Gaming the First Amendment at the Smithsonian
On June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that video games are protected under the First Amendment because they “like protected books, plays, and movies, [they] communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And ‘the basic principles of freedom of speech … do not vary’ with a new and different communication medium.” 131 S.Ct. 2729. Essentially, Pac Man, Super Mario Brothers, Halo, and of course Angry Birds are all considered art and are protected under the First Amendment.
The Smithsonian has embraced this concept in their exhibition “The Art of Video Games” curated by Chris Melissinos. From March 16, 2012-September 30, 2012, the exhibition presents a gamer’s paradise which showcases video games as an unprecedented form of storytelling. The exhibition is accompanied by several events including the “Gaming Symphony Orchestra” being held on April 29, 2012. And don’t worry if you can’t make it up to DC for the exhibition, it’s going on tour after it has wrapped up in DC. All of this gushing is to say it’s a definite must-see, just be sure to check their website (where we got all of this lovely information) and read their FAQ including costume etiquette beforehand.
Though I doubt Justice Scalia is taking much time out of his busy schedule to play Angry Birds (or maybe he is?), the Smithsonian has beautifully brought to life the Supreme Court’s fine decision.