Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The Smithsonian. America’s prestigious museum of virtually all things historic past, present and future, is bestowing its official endorsement on videogames as an art form. And we the people are being asked to pick which games should be featured in its first exhibit focused on all aspects of gaming.

Given how the Triangle has developed into one of the nation’s foremost game development and new technology hubs, the Smithsonian exhibit is welcome recognition of a wonderfully creative if sometimes very violent art form.

Our region has a rich legacy in game development, dating back to David Smith and Virtus, an early 3-D player. Red Storm Entertainment launched here. Gamebryo, a premier game engine, was developed at UNC-Chapel Hill. And Epic Games relocated to the Triangle where it has evolved into a global leader both in games and game engines with its Unreal being licensed worldwide and across multiple platforms. Serious games technology is led by Virtual Heroes, and American research Institute is a pacesetter in online immersive learning.

(Be sure to read our Triangle Game 2011 series this week written by John Gaudiosi, a Triangle resident and one of the world’s top videogame writers.)

Just posted: Part Two – “Bulletstorm” produced with a woman’s touch. Read here.

“The Art of Video Games” will open in March 2012, and voting is already underway with five categories of selections including some 240 choices.

Yes, Cary-based Epic Games cracked the nominee lists – for “Gears of War 2” in the Action category of “Next Generation” nominees.

Plus, a couple of Tom Clancy/Red Storm Entertainment related titles made the list.

The Smithsonian is bestowing respect and credibility on videogames that have developed and evolved over the past 40 years into interactive entertainment that now produces more revenue than Hollywood.

“Video games use images, actions, and player participation to tell stories and engage their audiences,” the museum says in explaining why the exhibit is being assembled. “In the same way as film, animation, and performance, they can be considered a compelling and influential form of narrative art.

“The Art of Video Games is one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies.”

Games are broken down by era and platform in four genres:

  • .Action
  •  Adventure
  • Target
  •  War/strategy

Selection criteria included “their graphic appeal, artistic intent and innovative game designs,” according to the Smithsonian.

Chris Melissinos, currently vice president of corporate marketing at Verisign, is leading the Smithsonian project. He spent more than a decade as chief gaming officer and chief evangelist at Sun Microsystems.

Melissinos relied on a board of advisors to help pick the exhibit’s format and the finalists for voting.

You must register at this site, and you are limited to one vote. Voting ends April 7, and the results will be announced in May.

Winners will be featured at the Smithsonian with screen shots or video clips. Some games will be made available for limited play.

So, go online today and vote – right here!

(By the way, don’t forget the East Coast Game Conference coming up in the Triangle in April.)

Get the latest news alerts: Follow WRAL Tech Wire at Twitter.