By Monica McGivern
By Travis Cohen
By Hannah Sentenac
By Daniel Reskin
By Hans Morgenstern
By George Martinez
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
By Ciara LaVelle
By the time we arrived at Halo 2, introduced in 2004, the digital code of games exhibited deeper artificial intelligence, spooky ambient soundtracks, and more elaborate stories with characters who enacted a complex "space opera." Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft exploited the power of the internet in the mid-1990s.
Today's gaming landscape is brimming with cinematic complexity and fluid, lifelike motion in games such as Heavy Rain (2010). Minecraft, introduced in 2009, is a build-it-yourself world with no discernible plot or missions. Millions of online players create environments in a free-form "sandbox" of varied eccentric materials. Other recent games, like Myst and Flower, require more decision-making, more strategic or abstract thinking by the player.
What games can you actually play in this exhibit? There's one console each set up for Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, the Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower. The exhibition is rounded out with instruction books, comic books, box art, and pamphlets.
A few large, flat-screen monitors broadcast interviews with game designers who describe the process of creating their work, from brainstorming to storyboarding to coding. Another series of large monitors turns the camera on players, capturing the range of emotional reactions while playing. People of all ages and ethnicities are seen jumping, ducking, grimacing, and sticking out their tongues as they play.
It is this human element that gives meaning to all the bright pixels and blips and beeps. Marisa Pascucci, curator of Twentieth Century and Contemporary Art at the Boca Museum of Art, says, "These games are binary computer code basically, but visitors can see the game designers giving interviews, sharing behind-the-scenes experiences and all the teamwork involved in creating what is a true art form. An all-encompassing art form with music, sometimes entire symphonies commissioned for them. The storytelling has a human point of view, which makes it like other art forms, like literature."