Video Games – Art / Entertainment / Evolution

Mario!

The never ending debate

The video game industry is still very much in its infancy. Consider how much longer film and music have been such a key part of our lives and you realise, the industry has yet to mature. But mature it will, without doubt. Video games are going nowhere but up, being the most profitable form of electronic entertainment today and seeing as how people, you know, like money, their increase in popularity is inevitable.

Just like television used to be, video games have become a scapegoat for the idiots of society to place blames upon rather than facing up to reality. They receive a harsh time in mainstream media, with many of its critics attacking the industry while having a completely misinformed opinion based on rumor and preconceived notion. The most obvious example being the shambolic attempt of FOX News to slam Mass Effect for having “full nudity alien sex scenes” (which it didn’t, at all). But really, this should come as no surprise. It is simply part of the process of an evolving art form. Film went through a similar progression. In twenty or thirty years, all the ‘controversy’ over video games will be looked upon with a degree of confusion. In the 1800s, a short film called The Kiss was released and contained what is widely regarded as the first filming of a couple’s kiss. No harm done right? Wrong. At the time, it was deemed scandalous and highly inappropriate. Seems a bit silly now, right?

Of course, where video games differ so crucially from other forms of entertainment, is in their interactivity. It is not a linear experience. This has a number of advantages, and some disadvantages. You are controlling what happens to a character, deciding their fate. In many ways, this makes it a far more engrossing experience than watching a film or even reading a book because you aren’t just being given a window into a character’s life, you are that character. Is there anything more powerful than that in entertainment? Of course, not all games strive to create an emotional, narrative experience. Some are more content with simply giving the player fun, whether that be through shooting a Russian terrorist in the face or by scoring a volley from outside the box. That’s fine though, there needs to exist games like that, to cater for distinct types of players.

The ‘are video games art?’ argument has been raging on for some time now and I don’t really understand why. The answer is clearly yes. Obviously your opinion depends on how you define art. For me, it’s the expression of creativity and imagination distilled down to a singular vision, something which video games do so well. “How is Call of Duty art?”, some might argue. Well, I respond with, “how is Rambo art?”. Film is considered art yet there are examples of it which emphasize style over substance, simple entertainment over deep and meaningful message. Is this still art? Absolutely, just a different kind of art.

And so too are video games. A different kind of art. In infancy but steadily maturing, the best is yet to come.

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