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Are video games design objects?

René Magritte’s ‘'Le Blanc Seing' (1965) © National Gallery of Art, Washington #art
René Magritte’s ‘'Le Blanc Seing' (1965) © National Gallery of Art, Washington

Do video games belong in the museum? 

I remember checking out the old Tetris and Pong video games at a MoMA exhibit in 2013. They certainly seemed to fit as artistic artifacts. 

The world's leading museum of art and design in London, V & A, is making its new exhibit Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt even more contemporary. 

The show's curator Marie Foulston wants to illustrate the concept work behind mid-2000s video games by showcasing the notebooks and paintings that influenced the designers. She tells the Financial Times:

“We’re trying to position games as design,” says Foulston. But how do you display games? Surely the point is to play them, and that hardly needs a museum. Wouldn’t it be better suited to a website?

“As with all design,” says Foulston “the process usually begins with a notebook, with pencil sketches. Games designers are always looking at other parts of the culture: at film, painting and architecture. We have the Magritte painting ‘The Blank Signature’ [from 1965], which influenced the design of the game Kentucky Route Zero. Then there’s the controller for the game Line Wobbler, which was inspired by its designer watching a cat on YouTube playing with a sprung doorstop. It’s such a tactile thing.”

What digital art could museums adopt next? My guess in addition to video games and iMacs, iPhones, and Angry Bird could be the worldwide sensation of the invisible digital, like Bitcoin.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of four books.

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