Video Games as an Art

First off let me say how sorry I am that there were no posts Thursday or Friday.  The internet is a fickle mistress, and I ended up reformatting my computer for most of the weekend.  I know many of you are kind of split between my gaming and WoW posts, but I think this one applies to all gamers.

Are Video Games Art?

Do you consider video games to be an art?  This is the question that’s been plaguing me since I first heard about it.  There’s obviously art –in- video games.  But is the compilation art?  Movies supposedly are, and if I look at a movie and a video game, these days I just don’t see much difference in terms of feel.  They’re ability to move you, and their art and creativeness.  A good game combines the same things movies do, actors, soundtrack, visuals, it all has to come together to make the game enjoyable –and- add gameplay.

Does gameplay devalidate it as art?  Does art by definition have to be uninteractive?  If it does then I guess video games –aren’t- art.  The hard thing I guess then, is to define art.  After nearly a week to think about it (quite the philosopher, eh?  lets spend a week and come up with an arbitrary definition of art!.)  But in the end, to me, art in the end is something of good quality that moves somebody in some way, either positively or negatively.  It makes them stop and really consider it and it’s meaning, and that to –me- is art.  And I think I can safely say there are games that meet this definition for me.  The interactivity, the investment, emotionally and mentally a good gamer puts into their game, and after that kind of immersion and investment their ability to move you is far greater than that of a picture or movie where you’re only an observer.

When I first stepped into World of Warcraft, was my initial perspective to see it as art?  No, it was to enjoy a game, but is the intention of a person going to watch a movie to see a work of art, or enjoy a movie?  Yet at some points the sense of wonder that World of Warcraft has given me are just amazing, when I first set eyes on dark portal from the outland side, it’s sheer size compared to me, looking at the battle raging below me with things that could easily crush me, I felt small, and  amazed at the same time. 

There are also moments that have made me darn near cry, not in World of Warcraft, but let’s look at Prey.  *Spoiler alert*  In Prey one of the main objectives as you run your Indian religion powered butt through the alien stronghold is to save your girlfriend Jenn.  You find her and she’s in some kind of pod, and you’re like ‘yay!’  then she says the dreaded line “I can’t feel my legs.”  And out pops her kind of graphed onto the head of some bulldemon like thing that proceeds to try to eat your face, you defeat it but leaving your girlfriend alive is a nono as it’ll just heal and try to eat you again.  So you have no choice but to kill her as she basically cowers in fear.  Really strong moment as it seems all of your original goals get screwed over again and again by aliens and now you have to kill the only person who you really care for?    In Final Fantasy 7 if you played it before absolutely everyone learned, leaked and shouted from the rooftop “AERITH DIES” it could be quite surprising and rather emotional, usually followed by a ‘why the frig don’t the ress spells or items work?’ in a vein attempt to make humor of something that bothered you, particularly if you’d just spent a couple of hours grinding her up so she was overpowered and her limit break was completely broken….not that I’d know.

In the end I think some games are art, they have moved and in some ways changed me as a person, making me re-evaluate my beliefs and sometimes just downright awe inspiring me.  See; Dragon Age Origins.  With games having some of the most beautiful soundtracks I’ve ever heard of see; most Final Fantasy games.  So in the end to me video games are an art, even if most in the genre aren’t, and I’d say movies, pictures, and writing all fall into the same thing.  There are gems, but they are rare and far between.  The issue is how many games are designing for immersion and mood and not for entertainment?  Few I’d think, but those that do, or those that include it in their entertainment I think are the companies that will usually edge above the rest in some way.

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