Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby Ribbons on Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:26 pm

Yeah I'm not sure I know where either papa or the author or coming from, but I think there's sort of an impasse going on because papa, you're talking about how influential games were on gaming culture, whereas this guy's talking about games that deserve to be influential on culture in general. Either that or he just likes playing stuff while on acid.
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby Nachokoolaid on Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:41 pm

papalazeru wrote:
Nachokoolaid wrote:Due to the temporary nature of games, it's hard to classify them as art. With a painting, it's there. It's more permanant. With music, poetry, and others, the artist creates the experience. With games, the observer has a large role in the experience. He may choose to go down a certain path, and never see certain parts of the game. Since the observer is not the artist, it's hard to always classify it as art.

That being said, I think one could make a case for Mass Effect being art.



Ha! Show your age and experience with computer games.

How dare you bring up Mass effect when classics like Elite are missing from that list.
Also, I don't know how you can say 'due to the temporary nature....' a lot of game formats creates 25 years back still stand today.

@ Seppuku...You're talking are here. This isn't the so called, 'fine arts', or a literary work, althought it can emcompass both, but when you're talking about a new meduim like that I don't agree that you should look upon it using the previous standards created.

A lot of what is missing is the innovative, the games that changed history, not just in the people who play them (Psychonauts is case in point) but also the effect it's had on the culture around it.

The list is not good.


Chill. My gaming goes all the way back to my Atari 2600. I was just saying that Mass Effect is one of the more recent games to impress me as "art."
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby papalazeru on Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:32 pm

Sorry Nacho, that wasn't meant to sound like an attack.

I just question what we're looking at here.
You wouldn't compare a Monet to say a Webern string quartet. You could, but it would be how representative they are in their individual field.
Computer games are different because not only to they have a level of audio design, it has video design and then level design and also how well it actually works, you do also have to consider cultural aspects too and how influential they are/have been - I would stretch so far as to say, before the days of big advertising.

Literally comparing a brush stroke to the touch of a note can't be done. One cannot be seen and one cannot be heard.

Sure, in recent years, computers are being used in art installation but still computer games are an art into itself. The only problem is there aren't old fuddy duddies around to approve or disprove a claim (oh the introspective irony there).

If you really want to just take the aesthetic, then go and look as some photoshop pictures, they are done on computers.
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby MonkeyM666 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:20 pm

I've been wanted to weigh in on this discussion since yesterday... so if I ramble I do apologise.

I personally find classifying games as art pretty tricky. As posted above the definition of art is pretty broad as well as being highly subjective. I do hold issue in a blanket term such as 'games are art' as I don't believe that all 'art' is art. Corporate art is an interesting comparison. An artist is called in to fill a designated area with a designated piece that will be created under the watchful eye of the accountants, admin and the management team. The artist will still do his best to create his impression of what is required for the job but numerous changes will be made to suit budgets, existing aesthetics and so on. Many non-artistic opinions will need to be heeded for the job to come to fruition and all the while under a mountain of red tape the artist is still trying to create his unique piece of art.

I think that this sounds a lot like the way that games are made. One person starts with an idea but the only way that the idea will ever be realised in any form is to sacrifice. Once a game title is created, and considering that it's a business endeavour, the business takes the idea and tries to make money from it. Reusing popular formats, characters, genres etc is usually has more to do with the businesses interests then the artist. I think that this is why we are all finding it a little bit tricky to fully grasp the idea of games as art.

In my mind I like to think about games that can be classified as art by looking at a few points. Originality of the idea, originally in the use of technology, understanding of the format, understanding the demographics of who do and don't play games as well as where a game sits within a franchise. This last one may be seen as strange but if you think about the golden oldie Mario. Mario Sunshine is not art, it's a slack-jawed attempt of rehashing a brilliantly devised game.... Mario 64. We all know it and yet we buy into it because we want more of the idea what captured our hearts in the original Mario games.

