Smith­so­nian scores Halo 2600 and Flower games

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY -

FUR­THER ev­i­dence that videogames have be­come an art form came from the Smith­so­nian Amer­i­can Art Mu­seum, which has an­nounced the ad­di­tion of Halo 2600 and Flower to its per­ma­nent col­lec­tion.

They are the first games added to the na­tional col­lec­tion.

Flower is a gor­geous, serene game in which you nav­i­gate flower petals through land­scape that be­comes more colour­ful as you progress. It was re­leased for the PlayS­ta­tion 3 in 2007 by That Game Com­pany, a Santa Monica, Cal­i­for­nia, stu­dio started by sev­eral film stu­dents and backed by Sony.

The lead pro­gram­mer on the project was John Ed­wards, who taught him­self to write soft­ware in his high school li­brary. Since he was in ele­men­tary school, he had a group of friends who built games in­clud­ing card and board games.

Sony liked the game so much it bun­dled it with the new PlayS­ta­tion 4.

Halo 2600 is a retro trib­ute to the Xbox scifi fran­chise and the Atari 2600. It was cre­ated and re­leased online by Ed Fries, the for­mer head of Mi­crosoft’s game stu­dios who now in­vests in var­i­ous game com­pa­nies.

When he was still in high school, Fries was given an Atari 2600 that in­spired him to learn pro­gram­ming and set his ca­reer course.

Fries re­leased Halo 2600 in 2010 and made it avail­able freely online. It’s played through the browser, start­ing with a lone sol­dier find­ing his way through an ev­er­green for­est.

Fries said he thought it will ap­peal mostly to the small com­mu­nity of Atari pro­gram­ming en­thu­si­asts.

“I thought th­ese guys will care but prob­a­bly no one else will,” he said at the time.

But the game caught on with game en­thu­si­asts, even­tu­ally in­clud­ing El­iz­a­beth Broun, the Mar­garet and Terry Stent Di­rec­tor of the Smith­so­nian Amer­i­can Art Mu­seum.

“The best videogames are a great ex­pres­sion of art and cul­ture in our democ­racy,” she said in a re­lease. “I am ex­cited that this new medium is now a per­ma­nent part of our col­lec­tions along­side other forms of video, elec­tronic and code-based art.” Michael Mans­field, the mu­seum’s cu­ra­tor of film and me­dia arts, said that games “rep­re­sent a vast, di­verse and rapidly evolv­ing new genre that is cru­cial to our un­der­stand­ing of the Amer­i­can story.”

Flower and Halo 2600 are im­por­tant ad­di­tions to our col­lec­tion, but they are just the be­gin­ning of our work in this area,” Mans­field said in a re­lease. “By bring­ing th­ese games into a pub­lic col­lec­tion, the mu­seum has the op­por­tu­nity to in­ves­ti­gate both the ma­te­rial sci­ence of video game com­po­nents and de­velop best prac­tices for the dig­i­tal preser­va­tion of the source code for the games them­selves.” — McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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