There has been a great controversy as of late – the subject being whether video games should be considered art. As with all new art forms, it has been met with strong opposition, not unlike the early Impressionists back in the 1870s. Since their first inception, video games have been an evolving art form, and as technology continues to advance, the possibilities become even more endless.
When playing Bethesda’s Skyrim, what player hasn’t gazed in wonder at the northern lights, not unlike the bright, swirling, heavenly bodies present in Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night? Are the characters in Heavy Rain not as graceful and dynamic as the figures in any painting or sculpture by Michelangelo? Couldn’t the land of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda series be mistaken for a sprawling landscape painted by Leonardo Da Vinci? And doesn’t Caspar David Friedrich’s Abbey in an Oak Forest oddly resemble a scene in a survival horror game like Silent Hill?
Two visually amazing examples of games resembling traditional art come from The Legend of Zelda series. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has graphics that resemble a watercolor painting, while The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker simplifies everything with cel shading graphics, which by no means takes away from the story or characters, but sets the tone of the overall game (not unlike a print by Andy Warhol).
Unless someone has played a game, like gazing at a painting on the wall, it is unlikely they will be able to appreciate its artistic value. It is an experience that is like a sculpture or piece of architecture. One can gaze at a picture of it and make an assumption, but until they see it in person and take their time to walk around it (or in a building’s case, through it) they will not absorb the full impact.
A video game is an interactive experience, true. But it is the same with other forms of art, and not just paintings and sculptures – is writing great literature not considered an art form? Some of the most captivating writing is done for video games, compelling players on their quest as an author encourages their readers to the next page. And the music found in games has become more elaborate than ever, though classic 8-bit songs are not to be forgotten, as they are some of the most memorable tunes that are familiar even to those who haven’t played the games.
Should video games be considered an art form? Yes. They deserve recognition and appreciation for all the creative work that goes into them. They combine all elements into one – writing, visual arts, and music. They all move together so fluidly that it is no wonder this new art form has captivated generations.