I’m terribly sorry my Art of Video Games follow-up ended up being posted so late (it’s been close to 3 or 4 weeks, I believe). Between school and my part-time job, it’s been difficult to find the time and motivation to edit the video I promised to show. You see, I wanted to put up the video at the same time as everything else, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now. Thus, instead of holding off any longer, I think I’ll just post it separately. I’ll also be posting the interview I promised once I can get a hold of the interviewee again.
Anyway, I’m just going to give some descriptions and show some photos of my time at The Art of Video Games at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The
semi-embarrassing totally radical video of me doing a live reenactment of a video game will come later. The reason for this is because I’m working on the translation (I’ll be adding Japanese captions), and I need to take some time to make sure the words are accurate. I’m also going to have one of my Japanese pen pals check it (though he’s super-busy, so I’m waiting for a better time to contact him about it). Please be patient, and I’ll have the video uploaded as soon as possible.
By the way, there are going to be two panels on May 4th: “Beyond Play – Video Games at Work” (Ben Sawyer, Asi Burak, J. C. Herz, Brian Crecente, James Paul Gee, and moderator Constance Steinkuehler Squire), and “Beyond Play – Game Change: Society and Culture” (Eric Zimmerman, Richard Lemarchand, Robin Hunicke, and moderator Colleen Macklin). If you’re in the area, check them out! If you can’t make it there in person, you can also watch the live streams.
So, what did I do at TAoVG? Well, on Friday, I checked out the exhibit with my friend. It was rather small and didn’t have any handheld systems (only console and computer), but it was well-organized and had some of the most important games on display. Also, it was great to see that super-long line on Saturday; it shows that, yes, games do have a place in society, and an important one at that. I was so glad I checked the exhibit out the day before, because otherwise, I would’ve had to wait in that line! You can check out some photos of the exhibit here.
Evolution of Video Games – Pioneers
My friend and I arrived a bit late to this, which was the first one. Apparently, we got some of the last tickets. Lucky us! The panel had Don Daglow, RJ Mical, Mike Mika, Rand Miller, and Keith Robinson. We missed a chunk of the first part, but we still got to hear a lot of it. Hearing pioneers discuss how the times have been a-changin’ is always interesting.
Evolution of Video Games – The Future
This panel had Paul Barnett, Mark DeLoura, Ken Levine, and Kellee Santiago. During the Q & A part (when audience members could go up to the microphone to ask questions), there was one particular question and answer that got me thinking. A young man came up to the microphone and asked about some games being overly-pretentious. Kellee Santiago made an excellent rebuttal; she said that just because a game doesn’t please a certain person or audience doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have the right to exist. Even the most pretentious game ever could strike a chord someone, so we shouldn’t discredit it. Since games are art, we should be embracing experimentation and new ideas, even if it means coming across games that are way too “artsy-fartsy.”
Nolan Bushnell: Video Games in Retrospect
This was the last panel on Friday, and fortunately, I had reserved tickets for it. My friend and I managed to get front-row seats, so I talked to Nolan Bushnell and Keith Robinson for a little while. Keith Robinson asked me what games I liked, and I said action-adventure was my favorite genre, so he introduced me to David Crane, who created Pitfall! I sat next to David for a bit and talked to him about me being a game design student and him being, well, the creator of Pitfall! It was quite the magical experience. As for the actual panel, Nolan did a great job engaging the audience. My friend enjoyed his discussion a lot, too, because he talked about some of the engineering aspects of game development (my friend is an electrical engineering student).
A Conversation with Hideo Kojima
Saturday was a stressful day. We had to wait in line to try to get tickets for the Hideo Kojima panel. Fortunately, we got in. What I liked and admired most about Kojima was how he praised curiosity and exploration. To be honest, as much as I really want to go to Japan (and work there!), I’m also terrified. I think it’s also interesting how Kojima wanted to be like those crime scene police on those American drama shows. It’s funny how many non-Japanese people love Japanese culture, whereas Japanese people think other cultures are the epitome of cool. Oh, and did I mention I talked to Kojima in Japanese? Well, it was only “はじめまして” and “ありがとう” (“nice to meet you” and “thanks,” respectively). One of my other friends who was nearby told me he seemed surprised and happy. I guess it’s not every day that you encounter an American who speaks Japanese!
