Serenity Forge Smithsonian

Smithsonian American Art Museum Features Indie Arcade

Can video games be considered art? Well, if the Smithsonian American Art Museum, one of the world’s largest art museums, is exhibiting video games, I suppose that’s as good of an answer as any.

On January 16th, 2016, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its partners are hosting The Indie Arcade: Coast to Coast, an annual event that exhibits a collection of meaningful and artistic video games which have pushed the industry forward. In the beautiful Kogod Courtyard, visitors are encouraged to come play a vast variety of games with each other.
Players get a chance to compete with one another, just like the good old days, on titles such as Asteroids, Tron, Pac-man, and Donkey Kong, while checking out 36 brand new games which exhibit both the indie and artistic nature from where the video game industry was born.

Kogod Smithsonian Indie Arcade

(The Kogod Courtyard. Indie Arcade 2014, Photo credit

Some new titles include:

  • Mushroom 11 – A game of growth and destruction in a post-human world.
  • Inversus – A monochromatic, fast-paced, quick-witted strategy game inspired by the ancient Chinese board game Go.
  • Slam City Oracles – A crazy and gleeful action “slam-em-up” physics game.
  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch – A game of struggle with destruction, deception, and fatherhood.

And much more.

One of the 36 games exhibited will also be our very own Pixel Galaxy, a hectic action shooting game where you can’t shoot. Instead, you must turn enemies into your friends and survive together. We created Pixel Galaxy to inspire action-oriented, yet non-violent video game designs.

Pixel Galaxy Exhibit

(Serenity Forge exhibiting Pixel Galaxy at Microsoft, Pax Prime 2015.)

In addition to playing games, the Smithsonian is also offering game design and audio design workshops, teaching beginner game developers Unity and 3D modeling.
The event first began through its The Art of Video Games exhibition in 2012, covering 40 years of artistic video games from Bioshock to Flower.

The Art of Video Games was an important point in our museum’s history because it signaled the first acquisition of video games into our permanent collection, and it pulled in an audience that museums struggle to reach: young people.” said Kaylin Lapan, the museum’s public programs coordinator. She additionally expressed interest in “further game-related collaborations” with the Smithsonian Institution and its partners.

Smithsonian Indie Arcade

(Players enjoying indie games. Indie Arcade 2014, Photo credit

We’re super excited for this event (and not just because we get to show off our art at the Smithsonian), and you should be too! Here’s why:

  1. Video games for ages have been considered as “toys for kids.” Events like this motivate the public perception to change and support more critical views of game design.
  2. As the public perception of video games mature over time, players and game developers will begin analyzing the video game medium through a scholarly lens, thus motivating the creation of games which hold higher ethical and artistic vision.
  3. Of course, this does not mean there won’t be “silly-fun” games. Treating the industry with more respect will only generate additional diversity of content.
  4. Overtime, the industry will evolve into having games that would cater to every individual, just like how novels, music, movies, and TV shows have now evolved into in our modern day lives.

As video games are treated with more respect, they will become more as influencers of culture and ideas for generations to come. We hope that more and more institutions and organizations such as the Smithsonian and its partners will be able to help make this dream a reality as time goes on.

More information:

Indie Arcade Official Page:
Indie Arcade Facebook Event:
The Art of Video Games Exhibit 2012:

Event Partners:

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