Just to add another example of a game that I think could be considered as art would be the Xbox live release Braid. It's smart, challenges what we think platformers are about, it's pretty and it uses existing technology to create something unexpected. Like Psychonauts it sits in an area we're all comfortable with, draws us in with expected gameplay then turns us on our head when we fully comprehend what the game is trying to do (... just like Porthole). Isn't that what art is?

anyway that's my bit for the mo...
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby Peven on Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:41 pm

i certainly think a well made game is art, an inter-active art, but art nonetheless. with the combination and freedom in use of visual and audio, game interaction, along with writing characters and storylines, the possibilities for real creativity and expression are really quite vast, imo.
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby papalazeru on Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:20 pm

MonkeyM666 wrote:I've been wanted to weigh in on this discussion since yesterday... so if I ramble I do apologise.

I personally find classifying games as art pretty tricky. As posted above the definition of art is pretty broad as well as being highly subjective. I do hold issue in a blanket term such as 'games are art' as I don't believe that all 'art' is art. Corporate art is an interesting comparison. An artist is called in to fill a designated area with a designated piece that will be created under the watchful eye of the accountants, admin and the management team. The artist will still do his best to create his impression of what is required for the job but numerous changes will be made to suit budgets, existing aesthetics and so on. Many non-artistic opinions will need to be heeded for the job to come to fruition and all the while under a mountain of red tape the artist is still trying to create his unique piece of art.

I think that this sounds a lot like the way that games are made. One person starts with an idea but the only way that the idea will ever be realised in any form is to sacrifice. Once a game title is created, and considering that it's a business endeavour, the business takes the idea and tries to make money from it. Reusing popular formats, characters, genres etc is usually has more to do with the businesses interests then the artist. I think that this is why we are all finding it a little bit tricky to fully grasp the idea of games as art.

In my mind I like to think about games that can be classified as art by looking at a few points. Originality of the idea, originally in the use of technology, understanding of the format, understanding the demographics of who do and don't play games as well as where a game sits within a franchise. This last one may be seen as strange but if you think about the golden oldie Mario. Mario Sunshine is not art, it's a slack-jawed attempt of rehashing a brilliantly devised game.... Mario 64. We all know it and yet we buy into it because we want more of the idea what captured our hearts in the original Mario games.

Just to add another example of a game that I think could be considered as art would be the Xbox live release Braid. It's smart, challenges what we think platformers are about, it's pretty and it uses existing technology to create something unexpected. Like Psychonauts it sits in an area we're all comfortable with, draws us in with expected gameplay then turns us on our head when we fully comprehend what the game is trying to do (... just like Porthole). Isn't that what art is?

anyway that's my bit for the mo...



There goes Monkey, better worded than I could put it. Fantastic!

I would agree with a lot of the points you are makeing with Originality, use of technology, format understanding ( depends on whether you mean which machine or the game genre/format), and existing technology.

It's all about taken the machine and you, in an almost symbiotic relationship, to new heights. Let's take Psychonauts for example, as we're all agreed that it deserves to be on the list; as to where is a matter of opinion.

At it's heart, Psychonauts is a Platform RPG in a similar vein to Mario 64. The game format itself, is nothing new but the concept and the realising such a beautiful warped and glorious world was unparalleled at the time. So, it could be said that the design was almost artistic. I'd agree but, for me to call it art, it would have to take that format to new heights too, something that me as a player had never seen before.

I've brought it up before and I'll bring it up again, in the heady days of the Spectrum (and all 8 bit machines), there was Elite a game so vast and 3D (ON AN 8 BIT MACHINE) that it boggled the mind of a child playing it. It took games from their 2d platforming days to something which couldn't be equalled for well over 10 years; it's still revered today. The freedom to play in a universe (several, actually), to be evil or good - these are so many traits that are used to sell games nowadays yet this was born in the 80's on a machine that could hardly do speech (re: Ghostbusters or Nodes of Yesod). It really does push imagination how a young man could apply a simple fibonachi sequence into a game and create over 1 million worlds (the game was reduced later by the publisher because they thought it was too big). When games today take up 5 gigs to install and play, or a whole DVD, it beggars belief that a system with just 48K could do that. It's cultural reference is still heard today, how it impacted on the 3D market, how most would still love to create the sort of impact that Elite did; and it wasn't through marketing. That, my friends, is art.

I could also quote Chaos as being the first multiplayer games, you could 8 persons round a keyboard all playing on the same screen, you'd spend hours conjuring spells, making them illusions or not. This game seems to fall at the way side but it's basically what World of Whorecraft is today (cept free!). I'm not knocking WoW because that really did break the mould in it's marketing, but then we get into the territory of marketing as an art and that's a totally different subject.

