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John Maeda In <em>Wired</em>: Videogames Belong In The MoMA
Design | December 05, 2012

John Maeda In Wired: Videogames Belong In The MoMA

Do the video games Pac-Man, Tetris, SimCity, and Myst belong in the Museum of Modern Art? Some critics say no.  John Maeda, President of Rhode Island School of Design however, says yes. While you can make the argument about whether or not these games are actually art or not, the MoMA acquired these games as "outstanding examples of interaction design.” And as Maeda explains in a new Wired article—there's no question that videogames certainly fit that description. "Videogames are indeed design: They’re sophisticated virtual machines that echo the mechanical systems inside cars," he writes. "Like well-designed cars, well-designed videogames are ways of taking your mind to different places."

In the article, Maeda—a world-renowned artist, graphic designer and computer scientist—argues that videogames are more than just entertainment. He explains that when he attended a MoMA Board with Eric Schmidt several years ago, the Google Chairman said digital acquisitions should be made based on one thing: "quality." This advice has stuck with him, and he says it is especially useful in assessing whether videogames are worthy of admittance into the museum. Maeda says that, at the end of the day, "quality trumps all, whatever the medium and tools are: paints or pixels, canvas or console." So, if a videogame exhibits outstanding quality in its design construction—which was the requirement—then it deserves to be featured. He also adds that digital media is making us reassess what we define as "quality," an important conversation due to the increasing role that digital technology plays in our lives today.

Given that some of Maeda's work is featured in MoMA's permanent collection, he is certainly qualified to comment on the value of digital media in the art and design world. Named by Esquire as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century, Maeda's work rests at the intersection between humanity and technology. He combines art with math, science and technology and believes that each discipline compliments the others and are all of equal merit. He has written several books, including, most recently, The Laws of Simplicity. In his talks, he candidly discusses how new technology is changing the creative economy, and stresses the importance that an education in the arts has for developing beneficial collaboration skills. He also teaches audiences how art, design, technology, and business intersect in the innovation process and why those who understand this new way of thinking will win in today's ever-changing marketplace.
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