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Video games really are art, MoMA says

The Museum of Modern Art in New York will open a permanent exhibition dedicated to video games. 14 titles made the cut, including Pac-Man, Tetris, and Myst. 

By Matthew Shaer / November 30, 2012

A still from Myst, one of 14 games acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, in New York.

MoMA/Cyan Worlds

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The Museum of Modern Art, in New York, has finally confirmed what gaming geeks have known for years: That the best video games are fine art. 

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Beginning in March of next year, the MoMA will mount a permanent exhibition in its Philip Johnson Galleries, curator Paola Antonelli announced this week in a blog post. Fourteen games will be on display at the opening of the exhibit, including Myst (pictured above), EVE Online, Tetris, and SimCity 2000. 

"The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design – a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity," Mr. Antonelli wrote

The selection process, she added, was undertaken with the help of a range of "scholars, digital conservation and legal experts, historians, and critics, all of whom helped us refine not only the criteria and the wish list, but also the issues of acquisition, display, and conservation of digital artifacts that are made even more complex by the games’ interactive nature." 

Still, this is the sort of exercise that seems guaranteed to provoke a bit of controversy. The Final Fantasy games didn't made the cut, for instance, and neither did any of the titles from the Elder Scrolls franchise – a fact noted by several commenters on the MoMA blog post. The MoMA, for its part, says it does plan on adding more titles, from The Legend of Zelda to Super Mario 64. 

It's worth pointing out that this isn't the first exhibition in a major US museum devoted to video games. Only a few months ago, the Smithsonian staged an exhibit of its own, which was well-received by critics. All of which has just about driven some onlookers up the wall. 

"Video games aren’t art," a commenter wrote on the MoMA blog. "Stop doing this. Video games involve art, but they are NOT art. They are in the same vein of graphic design… which is NOT art." 

What do you think? Drop us a line in the comments section. And for more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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