Sega Storms the Smithsonian

Virtua Fighter goes upmarket in a big way - lands in the hallowed hallways of the Smithsonian Institute.

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Play video games in the Smithsonian? Call it an idea whose time has definitely come.

This unlikely scenario is the result of Sega Enterprises' upcoming induction into the Smithsonian's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology.

Officially, this won't happen until an April 6, 1998, ceremony that will take place in Washington, DC, but already the curators are searching out the perfect spot for a Virtua Fighter 3 arcade cabinet the Japanese game maker has graciously offered to the museum.

The executive director of the Smithsonian Awards Collection, Dr. David Allison, is calling the gesture by Sega "wonderful and generous." Unfortunately, the collection isn't exactly prepared to convert itself into a game arcade anytime soon, so the museum staff is still in the process of locating the necessary display space.

The Information Technology collection is made up of "individuals who use information technology to improve society," a museum document states. The collection is just ten years old and is populated with technical achievements from a diverse group that includes Pixar Studios, Nissan Motors, and Rock the Vote (the 1-800 dial-in voter registration program).

Sega's "advanced graphics and inverse kinematics technology (that) allows players to move around interactively inside a real-time, high-quality 3D graphics world in a very realistic way" forms the basis for Sega's presence in the collection this year.

Lest you think Sega's contribution singular, it is important to note that 441 other technologies will share top billing as 1998 inductees. Still, this is the only game company included in the not-so-short list, and it is the first time an arcade game and arcade game technology are to receive the Smithsonian "stamp of approval."

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