When video games finally win widespread recognition as a major art form, some of the credit will surely go to Chris Melissinos.
Chris is the man who created the largest-ever exhibition on “The Art of Video Games” for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
“Video games are a medium that incorporate all forms of art: illustration, sculpture, music, narrative, character, culture, everything,” said Melissinos, a Queens native whose exhibition drew near-record crowds in Washington before starting a nationwide tour that just landed at The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. (Feb 15-May 18)
As Verizon’s Director of Corporate Strategy for Media and Entertainment, Chris tracks new technology, picks the coolest stuff and develops the plans for bringing it to Verizon’s customers.
“Given my experience with and passion for video games, you can bet they will examining their role in Verizon’s future media strategy,” said Melissinos, who began programming at 9 and completed his first game when he was 12.
“Verizon provides an amazing set of platforms, from mobile to cloud, upon which video games can be delivered and enjoyed.”
Such efforts to shape gaming’s future come just as many Americans are enjoying the efforts Chris made to chronicle its past.
He first got the idea for a gaming retrospective 9 years ago. He and a friend came across a treasure trove of gaming memorabilia, systems, accessories and more than 6,000 games. Chris remembers marveling for several hours at his friend’s time capsule, and then the idea struck him.
“These,” he thought, like Indiana Jones before him, “belong in a museum.”
It took Chris 7 years to make his idea a reality, but the reception vindicated the effort. The Art of Video Games drew 680,000 visitors in its 6 months at the American Art Museum, second in the museum’s history.
The family-friendly exhibition features 20 gaming systems spanning 40 years, each equipped to demonstrate 4 artistically important games. Videos show the games in action. Annotations describe what makes each a standout.
Visitors can also play five of the pivotal titles in game history: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.
Even before the exhibition, Chris always knew that companies like Verizon can help gamers, but his research for the show illustrated their true value. Every time he asked a gaming pioneer to name the greatest technological advance that will shape the future of gaming, he got the same answer: Internet connectivity.
As Verizon continues to connect people better and transmit data faster, it will help spur further improvement.
LTE lets gamers collaborate when they’re nowhere near a wired Internet connection. Faster wired connections, meanwhile, let game designers make their virtual worlds deeper and richer.
“Video games, at their core, are about connection,” Chris explained, “connecting players to the artist and other players. Verizon, at its core, is also about connection, connecting customers to the people and things who matter most to them.”