Hello everyone and welcome back. Today, I want to talk about the idea of whether video games are worthy enough to be considered art. As with the previous part, I’d prefer if most of the discussion actually took place in the comments below, so please remember to leave your thoughts below.
1. It Raises an Emotional Reaction
One of the most common aphorisms about good art is that it raises a geniune emotional reaction. Whether that reaction is love or hate is immaterial in comparison to the fact that it happens. My ninth grade music teacher, Mrs. Lott (who was one of the most awesome teachers in a school that was filled with pretty awesome teachers already) was fond of saying, “Music and by extension art does not create an emotional response in a person. It is not a living thing, after all. Instead, it serves as a reflecting board for the person viewing it to ruminate on thoughts and truths already present in their minds.”
When we think of the stories woven into the video games that we all know and love, the characters with vivid depth, the incredible and memorible landscapes, and the rich musical scores, the exact responses are as varied as the person, but the fact that they happened is a near universal constant. Anyone who’s ever played Final Fantasy VII remembers the horror, sorrow, and anger they felt when Sephiroth kills Aerith (for further spoilers, Snape kills Dumbledore and Darth Vader is Luke’s father) and the subtle chill of listening to ‘One-Winged Angel’ in the penultimate battle. FFVII certainly isn’t my favorite game, but it serves its purpose well enough to stir up considerable emotion, both from its rabid fans and equally rabid detractors – and that says art fairly well to me.
2. Are You Saying that Artists Can’t Be in it for the Money?
I said in the previous post that a lot of video games today are on a downward trend, due to the practice of cutting corners and removing entire sections of plot in order to increase profit margins. I’ll fully admit that its a horrendous habit and in all likelihood, if the industry fails, it’s ultimately going to be bull like this that does it. But, does that disqualify video games from the title of art?
I’d say no. Artists, even great artists, are in it for the money for a fair percentage of the time. Even if we just consider Shakespeare, a man notorious not only for his vast creativity and work drive, but also his refusal to be published for fear that his competitors would steal his scripts, that’s a big difference. After all, we’re only talking about the guy who invented about half the English language.
3. A Video Game is at Least as Good as the Sum of its Parts
It has not been contested that a painting is art. Nor do you hear people talking about how writing is not art. Movies and music are likewise considered art. The question then becomes: if all of these are art, then how can it be that a form of creation which uses all of these as its components is not considered art as well?
Perhaps even more appropriately, an unknown author once said, “Let me ask you something: what is not art?” That’s about the way I see it. Video games are art in my mind. However, with that title, they also bear certain responsibilities if they are to be considered good art. In particular, I’d point out the Souls series (Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls) from FromSoft and The Witcher series from CD Projekt RED as recent examples of good video game art, with Planescape: Torment, as well as the Baldur’s Gate games serving as older examples. These games just get it.
All that being said, what’s your final opinion? Are video games art or no? If so, what are your favorite examples? If not, what disqualifies them?