Museum of Modern Art’s Video Game List

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November 30, 2012 by khrisgolder

PacManIt looks as though Roger Ebert may have officially been proven wrong in his widely lambasted comment that “video games can never be art.” That is, of course, if you respect the acclaimed selections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. MoMA has recently began the collection of around 40 video game titles for their newest exciting project: a video game exhibit.

The exhibit has acquired 14 titles published between 1980 and 2009. The titles also range from the obvious to some interesting surprises.

Titles like Pac-Man have righteously munched its way to the top of the list. SimCity 2000 Sim City 2000and The Sims, two Maxis games that managed to invigorate gamers to perform mundane tasks with a smile. This is definitely a strange meta-game collection that appeals to the art world as well as the gaming community. Eve Online, a game with such a mind-bogglingly detailed economy that you can make veritable oodles of virtual money as a space accountant (or something more awesome of course).  With the addition of Super Mario, Donkey Kong and many other great games, this exhibit is going to bring the vibrancy and magic of video games to new audiences, and to people who may not have understood their cultural relevance before now.

Here is the list so far:

  1. Pac- Man (1980)
  2. Tetris (1984)
  3. Another World (1991)
  4. Myst (1993)
  5. SimCity 2000 (1994)
  6. Vib-ribbon (1999)
  7. The Sims (2000)
  8. Eve Online (2003)
  9. Katamari Damacy (2004)
  10. Dwarf Fortress (2006)
  11. flOw (2006)
  12. Portal (2007)
  13. Passage (2008)
  14. Canabalt (2009)
  15. SpaceWar (1962)
  16. MineCraft (2011)

In addition to these, MoMA hopes to add “an assortment of games for the Magnavox Odyssey console (1972), Pong (1972), Snake (Nokia’s phone version from 1997), Space Invaders (1978), Asteroids (1979), Zork (1979), Tempest (1981), Donkey Kong (1981), Yars’ Revenge (1982), M.U.L.E. (1983), Core War (1984), Marble Madness (1984), Super Mario Bros. (1985), The Legend of Zelda (1986), NetHack (1987), Street Fighter II (1991), Chrono Trigger (1995), Super Mario 64 (1996), Grim Fandango (1998) and Animal Crossing (2001).”

A few glances at the list, and it’s easy to see how so many of these games have influenced the culture of gamers and non-gamers alike.

Obviously this list is contentious, and people will quickly point out omitted titles. Regardless, the Museum of Modern Art curators deserve a round of applause for doing a fantastic job of outlining their criteria for the selection process. The museum’s blog offers a concise and articulate breakdown of their considerations, and is certainly a must-read for anybody interested in the artistic recognition of video games.

Do you still think video games are “pathetic,” Ebert?

Contributed by Tim Saulnier

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