What do The Legend of Zelda, Halo 2, and Super Mario World have in common?
They're all featured video games in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's latest exhibition The Art of Video Games.
The exhibition–which celebrates 40 years of video game history–takes a look at 80 video games that pushed the artistic and technological boundaries of their era. The ubiquitous Atari VCS classic Pac-Man makes the list, along with standbys like Tomb Raider, Fable, and Myst. Games were chosen by a public vote from a list of 240 titles compiled by exhibit curator Chris Melissinos, and come from twenty gaming systems ranging from the SNES to Playstation 3. In an NPR interview, Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and an avid video game collector, demystifies why Mario resembles an Italian plumber, and offers a theory about how Pac-Man was conceived.
A select five games can be played during the exhibit: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower. The exhibition also features video interviews with video game developers and artists, historic game consoles, and photos of in-game screen shots.
Catch the exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until September 30, before it heads out on an across-country tour. On May 4, the museum is hosting Beyond Play: Video Games at Work, a series of free exhibition-inspired talks. At 1 p.m. "Video Games at Work" looks at the influence of video games on areas like health care, education, civics, journalism, and national defense. At 3 p.m. "Game Change: Society and Culture" looks at the impact of video games on our society and culture.
For more information about The Art of Video Games, visit www.americanart.si.edu