Games are “only form of artistic expression” allowing users to “explore and experiment”, says Melissinos

Saturday, 25th February 2012 19:37 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Chris Melissinos is featured in a video posted below the break discussing what he feels makes video games an art form.

According to the guest curator of Smithsonian’s Art of Video Games exhibit, Melissinos says the designer, the game mechanics, and the player are what turn the game into art.

“In books, everything is laid before you,” he told Smithsonian Magazine. “There is nothing left for you to discover.

“Video games are the only forms of artistic expression that allow the authoritative voice of the author to remain true while allowing the observer to explore and experiment.”

The Art of Video Games exhibit opens at the Smithsonian on March 16 and run through September 30, and it features 80 games, with Flower playable at the exhibit.



  1. AJacks92

    Awesome video. Showcased good games with a lot of background information about how some games of today are echoes of previous games and sometimes echoes of previous artists. After doing a project of M.C. Escher, I’m still in awe by how much his work has influence in some games today (e.g. Echochrome I & II)

    #1 3 years ago
  2. DSB

    I think it raises a lot of questions and doesn’t really answer any of them.

    Like the wisdom of letting publishers into museums. Quite arguably they couldn’t care less about the artform aspect of videogames, they’re just there to get exposure and make some money.

    Although I guess that’s becoming a problem with art today. You have authors “outsourcing” their characters to others, massproducing their stories, and artists who do nothing except “think up” artworks that are then made by entirely different people.

    It’s obviously worth looking closer at games, but at the moment it just isn’t a medium that’s focused on expression, exploration and experimentation, those things are really put into games in spite of what they are – Assembly line products made by corporations, for consumers.

    That’s really what makes those statements wide of the mark. Take a box of pastels. Open a word document. Whip out your camera. Any of those will allow you to experiment and explore far more than any videogame.

    There’s not the same obvious interaction with the end product, but that’s mostly because art is so much deeper than a digital construct. It exists on paper, canvas or film, solid mediums, but it also exists in your imagination.

    We can write whatever we like, depict whatever we like, capture whatever we like, but we aren’t really free to play when it comes to videogames.

    And it certainly isn’t true that it’s the only artform to let you experiment. Case and point: Fridge magnets.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Morrius

    Flower was not built by a corporation. Art has been outsourced and mass produced for hundreds of years. ‘A camera’ or ‘a box of pastels’ are not works of art, but tools with which to create them. That much is obvious, surely?

    #3 3 years ago
  4. DSB

    @3 Flower could well be the exception, I haven’t played that one.

    I’d say that a lot of the exploration and experimentation that games allow for is far too limited to constitute real expression or enlightenment. It’s pretty basic entertainment, in the same sense as a “choose your own adventure” – No matter which page you go to, it’s still locked down by the author.

    Of course then you have “games” that push that boundary like Minecraft or Everyone Edits, but you could argue whether those are games or tools.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. osric90

    Videogames are the tenth art and done. People who don’t believe that sould not “play” them or at least not the good ones. In movies we have Legally Blonde and we have Blue Valentine, so, in games we have Call of Duty Clones and we have Metal Gear Solid or Half-Life… choose your side.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Da Man

    People who don’t know any better enjoy tacky rubbish (and done). I’m sure some couldn’t tell Ghost In the Shell from Faust if their life depended on it.

    #6 3 years ago

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