Rethinking Video Games

courtesy Nintendo America

Gaming goes cultural.

It’s time to stop associating video games with Cheetos and Mountain Dew. Here are a few recent collaborations between game creators and established cultural institutions that point to a bright—and respectable—future for gaming.

  • In “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present,” her much-hyped 2010 stint at MoMA, Abramovic sat at a table across from a long succession of visitors. Game designer Pippin Barr’s sardonic take on the performance (in which your character just waits in line nearly forever) caught the artist’s unflinching eye. She then commissioned Barr to create a work for her new institute. Titled Durations, Barr’s cheeky eight-bit game features such absurd challenges as a one-second typing coach and a one-minute speed date.
  • Bounden, released in May, is a collaboration between Dutch studio Game Oven and the Dutch National Ballet. The game reinterprets dances by choreographers from the Ballet’s Junior Company, set to original music. Your body is the controller—you and a partner must move a device in tandem. Think a mix of Twister and ballet, if that makes sense.
  • Children spend more than enough time with their handheld video-game devices at museums, so the Louvre decided to call a truce. Available for Nintendo’s 3DS, the new Louvre guide (pictured here) allows people to tour the museum digitally from afar. And for those visiting in person, the guide features more than 35 hours of audio commentary and an interactive map to help you find your way.
  • Belarusian-Cypriot game company Wargaming has already created one of the most successful desktop gaming franchises with World of Tanks. Now it’s moving into the real world. Through a partnership with London’s Royal Air Force Museum, it contributed to the recovery of the only known Dornier Do17, a World War II–era German warplane, from the ocean floor. Wargaming even built an augmented-reality app to visualize the plane in flight in non-museum locations.
  • Conceived by Milanese design duo We Are Müesli, CAVE! CAVE! DEUS VIDET is a visual novel inspired by Hieronymous Bosch’s 16th-century triptych The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Telling the story of Hoodie, a young visitor to the National Museum of Lisbon, Portugal (where Bosch’s painting is located), the game evolves as a mystery and pulls inspirations as wide-ranging as punk rock and Star Wars into an art-game context.