When something surpasses expectations of you and the games market and is genuinely new in implementation, that is art.

Usually the cultural phenomena will happy after (but not always).

Again, as monkey said, it is very subjective but pretty graphics do not maketh the game. Just because a game sells a billion copies, doesn't make it art (maybe to the marketing department). It has to have the je ne ce qua and I suppose that's really what we're all trying to put out finger on. And that it where I suppose we can join art.
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby MonkeyM666 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 7:53 pm

Nice Pappa.... I like the reference to the 3D 8bit gaming.... that patched the way for a hell of a lot of things (ahem Wolvenstine 3d and dOOM....)



see what I did there....

Patched....


hehe....








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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby Peven on Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:36 pm

while i appreciate the thought that went into these thesises about why games are art, is it really that complex a question, at heart? first, ask what art is to you, and then see if games fall within that. done. for me, art is something created to evoke an emotional and/or intellectual response and/or to communicate an emotional or intellectual point of view. there are games that fall within that definition for me and games that do not. i think, like other forms of art, which games would be classified as worthy would depend on the subject asked.
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby MonkeyM666 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:53 pm

At first I thought that it was Vic writing this response,
But the name Peven came along and got up my nose,
your response seem to be rather rhythmic,
that's why I'm responding in turn with this short limerick...


word....

It seems to me that we're all agreeing...
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby Docventure on Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:39 am

I'd call video games Interactive Art.
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby papalazeru on Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:12 am

Docventure wrote:I'd call video games Interactive Art.


Not all video games are art (re: Sims 3 and it's fucking addon packs, which will likely happen to spore as well).
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby King Of Nowhere on Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:34 am

The majority of EA's back catalogue is out.
It's all Sports & movie tie ins.

You can't really call Pong art either.
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby papalazeru on Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:56 am

*sigh* I miss text adventure games.

Bored of the Rings, Hitchikers guide...etc. etc.
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby MonkeyM666 on Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:01 pm

papalazeru wrote:*sigh* I miss text adventure games.

Bored of the Rings, Hitchikers guide...etc. etc.


or Starship Titanic... That was a cool game. I miss a good Adventure game too. FPS's are getting old. I do love 'em but I think that it's had to see the shit for the sugar in that genre. I also think that it another reason why the games as art debate forms slightly jaded views. How can blowing up a space aliens legs off with a granade be artistic? All the games that we seem to agree on are adventure/action/platform type games.

Ok... I'm going to go out on a limb and name a list of games that I think could be considered as art.
....


actually I'm going to get some screen grabs and the like and I'll repost them later.

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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby MonkeyM666 on Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:55 pm

In no particular order... here are a few games that I think should be considered.

1. Psychonauts
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2. Portal
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3.The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Oh you may jest but I don't know of any other game that so captured so many peoples imagination and was the source for so many other games.
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4. Final Fantasy X Beautifully made, beautifully told story, interesting and thought provoking world with an underlying commentary to our own world events at the time.
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I want to say Fallout 3 as well but I think that may just be my latest obsession and I don't want to taint it at all....

I've got to get back to work but I'll think of some more later.

Flame away kids.... flame away :D
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Re: TETRIS

Postby TheButcher on Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:42 am

TheAllSeeingEye wrote:
The Ginger Man wrote:
2) Tetris: No arguments here. Probably the BEST example of VG's as art b/c it stands entirely on its own w/o any external support.

I think a game striving to feel like a film loses it's artistic claim b/c it relies on pre-established art. Whereas a game like Tetris inspires awe on its own terms. Film-like games inspire awe b/c they remind you of films.


To address your comments in order:


2)My thoughts exactly on tetris. What makes it such an amazing game is that it's available to play on near enough anything. It's simple but addictive.


MIT hacker turns an entire building into a playable game of Tetris
Marc Bernardin wrote:Apparently, going to one of the world's finest technical institutes isn't enough for some people. So they turn to vandalism of the most excellent variety, turning a campus building into a playable version of a classic videogame. Turns out some men just want to watch the world turn.

According to the Hack Gallery, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Green Building—home to the MIT Earth and Planetary Sciences department—has been a hacker target for years, and "Tetris on the Green Building" is "the Holy Grail of hacks."

