Video games as an art form

As we have discussed in class, there is much discrepancy over whether video games are, or are not an art form.  But one important distinction not to be overlooked is the difference between video game creation, and the actual partaking in the game itself.  Most people would agree that creating a video game is a form of art.  You need aesthetic sensitivity, technological capability (engineering and web design know how), creativity, and to know your audience (advertising). Yet many would challenge that playing a video game encompasses the same artistry that the creation of games does, and claim it not to be a form of art.  Based on the listed artistic attributes that make video game design an art, I would like to challenge this concept, claiming that playing video games is a true art.

Aesthetic Sensitivity:

Many gamers will choose video games based on the amazing graphics that creates a true sense of immediacy.  Games such as Call of Duty 2, or more notably Black Ops, the graphics have gotten to such a point that it has become a major part of its selling point.  Is getting lost in your game (such as role play), buying a game based on its aesthetics (like buying a painting or listening to music), not showing itself as art, or at the very least creating an appreciation for the aesthetics of art?

Technological Capability:

Though when playing a game you may not be exceptionally knowledgeable in web design and engineering (as it is not as needed in game play), to play a game you still must have technological capability.  Just as a painter needs to have excellent fine motor skills to apply paint strokes just right, gamers need to know exactly what combination of buttons to employ at just the right moment.  Also, though you may not be creating the spaces for players to roam in like a designer, you are manipulating the area as a gamer.  You must completely absorb your surroundings.  For example, in Call of Duty 2 (or really any shooter game), if you are not looking from all vantage points and do not know your surroundings, you’re dead meat.

Creativity and Knowing your Audience:

Going along with this concept, once you know how to manipulate your space, you need to be creative about it.  Finding creative hiding spaces (where you are predominantly blocked but can still shoot many players), being able to dodge a bullet in many ways are just a few simple strategies that you need creativity to get out of.  In the game Prototype, it is mainly free play so you can get yourself into quite a mess.  By killing someone and taking their identity at just the right time that the authorities will not see, you need creativity and strategy.  And to avoid being hit while you have army tanks, planes, and officers after you, you REALLY need some creativity.

Separate from the concept of space and technological creativity, you also need to know your audience.  Advertisers use creative methods to target certain groups to attain what they want: namely, their product to be sold and them to make money.  In gaming, it is not all that different.  You need to know your audience, so you know who to team up with (clans), who to leave alone, and who to watch out for.  Apart from allies and enemies, you also can use strategies to get what you want on games.  If the game you are playing is stereotypically full of males, you can choose a female character to get free protection, and yet advance your score just the same.  There are many (positive and negative) examples of this, and how knowing your opponents and allies is important.

As you can see, video gaming is an art form, even in games that are not stereotypical seen as artsy (such as guitar hero, which uses music and replicas of instruments).


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