The Museum of Modern Art has a brand new exhibit open, and you might be surprised at what’s in it: video games. That’s right—one of New York City’s most prominent museums has decided that video games are an important form of art and design, and therefore deserve to be preserved and appreciated.
“I would like for a moment for people to forget arcades, to forget beers, to forget the kind of seedy and sticky carpet,” said Paola Antonelli in an interview with ABC/Yahoo! News. Antonelli is the senior curator for MoMA’s department of architecture and design, where the games are on display. “I know that’s fun but I would like them to just focus on the interaction. So it’s the screen, the game, the controller, and that’s it.”
She says that design is the critical component that led MoMA to install games like Pac-Man, Tetris, and Myst. The museum has a total wishlist of about 40 games for the exhibit, including Super Mario Bros, Space Invaders, and Pong. There are currently 14 games on display, including Portal, Another World, Pac-Man, Myst, and SimCity 2000.
“I consider video games a form of design that is amazingly important today and that is going to become even more important in the future, because it is a way we interact with machines and screens,” she said. Therefore, it is those games that were most groundbreaking or particularly good at immersing players that made MoMA’s list.
“Experience is a mixture of aesthetics, of movement in space and time, of behavior,” Antonelli said. “You know the game designers design our behavior. It’s amazing if you think about it. They kind of control our free will. They direct us toward a certain kind of personality.”
That, and they make us feel like we’ve been transported into a different world. “Pac-Man and Tetris are masterpieces and milestones,” she says. “Pac-Man is in the collection because it was one of the first instances in which a maze, a two-dimensional maze, made you feel like you were a part of a three-dimensional world.”