Jason Rohrer Will Be the First Video Game Designer to Have a Solo Museum Show

Still from Rohrer's Sleep is Death series.

Jason Rohrer, Sleep is Death (still), released 2010, video game.


The Davis Museum at Wellesley College has organized a solo show of work by video game designer Jason Rohrer, which will open February 10, 2016. Though Rohrer’s revered game Passage is in the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York–as part of MoMA’s architecture and design department–the Davis exhibition is, according to the museum, “the first known instance of [an] art museum presenting a solo exhibition to a video game maker.”

“This is a notable milestone in the history of the form, but video games have been enjoying increasing attention in the art world for the past two decades,” Mike Maizels, the Davis Museum’s curator of new media, who organized the show, said in a statement. “The museum and video games worlds are colliding, and we hope to portray this in a way that is dynamic and exciting for visitors.” The show will include “large-scale build-outs” of some of Rohrer’s environments.

Passage, Rohrer’s most famous work, was created in 2007, and features a character walking through a pixelated environment and going through a vague trajectory of life itself–falling in love, losing his air, aging, dying, etc. Points are gained along the way through collecting treasure chests, though there is no real winning the game, which always progresses with the character growing older and, eventually, passing away. A lot of Rohrer’s work has followed a similarly conceptual path, like A Game for Someone, which he created, but never played, and then buried in a secret location in the Nevada desert, so that “nobody living would ever play” it.

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