From my perspective, what we have here is a clear antagonism between the coding mystique and the banality of cardboard.
Video games are another example of the 'coding mystique'.† In completed form, players never see the presence of code in video games, they only 'experience' the effects generated by that code.† I still remember the first time I played 'Grand Theft Auto 3'- it was an incredible open-world experience few games, up to that point, could achieve.† However, I never saw a single line of code while playing.† I never engaged in 'modding' or other activities that might have exposed the underbelly of the game's internal workings embedded in code.† The 'black box' encapsulating the code of GTA 3 never once surfaced during play and, thus, the 'coding mystique' held total control of my gaming experience without ever once revealing its tendril-like grip on my brain and my body.
Compare this to the banality of cardboard.
Manual games have no 'black boxing', the code underlying their operation located in plain sight with regards to the printed rules.† Anyone who can read can reasonably play a board game.† Beyond this, anyone who can read and write can *modify* a board game with relative ease.† Without obfuscation, there simply cannot be any 'mystique' associated with board games.† Hence, the banality of cardboard.
Despite this banality, board games still possess all the qualities listed above by Ms. Antonelli and the 'Inside/Out' blog.† Board games are, at their core, experiential designs.† They create a ludic space, just like video games, based on a designed architecture that plays with both space and time through the use of mechanics and aesthetics.† One difference board games possess is that the imagery created is wholly dependent on the player.† They create the narrative through play (especially in solitaire games), even if this narrative is guided through design.† Video games, in contrast, force narrative interpretation upon the player.† Sequencing of displayed imagery, while tied to player interaction via controller, is nonetheless†fait accompli.† The code already contains every potentiality, every possible outcome that the player could force.† You can't 'cheat', unless the code says you can, meaning that there is no way to metaphysically break the boundaries of the video game universe.† And even if the game does allow cheats, these are still bound to the rules circumscribed by code's operation.
Board games, despite their banality, can actually survive cheating (either on purpose, or by mistake) undertaken by the player.† The entire narrative assemblage process escapes pre-deterministic outcomes because the player creates the meaning- a process limited only by imagination and not the boundaries of code.† Cardboard appears banal because we give the cardboard meaning through play.† Video games have mystique because the code gives meaning to us through play.
There are other issues too, like the nature of the museum space.† Here again is Ms. Antonelli:
"We’re not going to have the arcade cabinets. We are going to acquire the hardware, because it’s important to have it, but at least at first, we’re not going to show it. We’re going to have screens that are as close as possible in size to the original screens, and of course, we’re going to have the controllers. The controllers are very important, but my dream, and I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to do it, is to have controllers that are all made with the same plastic in the same color. Of course, they have whatever joysticks or buttons they need to have. It’s important to have those. But I would like to kind of make everything that has to do with the hardware as abstract as possible, so that people can concentrate on the interaction. I want to create that distance, so that people can really understand what we mean by these games being masterpieces of interaction design."
While MoMa is keen on the act of preservation, the goal being to fully document not just the code and materials of video games but also the process involved in making the code, Antonelli's quote above details the type of exhibit MoMa wants to create.† Hardware is absent.† Controllers, if able, would be all alike, indistinguishable from one another so as not to interfere with concentration on 'interaction'.† In short, the player would be presented only with the 'experience' as enabled by the code.