First, I’m disappointed that “The Art of Video Games” seems to focus on video games as a phenomenon of the home console or PC to the exclusion of public play. This ignores both the fact that home consoles have historically often served to run low-powered imitations of games designed for public arcades, and the current proliferation of online play. This is especially frustrating when the failure to include some version or acknowledgement of the arcade in the exhibit’s play room seems like such a missed opportunity.
Second, I can’t help coming away with the feeling that an art museum is the wrong venue for an exhibition on video games. Video games have always been so much more than the sum of their hardware and code, and putting them in a museum devoted to the visual arts must necessarily nudge games into occupying the position of being a thing to look at. While, say, a book or a chess set could well merit inclusion in an art museum as an object of physical beauty and artistic design, putting either on a wall or behind glass excludes some fundamental aspect of their artfulness. A book that cannot be read is not literature, and a chess board that is not in use cannot convey the history or beauty of the game of chess at play.
Books have libraries. Chess has clubs, tournaments, and tables set up in parks and other public places all over the world. If we want to get games to be taken more seriously as an art, maybe we need to make our play more visible and accessible, and create spaces where that can happen.