"The Art of Video Games" Now Open at Phoenix Art Museum
Pac-Man, 1981. Toru Iwatani, original concept; adapted by Tod Frye and NAMCO BANDAI Games, Inc. All rights reserved.
Video games are art. That is the unwavering stance of Java innovator and noted game aficionado Chris Melissinos. When he talks about writing gaming code, he compares it to writing poetry. These games are more than digitized pastimes -- they're an amalgam of all forms of traditional art, he says.
And if you take a second to consider his equation (narrative plus orchestration plus painting plus social reflection plus sculpture equals video game) there's really no way to argue the point. For more evidence, there's the exhibition Melissinos curated, "The Art of Video Games," on view at Phoenix Art Museum through Sunday, September 29. The show looks at the 40-year history of gaming and how it has evolved over that span of time -- from Pac-Man and Pong to World of Warcraft.
Originally Melissinos curated the exhibition for the Smithsonian. That was after being asked in development circles what was being done to preserve, study, and show video games in pop culture. Those chats got him thinking about his lifelong love of video games and his earliest experiences with them.
"I remember when my family got a Sears brand Pong machine in the early '70s," Melissinos says. "I was mesmerized by the fact that, here was a machine that was plugged into the television, which was a one-way tool always talking to you."
"There was more to the machines than we could believe."