"The Art of Video Games" exhibit, recently opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, features multimedia showcasing 80 video games and 20 gaming consoles made over the past 40 years. Over 119,000 people voted online last year to help choose the games for each system, based on categories like adventure and action.
This wing of the gallery shows a time in video game history when 8-bit graphics ruled the world.
Here is a close-up of the near-mint conidition Atari VCS and Intellivision consoles featured in the exhibit. The gallery also features the following systems: ColecoVision, Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Saturn, DOS/Windows, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Windows (modern), XBox 360, Nintendo Wii, and PlayStation 3.
"The short, yet prolific, forty-year history of video games offers some of the deepest personal and globally connecting experiences in human history," said Chris Melissinos, guest curator of the exhibit, in a statement. "Of course, many games never aspire to be anything more than an adrenaline pump, where high scores rule and the loosest of stories hold the game together. The common thread, regardless of intent, is that they are an amalgam of disciplines -- storytelling, animation, music, and cinematography -- whose sum is greater than its parts. This defines a new art medium that is beyond traditional definitions used in the fine art world."
A close-up shot of a terminal that displays the various DOS/Windows games chosen for the exhibit by the public. The winners for this category: Doom II (action), Diablo II (target), Fallout (adventure), and StarCraft (tactics).
Some coveted covers from the Atari 2600 era. Shown are an original Star Raiders comic book (left), based on the video game of the same name, and original documentation for Yars Revenge (bottom right) and Missle Command (top right).
Another shot of terminals displaying fan-chosen games for PlayStation 2, XBox, and GameCube consoles. The selected titles read like a must-have list for each system. For example, the selected PlayStation games: Shadow of the Colossus (action), Gradius V (target), Okami (adventure), and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (tactics).
The exhibit features a cluster of concept art from Bethesda's Fallout 3. The intricate detail in the buildings illustrate how a simple sketch inspires a realistic virtual world, while the creature sketches seem absolutely terrifying.
With the help of his father, a young man tries his luck at the first level of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Hopefully someone showed him the secret room in the second level with warp pipes to different areas.
Visitors can test out five playable games: Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.
"Using the cultural lens of an art museum, viewers can determine whether the games on display are indeed worthy of the title art," said Melissinos in a statement. "Some visitors will encounter a game that transports them back to their childhood, or gain insight into how games are made."