Videogames as Art

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Felipe Bonnet
Composition and Speech II
November 29 2012
Dig and Discover
When people think about art, I’m fairly certain that most of them don’t thinkof videogames as their prime referent, instead opting for paintings and sculptures. In the mind of the general public, some believe art lies in works that are complex enough and that mimic reality accurately. Others judge art as the Fine Arts, which are those intended uniquely for beauty instead of utility, like a painting or a song. For critics and connoisseurs like Robert Belton, "art is the product of a human activity for a clear audience, say a museum, and with the intent of expression or education, amongst others." Now, putting these definitions in context one wonders how can videogames not be art? Is it violence? Is it the lack of maturity in the concepts handled? Is it the fact that their purpose lies in entertainment and relies heavily on interactivity? Not really, yet the general public and critics alike fail to deem videogames an art form due to misconceptions or lack of proper examination. From my experience as a frequent user of videogames, I’m capable of saying that they are in fact art because they meet the aesthetic criteria in the same way a painting or a sculpture does.

By watching sports, I gathered that there are some that are considered art, like gymnastics, while others are not, like football. This is due, in great part, to their completely different evaluation criteria. While skating and diving are evaluated on aesthetic criteria, football and basketball are evaluated simply on how many goals or points teams get. Videogames are being evaluated the same way football is, and they are consequently overlooked for their artistic potential. Movies are lauded as a technical achievement capable of expressing powerful ideas and evoking strong emotions on viewers because they are evaluated on those grounds. How are videogames different in that respect? If videogames were evaluated the same way movies are, then they would most definitely be considered art. Yet most people believe that videogames cannot be judged on aesthetics because there is not anything to judge on. Still, contrary to popular belief, videogames serve as a form of expression for both the author and the players. While the designer of a videogame may utilize the medium to express his ideas on totalitarianism, like Bioshock, the player may utilize the medium as a way to relieve stress or unweave his creativity, like in Minecraft. As a matter of fact, videogames can be evaluated on aesthetics the same way chess is. While the main objective of the game is to capture the king, there are awards for the most efficient move or the elegance and resourcefulness of the winner's strategy. The same criterion applies to videogames, which nowadays judges players based on the grace and simplicity and the moment of solving a puzzle or surpassing an obstacle. There is no denying that videogames are entertainment objects, yet they are capable of much more. If videogames are inspected further, they can be considered as a powerful medium of expression and realization of feelings and ideas, and therefore be considered art. Critics must open their minds and stop leaning themselves on prejudices before even experiencing the game itself.

Not once have I heard people complain about operas not being a form of art. Actually, operas serve as an artistic milestone due to the fact that they encompass several forms of art, like singing, dancing, and acting, amongst others. By means of thorough evaluation of videogames, I realized that it serves as a medium in which other art forms gather. As a matter of fact, videogames not only congregate several art forms, but do so extremely well as to present a cohesive product that is both aesthetically appealing and rewarding (Smuts). As Perry says “Video games combine elements from narrative fiction film, music, and sports”. One of the ways videogames integrate acting is...
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