of the Mutant Camels, but not Ultima Underworld? Geometry Wars and Rez make the cut, which makes sense, but not Tempest? No System Shock or Thief? No Far Cry 2 or Crysis? No Half-Life 2? No Portal? No EVE Online?

It's easy to nitpick lists, but I'm honestly surprised that some games that are arguably very "visually striking" didn't make the Smithsonian's cut.

Luis Guimaraes
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It seems the Path didn't make it too. At least Citzen Kan... errr... Shadow of Colossus is there.

Kim Pallister
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@Bart: Portal's on the list above.

And gaming is a pretty rich medium. There will always be great games that didn't make any limited-size list.

Bart Stewart
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/blush Saw Minecraft but missed Portal.

Still, half the fun of making a list is debating what's on it. :)

Saul Gonzalez
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Well, I guess that particular debate is over now.

Pallav Nawani
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I would disagree with some of the omissions but - its a start.

Brian Tsukerman
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Any panel that has to judge a thing has to go through a lot of deliberation, and ultimately not everyone will be pleased. I am curious though as to what it is that makes each of these a choice as art? Are they going to be divided by what it is that is artistic about them? Or just based on time period?

Eric Geer
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It would have been funny if Flower didn't make it on the list...

PS---I think one game that should be on there but is not is Muramasa-The Demon Blade

I don't think i've found many games that are as visually striking is that one.