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EVE, Dwarf Fortress Amongst Inclusions At MoMA Exhibit

New York’s MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) has a forthcoming permanent exhibit featuring fourteen videogames, with a desire to grow this collection to around 40. The obvious choices like Pac-Man and Tetris are joined by a far more eclectic and interesting list, including Dwarf Fortress and Canabalt.

The full list makes for an interesting mix of cheers and sighs. While I rightly and correctly recognise that Myst was a pile of crap, I reluctantly have to acknowledge that its artwork was significant at the time, and remains an interesting artifact. But The Sims? That feels like too easy a choice, especially when SimCity 2000 already graces the list. Here’s all of them:

• 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)

Another World is obviously another splendid choice, and it’s great to see EVE Online getting the recognition. Katamari Damacy is a beautiful thing, and Portal is one of those amazing moments in gaming that deserves this preservation. Passage – I feel like I want to baulk against it simply for being an overrated game, but there’s no doubt that it’s having an extraordinary cross-spectrum appeal, and is clearly an aesthetically enormously pleasing thing. flOw is perhaps the most obviously “art museum” choice, but great to see it there, and I just love seeing Dwarf Fortress and Canabalt getting such attention. Vib-Ribbon I’m afraid I never played, never owning a PSX at the time – forgive me.

It’s weird to realise that for once it’s a lack of older games in the list that seems the oddity. Eight since the millennium, and only two from the Eighties. While I’m delighted that it’s not just a rogues’ gallery of obvious hoary arcades, familiar to all, it does seem a bit wanting in the first half. Of course, that’s likely something that will be addressed as the collection enlarges.

Those with access to the New York terminals will have to wait until March next year to see the exhibit. But coo, what a nice thing to exist.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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