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Museum of Modern Art Puts Its Game Face On

By Yannick LeJacq
Wall Street Journal

Bogost_HowDoes the MoMA’s induction of 14 video games actually settle anything about the “are video games art” debate? In his recent book “How To Do Things With Videogames,” the media studies scholar Ian Bogost said: “Forget games, art doesn’t have any sort of stable meaning in contemporary culture anyway.” A bigger question this raises is why the cultural obsession with the term “art” is so important to fans of a particular culture, movement, or creative individual is so important in the first place. A recent issue of Wired fawned over the iPhone so feverishly that it finally said the device “doesn’t look like technology. With that polished steel bezel, transparent pane of glass, and solitary button, it looks like art.” Contestants in RuPaul’s Drag Race have insisted that the work they do to compete in the show is art. Just this week, I spoke to Cody Wilson of the controversial Defense Distributed project that hopes to one day make working firearms with privately owned 3D printers. While I didn’t ask him if he thought guns were art specifically, he spoke in awe of their supreme design, which is “engineered to be an ideal platonic form.” If nothing else, this understanding of a lethal piece of machinery is at least shockingly close to the MoMA’s own description of video games as “a synthesis of form and function.”

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