The Smithsonian has added two new games to its “The Art of Video Games” exhibition: Flower by thatgamecompany and Ed Fries’s Halo 2600.
The exhibition opened in 2011 to massive fanfare from the game industry and fans alike, but there are a few questions about how exactly the Smithsonian plans to preserve digital games like Flower to be played in its original form by future generations.
Gamasutra spoke with the Smithsonian’s curator of film and media art Michael Mansfield, who explained how the institution plans to rise to the challenge.
"The Smithsonian American Art Museum worked directly with Jenova and Kellee to receive and acquire Flower on a Blu-ray disc. In terms of preservation, the disc provides a physical and verifiable data set which will act as a preservation format," said Mansfield.
The museum also picked up a few PS3s to be used only for playing Flower, which will become exhibit pieces “along with the museum’s other electronic artworks.”
Even former Microsoft game publishing vice president Ed Fries’s rather unique Halo 2600 – a version of Halo for the Atari 2600 – will get the same treatment.
"Halo 2600 stakes out some very interesting ground identifying the video game as a democratic mode of expression," said Mansfield.
"As a home-brew game – albeit by a recognized brewmaster – authored in the margins, Halo 2600 offers a kind of haiku-like virtual essay on the reach and potential of video game culture, and on the character of human imagination with technology."
The exhibition has been touring for over a year now, and will still be roaming cross-country into 2016.