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“The Art of Video Games” takes you on a trip through the history of video games.
Yep, you can actually play old-school Super Mario Brothers.

If you’ve ever wanted to jump in a time machine and relive the 40-year history of video games, well, Seattle’s EMP museum is the place to do it.

Opening this Friday is a kickass exhibit called The Art of Video Games. From the Atari VCS to Myst to the Nintendo Wii, the exhibit takes you through the incredibly short yet robust evolution of video games as an art.

Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibit is on a 10-city tour with Seattle as the only West Coast stop. There are 20 kiosks set up, each featuring original consoles (SEGA Master System, N64, PS3, etc.) with four influential games played from that time period grouped into categories: Action, Target, Adventure, Tactics.

At each kiosk, you can learn about the ins and outs of each game with an audio/video spotlight. For example, the 1985 NES station has descriptions of Super Mario Brothers 3 (Action), 1943: The Battle of Midway (Target), The Legend of Zelda (Adventure) and Desert Commander (Tactics).

There are also five era-specific games available for hands-on play: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst and Flower. Yes, that means you can actually play Super Mario Brothers on the original NES.

There are also some awesome concept sketches from World of Warcraft, Fallout and Starcraft, along with interviews with some of the top figures in the gaming world.

Everything kicks off Friday with a Game Nite event this Friday evening. There will be live tournament-style gaming on EMP’s huge Sky Church Screen and talks from some of the biggest names in the video game industry, including Jeff Strain and Kiki Wolfkill.

The exhibit runs until May 13.

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