Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Smithsonian's GODAWFUL game-voting thing

I'm on my way to bed (early-ass screening tomorrow - ugh!), but rest assured that I WILL have more to say when time avails itself about the ungodly, horrible way the Smithsonian is going about the "public voting" aspect of it's "Art of Videogames" exhibit. Don't get me wrong: The effort is appreciated, but everything from the selections to the categorizations on this thing are so wrongheaded, slapdash and uninformed as to make me honestly think it'd be better if they didn't do it at all.

For example: The voting (which seems to ignore Arcades ENTIRELY, btw) divides the history of the medium into five "eras," with options to vote for which of three games will be each console/eras "representative" title in each of four genres. Only FOUR? Yes: Action, Adventure, Target and Combat/Strategy. That's right: No platformer, no puzzle, no RPG - in the 8-bit/NES/Adventure category, it's Final Fantasy vs. Zelda vs. Shadowgate... and only ONE can "win."


Where did they get this system? Did they just make it up without consulting anyone who knows thing-ONE about the medium? Gaming is young, but there's NO shortage of historians and credited experts out there who could've given them a better outline. This isn't a matter of nerd-nitpickery... obviously not every game can get in there... but trying to tell the "history" of the form and classifying Zelda and Final Fantasy as the same thing? That's like if I opened up a Bird Museum and added an Octopus on the basis that it has a BEAK.

I imagine others will want to weigh in on this, but instead of just griping along with me why not gripe directly to them instead: Here's the exhibit/voting's comment section.

And here's the email address associated with the page: BE RESPECTFUL if you do write in, regardless of what you have to say. We gain nothing by being crass.


Scott Glasgow said...

Thank you Bob, Escapist brought this to my attention the other day and in my head I'm thinking. "Finally, a museum that wants the gaming public's influence on what was important about the early years of gaming."
Then the "categories" rolled in... seriously, I don't know who decided these guys or how they went about separating them. What they should be looking for is MECHANICS that revolutionized gaming. I realize it's an art museum, but any assembler of art knows we need to have a method to assembly.
We need things like Pac Man was the first character, Zelda was the first save system, Ultima was the first progressive world.
*Shakes Head*
Yes Bob, I'm gonna send them an e-mail, and it won't be a string of expletives, I just hope our fellows can follow suit. Otherwise the only ones we can blame is ourselves for the exhibit becoming a poor representation of our joys.

Kendall said...

Final Fantasy, Zelda 1 (Or rather... Link to the Past?) or Shadowgate?
Meh, I'd go for Zelda any day.
But Megaman 2, SMB3 and Metroid?
Oh god, don't make me choose.

personaenongratae33 said...

After browsing the comments one of the people involved had this short bit to say: "This is not a historical account of the entire history of video games but, rather, an examination of the evolution of the art form as seen through the lens of 20 platforms".

Christopher said...


I posted this at the other blog - "I was all ready to say, "chill, they have a narrative to present because the public enjoys history presented as a cohesive narrative. it's no big deal, it's nice to get any recognition at all for the medium. blah, blah, blah..."

But then I go to their site and have the experience of being forced to pick between Super Mario Bros. 3, Mega Man 2, and Metroid as to which one better represents the action genre on the NES! NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO MAKE THAT CHOICE!

Why don't I fucking decide whether Citizen Kane, Dr. Strangelove, or Frankenstein should represent black and white film?"

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that choice was particularly ridiculous.

Reverend Allan Ironside said...

Wait, we need to find out how Roger Ebert feels about all this first.

Mark said...

this is insane.

not only do they make you choose one from the categories you've mentioned (mega man 2 vs. mario 3! both!), but there are some just plain horrible categorizations - Diablo II is a "target game" while Metal Gear solid 2 is a "combat/strategy" game?

not to mention there are some totally undeserving entries - ET for the atari? yes, it should perhaps be represented, but only because of the (negative)financial and historical importance it had, not as a "representative" of the atari!

a comment that will only piss you off more: people got paid to make this.

Popcorn Dave said...

Yeah, the genres are a mess. Flashback is "adventure" while the very similar Abe's Oddysee is "action". Metal Gear Solid 1 is "action", MGS2 is "combat/strategy". Huh??

It's like they went out of their way to make the most meaningless, confusing categories they could manage. "Target"? What the hell's that? Oh, well, nearly all the nominations are shooters, so why's it not called "shooters"? Wait, Diablo II is in the "target" category too? I don't get it. Is it a "target" game because of the way you click on enemies? Blegh. Hope they sort this shit out.

Smashmatt202 said...

Must... Tell... This... To... EVERYONE!

Also, I hope Extra Credits comments on this!

Matwisto said...

If this IS for art, why not sort the categories by artistic style? Like retro, cel-shading, etc.

If they want to make it more game-specific, then they should just go by proper genres like Bob was saying.

Chris Evans said...

Who chose these games and these match ups?!? ET!?!?!? E F***ING T is on the list!?!?!?!? and the console version of pac man? I'll vote, in hopes next time it comes along they'll get some one who knows what their doing.

Chris Evans said...

Call of Duty: Black Ops is in the same category as LittleBigPlanet 2? Heavy Rain and Dragon Age? Tony Hawk's Underground2 and God of War? World of Warcraft and Knights of the old Republic? SimCity and Act Raiser? Sure, Act Raiser has a city building portion but it's... oh I give up.

akkuma420 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
akkuma420 said...

If this exhibit was made for us video game fanatics, then YES, this would be COMPLETELY unacceptable.
But it's not...
It's for those people out there that have no respect and no knowledge of the Industry.
This is a pretty BASIC outline of video game history.
Keep it simple and people will actually take the time to go and view and possibly try and understand the exhibit.
If we made this exhibit the way we wanted it, it would take up the whole fucking museum.
This exhibit has to be made to appeal to everyone else BUT us.
It sucks that we are forced to choose 1 out of 3 classics, but I really don't think it matters to be honest.
I guarantee that most people don't have a clue what "Earthbound" or "Chronotrigger" is, so it really isn't gonna matter to them if one isn't present.
Like I said before, This wasn't meant for us, it was meant to inform the uninformed.
IMO anyways.