Action. Adventure. Targets. Tactics.

by Morgan Chase

Kids these days have it easy when it comes to video games.  Most will never know the mocking laugh of Bowser as he drops an 8 bit Mario into a pit of lava, or struggle to find that misplaced eight digit Mega Man 2 password that you furiously scrawled just moments before mom unplugged your Nintendo Entertainment System.  But regardless of generation, gamers of all ages can appreciate the incredible trajectory that began with the most basic of programming languages and has led us to the sweeping cinematic experiences of modern day video games. The latest offering from the Chrysler Museum of Art does just that.
 

 

At The Art of Video Games premier, the Chrylser came alive with the sights and sounds of 40 years of video gaming history.  Gamers or all ages mingled amongst a mix of classic arcade standbys like Pac-Man and Galaga and modern consoles like the Wii-U.  The exhibit, on loan from the Smithsonian, explores the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, and highlights the impressive advances in graphics and technology that have transformed the industry.
 
With the help of a crowd-sourced effort, the exhibit features twenty gaming systems and eighty games that span the evolution of the medium and reveal the interplay of storytelling and technology.  Though improvements in hardware and software have revolutionized the tools available to video game designers, the core concepts at the heart of a great game design remain the same.  The Art of the Video Game singles out five games to illustrate those timeless game mechanics: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.  All five games were fully playable at the exhibit, and gave attendees a chance to experience the genre-defining advances that would come to shape later game releases.  The older of the five games drew countless younger gamers who were eager to take a crack at the “classics,” and an even greater number of older gamers who’d clearly longed for another go at some of the defining games of their youth.
 
Lovers of video games, and even those who’ve never quite understood the hype, are sure to find a bit or pixel that interests them, and a free round of Pac-Man never hurt anyone. And speaking of free, as with all Chrysler Museum exhibits, there is no cost for admission.  The exhibit runs through May 10, but after that it’s GAME OVER.

 

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