Video Games, Art Form

One of the many fwp debated topics of the internet is- can Video Games be art?

Once and for all, I am going to answer this question so you can shut up about it.

But first, we have to define Video Game. As computers are still maturing, the definition of a video game is still fairly primal. Wikipedia states “A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device.”

The obvious flaw being that any old button pressing action may under this be a video game, so the definition of games itself, again from wikipedia: “A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements. However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work (such as professional players of spectator sports/games) or art (such as jigsaw puzzles or games involving an artistic layout such as Mahjong, solitaire, or some video games). Key components of games are goals, rules, challenge, and interaction. “

According to Wikipedia, games could be art. Obviously, some games are art. But then that leads to the second and more important question- do you really want video games to be art?

Set your pretentiousness aside, if I wanted art I would go to the Louvre, maybe catch a movie at my local cinema, read a book, search for “Finsent Van Goel” on Google Images, that’s what I’d do if I wanted art. However, I don’t play a game because I want art. 

The terrible trend in video games ever since bad writers realized that interactive 1s and 0s were a valid storytelling platform is the making of these interactive movies they call “games”. In my opinion, these games no matter how good the gameplay are still just interactive movies, where you press buttons a lot with a lot of deaths and retries thrown in between, and except with the odd choose-your-path, the linearity always diminishes your options. Ever watch a movie and thought that a character did something stupid? Well in a game and when I’m at the WSAD keys, I don’t want to do that same something stupid, because that very much diminishes the purpose of the interactivity. 

Also, you’ll notice that a lot of the artsy-fartsy games have an intent on serious atmosphere, which again is no way to have fun. Fun, in my idea, is blowing shit up without having to experience the horrors and repercussions of blowing shit up that I don’t want to experience, because ultimately aren’t most 3D video games simulations of real life in one way or the other? And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the very purpose of a simulation to not have to experience undesirable consequences that come with the activity?

Obviously, everyone has their own zone of comfort where they find themselves a balance between challenge, recreation and realism, but when the art element is thrown in and the player is being provoked of a specific emotional response that the artist wants, that defeats the very purpose of gaming which is to have fun playing by your own rules.

The holodeck in Star Trek is a very good example of what video games should ultimately be- a non-scripted storyline created solely by the player, in game physics and the AI’s natural response, all consequences derived from not what the game’s writer thinks the player is supposed to do but what the player actually does.


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