So I was reading a really good series of articles on Destructoid the other day, and it talks about some of the things that are wrong with video game ratings. And it got me thinking about Video Games as an art form. Granted, most games aren’t pieces of art — but then again, early films aren’t very good representations of art, since the medium was still in its infancy. I think video games have greatp potential to be one of the most inclusive art mediums ever. A well done game includes every other artform – storytelling, film (cinematography), music, drawing/painting, etc. Film similarly combines these things, which makes sense as it is the most recent of these mediums. Games, however, are interactive. Instead of one person deciding how the story will be presented to the audience, the audience is the one making decisions and changing the art. This changes the relationship between the art and the audience. Instead of a spectator to the art, the audience is a user of the art. The art becomes an extension of the audience.
The reason I started to really think about games as art (and why this has anything to do with the Dtoid article), is that I think for an artform to be objectively judged is that there needs to be some consensus as the the theory of the art. I took a film analysis class a few years ago, and read a lot of Bazin, Truffaut, Godard, and other early film theorists. Their writings and experimentation with film really brought film into its own as an art form. As far as I know, there has been to theoretical approach taken to viewing video games and exploring the theory behind good, artful games.
I guess I should step aside for a moment and mention that when I think of games as an art form, I use ‘art’ in a fairly general context. I certainly don’t think having an ‘artful’ game should mean that it is not fun. In fact, I think that when a game is correctly and truly implemented in an artful manner, it would make it more enjoyable to a wider audience – just as people can enjoy a film for its cinematography as opposed to its sound production, or the acting, etc.
And maybe the reason games have not come into their own as an art form is that they just haven’t been around long enough. It took film 70 years before the post-classical trend of modern films was mainstream, and video games have only been around for 30 years or so. Maybe in the next few decades, games will come into their own as more than just a form of entertainment.