Game Masters

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“Video games can never be art” was a statement once made by film critic Roger Ebert. While no one can deny that Ebert knows his cinema, when it comes to video games he doesn’t get it and doesn’t want to.

Game Masters is ACMI’s 2012 entry in their Winter Masterpieces series, and aims to publicly confirm what gamers have known for years; that not only can games be art, but the medium has produced so many fine examples that the argument is completely obsolete.

The exhibition explores the work of some of the most creative minds in video and computer games, such as Shiguru Miyamoto, Tim Schafer, Warren Spector and Tetsuya Mizuguchi. They’re not household names in the same way that Lucas and Spielberg are, but the contributions they’ve made to their art form, some of them even popular culture at large, are no less significant.

Featuring over 125 playable games spanning 40 odd years of gaming, Game Masters showcases not only big names in the field (Zelda, Diablo), but under-rated works of genius (Grim Fandango, Rez, Ico) as well as up and comers in the burgeoning indie game development scene (Minecraft, Swords and Sworcery).

“We think it’s art when we make it…I think most people who play think it’s art, if they think about it at all, so I think that’s kind of the end of the argument” Game Masters special guest Tim Schafer said in a recent interview.

Schafer started his career working on LucasArts adventure games such as The Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, before founding his own studio, Double Fine Productions, who’ve released the critically acclaimed comedy-adventure Psychonauts and the Jack Black starring Brütal Legend. He’s something of a cult hero in the gaming world and has recently received media attention for shattering Kickstarter Records to independently fund his next game.

“I’m sure there was a time when movies first started that they weren’t considered art, and it’s not like movies went to the world of literature and said, ‘Please, could you say that we’re art?’ They didn’t ask permission from fine painting, they just did what they did and they took it seriously, and that’s where people started considering it art.”

Game Masters is now open and runs until October 28. In addition to the exhibit, ACMI are hosting heaps of related film and documentary screenings, game-related music nights, talks, workshops and forums.

Check out the full program at ACMI or the official Game Masters website.

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