Video Games from Playing to Watching Part 4: Games as Art

His face is on South Park. His fist is on your nephew’s shirt. His name is all over the internet, and odds are you’ve seen at least one of his videos on YouTube. You know him as PewDiePie. Although you wouldn’t see him critiquing a painting or enjoying a sculpture on a regular basis, he does appreciate film and editing. Is he himself an artist? I wouldn’t say so, but some of the games he plays just might be art.

This is the final part in a four part series. If you missed my previous entries you can start reading the first part here!

What defines “Art?” Russian author Leo Tolstoy in his essay “What is Art?” gave several definitions for art.

“Art is an external manifestation by means of lines, colours, movements, sounds,or words, of emotions felt by man.”

“Art is the production of some permanent object or passing action, which is fitted not only to supply an active enjoyment to the producer, but to convey a pleasurable impression to a number of spectators or listeners, quite apart from any personal advantage to be derived from it.”

Do video games fit into either of these definitions? Absolutely! Art is recognized by being primarily visual in the form of drawing, painting, or even dance. Eventually photography and film would fall under this umbrella definition of “Art” as well. So why not video games?

Video games are visual. In fact many games even have specific art styles that they draw inspiration from like the gothic Dark Souls or the chibi styled One Piece Treasure Cruise, two games that I have mentioned on this blog before.

Games also couple their visuals with both sound design and music. Whether it be the classic themes from Tetris or the Operatic Rock of Halo music can be just as iconic as the game that it was made for. Just listen to this song from Bioshock and tell me that it isn’t art?

What about the other definition? Do video games provide pleasure not just to their creators, but to an audience as well? Whether you play video games or not it is undeniable that they are enjoyable for many, many people for a number of reasons. Some people play MMOs to make friends. Others play platformers to challenge themselves. A great deal of people play games for escapism from the tedium of day to day life and so on… Entire communities develop around games.

Games even inspire people to create art like this scale map of Lordran from Dark Souls. lordran

I love video games. They have been a major part of my life. I made this very blog to celebrate them and their contributions to society. I’ve used video games as escapism from long days at school, as a coping mechanism when I went through depression, as a means of making and connecting with friends. Video games have helped shape the person I am today and I will always be grateful for that.

 

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