Like many growing up in this generation, I have found that many satisfying and meaningful artistic experiences have come from video games. Unlike other, more traditional art forms like painting, sculpting or film, the spectator is no longer just a viewer to the art, but a part of it. For decades now, video game artists have been innovating new paths to approach storytelling, and they have created unbelievable ways to fully immerse audiences.
There are some games that are just mindless fun, but then there are some that take on a more cinematic approach. Games like Fallout, The Legend of Zelda or Half-Life are great examples of how video games can relate to people in a narrative sense, like film, but on a more intimate level. Instead of just observing, with video games, the viewer can be a participant. There are even games that have evolving storylines that change through the player’s choices.
There is a huge creative process that goes into game development. Creators not only have to understand artistic concepts, but they must have the technological know-how to make their visions something that can work digitally. Most modern games encompass techniques of 3D modeling, illustration, storytelling and musical collaboration that all work together toward making something that can transport audiences into a different dimension. Despite all this, many still don’t consider video games an art form.
One of these critics is Robert Ebert, an established American film critic, historian, and author. He said this in a piece with Chicago Sun-Times, “To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers,” explains Ebert. “That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.”
This sort of rhetoric can be problematic though, since it puts art on a pedestal, and it perpetuates an elitist school of thought. It is particularly annoying though, because this view of art is so narrow it dismisses so many newer mediums and great bodies of work. Due to their strict views of what they consider art, people like Ebert are missing out on an enjoyable medium, but they’re also ignoring what the modern art world is evolving into and what it has to offer.
I am part of the group convinced that video games are the way forward. People were dismissive of cinema and animation as art form when they were first introduced too. Even though video games have broken the boundaries that other art forms have stayed inside of for so long, video games are still largely resisted.
Others may also cite video games as a complete waste of time, and instead of playing them people should be indulging in other art forms, art that Eberhart and his peers deem reverent. When I think about all the time I have spent playing video games though, I don’t look back thinking it was a waste of time, but I feel as though playing certain video games have helped shape my perspective as an artist, and more importantly, as an individual.
Video games are a way for us to discover our world, and ourselves. Even though critics, and sometimes our parents, think they’re just a waste of time there is a substantial amount artistic education and practical engagement to be found in them.
Video games are the natural next step in our evolving technological world, and they have proven that by becoming one of the top grossing industries of our time. And even though video games as an art form is still largely unrecognized, it is undeniable that where many young artist are finding their inspiration. People who tend to think like Ebert are just going to get left behind, because this is where the art world and entertainment industry is heading. Video games, and interactive media is the future on the horizon.