Monday, April 2, 2012

They took down the Rembrandt, the Picasso and the Monet and filled the Museums with Video Games. This is not a April Fools Day Joke. It is the truth and now museums are filling up with visitors again. We have seen 40 years of games in this country now and not those cardboard adventures filled with cards and small icons to stomp around on colored pieces.
I’m talking about the stuff that every kid is an expert on and including the classics like Pac Man that every Mom and Dad grew up playing. Forget those European painters. My cell phone takes pictures just as good. Now give me the controller and lets go kill some people yeah pop culture baby. Video Games like Space Invaders used to be confined to the small screen at home and in video arcades. Not anymore.
Museums used to be quiet and roomy. Now entire families pour in as soon as the place opens. They flock to see the celebration of video games throughout the years. And they definitely came to play since the exhibits are interactive. Where they are playing is unexpected. They are at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Combat, Space Invaders and everyone remembers Pac Man from 1981 in which a yellow dot with a mouth tries to eat or be eaten by a ghost which has been popular internationally. Somehow it is hard to believe that these classic games that we all grew up playing over the past 40 years is now considered Art!
They say that Pac Man was one of the first games to appeal to women that now represent about 40% of gamers. Released just a few years later in 1985 was those Super Mario Brothers that introduced us into a much more complex world. People can buy books that explain how to go through secret tunnels that you would never find traveling through the interactive Cartoon art. All this to help Mario to find a Princess.
There have even been studies that proove that he was more popular as a character in the minds of young Americans than even Santa Claus. Yeah, someone has to read a book or tell the legend of Santa where as buy the machine and the tape throw it at the kids and let them keep busy in front of the TV trying to figure out Mario for a few years. Sure, great all American parenting. Not!
The Super Mario series evolved over the years with more complex graphics and scenarios. Because technology is such an important factor in the games the exhibit showcases some of the playing devices used during the four decades like the Nintendo X Box. Along with better technology came better ways to do battle. Yes, we or the TV has raised an entire generation of natural born killers. In fact there is a game called precisely that.
As a result there has been criticism of video games as being a very violent medium. There are some games like “2010 Heavy Rain” that explores the boundaries of parental love. Yes, the father goes around throwing himself in front of busses literally to save his son from danger. Parents don’t even do that for real anymore. Lock the kid in the house with this game and he can bond with some guy in the game. I’m too busy.
If there is one thing that this exhibit illustrates, it is the fact that the art work in the illustrations is just beginning. The illustrators are now able to create worlds and environments that just don’t exist in the real world. It is boundless and limitless and is definitely part of its attraction.
So find some cultural experience. Go to the museum and play some games for a while.

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