Videogames Are a Legitimate Form of Art
Videogames are a legitimate form of art. Why did I choose this topic? Well, because I’m tired of people discriminating videogames by calling them a waste of time, money, or something else. Many people feel that the only purpose is to entertain, that’s it, nothing else. So, I’ve decided to prove people that videogames are a legitimate art form by comparing them with the other art forms, so that they start appreciating at least a little bit more videogames, and why not, start playing them if they’ve never played one or don’t like them. So tight on your pants because here we go!
First things first, let’s define what exactly are videogames and art. Art is the result of putting certain elements together, like colors with figures, words in a certain order to give them musicality or meaning, etc., which expresses or transmits the artist’s feelings when he was making his work of art. There are different versions of which types of “art” are really art. I’m only considering the most common seven arts included in the lists of which are arts. Paintings, sculptures, architecture, poetry, music, literature in general, and films (movies) are the “seven legitimate forms of art”. (Other people include photography, comics, TV, theatre (which I include it in the literature in general class), fashion, publicity, animation and videogames as part of the legitimate forms of art. In my opinion, photography, animation, publicity, TV and films should be put in a same category, which I call it Modern Visual Arts, since paintings, sculpture and architecture is also a type of visual arts. Comics, fashion and videogames should be considered as art also, but the purpose of this research paper is only focused on videogames.)
Videogames are games that involve a direct interaction between a player and the game, and include most of the other seven art forms. Videogames have been present since late 1948, with the release of the first known videogame, U.S. Patent 2455992. It was a game inspired by a radar display tech, where the player controlled a dot that simulated a fired missile directed towards drawings fixed on the screen. The videogame era started officially in the 1970s thanks to the success of Pong. Since then, the videogame industry has been controlled by three big companies, Nintendo (which is the most successful of the three companies), Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation.
In a noble effort that probably won’t make Roger Ebert happy, the National Endowment for the Arts now includes video games as a potential grant recipient. The NEA has changed the old category of “Arts in Radio and Television” to “Arts in Media,” allowing video games into the fold.
Basically, independent game developers are going to get money from the government to develop games, which leads to the awesome sentence: The government is going to fund the development of video games. This news will surely rile up the staunch video game opposition, but since the government has basically categorized video games as art, or at the very least, officially recognized video games as a legitimate enough form of media to fund its development, the ever-expanding industry should soon see a boost in its progress and, hopefully, see a boost in its recognition as a legitimate form of art. (Plafke)
Now I’ll compare videogames with the rest of the art forms. I’ll start first with the three visual arts (paintings, sculptures and architecture). Videogames include these three aspects of art. They have beautiful backgrounds (paintings), buildings (architecture) and some of them in the scenery include sculptures. Sports videogames are a good example of games that include great architecture, since most of them either design their own stadiums (like in Mario Strikers for the Nintendo GameCube where all the stadiums where created just for that game) or make a really faithful copy of real stadiums, like in the FIFA videogames where they include real stadiums like Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Stadium Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, etc. Other games focus mostly on the scenery, or background, which in many cases end up being great works of art. A great example is the Final Destination stage of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii. This stage has a great background, where you move from outer space to another planet with awesome visual effects while you are fighting with your friends and/or the computer.
Play L.A. Noire, and you'll quickly begin to feel the immersive and artistic authenticity as you - in the '40s - wander through a classic, lovingly crafted representation of Los Angelas. Play the original Crash Bandicoot: the beautiful and colourful pre-rendered backgrounds with such iconic images as the distant, black silhoutte of Cortex's castle across a dark orange sky are certainly worthy of enjoyment, as is the musical ambience from 'Mutato Muzika' in the early jungle levels. Play Flower: such a captivating experience in many ways and a breeze (etc etc) to play. Don't even get me started on ol' Abe again - the glowing, menacing red eyes of the tall Glukkon towers in the misty background of 'Stockyard Escape', anyone? (Boyle)
Anyone who has played the God of War series has most likely noted the massive, beautiful environments in which the game takes place.
The scale of the games is absolutely breathtaking, and the world is composed of soaring, yet impossible Greek architecture, immense, brutal creatures pulled directly from mythology and it is all interconnected in a labyrinthine network of puzzles and platforms.
