Video Games: No Longer Child's Play
6:30 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Why Video Games Are Leaving The Living Room For The Art Museum

When 20-year-old Jackson Alexander Parodi got the chance to develop a show on his college radio station, he was inspired by some of the music he grew up with: video game scores.

The Warp Zone is named for a feature common in video games which allows the player to transport to another area in the game, sometimes skipping levels.
The Warp Zone is named for a feature common in video games which allows the player to transport to another area in the game, sometimes skipping levels.
Credit Arianna Prothero

Parodi is a music theory and composition major at the University of Miami who has been playing video games almost his entire life.

The radio show he now hosts on WVUM, called the Warp Zone, is devoted to playing video game music.

“I was thinking, what additional thing could I bring to the schedule at the station that we don’t already have?” said Parodi. “And, beyond that, what can I bring to the Miami radio community that isn’t already there? I want to bring something new and something fresh.”

Parodi isn’t the only one who has seen a potential South Florida audience in video game lovers.  Some of the region's biggest performing and visual arts centers have created programming specifically for the gamer crowd. By catering to a crowd that skews young and male, these institutions are hoping they'll also find new audiences for the arts. 

From Zelda To Arsht

That was the target audience for a recent concert at the Arsht Center called the Legend of Zelda, Symphony of the Goddesses.

"Photography in the late 1800s, early 1900s, that wasn't seen as an art form. But now today, nobody questions that photography is art."

The concert is traveling around the country performing 25 years worth of music from the Zelda video game series that has been adapted to—and is performed by—a symphony.

Adrienne Arsht Center Executive Vice President Scott Schiller said, with this program, they were going for a different audience and they got it.

“The typical classic music buyer is a woman 55 to 65 years old,” said Schiller. “And they’re bringing their families to see shows at the Knight Concert Hall. For Zelda, largely the ticket purchases were men, 18 to 35, and 73 percent of them were first time ticket buyers here at the Arsht Center.”

The Arsht isn’t the only cultural institution trying to tap into that next generation. The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach hosted the Zelda symphony before it performed in Miami.

Museum-Quality Video Games

New York’s Museum of Modern Art plans to open a permanent video game collection in the spring. The Smithsonian Art Museum in Washington D.C. created an exhibit devoted to the evolution of video games as an art form. That exhibit is now at the Boca Raton Museum of Art—the first stop on the program’s two-and-a-half year tour around the country.

Unlike the other pieces of art in the museum, visitors are invited to touch many of the displays in the video game exhibit. 

“This is actually my first time at a museum of sorts,” laughed Jean Lapaix, a 20-year-old undergraduate who recently visited the exhibit. He was there with four other young men from Florida Atlantic University. “We’ve been here for 2 hours or so, so we’ve looked at a lot of stuff that the museum is presenting.”

Next to pieces by artists such as Matisse and Degas, the interactive video games exhibit almost seems out of place. But, according to 20th century and contemporary art curator Marisa Pascucci, that’s the point of bringing the exhibit to Boca Raton.

“To push the envelope and to broaden visitor’s minds about what is art and what can be art,” says Pascucci.

Pascucci said museums have to evolve with each new generation.

“Think about when photography first came about. Photography in the late 1800s, early 1900s, that wasn’t seen as an art form. But now today, nobody questions that photography is art.”

The Art of Video Games will be at the Boca Raton Museum of Art through January 13th. You can tune into WVUM Mondays at 7 p. m. to hear the Warp Zone.