Our lives are increasingly lived on screens, and every one of our electronic interactions is mediated by a designed interface, which can be buggy and incomprehensible or inviting and accessible. Like other ubiquitous everyday tools, these interfaces are seldom recognized as objects of design-and even less as objects of interaction design. In video games, however, in which “play” is an essential feature, users are acutely aware of their relationship with the interface, making video games compelling examples of interaction design.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, Never Alone: Video Games as Interactive Design explores the impact of interactive design by examining 35 video games created between 1972 and 2018-from Space Invaders (1978) and Pac-Man (1980) to The Sims (2000) and Minecraft (2011). An overarching essay by the curator Paola Antonelli presents the pioneering criteria by which MoMA has chosen these video games for its collection, as well as the protocols for their acquisition, display, and conservation. The richly illustrated plate section is divided into three sections that analyze input devices (keyboards, joysticks, buttons), game designers, and players, and each game is accompanied by a short text illuminating its significance in the history of the medium.