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Video Games As An Art Form

1602 words - 7 pages

The editors of a popular American magazine called Appleton’s Journal, upon laying their eyes on an example of a new kind of art form their reaction was one of surprise and disgust, and they considered any claim of it or anything like it being called “art” as an insult to “true art” and to the skill of the masters who create “true art”. Those editors were not reacting to any video game, the year was 1878 and they were giving their honest opinion on an impressionist painting, but frankly they might have as well been talking about video games. Throughout this essay I am going to talk about why video games should be thought of as an art form and refute some of the arguments against it being an art form.

Now before we continue we might as well define art because how can we determine if something is art if we don’t know what it is? Merriam Webster defines art as “ noun; something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings”. Now that is a great professional definition, but perhaps too professional. Allow me to try and humanize that definition, art is something that one or more people put their hearts and minds in to, art is something that can make the beholder, or viewer, or player feel or think something. Whether they feel awe at the beauty of the landscape of a game like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,
anger towards the men that burned down the main character’s village in Assassin’s Creed III, sadness at the death of Shadow in Sonic Adventure 2, freedom and control in games as open as Minecraft or the Grand Theft Auto series, the shock realizing the beautiful and supposedly utopian society of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite has institutionalized racism and elitism, the great satisfaction of beating the final boss in a Zelda game, or just the simple joy of touching the top of the flagpole at the end of a level in Super Mario 3d world. Video Games can just as well, or even better, get across ideas from the creator and make people think about various subjects, such as expression, sexuality, addiction, morality, and war. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask has often been called a game about teaching the player how to overcome grief and for all the criticism the Call of Duty franchise may receive the argument has been put forth that they offer legitimate social commentary on war crimes. In fact there was going to be a game called Six Days in Fallujah, which was to be a third-person shooter putting the player into the real events of one of the most important battles of the Iraq war, unfortunately it was cancelled due to the controversy it created. Meanwhile Lone Survivor, a film based on events in the war in Afghanistan that took place about a year later, opened in theaters a few months ago to critical praise, financial success and even two Academy Award nominations. Mind you a video game does not need to be a traditional big budget AAA game to be of artistic merit, but I’ll get to that later....

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