Are Video Games Art?

by on November 24th, 2010
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Do you stay up all night and don’t know why? Is your attention span, which was once a healthy two minutes, now 30 seconds? Have you been forced to wear glasses because you stare at screens so long? Have your thumbs long ago lost any feeling of sensation?

You may have a condition doctor’s call “Gamer’s Side Effects.”

All kidding aside, there are few countries as addicted to computer games as the U.S. According to Business Weekly, there is one country who games more than us, and that’s South Korea. Games like Starcraft have come close to becoming national religions in South Korea. As a whole the gaming industry brings in billions of dollars in revenue to South Korean coffee shops and gaming stores, as noted by CNet.com. Experts say to watch out for China to take the throne of the $2 billion gaming industry soon. Personally, I love playing video games. My drug was strategy games like Civilization, Age of Empires, and Warcraft. Time constraints and worldly goals have changed the dose of gaming I can play, but many games use to be a staple in my life. When Zelda came out it was like I was married to the TV screen. Games like this soon led to a major rise in the respect given to the gaming field. I have always been more of a computer game junkie than a console player, but I still have an X-Box.

When I found Halo it was a reawakening of the times in my youth.

There has been more than enough talk about the console wars. If one is really interested, check online and there will be whole bibles on the subject. Even the differences between computer games and consoles have been argued, though not as frequently and with as many headlines.

Often games are considered a waste of time, nothing close to an art form. If one chooses the right ones it can be better than a movie and more engaging than a book. Stories are almost always told and, like a Choose Your Own Adventure tale, one is at the helm creating a world through actions.

So, if movies and books can be considered art, why can’t a game? Take a well put together game like Halo, one of my old favorites. Halo tells a story so “cool” that a successful book series was made about it. Or consider Max Payne, a stunning game of a cop-turned-rogue that is at worst good crime fiction.

Warcraft has become a national religion, and it deserves it; World of Warcraft is one of the better RPGs around, while the strategy games like Warcraft 3 Reign of Chaos and its sequel The Frozen Throne are real time strategy games. I personally have never played the RPG, but Warcraft 3 took much of my time. I liked it because it required thinking, strategy, and, at times, teamwork.

There was once a day that novels had no respect, another where comics were just for fun. Many gamers are as odd as reclusive writers, and have a much broader vocabulary in terms of swear words. Still, the men and women behind the latest hit series often put more work on it than many novelists do. A column by Chi Kong Lui on gamecritics.com stated that the rise of games as a medium has some similarities to the rise of other art forms like novels and movies.

A video game may be more expensive than a book or a movie, but if one is looking for mind-bending entertainment that is on average three times the length of a movie, they should give one a chance. Will games like Starcraft or Halo be considered an art form at some point? In the final analysis, if it has a story, pictures, or both, it should be considered art.


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