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The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effectby Chris Melissinos
Synopses & Reviews
In the forty years since the first Magnavox Odyssey pixel winked on in 1972, the home video game industry has undergone a mind-blowing evolution. Fueled by unprecedented advances in technology, boundless imaginations, and an insatiable addiction to fantastic new worlds of play, the video game has gone supernova, rocketing two generations of fans into an ever-expanding universe where art, culture, reality, and emotion collide.
As a testament to the cultural impact of the game industry’s mega morph, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, with curator and author Chris Melissinos, conceived the forthcoming exhibition, The Art of Video Games, which will run from March 16 to September 30, 2012.* Welcome Books will release the companion book this March.
Melissinos presents video games as not just mere play, but richly textured emotional and social experiences that have crossed the boundary into culture and art.
Along with a team of game developers, designers, and journalists, Melissinos chose a pool of 240 games across five different eras to represent the diversity of the game world. Criteria included visual effects, creative use of technologies, and how world events and popular culture manifested in the games. The museum then invited the public to go online to help choose the games. More than 3.7 million votes (from 175 countries) later, the eighty winners featured in The Art of Video Games exhibition and book were selected.
From the Space Invaders of the seventies to sophisticated contemporary epics BioShock and Uncharted 2, Melissinos examines each of the winning games, providing a behind-the-scenes look at their development and innovation, and commentary on the relevance of each in the history of video games.
Over 100 composite images, created by Patrick O’Rourke, and drawn directly from the games themselves, illustrate the evolution of video games as an artistic medium, both technologically and creatively.
Additionally, The Art of Video Games includes fascinating interviews with influential artists and designers–from pioneers such as Nolan Bushnell to contemporary innovators including Warren Spector, Tim Schafer and Robin Hunicke.
The foreword was written by Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Mike Mika, noted game preservationist and prolific developer, contributed the introduction the introduction.
*After Washington D.C., the exhibition travels to several cities across the United States, including Boca Raton (Museum of Art), Seattle (EMP Museum), Yonkers, NY (Hudson River Museum) and Flint, MI (Flint Institute of Arts). For the latest confirmed dates and venues, please visit the The Art of Video Games exhibition page at http://americanart.si.edu/taovg
In the forty-year history of the video game industry, the medium has undergone staggering development, fueled not only by advances in technology but also by an insatiable quest for richer play and more meaningful experiences. From the very beginning, with the introduction of the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, countless individuals became enthralled by a new world opened before them, one in which they could control and create, as well as interact and play. Even in their rudimentary form, video games held forth a potential and promise that inspired a generation of developers, programmers, and gamers to pursue visions of ever more sophisticated interactive worlds.
As a testament to the game industry's stunning evolution, and to its cultural impact worldwide, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and curator Chris Melissinos conceived the 2012 exhibition The Art of Video Games. Along with a team of game developers, designers, and journalists, Melissinos selected an initial group of 240 games in four different genres to represent the best of the game world. Selection criteria included visual effects, creative use of technologies, and how world events and popular culture influenced the games. The museum created a website and invited the public to help choose the most popular games; after almost four million votes coming from 175 countries, eighty winners were selected and are featured in the exhibition and in this book.
The Art of Video Games offers a revealing look into the history of the game industry, from the early days of Pac-Man and Space Invaders to the vastly more complicated contemporary epics such as BioShock and Uncharted. Melissinos examines each of the eighty winning entries, with stories and comments on their development, innovation, and relevance to the game world's overall growth. Visual images, composed by Patrick O'Rourke, are all drawn directly from the games themselves, and speak to the evolution of games as an artistic medium, both technologically and creatively. Also included are interviews with some of the industry's most influential artists and designers, from pioneers such as Nolan Bushnell to contemporary innovators including Warren Spector and Tim Schafer.
From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, The Art of Video Games makes a compelling case for games to be viewed not just as mere play, but as richly textured, compelling experiences that have crossed the boundary into culture and art. As Melissinos writes, "Our children are being born into a world in which the digital and physical collide, and video games are the expressive voice of that collision." The Art of Video Games presents the evolution of that voice, as it becomes ever more powerful.
This is the story of how video games capture our imaginations and influence our world.
While video games are still a relatively young medium, the industry has seen staggering progress in its forty-year history, both technologically and as an artistic form. The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect explores this rapid development, as well as the evolution from the early days of 8-bit to the complex visual epics that now form the core of an industry rivaling Hollywood in revenue and cultural impact.
Author Chris Melissinos delves into five eras and eighty of the most popular games ever produced to offer a revealing look into the game industry, the many influences on designers, and the persistent impact games have had on the broader culture. Included are interviews with the industry’s most influential artists and designers, from early pioneers such as Nolan Bushnell to contemporary developers including Kellee Santiago and Tim Schafer.
The result is a lively record of technological and artistic innovation, abundantly illustrated and impressive in scope.
The Art of Video Games includes:
· Still images and art from eighty games, from classics like Pac-Man and Space Invaders to contemporary blockbusters like BioShock and Uncharted.
· Stories behind the development of the most innovative and influential games.
· Interviews with artists, designers, and pioneers in the game industry, including Warren Spector, Cliff Bleszinski, Tommy Tallerico, Ron Gilbert, Don Daglow, Ed Fries, and many more!
About the Author
Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels (www.pastpixels.com), is the curator for the exhibition The Art of Video Games, a nationally touring exhibition organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Melissinos has been engaged in the ongoing dialogue about video game technology, social trends, and the application of technology for more than a decade. He is a frequent speaker at game and technology conferences, including the Game Developers Conference, E3, Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Penny Arcade Expo, JavaOne, Smithsonian Web 2.0, and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Summit, as well as lecturing at universities across the globe.
Elizabeth Broun is the Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. After receiving her master’s in medieval art history at the University of Kansas, Broun earned a doctorate in American art history for her work on art exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Broun has done extensive curatorial work on Albert Pinkham Ryder, Thomas Hart Benton, Stuart Davis, Childe Hassam, Patrick Ireland, Pat Steir and James McNeill Whistler.
Table of Contents
Star Trek: Strategic
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Attack of the Mutant Camels
Sid Meier’s Pirates
The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate
NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
The Legend of Zelda
1943: The Battle of Midway
Super Mario Brothers 3
SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
Spy vs. Spy
Phantasy Star IV
Super Mario World
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Super Mario 64
The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei
Panzer Dragoon Saga
FINAL FANTASY VII
Metal Gear Solid
FINAL FANTASY TACTICS
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
Panzer Dragoon Orta
MICROSOFT XBOX 360
Mass Effect 2
Lord of the RIngs: The Battle for Middle-Earth II
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Star Fox: Assault
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
Super Mario Galaxy 2
SONY PLAYSTATION 2
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Shadow of the Colossus
SONY PLAYSTATION 3
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
R. J. Mical
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