In the mid-2000s, Roger Ebert famously argued that video games cannot be art.
Writing in a response to a fan question about the subject, the famed critic noted:
I did indeed consider video games inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control. I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilised and empathetic.
However, evidently the V&A Museum in London disagrees with Ebert.
They’re putting video games front and centre in a new exhibition coming to the gallery next year.
The exhibition, simply titled Videogames will be at the V&A between 8th September 2018 and 24th February 2019.
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What will the exhibition be about?
While many exhibitions and experienced have charted the history of videogames over the years, this one will be a little different. Instead of focusing on the whole history of gaming, Videgames will focus on the design and culture of videogames since the mid-2000s.
The V&A describe videgames as ‘one of the most important design fields of our time’. The idea is that the internet, social media, and new means of making games have changed the design process and the way we consume and discuss games.
The museum say the exhibition will feature:
Large-scale immersive multimedia installations and hands-on interactive experiences… alongside object-based displays providing rare glimpses of design materials from the leading studios whose work defines this new wave.
It certainly sounds like a novel approach to a subject which has hooked people all over the world. Could the V&A finally prove that video-games are art in their new exhibition? Potentially!
The V&A’s other futuristic exhibition of 2018?
Videogames isn’t going to be the V&A’s first foray into the future either. The museum has also confirmed that another exhibition called The Future Starts Here.
This exhibition will showcase over 100 artifacts that exist in the world today. It’ll also explore the way technology might point towards the kind of the future we’ll see.
The exhibition is said to showcase ‘the seeds of possible futures, currently in development, being worked on by scientists and designers in studios and laboratories around the world.’
Everything from smart devices to the internet and beyond will feature.
The exhibition aims to explore how technology is changing the way we live now. It’ll also explore where technology might lead us into the future. They mention how the internet is changing politics, so perhaps some of Trump’s tweets will be on display…
In addition, Facebook’s solar-powerd unmanned aerial vehicle Aquila, the Long Now Foundation’s Library of Civilization composed of over a thousand books, and a model of the Apple Spaceship campus will all be on display.
There’ll also be some special art pieces to go with the exhibition.
Tickets for The Future Starts Here haven’t been released yet but the microsite says they will be available soon.
Safe to say, the V&A are really pushing the boundaries of artistic expression in their 2018 and it looks amazing!