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Smithsonian opens ‘The Art of Video Games’ exhibit

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Flower (thatgamecompany)

If you're on the fence about whether or not video games qualify as art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum would like to have a word with you. And perhaps play a game or two.

On Friday, the Washington, D.C. museum opened 'The Art of Video Games' exhibit, showcasing a collection of games that exemplify the 40 year evolution of the industry.

Fans selected the 80 entries from a list of 240 through an online vote last year, and they did a pretty bang-up job, nailing the obvious  games like Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros. and Shadow of the Colossus as well as more obscure classics like Utopia for the Intellivision and Einhander for the PlayStation. Despite a few glaring omissions (where's Adventure for the Atari?), it's a solid list.

The collection is primarily made up of still images and video footage, but you'll be able to play a bit, too, as five games chosen to represent different gaming eras will be playable on-site: Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., MYST, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Flower. A chiptune soundtrack composed by 8 Bit Weapon helps set the mood.

"This is storytelling and an artistic medium for the 21st century," curator Chris Melissinos told MSNBC, adding that the exhibit "illuminates the importance of games in our society, for those of us who grew up with them."

The exhibit runs until September 30 and kicks off with a three-day festival filled with panels and gaming sessions, as well as a keynote speech by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell.

If you can't make it down to D.C. to check out the art firsthand, you could always check out the associated Art of Video Games book instead.

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