The Art ofVideo GamesCelebrating 40 Years of Video Games

at Frost Art Museum

The Art of Video Games, one of the first exhibits to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies, has arrived at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum featuring some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers.   

It has been forty years since the introduction of the first home video game, the field has attracted exceptional artistic talent. Today, video games are a prevalent and increasingly expressive medium within modern society. Encompassing several traditional art forms — painting, writing, sculpture, music, storytelling, cinematography — video games give artists unprecedented methods of communicating with and engaging audiences.

The Art of Video Games focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology and storytelling through some of the best games for twenty gaming systems ranging from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation. Developments in hardware and software, as well as the advent of the internet, have given artists an ever widening palette of tools with which to create, while common gameplay elements can be seen throughout.

Games are presented through still images and video footage,including video interviews with twenty developers and artists, large prints of in-game screenshots, and historic game consoles.

Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and collector of video games and gaming systems, is the curator of the exhibition.

Video games today are everywhere, from mobile phones to PlayStations, and everyone is playing. While many people see them as a fun diversion, a way to unwind or just connect with friends, for me, video games have always represented much more than they seem on the surface. Since I first started learning to program games in the 1970s at the age of 9, I have always seen them as a reflection of the people who create them. As video games are truly the collision of art and science, I believe that they have risen to become one of the most significant and important art forms at our disposal. An art form that enables the coding of ideas, intent, and perspective into a digital world that can speak to, be poked at and pushed against by others.

The most pivotal moment for me, and one that cemented my love of video games forever, was when I received my Commodore VIC-20 computer on Christmas morning in 1980. This machine, with its 5K of memory (note: 12.8 times smaller than the code it takes to create the Internet Explorer icon!), seemed to be as close to “magic” as I could possibly imagine. I knew that if I learned how to speak to it and understand its capabilities, I could create any story, world or adventure I wanted! It represented a boundless universe of expression that existed at the end of my fingertips. I am excited to share my lifelong passion and involvement with video games through The Art of Video Games exhibition, and hope that those who come to experience it, find the wonder, beauty and humanity that video games encompass and reflect!

Chris Melissinos, Curator, The Art of Video Games



Eighty games, selected with the help of the public, demonstrate the evolution of the medium.

ERA 1: START!! (1970s – Early 1980s)

page14image10832Atari VCS

Pac-Man (Action), Space Invaders (Target), Pitfall! (Adventure), Combat® (Tactics)


Donkey Kong™ (Action), Zaxxon (Target), Pitfall II: Lost Caverns (Adventure), Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (Tactics)


TRON: Maze‐Atron (Action), Star Strike (Target), Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (Adventure), Utopia (Tactics) Commodore 64 Jumpman (Action), Attack of the Mutant Camels (Target), The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate (Adventure), Pirates! (Tactics)

ERA 2: 8-BIT (1983-1989)

Nintendo Entertainment System

Super Mario Brothers 3 (Action), 1943: The Battle of Midway (Target), The Legend of Zelda (Adventure), Desert Commander (Tactics)

SEGA Master System

Marble Madness (Action), After Burner (Target), Phantasy Star (Adventure), Spy vs Spy (Tactics)

ERA 3: BIT WARS! (1989-1994)

SEGA Genesis

Earthworm Jim (Action), Gunstar Heroes (Target), Phantasy Star IV (Adventure), Dune II: Battle for Arrakis (Tactics)

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Super Mario World (Action), Star Fox™ (Target), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Adventure), SimCity (Tactics)


ERA 4: TRANSITION (1995-2002)

SEGA Saturn

Tomb Raider (Action), Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei (Target), Panzer Dragoon Saga (Adventure), SimCity 2000 (Tactics)


DOOM II (Action), Diablo II (Target), Fallout (Adventure), StarCraft (Tactics)


Metal Gear Solid (Action), Einhander (Target), Final Fantasy VII (Adventure), Final Fantasy Tactics (Tactics)

ERA 5: NEXT GENERATION (2003-Present)

Nintendo 64

Super Mario 64 (Action), Star Fox 64* (Target), Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Adventure), Worms Armageddon (Tactics)

SEGA Dreamcast

Sonic Adventure (Action), Rez (Target), Shenmue (Adventure), ChuChu Rocket! (Tactics)

PlayStation 2

Shadow of the Colossus (Action), Gradius V (Target), Ōkami (Adventure), Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (Tactics)

Microsoft XBox

Halo 2 (Action), Panzer Dragoon Orta (Target), Fable (Adventure), Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (Tactics)

Nintendo GameCube

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (Action), Star Fox: Assault (Target), The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Adventure), Pikmin 2 (Tactics)

Modern Windows

Portal (Action), flOw (Target), Fallout 3 (Adventure), Minecraft (Tactics)

Microsoft XBox 360

Bioshock (Action), Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (Target), Mass Effect 2 (Adventure), Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II (Tactics)

Nintendo Wii

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Action), Boom Blox (Target), The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Adventure), Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure (Tactics)

PlayStation 3

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Action), Flower (Target), Heavy Rain (Adventure), Brütal Legend (Tactics)

The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect

AoVG_cvrA companion book, The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, accompanies the exhibition.

By Chris Melissinos and  Patrick O’Rourke. Foreword by Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Introduction by Mike Mika


Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Presentation at the Frost Art Museum is made possible with generous support from Alienware, Killer Network, Arcade Odyssey and Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum enriches and educates audiences by collecting, conserving, interpreting, and exhibiting art, augmenting Florida International University’s mission to serve as local and global center for knowledge. For houts and information visit: 


Friday, January 29, 2:30-5:30pm: Kick off for Games Jam Contestants

Wednesday, March, 5-7 pm: Groovy Games

Wednesday, March 9,  3–5 pm Panel Discussion: Gaming the System

Thursday, March 10,  6:30–7:3pm Zelda Symphony 

Saturday, April 16, 12–4 pm Frost Family Day: Arcade Invades!


Films Inspired by Video Games

Thursday, January 21, 7:30 pm, Tron (1982)

Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 pm, Wreck-It-Ralph (2012)

Thursday, March 10 at 7:30 pm, Super Mario Bros (1993)