Are video games considered to be an art form?
I, as a common layman who’s actively engaged in gaming for as long as I can remember, strongly agree that Video Games are a product of Art.
This debate has caught on quite quickly where a few critics have been crying foul that Video Games can’t be considered an art form. Take for instance, Roger Ebert, a movie critic of legend, who’s work is of legend and despite what people may think about him, his thoughts and opinions are highly regarded in the mainstream media, specifically Hollywood. However, that hasn’t gained him any more fans from the gaming industry when he remarked some time ago that he remains convinced that “in principle, video games cannot be art.” Now while he said this considerably some time back, it was probably assumed that he would give it a second thought when gaming got it’s coveted status as an art form.
After that, not much attention was drawn on the topic until recently when Ebert retweeted an article written by Steven Boone who gave his opinion on the game The Last of Us, due next year saying that the game left nothing to imagination. Note that game has been critically acclaimed sweeping several honors and having Ebert’s opinion amplified was enough for Evan Wells, co-president of Naughty Dog and Neil Druckmann; creative director to respond back to Ebert via twitter asking him to take a second look at it. All this for a game that’s not been released yet.
First things first, The Last of Us, in my opinion, deserves a lot of accolades for approaching the survival scenario with beautiful and cinematic narrative but would you consider it an art form? I would and here’s why. There’s no straight definition as what is inherently considered to be art or the requirements for something to be considered art anyway, but if it is something that can emotionally move you, something along the lines of a painting, books, music or even a movie, then I say why not? This is coming from a gamer who felt an incredible sense of accomplishment when Mario found the princess, sadness when Dom dies in Gears of War, passion when you get a combo on Guitar Hero and fear when your busy trying to hide from those abominations in Amnesia. These are just the crux of emotions and adrenaline rushes you get to experience when playing. It’s something we all relate to.
This is Slender, a game with absolutely tells you nothing other than to collect 8 pages in the middle of the night. The fun starts at 6:30.
It doesn’t just involve the gaming experience, but also the development that goes into literally creating “something out of nothing”. Gaming is a form that evolves, has sequels. Sure, you can’t compare it to music or motion pictures, but it comes quite close in delivering the entire package as one.
Gamers literally imagine a universe that they end up interacting in, appreciating and even so much so as starting to critique them, which has served the basis of reviewing gaming experiences. Critics will probably argue that traditional art forms such as literature, paintings and so on have much more staying power while the scene for gaming changes it’s landscape on an unpredictable pattern.
To counter that belief, look at how gaming has now gone from accomplishing goals to creating a character driven experience, so much so that we start feeling disappointed when a particular game ends in a cliff hanger and there’s no word what’s going to happen next for our protagonist. (Yes Valve, I’m still hoping you make a Half-Life 3 announcement soon.)
Part of the section of Game of Thrones, the entire map was recreated in Minecraft.
To sum it up, Roger Ebert does have some very strong points to argue as to why games should not be considered an art form, as do most critics who like to jump on the same bandwagon. This criticism can prove to be advantageous to gamers who can expect video games to be evolved by their developers to be considered more than just an interactive genre.
It’s even generated revenues compared to the likes of motion pictures. I’d like to think that if it has some evidence of imagination and expression and moves us to a point that we feel emotion, it’s considered art. And if Video Games haven’t done that already then probably we need to redefine what art is to begin with.
Here’s your pop culture reference.