Smithsonian misses the point

I live pretty close to the Smithsonian museums, so I’ve been there plenty of times and I have a lot of respect for the institution in general. The upcoming Art of Video Games exhibit, though, I have some reservations about. They introduced a pretty draconian voting system a few months ago, and today they introduced the results — which I reported.

Whoever organized the voting process, though, made it way too rigid. They tried to find four genres that could last through every generation. Anyone familiar with video games should see the problem with this right away. Game genres are still evolving, so trying to find consistent ones between the Commodore 64 and the Xbox 360 is kind of insane.

Making matters worse, it was limited to one winner per platform, per genre. Some platforms simply have better representation in some genres than others, so this means that several worthy entries get left out and less worthy ones show up just to represent their genre. Imagine limiting the PlayStation 3 to one choice of first-person shooter and one real-time strategy game.

As a result, we get things like SimCity on the SNES, but no representation from Chrono Trigger or Donkey Kong Country because Zelda and Mario already took their slots. The NES left off Mega Man 2, for Chrissakes. This isn’t a sampling of influential games anymore, it’s a hodge-podge of games chosen to fit within these oddly exacting guidelines. If they had simply included the four to six highest-voted games in each platform, we’d probably have a much better representation of games as an art form. Who cares if the NES has an uneven representation of platformers? That’s because the NES had a lot of fantastic platformers.

Howard Stringer published a letter tonight about the whole Sony fiasco. It’s not bad, except for the part that he compares the PSN/SOE hack to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Really guys. Have someone read this stuff first.

It became official today, 1UP is owned by IGN. I haven’t been given any indication that it changes things as far as writing freelance pieces for them, but I might have to fill out some new paperwork. Not really sure if my checks will be coming from Hearst or IGN now. Easy come, easy go.

  • I hadn’t really heard much about Guardian Heroes, but a lot of people seem happy to see this news. I might have to look into it.
  • I’ve already mentioned how I’m in the tank for Assassin’s Creed, so this announcement was welcome. I like that they’re stating flat-out that it will close the book on Ezio’s story, and a close look at the GameInformer cover makes him look a bit gray. An older Ezio is a pretty intriguing premise. I just hope this means that Assassin’s Creed 3, whenever it does come, will star a new animus subject. That’s the whole fun of the series, after all.

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