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Can video games be considered Art?

Posted on: December 9th, 2011 by mrbuttons

Video games and art, do they go together? Count the number of times you stopped playing the game just to admire a landscape, the detail of your avatar and the music that is more than just background noise. A lot of art and game critics say that video games cannot be art. I believe they can. So, let’s start with a definition:

1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,…: “the art of the Renaissance”
2. Works produced by such skill and imagination.
– Google, “What is art?”

By this definition alone video games are art. One could argue that a work needs to be appreciated aesthetically in order to be considered art, so I say open your eyes to the environments some games are built upon. The concept artists, graphic designers and writers all share a desire to have their work stand out and be appreciated by the player.

Roger Ebert, a well-known movie critic, once said video games can never be art. He followed that statement on his blog by claiming “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers.” I disagree with this statement. Why does it need to be compared to such a high bar before it can be considered art? Art itself is subjective, as everyone has their own opinion on what it is. Generally speaking, art is what any person creates with the intention or desire to make something artistic and aesthetically pleasing to them.

Remember kids. The Mario Bros say "Eat your veggies!"

After receiving some backlash for his previous statements, Mr. Ebert admitted that video games can be considered art – when played. For the most part I could agree since most gamers are the sole appreciators of the developers’ work and won’t go out of their way to see what else is beyond the game. Yet how does one lure a gamer into purchasing a specific game? Often, it is through video game previews such as concept art, game related videos, trailers and sound. All of which can inspire the audience. One such example is the widely popular Dead Island trailer. Other gamers can go through the classic methods such as going to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which will be hosting The Art of Video Games in 2012 and the well-known Video Games Live by video game veteran Tommy Tallerico, who organizes tours of video game concerts.

Come at me bro!

Many of us who identify as gamers have seen and can agree that there are some developers whose goal is for their game to be art. They do it to create a sense of deep emotion, to astound your eyes with imaginative scenes and graphics, to provoke your thoughts and intellect, to bring joy to your ears with original pleasing music, to open your mind to certain subjects and to gasp when the chain of events end and bring the story to fruition. They prove themselves more and more by coming far from the simple bits and circles to the near realistic imagery and scenarios that we have today. Then again, art is subjective, every person has their individual tastes and we can’t convince everyone. Sorry, Ebert.

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