It's been 40 years since the first videogame grabbed the attention of besotted television watchers and thrust them firmly onto the couch and into an interactive world of multimedia home entertainment.
Browsing your local GameStop is one thing, but appreciating videogames as art is a relatively new concept. The Smithsonian American Art Museum has put together an exhibit, "The Art of Video Games," that explores games as a dynamic, evolving art form. Painters, writers, sculptors, composers, and filmmakers have all had a hand in creating them, and the end product is full-fledged entertainment. Videogames, the exhibit shows, are a phenomenal blend of technology and storytelling and have impact on a massive scale.
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The Boca Raton Museum of Art scores major cool points for being the first tour stop for this traveling exhibit. It opened here October 24 and remains on view through January 13.
The impresario behind this project is curator Chris Melissinos, a fervent preservationist whose personal trove includes more than 40 gaming systems plus hundreds of games and artifacts. His book The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect is an extensive overview of games and their makers. In a stroke of democracy, Melissinos created a ballot of 240 games he would potentially include in the exhibition and then asked 119,000 people in 175 countries to select the games that are on view. (Melissinos will be on-site at the museum for a book signing Saturday, November 3, at 3 p.m. and Sunday, November 4, at noon.)