The Video Game Art Debate

The debate on whether or not video games are considered an art form has been raging over the past couple years, especially last year when movie critic Roger Ebert stated that video games can and never will be art. This debate once again reared its ugly head among me and my friends while eating dinner the other day, so I decided I would just go ahead and post my thoughts on the subject. Video games are an art form. I treat this as fact, regardless of the other opinions out there. While I understand that everybody has a different opinion of art and what art is, I find the definition that works best to describe how I feel as art being anything that is created by a person or group of people that causes one to feel or think in a way they otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s a fairly wide definition, but that to me sums up everything art is. Let’s for example take a look out of a game that many gamers point to in the video games as art debate. Here is the scenario. You walk into an art museum and hanging on the wall is this screenshot of Shadow of the Colossus, a video game release for the PS2.

Now let’s say there are headphones that accompany this screenshot playing music from the game. If you asked people in the museum if this particular piece of  “art” was actually art I am almost certain that if they had no prior knowledge of the screen coming from a video game that they would say it was. But here comes the part that defies common sense. Attach that piece of art to a controller and it ceases to be art, it instead becomes “a game”. Which in all fairness is what it actually is, a video game. But why does being able to interact with something and experience it differently make something not an art form. Without a doubt everybody who views a thought provoking painting or beautiful sculpture “experiences” something different. Everybody believes the painting to symbolize this or hint at that, and depending on who you are and your own personal experiences help to craft your interpretation of that piece. Why then does interacting with a game, making decisions based on your personal experiences or completely against them exile video games from the realm of “art”.  Is every video game a piece of art? Not at all, but neither is every movie. To exclude video games from the realm of art for the reasons of interaction and varying experiences is completely absurd and defies common sense. The debate will continue to rage on in the future I am sure, but in the mean time I will enjoy my video games and ignore people like Roger Ebert who make high and mighty claims about what is and isn’t “art” even though he refuses to ever pick up the controller and experience what millions have already discovered. His loss.

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