Can video games be viewed as art? According to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the answer is an astounding yes! The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced yesterday, December 17, 2013 that it has added two video games to its permanent collection: thatgamecompany's hypnotic Flower, and Halo 2600. Halo 2600 is a side-scrolling de-make of the Xbox classic shooter Halo.
Both games can be seen in the Smithsonian's The Art of Video Games exhibition, currently on tour in the United States. The museum called Flower, "an entirely new kind of physical and virtual choreography." The essence of the game cannot be captured in stills. The art and beauty can only be witnesses when the game is played.
Halo 2600 however is a different story. The game was developed in 2010 to play on the 36 year old Atari. It was included because it "deconstructs the gamers' visual and virtual experience" by re-imagining the 3D shooter on a 2D plane, displaying "the ever-changing relationship between technology and creativity."
The Smithsonian says it has an "ongoing commitment to the study and preservation of video games as an artistic medium". Michael Mansfield, their curator of film and media arts confirmed that the addition of both games was the beginning of the museum's work in the area.
While gamers everywhere have come to appreciate the artistic beauty of games, there is still something poetic to have it confirmed by the art world.