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List of video games in the Museum of Modern Art

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A number of video games were selected by the Museum of Modern Art, located in New York City, as part of its permanent collection. These games were chosen by the Museum of Modern Art in order to showcase design elements within them.[1] Fourteen initial games were announced in November 2012, with plans to expand the collection to up to forty games over time, as the museum is able to acquire the display rights for them. Six more games were added to the collection in June 2013, as well as a game console.

Curated by Paola Antonelli, the collection was included in the exhibition Applied Design in the Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries. In these galleries, around a hundred objects that represent contemporary design were displayed. Most games in the collection are playable on some level and all are displayed in a manner to minimize the influence of nostalgia.[2]


A screen on a plain gray wall displaying Pac-Man, with a simple joystick and pair of headphones beneath it
Pac-Man is placed near the elevator exit, as it was assumed to be one of the most popular games on display.[3]

The exhibition stirred up controversy, as some critics argued video games are not considered art and therefore might not have a place in an art gallery.[4] However, the collection is modeled after Philip Johnson’s 1934 exhibition "Machine Art," in which pieces of machinery such as propeller blades were displayed in a minimalist fashion to lay focus on their mechanical design. This set-up would create a "strange distance, this shock, that made people realize how gorgeous formally, and also important functionally, design pieces were," which, according to the exhibit's curator Paola Antonelli, is the desired effect of the exhibition.[5] In order to minimize factors such as nostalgia, the games are displayed in a minimalist fashion where only a screen and controlling-device are visible on an otherwise blank wall.[2]

At least one other video game, namely Katamari Damacy, has been displayed in MoMA's design galleries before.[6] The exhibition is part of a movement to include forms beyond traditional media that the Museum of Modern Art began in 2006, starting with digital fonts and later moving on to video games. MoMA has taken cautious care of traffic flow, as this had proved to be an "interesting" challenge. Games that are likely to be heavily played, such as Pac-Man, have been placed near entrances and exits to assure a constant flow from these games, while games that would require a larger amount of time to play have had a demo version developed for them, so that visitors can beat those and move on.[7]

Though the MoMA is mainly interested in acquiring a game's hardware and interface, the proprietary source code is considered the most valued. According to Antonelli, "when we cannot acquire the code, we acquire simulations, emulations, the cartridge, the hardware. But what we're interested in showing is the interaction by itself."[8]

The collection leans towards the classic era of arcade machines and 8-bit consoles as, during this era, "a small number of visionaries laid the groundwork for where we are now." According to Paul Galloway, many early, "seemingly simple games remain as vital and compelling today as they were" during the 1970s and 80s. Ralph H. Baer's Magnavox Odyssey console was added as it was considered both "a masterpiece of engineering and industrial design" as well as highly important during the birth of the video game industry.[9]



The wave indicates when a game was added to the collection; wave 1 was included on November 29, 2012, and wave 2 was included on June 23, 2013. Street Fighter II was added in November, 2013, and Snake was added in October, 2015.

Title Developer Platform Year Notes Wave Sources
Another World Delphine Software International Various 1991 1 [10][11]
Asteroids Atari Arcade 1979 2 [12]
Canabalt Adam Saltsman Mobile 2009 1 [10][11]
Dwarf Fortress Tarn Adams PC 2006 Each time a new version of Dwarf Fortress is made available, MoMA instantly downloads and archives the version in its secure servers. The complex game is available to visitors as a "cinematic trailer".[13] 1 [10][11]
Eve Online CCP Games PC 2003 The massively multiplayer online video game is installed as a "day in the universe" of the game. Additionally, MoMA offers data of the virtual economy that has developed within Eve Online since its release in 2003 via a video presentation.[14] 1 [10][11]
Flow Thatgamecompany PlayStation 2006 1 [10][11]
Katamari Damacy Namco PlayStation 2 2004 Originally part of MoMA's "Century of the Child: Growing by Design" exhibit.[6] 1 [10][11]
Magnavox Odyssey Ralph Baer 1972 First generation home video game console[9] 2 [12]
Minecraft Mojang PC 2011 2 [12]
Myst Cyan Worlds Various 1993 Available only as a video demonstration[15] 1 [10][11]
Pac-Man Namco Arcade 1980 1 [10][11]
Passage Jason Rohrer PC 2008 1 [10][11]
Pong Atari Various 1972 2 [12]
Portal Valve Various 2007 1 [10][11]
SimCity 2000 Maxis Various 1994 Due to the game's complexity, a visual demo is prepared,[3] and screenshots of the game are displayed on a floor-to-ceiling, multi-column mural.[2] 1 [10][11]
The Sims Maxis Various 2000 Available only as a video demonstration[15] 1 [10][11]
Snake Nokia Various 1997 4 [16]
Space Invaders Taito Arcade 1978 2 [12]
Street Fighter II Capcom Arcade 1991 MoMA's copy is Hyper Street Fighter II 3 [17]
Tempest Atari Arcade 1981 2 [12]
Tetris Alexey Pajitnov Various 1985 MoMA's copy of Tetris runs on an Apple computer mimicking the specific Soviet-era computer it was designed for in 1985.[13] 1 [10][11]
Vib-Ribbon NanaOn-Sha PlayStation 1999 1 [10][11]
Yars' Revenge Atari Atari 2600 1982 2 [12]

See also



  1. ^ Antonelli, Paola (May 2013). "Why I brought Pac-Man to MoMA". TED. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  2. ^ a b c Milot, Stephanie (2013-03-02). "MoMA Exhibit Showcases Video Games as Modern Art". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  3. ^ a b Indvik, Lauren (2013-03-01). "Inside MoMA's Classic Video Games Exhibit". Mashable. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  4. ^ Jones, Jonathan (2012-11-30). "Sorry MoMA, video games are not art". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  5. ^ Moore, Bo (2013-05-30). "'All Hell Broke Loose': Why MoMA Is Exhibiting Tetris and Pac-Man". Wired. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  6. ^ a b Grubb, Jeff (2012-07-30). "Katamari Damacy is arty enough for the New York Museum of Modern Art". VentureBeat. Archived from the original on 2015-10-19.
  7. ^ Indvik, Lauren (2013-02-28). "MoMA Exhibit to Feature 'Pac-Man' and 13 Other Video Game Classics". Mashable. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  8. ^ Wernick, Adam (2014-12-15). "The Museum of Modern Art embraces all aspects of digital culture and design". Public Radio International. Archived from the original on 2015-09-11.
  9. ^ a b Campbell, Colin (2013-06-28). "MoMA adds Magnavox Odyssey and six classics to game design exhibit". Polygon. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "MoMA Acquires 14 Video Games for Architecture and Design Collection". MoMAPRESS. 2012-12-02. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Anttonelli, Paola (2012-11-29). "Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters". Museum of Modern Art. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Galloway, Paul (2013-06-23). "Video Games: Seven More Building Blocks in MoMA's Collection". Museum of Modern Art. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  13. ^ a b Hall, Charlie (2014-08-06). "Dwarf Fortress is changing how the MOMA preserves art". Polygon. Archived from the original on 2015-10-19.
  14. ^ Takahashi, Dean (2015-05-12). "Eve Online exhibit to become a permanent fixture at New York's Museum of Modern Art". VentureBeat. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  15. ^ a b Suellentrop, Chris (2013-03-03). "A Museum's Games Are Not on Pedestals". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Taneli Armanto. Snake. 1997". Museum of Modern Art. 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2024.
  17. ^ "Yoshiki Okamoto, Akira Yasuda. Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition. 1991 (this edition 2003)". Museum of Modern Art. 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2024.