It’s All in the Design with Robin Hunicke
This was the last panel of the event. Robin Hunicke is a really funny, charming person — an absolute delight to listen to. As a game design student, I benefited from hearing about the development of games like Boom Blox, Journey, and MySims. The Boom Blox part was a bit reminiscent of the “Designing for Humans” class I took in my fall 2011 class at The University of Baltimore, because she discussed the gap between younger players and older players.
Additionally, during the open-mic Q & A session, a UB professor mentioned that there were often only a couple of women in her classes and how she wanted to get more girls and women into development. She also said that being a minority in a majority group can make people feel like they don’t belong. From what I can currently recall, Hunicke agreed and thought we should encourage diversity. I was glad the professor brought this up. I considered asking Santiago or Hunicke about it during one of the panels, but I was too afraid of being judged; in some circles, it can be taboo to bring up the topic of women in game development. I’m not going to delve all that deep into the topic right now, but I have an article planned for it later.
If you’re interested in watching any of the panels, please visit these links:
Some Photos I Took
While the professional photographers’ photos from the AoVG Flickr album are probably much better than the ones I took with my crappy little camera, I’d still like to share some of what I managed to capture. I apologize in advance for the blurriness in some of these photos.
This big screen with videos of games is the first thing you will see if you go to the exhibit. This is evidence that such a magnificent display of art brings people together.
There was an area with lots of concept art. This is concept art of the Dreamcast-era Sonic the Hedgehog.
Here's another piece of concept art of Sonic the Hedgehog. It's titled "Interior of a blimp."
There were games that people could play on the big screens, most with special control systems. This picture shows the directions for Super Mario Bros. for the NES before the player begins.
Don't you wish you could play The Secret of Monkey Island on a gigantic monitor like this one?
The Atari 2600 was one of the oldest consoles the exhibit had on display.
The Nintendo Wii was one of the newest consoles the exhibit had on display.
The exhibit had these viewing devices with buttons you could push to watch a particular video. Pretty neat, huh?
Some areas had these towers that displayed various videos. On the bottom, you can see that someone proclaimed their love for The Art of Videos games by building a tribute in Minecraft.
The exhibit had some quotes from industry veterans on the walls. This was one of my favorites.
This is another one of my favorite quotes. One of the best things about games is the freedom they provide and the fantasies they allow us to explore.
I sat in-between Keith Robinson and Nolan Bushnell on the stage. I was giddier than a schoolgirl on a Friday!
I sat next to and talked to David Crane, creator of Pitfall! The exclamation point is both because I was excited (and nervous) and because the title actually has an exclamation point after it.
Another famous figure I met was...Pac-Man! As always, he's smiling.
The courtyard had lots of TVs and game consoles set up. The console here is the Sega Genesis, complete with the Sega CD and 32X add-ons. The game being played is Sonic CD.
This is the first time I played a game on the Atari Jaguar. I played Tempest, which was a pretty fun arcade-style game.
I watched one of my friends play a really strange game on the PC Engine Duo. I don't know what the game was, but it had lots of extremely grainy FMV (full-motion video) and didn't even get to the actual gameplay until several minutes in. Once that part came up, well...let's just say it involved back-flipping and shooting giant ants...or something.
Walter Day of Twin Galaxies and Billy Mitchell of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters also made an appearance during Bushnell's talk. He received some nice awards!
Some people decided to take a journey (see what I did there?) to The Art of Video Games in cosplay gear.
Chun-Li took some time out of her busy fighting schedule to pose for the camera at The Art of Video Games.
Some members of the Final Fantasy cast appeared in the gift shop! Too bad they didn't have enough Gil to buy anything...
...Zelda, however, brought enough Rupees to buy whatever she wanted. Maybe she got a souvenir for Link, too.
Thanks again to everyone for their patience. Once more, I apologize about this taking so long. Between my schoolwork and job, it’s been hard getting myself motivated enough to keep up with this site. However, my semester will be over in May, so I’m going to try to work on updating more often. I have a lot of ideas in the pipeline; I just need to actually take the time to write them up.