The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect is a book published as a companion piece to a 2012 exhibition of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition features a selection of eighty video games from the previous forty years, examining them as part of an artistic medium. Developments in game play, technology, and story telling techniques are presented as part of the exhibit, along with developer interviews. As the companion book, The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect serves as a sampler for the exhibit. It lists all of the games included in the exhibition, with brief descriptions of why they were nominated for inclusion alongside sample imagery from the titles.

Two of the titles selected for inclusion in the exhibition and book are Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star IV. Each game is given two pages. Pages 70 and 71 feature Phantasy Star. Two thirds of page 70 are devoted to a summary of the game's story and technical superiority over contemporary titles. The plot of Alis Landale's quest against Lassic, the detailed world and town maps, and first person dungeons are highlighted. The remainder of page 70 and all of page 71 display a screen shot of a battle pitting Alis against two Scorpions. Here is an excerpt from page 70:

Additionally, the animations of the enemies were much more sophisticated than other contemporary games. Typical of the era, battles in role-playing games would take place on a generic background, while in Phantasy Star the battle environments reflected where the conflict took place in the game world, further connecting the player's action with the environments.

The mature technical presentation was matched by the complexity of the story. Phantasy Star dealt with questions of oppression, religion, and redemption in a way that was sophisticated yet accessible to a wide audience.

Pages 80 and 81 spotlight Phantasy Star IV. Details of those pages are not available at this time.

The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect was written by Chris Melissinos, curator of the exhibition, and Patrick O’Rourke. It is published by Welcome Books. Visit the official book site for additional images and purchasing opportunities. A preview can also be found at The preview has included the Phantasy Star pages, as of April 2012.

Excerpt text and images from The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, By Chris Melissinos and Patrick O’Rourke. Compilation © 2012 Welcome Enterprises, Inc.,

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Release History

Release Title Date Region ISBN
The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect March 5, 2012 North America 978-1-59962-110-4