Video games are fun. No one can argue that. What is argued, however, is their impact on our lives.
Video games are a truly brand new form of media when compared with much older media such as recorded music and film and even older newspapers and books. Since they are so new, video games have yet to be taken very seriously.
Just as it took time for films to be considered a form of art, games were not viewed as art at their conception. For years, though, gamers have been buying and enjoying many games not just because they are challenging, but because of the emotions that these games invoke.
Art is anything that is created by an individual that invokes emotions in another person. The most classic interpretation of this is in the form of visual art, such as paintings or sculptures.
Many games have created stunning visuals and environments in either realistic three-dimensional detail, or more abstract and (for lack of a better word) artistic interpretations.
It’s easy to see the art of certain hand-painted indie games like Banner Saga. Developers poured their time and effort into making something beautiful, but also playable.
Even if a game is going for realistic visuals, though, does not mean it can’t be artistic looking. The painstakingly detailed forests of Rise of the Tomb Raider (pictured in cover image), and the rusted, dilapidated city ruins of Fallout 4 are beautiful, and they trigger emotions like only art can.
And let’s not forget about music. Games now use music much like movies have. The way soundtracks can intertwine with gameplay to create a feeling that the developers want is unparalleled. I still get an adrenaline rush when I hear the electric guitar-fused soundtrack of Halo, just as the piano-rich sounds of the opening scenes of Mass Effect 3 can bring tears to my eyes.
One of my favorite parts of video games, of course, is their stories. A great narrative is as much an art as anything, and the gaming industry is full of examples of great stories. Who can play games like The Last of Us or The Walking Dead Season 1 without getting almost unhealthily emotionally invested in the story and characters? (I would also like to mention that 2015’s Quantum Break is, in my opinion, a very underrated game that has an incredibly emotional and interesting story with great twists.)
Ultimately, though, it is neither the sounds or visuals that truly make games art. It is their ability to transport a player into another world in a way no other medium can. Games not only bring you to a new place, like a movie or a book can, but they force you to interact with that world and be a part of it. They affect your emotions in a way that reflects real life. The games that allow you to make choices, like Fallout or Mass Effect, are arguably better at this, because the player feels like his choices impacted the game. This is something no other medium can achieve.
Viewing games as art is important to Christians. Art is often subjective, we can take what we want out of it. This means that Christians can gleen good messages from games if they really want to.
Art is meant to be appreciated. God, after all, is the ultimate artist, and he made humanity in his image. Part of that means that we are to create too. There is something beautiful about appreciating the art of others.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this post helps you understand that video games are art, because art is what you make of it.
(All pictures on this post are screenshots taken by me from the games that I have played)