As of April 20, the Holy Grail has been achieved:
With that out of the way, they can finally go ahead and invent Skynet. Bully for us.

(via Laughing Squid)
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby TheButcher on Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:15 pm

MoMA Goes 8-Bit, Acquires 14 Videogames for Permanent Collection
Alexander C. Kaufman wrote:New York's Museum of Modern Art said Thursday that it has acquired 14 videogames to kick off a new permanent collection that includes old favorites like "Pac-Man," "The Sims" and "Tetris."

The museum has fixed its sights on 26 other games, too, as it expands the new collection curated by Paola Antonelli. Housed in the department of architecture and design, the exhibit will open in the Philip Johnson Galleries in March.

"Are video games art?" Antonelli, a senior curator at the museum, wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisitions. "They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe."

The collection spans decades of games, from 1980's 8-bit hit "Pac-Man" to 2009's iPhone game "Canabalt." But Antonelli said she hopes to round out the exhibit with such dinosaurs as the 1962 game "Spacewar!" and "Pong" and "Snake" from the 1970s Atari-ancestor, the Magnavox Odyssey console.

Visitors will be able to play the games, though games that take longer will have a time limit. Some will also be re-coded into a newer format if the games' physical cartridges are too weathered to withstand a steady flow of gamers.

But some popular games -- how did they miss "Angry Birds?" -- didn't make the cut.

"Because of the tight filter we apply to any category of objects in MoMA’s collection, our selection does not include some immensely popular video games that might have seemed like no-brainers to videogame historians," Antonelli said.

She said they are eyeing games that allow the curators to explore behavior, aesthetic, space and time.

Here is a full list of the games MoMA has acquired:

• 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)
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Re: Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

Postby TheButcher on Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:18 pm

Are video games art?
Over the next few years, we would like to complete this initial selection with Spacewar! (1962), an assortment of games for the Magnavox Odyssey console (1972), Pong (1972), Snake (originally designed in the 1970s; Nokia phone version dates from 1997), Space Invaders (1978), Asteroids (1979), Zork (1979), Tempest (1981), Donkey Kong (1981), Yars’ Revenge (1982), M.U.L.E. (1983), Core War (1984), Marble Madness (1984), Super Mario Bros. (1985), The Legend of Zelda (1986), NetHack (1987), Street Fighter II (1991), Chrono Trigger (1995), Super Mario 64 (1996), Grim Fandango (1998), Animal Crossing (2001), and Minecraft (2011).

Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity. Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects—from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior—that pertain to interaction design. In order to develop an even stronger curatorial stance, over the past year and a half we have sought the advice of scholars, digital conservation and legal experts, historians, and critics, all of whom helped us refine not only the criteria and the wish list, but also the issues of acquisition, display, and conservation of digital artifacts that are made even more complex by the games’ interactive nature. This acquisition allows the Museum to study, preserve, and exhibit video games as part of its Architecture and Design collection.

As with all other design objects in MoMA’s collection, from posters to chairs to cars to fonts, curators seek a combination of historical and cultural relevance, aesthetic expression, functional and structural soundness, innovative approaches to technology and behavior, and a successful synthesis of materials and techniques in achieving the goal set by the initial program. This is as true for a stool or a helicopter as it is for an interface or a video game, in which the programming language takes the place of the wood or plastics, and the quality of the interaction translates in the digital world what the synthesis of form and function represent in the physical one. Because of the tight filter we apply to any category of objects in MoMA’s collection, our selection does not include some immensely popular video games that might have seemed like no-brainers to video game historians.

Among the central interaction design traits that we have privileged are:

Behavior
The scenarios, rules, stimuli, incentives, and narratives envisioned by the designers come alive in the behaviors they encourage and elicit from the players, whether individual or social. A purposefully designed video game can be used to train and educate, to induce emotions, to test new experiences, or to question the way things are and envision how they might be. Game controllers are extensions and enablers of behaviors, providing in some cases (i.e. Marble Madness) an uncanny level of tactility.

Aesthetics
Visual intention is an important consideration, especially when it comes to the selection of design for an art museum collection. As in other forms of design, formal elegance has different manifestations that vary according to the technology available. The dry and pixilated grace of early games like M.U.L.E. and Tempest can thus be compared to the fluid seamlessness of flOw and vib-ribbon. Just like in the real world, particularly inventive and innovative designers have excelled at using technology’s limitations to enhance a game’s identity—for instance in Yars’ Revenge.

