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MoMA Video Game Collection Sees New York Museum Of Modern Art Embrace Digital Gaming

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A screen grab from the 1985
A screen grab from the 1985 "Super Mario Bros." game, produced for the original Nintendo gaming console. The video game is one of 40 that will be collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The next time you're concerned your kids are playing too many video games, calm yourself with this mantra: They're actually studying fine art.

That idea comes on good authority, via the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

On Thursday, MoMA curators announced plans to add video games to their collection -- 14 to start with, ramping up to a total of 40 if the museum can secure all the games on its wish list.

The list includes venerable titles like "Pac-Man" (good luck evading ghosts at the MoMa, bud), "Tetris," and "Myst," as well as more modern selections like "Portal," and "Canabalt." (Scroll down for a full list of the games.)

So, are video games art?

"They sure are," writes Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at the museum, in a release. "But they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe."

Museum officials selected games for the collection after evaluating the work based on "behavior" (the behavior a game elicits from a player), aesthetics, space (physical environments built by code) and time.

For ultimate nerd street-cred, though, the Smithsonian Museum beat MoMA to the 8-bit, crudely animated punch. The Washington, D.C., museum just wrapped up "The Art of Video Games," an 80-title exhibition on the development of digital gaming.

But don't go investing all your hard-earned coins with Mario and Luigi just yet -- your kids' old video game collection is unlikely to become a set of highly-valued masterpieces any time soon. (Most of the games in MoMa's new collection were donated.)

And for those who disagree with MoMA classifying video games as art, take solace: At least you'll have an easier time dragging your kids to the art museum.

Video games the MoMA recognizes as art:

A total of 14 games start the collection: "Pac-Man" (1980), "Tetris" (1984), "Another World" (1991), "Myst" (1993), "SimCity 2000" (1994), "vib-ribbon" (1999), "The Sims" (2000), "Katamari Damacy" (2004), "EVE Online" (2003), "Dwarf Fortress" (2006), "Portal" (2007), "flOw" (2006), "Passage" (2008), "Canabalt" (2009).

The remainder will up the collection to a total of 40 games: "Spacewar!" (1962), an assortment of games for the Magnavox Odyssey console (1972), "Pong" (1972), "Snake" (originally designed in the 1970s; Nokia phone version dates from 1997), "Space Invaders" (1978), "Asteroids" (1979), "Zork" (1979), "Tempest" (1981), "Donkey Kong" (1981), "Yars’ Revenge" (1982), "M.U.L.E." (1983), "Core War" (1984), "Marble Madness" (1984), "Super Mario Bros." (1985), "The Legend of Zelda" (1986), "NetHack" (1987), "Street Fighter II" (1991), "Chrono Trigger" (1995), "Super Mario 64" (1996), "Grim Fandango" (1998), "Animal Crossing" (2001), and "Minecraft" (2011).

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