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I chose the question of video games as art. Read it after the jump. A monster stands in a barren field, over fifty feet tall and covered in stone armor. A young boy stands before him, armed with nothing but a sword and a hope that killing this beast will save the woman he loves.
This is a moment from Shadow of the Colossus, a video game that attempts to marry enjoyable gameplay with deep, universal themes. As an avid gamer myself, I am aware of the attempts of games such as Shadow of the Colossus to elevate the medium of gaming.
Still, it is still the opinion of much of mainstream America that video games are nothing more than superficial, uncultured, escapist entertainment. While it is true that many video games do fall into these categories, it is absolutely essential for society to understand that many games are filled with significant artistic meaning, and that the medium itself has great potential for artistic expression.
For the purpose of this argument, art will be defined as any creative work with a thematic meaning or purposeful message.
Because the media constantly targets specific, inartistic games such as Grand Theft Auto, it becomes necessary to examine especially artistic games as well as identify the aspects of the medium that can be conducive to artistic creation. That being said, it is commonly and incorrectly argued that all video games, by their very nature, cannot be art.
Film critic Roger Ebert has stated that games are not art because, "video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control. If one were to, say, look at an abstract painting and attempt to derive meaning from it, then the audience is actively participating in the enjoyment of that piece of art.
The audience is consciously deciding what to take from the painting, and, thereforem the artist has handed over authorial control. The absence of authorial control does not harm the artistic value of a piece, but rather enhances it: For this reason, the accusation that video games are an inherently inartistic medium is a fallacious one.
Another complaint often aimed at video games is that they are unimportant, irrelevant wastes of time. One need only look at the statistics to see that the opposite is the case: He also likens video games in to rock music inand the comparison is fitting: Most importantly, it is necessary to note that certain video games have proven that the medium is already capable of delivering artistically meaningful experiences, such as my personal favorite game, the aforementioned Shadow of the Colossus.
The main draw of Shadow of the Colossus is how consistently and effectively it mixes story mechanics with game mechanics; everything you do in the game helps develop a relationship or convey an idea, and vice versa.
The story which is to say, the raw narrative itselflike almost everything else in Shadow, is extremely minimalist. There are only four main characters and only one of them is explicitly named: The protagonist and Agro journey to the Forbidden Lands in order to resurrect a dead girl who evidently means a lot to the hero.
In order to do this, the god of the Forbidden Lands commands the protagonist to destroy the 16 Colossi, enormous beasts made of metal and earth: In addition to the beautiful graphics and exciting gameplay that accompanies a game of such epic scope, Shadow seeks to convey legitimate thematic messages to the player.
Though neither the protagonist nor his horse companion ever speak, the sheer amount of time they spend together, the intentional loneliness of the lands the two have to travel across, and the incredible usefulness of the horse in fighting the colossi, results in a strong emotional bond between the player and the horse.
At first, the player naturally assumes that the killing of the colossi is, all in all, a morally good thing: It is a subtle game mechanic, but an incredibly important one: The giants begin behaving more like confused animals than evil killing machines, and in order to complete his assigned goal, the player is forced to instigate battle, and literally murder a creature that had not attempted to cause him any harm.When people talk about video games and art, they are generally being irritating windbags who don’t realize how nebulous the word is and how pointless it is to argue whether or not a particular example of media counts as art or not.
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Knowing authority, this announcement spawned an all. Young children who play a lot of video games may be more likely to have better intellectual and social skills than their non-gaming peers, a new scientific study has suggested.
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