Smithsonian scores Halo 2600 and Flower games
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