A free public event highlights the connections between art and video games through “Color, Line and Shape”
The Smithsonian American Art Museum invites visitors to its ninth annual “SAAM Arcade” to explore how video games act as a medium to expand the way Americans tell and experience stories. This free, in-person public event returns to the Kogod Courtyard of the main museum building on Saturday, July 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET.
This year’s Arcade theme is “Colour, Line and Form”, exploring the essentials of visual expression. Armenian American artist Arshile Gorky said, “Abstraction enables man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes.” When people break something down into its most basic characteristics, innovation and creativity emerge in new and unexpected ways. Game developers use these same essential elements to create an interactive experience for players, relying on color, line and shape to tell complex stories and engage large audiences. SAAM Arcade is part of the museum’s ongoing commitment to the study and interpretation of video games as part of the national visual culture.
A variety of games will be available to play in Kogod’s backyard, and the centerpiece of the program is the Indie Developers Showcase, which features eight games that embody the idea of color, line, and shape to create unique experiences for developers, players and observers. . The museum will feature offerings such as “Cai Cai Balão,” showcasing dazzling Brazilian hot air balloons, while “Chicory: A Colorful Tale” encourages players to create art with their own brushes, emphasizing the importance of the colour. Clean lines and shapes are the focus of “Space Hole 2020”, while “Manifold Garden” draws on various forms of architecture and “If Found” takes players back to basic black and white designs. The importance of form can be seen in the games “Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield” and “Treachery in Beatdown City”, which showcase the agility and acrobatic movement of the human form. Finally, “The Zium Gallery” makes the link between art and video games by integrating the collections of different museums in their submission.
More than 20 sets were reviewed under the “Color, Line, and Form” theme, and final selections were chosen by Saisha Grayson, Curator of Time-Based Media at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Chris Totten, assistant professor in the Modeling, Animation, and Game Design program at Kent State University and founder of Pie for Breakfast Studios; and museum staff.
Attendees will also be able to play classic arcade and console games from MAGFest and there will also be a special art quest that connects video games to items from the museum’s collection at the information table. Detailed information about the event and a full list of featured games can be found on the museum’s website. Additional commentary on this year’s theme is posted on the museum’s blog, Eye Level, by Lauren Kolodkin, program coordinator for SAAM Arcade.
The museum hosts the second annual Game Jam, an open online event where anyone of any skill level can submit their own game. Participants can work alone or in groups; there are no size restrictions for Arcade 2022 Game Jam. Participants do not need to pre-register and can join the jam by simply creating an itch.io account and uploading their game to the SAAM Arcade 2022 Game Jam page. In addition to this year’s SAAM Arcade theme, the museum also encourages attendees to draw inspiration from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection and look to the extraordinary creativity and diversity of American voices when creating games for this jam. Jam rules, guidelines, and FAQs can be found on the museum’s itch.io page and website. The game jam runs from Thursday, July 28 through Monday, August 1, when budding developers and artists create all-new video and tabletop games centered around the theme of community and individuality. On Monday, August 1, all games submitted to the SAAM Arcade 2022 Game Jam will be available to the public to discover and play for free, indefinitely, on itch.io.
The museum partners with IGDA DC, the Washington, DC local chapter of the Independent Game Developers Association, to host and moderate a dedicated Discord server throughout the jam. Discord is one of the most popular ways for gamers to communicate online. It allows friends, teammates, colleagues and individuals to connect with other SAAM Arcade participants directly via voice, video or text. IGDA DC will offer technical support to participants and help the long-standing SAAM Arcade community come together virtually to develop innovative new games.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is a leader in exploring the impact and artistry of video games and was one of the first art museums in the United States to acquire video games as part of from its permanent collection. Video games create fascinating participatory and social spaces, imagined by artists and designers and activated by players whose individual interactions are only necessary to complete the experience. SAAM Arcade emphasizes this aspect of video game appreciation by encouraging hands-on engagement and in-person exchanges between indie developers, gamers, and new audiences.
SAAM Arcade is made possible by the generous support of Events DC. Media sponsorship provided by Washington City Paper.
About the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of American art in the world. His works of art reveal the rich artistic and cultural history of America from the colonial period to today. The main museum building is located on Eighth and G Streets NW, above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station, and is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. His Renwick Gallery, a museum dedicated to contemporary crafts and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW and is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. Timed passes are required to visit both sites. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website: americanart.si.edu.