Gaming Through a Piece of Art


video game art.JPGWhat if you walked into the Smithsonian American Art Museum and on display was … wait for it … video game art?

Well, wonder no more. That’s right, an exhibit called “The Art of Video Games” is already here—and will be at the Smithsonian through September when it takes off on its own national tour. Among the popular games getting attention for their visual flare are the likes of Pitfall, Earthworm Jim and Bioshock to name a few.

Frankly, I think it’s about time. I do a bit of doodling myself and I’m a gamer, so I’ve been thinking that the work that goes into games gets its proper due. Personally, I think it can be art—even if the game’s content and game play sometimes makes it art you should avoid.

Sometimes, playing a game can feel a little like walking through an art gallery. I just recently played through the Sony PlayStation download exclusive title Journey, and the best I can describe the experience is that it’s like interacting in a piece of fine art. No slick realistic CGI, just stunning visuals that really could be framed. The music only adds to the calming experience.

They say that art is in the eye of the beholder, and maybe that’s even true for funny little animated men named Mario. What do you think? Should a picture of he and Luigi be hanging next to John Singer Sargent’s Madame X ?

Who wrote this?

Graphic Designer for PLUGGEDIN.COM. Cutting his design teeth at Scripture Press/Cook Communications, Kevin brings years of ministry and freelance experience to Plugged In's visual presentation. He also analyzes video games for our reviews and contributes an occasional blog.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Aaron:

someone who agrees with my opinions of video game art. FF and KH are art and have improved my writing greatly. Tetsuya Nomura is truly an artist.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  godsgrl:

If by bad art you are referring to all video game art, I beg to differ. I think the Smithsonian is right in acknowledging a great American art form. I equate video game art with film art. It's often underappreciated but it helps create the worlds that the audience sees in the end.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Raixfeather (Kristin):

Video games can definitely be art. c: Still, as fun as most Mario games are, I wouldn't consider most of them art. Halo is truly phenomenal. Beyond the often-frenzied multiplayer battles, there is stunning beauty. The music is breath-taking and the story is engaging and meaningful. At the risk of further gushing, the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series are two of my other favorites. These games have truly changed my life for the better.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Tancosin:

Seriously? Super Mario Bros? Pac-Man? That's ridiculous. Super Mario Bros and others on that list may be excellent games, but art? Give me a break. Well, at least they made some good choices; Bioshock, flOw, Okami, Heavy Rain, etc.

tl;dr People aren't good at choosing the best 'arty' vidyagames, instead going for obvious highly regarded titles.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Rye:

Brought to you by the people who featured ants crawling on a crucifix as art.

Frankly, I don't trust the Smithsonian to be able to decide the difference between art and non-art. And the idea that they can tell between good art and bad art is laughable.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  YetAnotherTeen:

It does have five playable games they selected themselves that they think show the greatest diversity in artistic gaming; "Super Mario Brothers", "Myst", "Flower", "Tales of Monkey Island", and "Pac-Man". Other than that, it's mostly just imagery and descriptions, as you said.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Anon:

The thing about videogames is that, to experience the real art of it all, you have to actually play them. From what I understand, this is mostly just a gallery of images with some gameplay footage. Doesn't seem to me to really celebrate videogames as a unique artistic medium.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  SEMPER FI:

mass effect's in it so i am happy

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  YetAnotherTeen:

I've been keeping up with this since taking part in the online voting on which games would make it in. Didn't agree with a lot of the eventual winners, but that's life. I did think it somewhat ended up a popularity contest in the end, but again, since it's just my opinion, others may actually think that Pac-Man on the Atari was a game that showed off the artistic merits of gaming.