Are video games art?

Foreword: I’ve been away from a very, very long time to prep for my tests. I have to apologize for that): But since 2 weeks ago, I’ve been pondering this question; can video games be considered art? The subject hardly left my mind but unfortunately I didn’t have an “eureka” moment. As much as I want to defend video games, I find it an uphill task to get off the fence. What follows below will be a sea of text, trying to best articulate my thoughts in the previous weeks. It’s going to be messy.

The first step I took to tackle this problem was to define what art actually is. Why don’t if you stopped reading for a second and take some time to ponder it yourself :3
Done? 😀

Here we go.
I no doubt had difficulty doing this. I’ve came up with a number of answers; it can simply be a work of creativity, imagination or a liberated form of expression. It also seems to be not be limited to poetry and prose. As of the time of writing this article, drawing, painting, sculpture and drama are already widely accepted art forms. So what excludes video games from being considered an art form? Could it be that because video games are more interactive and leaves its audience oblivious to the artistic phenomenon? Games like CoD and BF3 can hardly be considered art in my opinion even from where I stand – racking up my K/D ration is not art.

At least it doesn’t feel like art.

Some people have been unable to give a definition when I approached them for. They said they don’t really grasp it, but “they know it when they see it”. I know most of you wouldn’t consider CoD art, neither would I, but it does have elements of art. Still, in the eyes of many, this does not qualify Cod/BF3 or many other games as art.

Because they don’t feel “it”.

Sure, the games look great and all – but unable to be appreciated as an art form by many. The game’s main focus was not on the aesthetics (sure, it had to look good to appeal to gamers. But it wasn’t made to simply look good) but on gameplay. It was created to interact with its users, to illicit feelings of triumph and adrenaline – very different from what a painting would make one feel. Similarly, although blacksmiths and weapon-smiths are called “artisans”, their craft is highly debatable to be considered art.

However I really want to vouch for the aesthetic phenomenon in these games, how can I say so when I don’t believe it myself? Could I possibly say that art has intrinsic properties that exists in a world independent of our views and or could it be an applied perception, an instantaneous reaction to the subject?Or art is an end in itself. What is art is art. Art = Art. It requires not to be appreciated by anyone, it has no justifiable value.

What is created to be art, will be art.

Are games created to be a work of art? Some are, some are not. Imagine if the developers of GTA vice city sat down and thought to themselves – “Hmm, this game isn’t artistic enough.“. That would be inane. In a lot of games we are tested for our “skills”, and the rewards of this experience include and is not limited to the release of Dopamine and adrenaline. This is the driving concept behind some games – fun. Not art. Thats is perfectly alright, but what can I say about Bastion, The Bridge, TRAUMA, To the Moon, perhaps Trine1 and 2 and even Portal? A lot of these games are created with a storyline at their core. They also don’t oversaturate the experience with action and other similar distractions. The storyline, the atmosphere, the way the game is made – it disturbs my senses. A reason and sensory experience that I could not put to words alone.

I felt it. And I was not alone.

But I have to stop here for now. The general question itself leads quickly to other more complex questions and in turn spawns more of its kind.

End of part 1. 🙂

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