Video Games are art
by. yours truly - Steven Harmon
Older adults should think of this new and vastly evolving form of media: video games not as a waste of time and resources, but a respectable art form that takes a tremendous amount of work and has countless benefits to those who play them. Before I even go into why Video Games are art, you need to know something: video games are at that point where they are evolving to the point of broken boundaries of what can and cannot be a video game with experimental independent projects coming from people all over the world; this form of media cannot be described very well in a word, but can art be described in only one word?
OK, so now is the time when we ask ourselves “Can we classify video games as art when we all have are own definitions of them both?,” well yes. Its a matter of asking ourselves what do all the other accepted forms of art have in common making them be generally perceived as art; I’m going to be honest with you, I tried to think of a definition for art and what each accepted art form has in common by putting them in a metaphoric family with relationships to each other to explain their similarities, then thought about it being a tool just for us to define reality, or could it be a tool for self expression, and I just for time's sake accepted every definition of art and moved on to defining video games. Video Games according to the dictionary are “Games played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen.”, but that doesn't really sound all that appealing; video games could be: a form of expression and self reflection, as well as things that motivate the player to find their place in, or interactive piece of narrative. It doesn't matter what definition you chose to believe when it comes to video games, it belongs in the arts category, family, community since it does everything other art forms can do and maybe even better?
If we can call a picture art, or a toilet placed in an art museum with a placard art, then why can’t we call an emotion invoking & inspiring interactive piece of art with a narrative and game mechanics that can draw the attention of a person for hours on end, ART? Video Games are around 50 years old, whereas to art such as drawing and early form of music and dance dates to around 37,000 years; that’s a huge difference, so that is probably the ‘reason’ why this new form of art isn’t as well accepted into the arts community, but why stop there? The most used definition of art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination”, so this fits the bill of what a video game can be perfectly!
I’m a game developer myself and know a lot about video games, how they are made, how much effort, work, creativity, blood, sweat, and tears are put into this beautiful piece of software, the conversation between player and developer when someone does a lets play of your game you talk back to this premade video saying things like “Its not finished! Oh come on why couldn’t you see that?! You are going the wrong way.”, and then it hits you that this is the life of the artist, and artist of course make art, so this thing I do called game design is art then games must be? ART!!!
Expression; everything in my games is personal from the angst games I’ve made to the philosophical ones, because the game engine is my canvas. (Sounds like painting, huh? Which is the first thing people think of when someone mentions art.) It is my way of venting all the emotions and feelings I’m unable to share due to society's expectations, or just being unable to voice it in a way others will understand (This is what every art form has in common.). These games are pieces of me, my heart and soul; I sometimes get scared that someday I will have made so many personable true games that there will be nothing left, but it just means I need to fix the creative process behind them. This process matures me so much from when I first started making the game to the point where I look back disgusted at who I was a few months previously, because its like growing up learning lessons from mistakes and raising a child of yours and seeing it off to college over and over again, and this thing we call art is very therapeutic in a sense, although I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, because of all the failure or the conversation between artist and everyone else when they clash and the artist either breaks down from all the army of assholes online, or becomes a better person from it all; life lessons and maturing is what video games... Ur I mean, art is about!
Those last two points about the conversation and self expression just go to show you that this game industry is more complex than you thought before. Everyone knows art by the artists who bear their soul into their artwork, so think about programmers, game designers, riggers, animators, modelers next time you think about artists, and think about those games you play nothing but what they should always have been called even from day one from what seemed a few pixels on a screen that moved when you did something to move them to the modern game: a photo realistic interactive piece of artwork that delves into philosophy by holding a mirror to the player and letting them do literally anything as art.