Published on Sunday 21 November 2010
Lately everyone seems to speak well of video games, but hardly anyone knows how to position them. What are they? Games, entertainment, culture? Well, though few people can answer that, it really doesn't matter. What's really important is that a further step has been taken in constructing the authoritativeness of videogames as both an aesthetic and a cultural standard. Now that games move into museums, it seem way off the Carmageddon
times, the years of uncontrolled demonization of pc games and consoles.
In recent times the accusations against video games are missing, maybe also because there are virtual worlds and social networks to act as a lightning rod. However, the video games sector is lately enjoying good health; it reminds us of those singers, which are given honorary degrees after being accused for their trivial canzonettas. Videogames as a sector boasts the strength of a process of legitimization that developed within the last ten years and that owes its success to a series of very good moves.
Among the various reasons, lies the idea of a strong contamination and cultural convergence: the videogame sector began to take off when it started to be aligned with cinema: first with those products that were based on the plots of films, but especially at a later stage, once film started to be based on the videogames imaginary.
Another important step was the creation of videogame celebrities, that is celebrities born in gaming, not digital surrogates of movie stars, "people" like Lara Croft or Duke Nukem, who marked the imaginations of the 1990s. Then this process has come to fruition with the idea of standardization.
In the world of videogames two modes coexist, that of an ever evolving organism, seen as part of a mutation study, and that of the accomplished expressive form, with a series of determined and concluded case studies
, to be watched with the severance typical of the critic and theorist. In this sense the videogames museums are highly functional to the legitimacy of these forms of expression. Video games in fact manage to carry out two speeds; first of all by being crystallized periodically, within a period of 3-4 years, one part to be logged; secondly by developing both new characters and stories intended to supply the future Chronicles. Many characters of videogames have therefore a double slope, the classic one, which is constantly being (re) historicised and its evolution, which serves to keep fresh and lively the image and game play of the game.
Itís a double track that lets this sector gain authority without risking to be blocked. It appears as dynamic the role of museums of videogames, which must not be limited to record history over, but must be functional to the definition of an ever-developing standardization of the sector. Museums of video games in fact should not be only places where to cherish relics or digital memories, but privileged centres where one can feel the pulse of history within a character or a saga. Furthermore there is the very important issue concerning conservation, documentation and media.
For some time there has been a considerable attention towards these aspects (programs of this type are followed by Henry Lowood at Stanford and the Cineteca of Bologna, where the first Italian game library has been established). These aspects require more than useful the creation of videogame museums. Welcome then to the ViGaMus, which is an integral part of the AIOMI-Italian Association of Interactive Multimedia Works, and is now a candidate to be a sure point of reference for understanding and love of the world of video games, one of the most loyal mirrors of our society.
Multimedia professor at Milan Politecnico
*Article featured on Exibart.onpaper n. 67.