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The Video Game Art Archive

An online gallery curating art only found in video games, from Final Fantasy to Donkey Kong

Pixel art is alive and well in the art world, but what about all the art that lives inside video games? What happens to them after the console is turned off? A new Tumblr called Video Game Art Archive curates all the artwork you can spot adorning the walls of games like Super Mario, Castlevania, and Final Fantasy. 

The virtual collection isn't unlike something that would pop up in a Cory Arcangel show, right next to his Nintendo game cartridge hacks. In fact, since the Smithsonian declared video games as art and added two games to its permanent collection in December, it seems like there's an increasing understanding that the genre constitutes an artistic medium in its own right. (Although it's doubtful anybody sat in front of a Georgia O'Keefe painting for ten hours, forgoing all sleep and food while trying to defeat a boss.)

Where does that leave in-game art? A quick stroll through the virtual museum demonstrates that plenty of effort went into making these relatively minor additions to the game scenery. In some cases, just glancing at a painting alone is enough to conjure up distinct moods and memories of the game – any Final Fantasy VIII player will place those creepy portraits in the final dungeon level. Others, from earlier games, are almost pleasingly abstract – until you squint and realise it's a picture of a Koopa Troopa, blown up from an early Nintendo game. As The Verge put it, it's like a MoMA for Super Mario.