All of this incredible scenery can be traced back to the game's concept artist, Cecil Kim. In much the same way Ralph McQuarrie's original concept art for the Star Wars franchise is now generally regarded as high art, Cecil Kim seems poised to accomplish the same thing with his breathtaking concept artwork in the video game industry. The art community seems ready to recognize this as well. Cecil Kim is now a very well-respected artist and recently received a write-up in Blue Canvas magazine. (Bouis)
Now I’ll compare videogames with literature. Many types of videogames include a story, so they do have writers. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how great a game looks or how awesome is its gameplay, it needs a good story, but of course there are some great games that don’t need a story like sports games or Pac-Man. In many games the story has to be very convincing so that the players continue playing the game. Many players (like me) stop playing certain games if the story is really dumb or doesn’t even make sense. The Legend of Zelda series has been characterized by having really epic stories. Who would forget the great story of possibly the best game of the TLOZ series, TLOZ: Ocarina of Time? This game thanks to its story has become a favorite between the “gamer” community. The latest game of the Metroid series, Metroid Other M, has a really great story, where the monologues that our favorite bounty hunter, Samus Aran, does, really makes you feel part of the game and when you finish the game, you end up feeling great with yourself. Other games that have great stories are usually the shooters, like the Call of Duty series. But remember, there are also great story-less games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders.
Games with storylines are sometimes generically called role-playing games (RPGs). This is based on paper-and-pencil games such as Dungeons and Dragons, where players create characters and interact within a storyline invented by writers or other players. Story-based video games can resemble traditional RPGs in many ways. It can be said that a video game RPG is a traditional RPG with more artistic elements added, most obviously sound and visuals. It may be important to consider whether the storyline for a paper-and-pencil RPG is art placed within the framework of a game. A video game can resemble and can even be based on a novel, a short story, or another type of literature. (“Clysm”)
Now let’s compare videogames with music. Videogames inevitably have music or at least sound effects. Videogame designers put a lot of effort in finding really good composers for their games. In many cases, the music plays a really important role in the gaming experience. They may help you feel like a monster might appear from nowhere and attack you, like in Nintendo’s Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, where in a world the background music is characterized by a drum beat that resembles an accelerated heart by fear, which really makes you feel anxious and your senses get altered. In other cases, the music from videogames becomes really famous, like Mario’s Theme song, The Legend of Zelda Theme song, and many more songs. And who could forget the great music videogames? The Guitar Hero series and the Rock Band series have been considered to mark a period in videogame history. Their games since the first one have become almost an instant success. The reason for their impressive success is mainly because of their soundtracks, either from many different bands or from one specific band, like Rock Bang AC/DC or Guitar Hero Aerosmith. Even though it has been announced that there will be no more Guitar Heroes due to the low sales that the last Guitar Hero received, many people (myself included) will patiently wait to see if the company in charge of the Guitar Hero series changes its mind in the future.
Video-game music has artistic applications and influences outside of the realm of the games themselves. Nobuo Uematsu, the acclaimed Japanese composer of the Final Fantasy series, has written musical scores that have been adapted and performed in concerts around the globe. His music has even inspired the 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist American duo of Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova to swim to his song “Liberi Fatali” from Final Fantasy VIII. (Shan)
In conclusion, videogames ARE a legitimate art form. You already read the important roles that literature, music, architecture and the other visual arts play in the making of videogames. If you still believe that videogames aren’t art, then think this: HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT SOMETHING MADE UP FROM DIFFERENT TYPES OF ART CAN’T BE ART? With that question I rest my case, and if this question didn’t change your opinion, then I don’t know what else will make it.
Bouis, Zack. “Video games considered most recent modern art”. <http://www.reflector-online.com/opinion/video-games-considered-most-recent-modern-art-1.2411617>
Boyle, Brandon. “Games are a Legitimate Art Form”. <http://shrykull.blogspot.com/2011/05/games-are-legitimate-art-form.html>
Clysm. “Video Games as Art”. <http://www.autofish.net/clysm/art/writing/essays/2002s_videogamesasart.html>
Plafke, James. “National Endowment for the Arts Now Giving Grants to Video Games”. <http://www.geekosystem.com/national-endowment-for-arts/>
Shan, Carl. “Videogames As a Legitimate Art Form”. <http://www.avault.com/features/video-games-as-a-legitimate-art-form-part-1/?page=2>