Museum of Modern Art welcomes video games into its collection


The debate on video games as art continues, but the Museum of Modern Art’s recent decision to include video games in its collection may help one side of the argument.

MoMA has selected 14 video games in its initial collection of the entertainment medium, though the plan is to ultimately choose about 40. The first 14 titles are as follows:

  • Pac-Man (1980)
  • Tetris (1984)
  • Another World (1991)
  • Myst (1993)
  • SimCity 2000 (1994)
  • vib-ribbon (1999)
  • The Sims (2000)
  • EVE Online (2003)
  • Katamari Damacy (2004)
  • Dwarf Fortress (2006)
  • flOw (2006)
  • Portal (2007)
  • Passage (2008)
  • Canabalt (2009)

These games will be exhibited in March of 2013. In the next few years MoMA hopes to add more games spanning multiple decades, including classics such as Space Invaders and Super Mario Bros. More recent titles are also under consideration, including Animal Crossing and Minecraft.

Although visual aesthetics play a large role in the discussion on video games as art, Senior Curator Paola Antonelli explains how the design element is just as important.

“[Video games] are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe,” he said. “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. Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects – from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior – that pertain to interaction design.”

More specifically, the four main design traits considered were: behavior, aesthetics, space, and time. The interaction of these four elements dictated what games were considered and chosen during the selection process.

As far as incorporation into the Museum of Modern Art goes, a case-by-case approach must be taken. Some titles – like Passage – last only a few minutes so the full game can be on display. Something as deep and complex as Dwarf Fortress may require a guided tour with the help of players and designers though. The challenge is to maximize appreciation and understanding of each individual game.

This news is even more significant considering the fact a videogame exhibit was introduced to the Smithsonian earlier this year. It seems the entire industry is moving in new and exciting directions, which should leave plenty of gamers happy.

Further information, including a more detailed account of the MoMA criteria and selection process, can be found on the museum’s official blog.

[Museum of Modern Art Blog]


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.