Video games can be considered art: here’s why

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The continual argument for video games being a medium of art has, honestly, not been active for quite some time. A simple search online shows many articles around the early 2010s, leveling off at around 2013. However, over the years, there have been so many examples of video games that exemplify art’s criteria. From well-received content to some controversial pieces, video games can certainly be considered art, just not all the time.

While this argument isn’t brought up much anymore, it still has relevance to many gamers. Senior Fernando Carranza briefly explains why some may discourage the practice of gaming.

“I think the argument of video games being art is generational,” states Carranza. “There are some older people who just don’t understand them and they have a bias towards the subject for this reason.”

So, do most video games reflect the ideals of art? Not exactly. Art is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” This boils down to three distinct points: having creativity or imagination, being in a visual form, and portraying beauty. Most games are created with some sort of imagination or creative skill and are a visual form, which doesn’t really eliminate many games from the definition. On the contrary, beauty implies a pleasure to the senses, meaning that a mind-numbingly all-on shooter game that offers no meaning is automatically exempt from being categorized as art. This label isn’t meant to discredit those games as valid forms of entertainment, just not as art. 

In addition, art has seven major elements: line, shape, color, form, value, space and texture. For video games, many of them contain a lot of these elements, but a majority of them don’t utilize their critique in an artistic fashion. For context, senior Will Ennis explains the elements of value and color respectively.

“If you’re playing a more serious game that deals with a lot of dark topics, it might appear darker,” explains Ennis. “If you play a more upbeat game, it’s usually more colorful.”

Video games are generally reared as a separate medium from what is seen as a normal, irrefutable piece of artistic media. While previously stating that not all video games are art, there is at least reason to credit the attempts of many passionate creators. Video games are a different medium of art, one where the player is an active participant in the form. Examples of video game art often evoke a sense of magic and wonder, explore emotions and/or feature minimalist details. What also sets it apart is the length of each video game, which can last as long as 100 hours for a wonderful story. In addition, the lengthy traversal of many story-oriented games allows for a further appreciation of character design by personal choice, offered in many games through collectable cosmetics. 

Though not many games can call themselves art by definition, it doesn’t impact their ability to maintain popularity and appreciation across the world. An expression of art deserves praise as much as an expression of passion does, which is why the video games industry is so successful in providing players with either a thought-provoking, wonderful story experience or a mindless, hack-and-slash linearity of a game. It’s all the same fun, but it also matters on the person.

Carranza and Ennis respectively express games they consider art.

“The kind of games that make you think are important. For example, my favorite game is Kingdom Hearts III. It has a story, a plot… it’s amazing.”

“I would say Skyrim is art because the music in it is good and sets a theme in the world, which is very involving.”

Finally, having recently completed the story of a game called Death Stranding, the art of video games certain can encompass many different forms. Death Stranding is a game that dares to be different due to its gameplay of essentially delivering packages and making connections. The game emphasizes how a simple concept can lead into such a deep and emotional game. While this game has moments that make it mature, frightening, and possibly inappropriate for most younger audiences, it’s an amazing experience for an open mind, leaving the player to really ponder about several gripping concepts.