Backward Messages

The straight story on influences that turn teens violent.

Beth Winegarner

Beth Winegarner
SAN FRANCISCO, California, United States
March 05
At Backward Messages, Beth Winegarner gives you the straight story on all the influences you’ve been told will turn your teen violent: the occult, violent video games, heavy-metal music, and more. Winegarner is a San Francisco author, journalist, and mom writing a book for parents on the most controversial teen influences and why they’re a healthy part of growing up.

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MARCH 19, 2012 6:26PM

Smithsonian: even violent video games are art

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Sony’s M-rated psychological thriller “Heavy Rain” is included in the Smithsonian’s “Art of Video Games” exhibit.

There are still plenty of people in the world who say video games — particularly violent video games — are, at best, a waste of time, and, at worst, a form of homicide training.

And then there’s the Smithsonian American Art Museum, whose new exhibit, “The Art of Video Games,” firmly says otherwise.

Here’s their introduction to the exhibit, which runs through September:

“The Art of Video Games” is one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. It features some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers. The exhibition focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology and storytelling through some of the best games for twenty gaming systems ranging from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation 3.

The show features 80 games, selected from a ballot of more than 240 titles by 3.7 million video-game fans across the world. Among those games are a number of controversial and M-rated games, such as:

Doom II
Diablo II
Metal Gear Solid
Halo 2
Mass Effect 2
Fallout 3
Metal Gear Solid 2
Heavy Rain
Brütal Legend

These are, to be clear, games that have been demonized and reviled in the public eye, particularly a game from the Doom franchise, which many have (mistakenly) blamed for the Columbine High School shootings in 1999.

These games offer more than senseless violence. They offer rich stories, characters, and a chance to explore other worlds and experiences. They are a chance to understand an alternate reality, and bring that understanding back with you.

As game developer Mike Mika puts it in the show’s trailer:

Your skill while watching a movie might be eating popcorn. Your skill while playing a video game night be that you’ve succeeded at learning something, and you’re GOOD at it.”

The show also comes with a calendar of exciting live events, from a Gamer Symphony Orchestra to a live talk from curator Chris Melissinos.

Will the Smithsonian help video games gain recognition as a form of art? Why or why not?

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