For centuries, philosophers and other critical thinkers have questioned what can truly be defined as art. In the 21st century, many discredit video games as just another form of media, but some games have proven to transcend the medium and cross over into artistic territory.
When mentioning art, people usually think of a famous painting or sculpture, and in art class, students are usually only exposed to these physical forms. However, the word extends to other areas such as auditory and the performing arts. There is no clear definition of art, and although video games may not be applicable to the word, according to some, it is an insult to game developers that games are not recognized for their artistic value.
Roger Ebert was perhaps the most infamous disputer in this debate. Before he passed away, he claimed that video games could never be considered art because they have rules and an outcome. In his article titled “Video games can never be art,” he writes with a severely closed-mind.
He believed art is an experience, which differs from the gameplay of video games. When viewing art at a gallery, for example, there is no touching. When playing a game, however, Ebert argues that using the controller sucks players out of that experience. His statement is undeniable, but video games are able to achieve artistic status figuratively rather than physically.
Freshman Rohan Pandit says, “Games such as ‘Call of Duty’ should not be considered art. There is no substance to any of the characters and the story is an afterthought to gameplay.”
If Ebert focused on the emotional aspects of modern gaming, he would have realized that video games embody artistic creativity through a strong narrative and graphic design.
A narrative or other form of storytelling is commonplace in the industry. Almost all games look to tell a story, and with that story comes a message that writers want to convey. Not every game reaches the same level of artistic status, but thought-provoking and emotional journeys are the most expressive. If a game makes you think and question yourself or the world around you, then that game should not be considered just another form of entertainment.
One of the most important parts of a game are the graphics. Set pieces, models, backgrounds, and animations are just a few aspects of artistic direction that are vital to the success of a game. If a setting can successfully make a player feel certain emotions, then the developers have truly crafted a world that resonates with its audience.
Freshman Marissa Casella says, “Artistic value also depends on how much effort the creators put into the scenery. A realistic setting can immerse players and even entrance them in some cases.”
All art has a purpose, theme, or reason to invoke emotion in its observer. Artists always put meaning into their work, and the same could be said about video games.
What do video games mean to you? Will video games ever be universally considered as art? What needs to happen for this to be the case?