Saturday, November 3, 2012

Video games can be art, but art cannot be video games

Revisiting the debate on whether video games can be considered an artistic medium, I decided to take a more logical and objective approach, rather than just opinionated remarks. First off, let's look at the definition of art: according to the Oxford English Dictionary art is "1 [mass noun] 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. 2 (the arts) The various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance." By this definition, we can incontestably conclude that video games can and should be regarded as an art form because the creation of such involves an application of human creative skill and imagination. And like all other art forms such as paintings and music, terrible ones will be made as well - and they too will be consider art.
Art is in the eye of the beholder and if it has the power to move you, it's art. The emotions you feel when gaming - excitement, empowerment, amusement, rage, euphoria - are more extreme than anything traditional pictorial art will give you. Now let's look at the definition of a video game: "video game - noun. A game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a monitor or other display." While the dictionary definition of art clearly leaves room for videogames, the reverse cannot hold true. Videogames can be art, but art can never be videogames. We can appreciate and celebrate a game's looks, the way it sounds, the craftsmanship that went into its creation, its historical value, the emotions it makes us feel - but crucially, we can also join in. And that's something art will never tolerate from its viewers.

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