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The Art of Video Games

Date: August 16, 2012
Place: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC
Interview: Georgina Goodlander, Exhibition Coordinator

I’m Georgina Goodlander. I’m the exhibition coordinator of the Art of Video Games at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Art of Video Games explores the evolution of video games as an artistic medium over the last 40 years. We show 80 video games, over 20 systems and 5 eras.

We believe that for video games being and artwork, it has three voices:

  1. The artist or designer that created it, that had a message that it wanted to portray.
  2. The mechanics of the game itself is the second voice. So the game structure, the rules, how you play it.
  3. And then the third one which is the most interesting one, I think, is the player. The fact that the video game can’t be an artwork unless somebody is playing it and that everybody has a slightly different experience.

So we picked five different games, one from each era of video games and games that we really felt were pivotal in their era. They influenced all games that came after that. And those are PacMan, the Original Super Mario Brothers, Secret of Monkey Island, which is a personal favorite, Myst and Flower.

Being an exhibition coordinator means a lot of different things. I was involved in almost every aspect of the exhibition, so I worked very closely with the curator (Chris Melissinos) as he was coming up with the games for the exhibition; I had to talk to all the gaming companies to make sure that they were ok with us using their games in the exhibition. 

One of my favorites is the opportunity to interview video game designers. We interviewed a whole range of people, from the people that designed the games, develop the games, people that do the writing, the musicians, the artists. I had to research all the games that were in the exhibition; I hadn’t played them all before. So actually during the day, as part of my work, I got to play video games. I mean what could be better than that?

The Art of the Video Games is traveling to ten other cities around the U.S. through 2016.

I think if you’re interested in working with art and working in museums, it’s just kind of getting out there and experiencing as many of them as you possibly can. I’ve always been fascinated with museums. Whenever I go to a new place, new country, new city, I always check out at least one museum.

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