Space
The space in which the game exists and evolves—built with code rather than brick and mortar—is an architecture that is planned, designed, and constructed according to a precise program, sometimes pushing technology to its limits in order to create brand new degrees of expressive and spatial freedom. As in reality, this space can be occupied individually or in groups. Unlike physical constructs, however, video games can defy spatial logic and gravity, and provide brand new experiences like teleportation and ubiquity.

Time
How long is the experience? Is it a quick five minutes, as in Passage? Or will it entail several painstaking years of bliss, as in Dwarf Fortress? And whose time is it anyway, the real world’s or the game’s own, as in Animal Crossing? Interaction design is quintessentially dynamic, and the way in which the dimension of time is expressed and incorporated into the game—through linear or multi-level progressions, burning time crushing obstacles and seeking rewards and goals, or simply wasting it—is a crucial design choice.

After which (games), came what—what is a museum to acquire? Working with MoMA’s digital conservation team on a protocol, we have determined that the first step is to obtain copies of the games’ original software format (e.g. cartridges or discs) and hardware (e.g. consoles or computers) whenever possible. In order to be able to preserve the games, we should always try to acquire the source code in the language in which it was written, so as to be able to translate it in the future, should the original technology become obsolete. This is not an easy feat, though many companies may already have emulations or other digital assets for both display and archival purposes, which we should also acquire. In addition, we request any corroborating technical documentation, and possibly an annotated report of the code by the original designer or programmer. Writing code is a creative and personal process. Interviewing the designers at the time of acquisition and asking for comments and notes on their work makes preservation and future emulation easier, and also helps with exhibition content and future research in this field.

Of course, what we acquire depends on each game, how it is best represented, and how it will be shown in the galleries. If the duration of the game is short enough, the game itself could be made playable in its entirety. For instance, visitors were able to play Passage in its entirety in MoMA’s Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects exhibition not only because it took a mere five minutes, but also because the narrative and message of the game required the player to engage with it for the full length.

For games that take longer to play, but still require interaction for full appreciation, an interactive demonstration, in which the game can be played for a limited amount of time, will be the answer. In concert with programmers and designers, we will devise a way to play a game for a limited time and enable visitors to experience the game firsthand, without frustrations.

With older games for which the original cartridges may be too fragile or hard to find, we will offer an interactive emulation—a programmer will translate the original code, which was designed for a specific platform, into new code that will create the same effect on a newer computer.

In other cases, when the game is too complex or too time consuming to be experienced as an interactive display in the galleries, we will create a video akin to a demo, in which the concept and characters of the game are laid out.

Finally, some of the games we have acquired (for instance Dwarf Fortress and EVE Online) take years and millions of people to manifest fully. To convey their experience, we will work with players and designers to create guided tours of these alternate worlds, so the visitor can begin to appreciate the extent and possibilities of the complex gameplay.
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Re: TETRIS

Postby TheButcher on Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:04 am

TheButcher wrote:
TheAllSeeingEye wrote:
The Ginger Man wrote:
2) Tetris: No arguments here. Probably the BEST example of VG's as art b/c it stands entirely on its own w/o any external support.

I think a game striving to feel like a film loses it's artistic claim b/c it relies on pre-established art. Whereas a game like Tetris inspires awe on its own terms. Film-like games inspire awe b/c they remind you of films.


To address your comments in order:


2)My thoughts exactly on tetris. What makes it such an amazing game is that it's available to play on near enough anything. It's simple but addictive.


MIT hacker turns an entire building into a playable game of Tetris
Marc Bernardin wrote:Apparently, going to one of the world's finest technical institutes isn't enough for some people. So they turn to vandalism of the most excellent variety, turning a campus building into a playable version of a classic videogame. Turns out some men just want to watch the world turn.

According to the Hack Gallery, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Green Building—home to the MIT Earth and Planetary Sciences department—has been a hacker target for years, and "Tetris on the Green Building" is "the Holy Grail of hacks."

As of April 20, the Holy Grail has been achieved:
With that out of the way, they can finally go ahead and invent Skynet. Bully for us.

(via Laughing Squid)


The Classic Video Game 'Tetris' Is Becoming a Movie
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