the art of video games

Our first stop on this trip was the Smithsonian's Art of Video Games exhibit. It started with a little bit of concept art and a fun set of videos of how people look while gaming. The second room had a few games that visitors could play, and we watched this guy clear a Pac-Man board:

playing Pac-Man at the Art of Video Games exhibit

The final section was a display of consoles and computers with short videos about four games available on each platform. That section seemed to inspire a lot of "we had one of those" conversations, but people wandered through it pretty quickly.

This was a really cool idea, but I'd been expecting something a bit larger and broader. Handheld gaming devices were not represented, and the console-based organization was iffy considering how many of those games were available for multiple systems. I guess I was hoping for more about gaming's history and impact, while the exhibit was more about showing off these already-familiar images.

It's definitely worth a walk through if you're already planning a visit to the American Art Museum / Portrait Gallery or if you have other plans in the area. It's small enough that I wouldn't make a special trip just to see it, though.

The exhibit did manage to make me feel practically ancient a few days later. I overheard some teenage boys giggling over how bad the graphics were for those older games, and after a few minutes I realized they weren't talking about Combat or Space Invaders. They were talking about Final Fantasy VII. I played that in my 20s and it had great graphics, thank you very much.

The Art of Video Games runs through September 30th. While you're there, make sure to hit the Gilded Age and American Impressionism galleries on the 2nd floor, they're my favorites.

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