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What PlayStation games would we put in the Smithsonian?

You’ve probably already heard that the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC is planning to hold an exhibition in March of 2012, entitled ‘The Art Of Videogames’. It’s aim to explore the evolution of videogames as an art form, and how the medium has evolved alongside technology. So, my blog today is an incredibly easy and predictable one (hey, I had a three day weekend and it’s difficult kicking my brain back into gear) – what PlayStation games must appear in the exhibition? Well…

Ico/Shadow Of The Colossus
Were these games ever not going to appear in this list? Both Fumito Ueda’s Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus deserve a proud place in the Smithsonian. They were some of the first games to explore emotions as tender and poignant as longing, loneliness and sorrow (although Ueda claims this was a happy accident) and did so without a script or formal narrative. For me, the fact that Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus are able to impart such emotions simply through the look and feel of the world ends the argument over whether or not games can be art.

For a game to be art it doesn’t necessarily need to evoke some poignant emotion. It can just look and feel cool, and that’s exactly what Rez does. In layering stratums of sound with increasingly intense visuals Rez creates an audio-visual experience few other games have been able to match. It’s beautiful to look at and listen to, and an incredibly absorbing game to play. It was inspired by art itself – the abstract works of Wassily Kandinsky prompting Tetsuya Mizuguchi to create the game.

Okami’s watercolour visuals and Japanese mythology make up a game that is aesthetically beautiful. The pastel colours and broad brushstrokes that make up the game’s art style are undeniably attractive, and painting colour back into the world with thick slashes of your celestial brush is satisfying to say the least. But Okami’s pleasures are not just skin deep. There’s a feeling about its world and characters that feels almost dreamlike, like you’re playing through the very imagination of the game’s creators.

Many would call this game pretentious, and I would find it difficult to argue with that appraisal (I mean, all that stuff at the end about the nuclear bomb…it’s a bit much). But the game itself remains one of the best examples of tying the very act of playing – the game’s interactivity – with the narrative itself. Braid is all about the desire to turn back time, to fix things. Videogaming is currently the only medium in the world capable of such an feat.

Well, it’s got, like, flowers in it. And nice blue skies. And big pretty fields. Artists are always painting crap like that. Therefore Flower must be worthy of appearing in the Smithsonian, right? It’s also a videogame that doesn’t include shooting, death, muscles or beards, making it pretty unique in the industry. Guillermo del Toro likened the game to a haiku, and he’s right about absolutely everything ever.  There are few alternative developers as well known or as well backed as thatgamecompany. It’s definitely one developer to watch – we’re already expecting Journey to be something special indeed.

What less preictable games would you vot to get into the Smithsonian?

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