Smithsonian preparing 'Art of Video Games' opening

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is putting the finishing touches on its "Art of Video Games" exhibit, which is set to launch on March 16. After it wraps up its run in Washington, DC on September 30, it will continue on to several touring cities as well. The Smithsonian will also host GameFest, three days of panel discussions and retrospectives from industry experts starting on March 16.

The GameFest schedule teases panels, talks from Atari founder Nolan Bushnell and thatgamecompany's Robin Hunicke, and screenings of Tron and The King of Kong, among open play and musical performances. The exhibition will also feature a companion book from exhibition guest curator Chris Melissinos, titled The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect.

Touring cities include Boca Raton, Florida, Seattle, Washington, Yonkers, New York, Flint, Michigan, and Memphis, Tennessee. Additional venues may be included at a later date. The inclusions were decided in May of last year.

"Video games are a prevalent and increasingly expressive medium within modern society," said Melissinos in the announcement. "In the 40 years since the introduction of the first home video game, the field has attracted exceptional artistic talent. Video games, which include classic components of art, offer designers a previously unprecedented method of communicating with and engaging audiences by including a new element, the player, who completes the vivid, experiential art form by personally interacting with the game elements."