BY BRUCE CHESSELL
Are video games art?
It’s a question I’ve heard asked more and more in recent months because of how technology for video games has advanced, making it possible to immerse the gamer in a world much more than ever before, and also because games are beginning to tell much more engrossing stories that can rival some of the best literature or films.
Games like the Last of Us or Bioshock: Infinite, two games released in the past year, were praised for their gripping storytelling over all other mechanics of the game by some reviewers.
And other indie masterpieces such as Limbo, Braid or Fez have been referred to as “art games” by many in a similar way that some films are referred to as “art house.”
And as someone who has grown up right in the middle of the gaming boom, I would argue that there have always been games that can be called art.
According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, art is “the various branches of creative activity concerned with the production of imaginative designs, sounds, ideas, etc.”
Video games fit this description perfectly.
They are filled with creative ideas and imagination, and oftentimes have the ability to inspire and trigger emotions in the player.
Video games are also much more immersive than other mediums.
When you look at a painting you admire the technique.
Some can get lost in the colours or the scene displayed on the canvas.
Movies and books tell you a story and get you invested in their characters.
But with video games you are the character.
Every decision that the character makes (aside from predetermined decisions) are all yours.
A good game can put you in the shoes of the character, and can make you feel his fear, sadness or excitement.
For example, a horror film like Saw will scare you because what you see is so horrifying and gruesome.
But in a horror-themed video game like Resident Evil you are in control of the situation.
This makes it much more terrifying than any film because you are experiencing everything through the character rather than watching someone else experience it.
And with ever-evolving technology, it is becoming much easier for developers to create worlds that look more realistic and tell stories in a more accessible way through voice actors as opposed to text boxes.
This is why the question, “Are video games art,” has been asked more and more recently, because video games have become more mainstream and people are beginning to recognize the strength in storytelling and impressiveness of games.
So what is the answer?
Some people still hold that video games are just toys that can entertain their kids for a couple of hours before they tell them to go to bed. But for those of us who play these games and understand them better, for us they are art.