Pacman, Tetris, Mario, Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Fortnite.
They’re entertaining, engaging and, to some, a complete waste of time. But can a video game really be considered art? This is, surprisingly, a highly debated topic. To me, as someone who has grown up with games and experienced the feelings they can create, there is no debate.
Multiple art museums have already created video game exhibits, causing even more controversy. MOMA not only considers them art but beautiful examples of design as well. I believe the well of potential that is video games, has yet to even be tapped.
They are, without a doubt, the most incredible platform for storytelling we’ve ever created.
Stories have been around since the beginning of humanity, predating writing and, most likely, speech. They have been carved, scratched, sung, painted, played, printed, photographed, inked, molded, chiseled, woven, recorded, and now, dare I say, coded. They are an integral part of what makes us human. As we continue to evolve, so too do our storytelling methods.
Good stories connect with people on an emotional level.
Good art connects with people on an emotional level.
Good video games connect with people on an emotional level.
Do you see what I’m getting at?
A particularly touching moment from The Last Of Us. Movies don't make me cry, but this game made my eyes a bit misty. It also boasts an award-winning soundtrack.
In fact, a great video game is often a delicious stew. The ingredients? The many art forms of which we are all familiar. Narrative arcs that can go beyond those of film, 3D sculpting, compelling soundtracks (many of which have seen orchestral adaptations), as well as illustration and graphic design, to name a few.
Some games even allow us to create our own art, and some allow us to create nearly anything we can imagine, including other games…
So how is this still a debatable topic? Video games ARE art, and I, for one, am exceptionally excited for the experiences that still lie beyond the horizon.
Here are some examples of games that told me a beautiful story, or looked visually stunning, or made me laugh, even cry, or perhaps all of the above. I hope you check them out if you haven’t yet. And if you are someone who never plays video games, I hope you consider trying, as you are passing up one of the more unique forms of art on the planet.
Bioshock Infinite. A gorgeous art style, and an incredible story to live through. Gave me goosebumps.
Zelda, Breath Of The Wild. Need I say more?
Firewatch. A breathtaking mystery/adventure through the Wyoming wilderness as a fire lookout. Quite emotional.
Journey. One of the most beautiful games ever created. It can be completed in one sitting, and I'll never forget seeing my friend tear up towards the ending.
Such a simple, yet gorgeous art style for this dark story of a lost boy, searching for his missing sister.
Little Big Planet encouraged me to explore my own imagination and provided tools to create nearly anything I could dream up. Including my own games! Looking forward to their next game, aptly titled, Dreams.
Minecraft too encouraged me to explore, and create.
Shadow of the Colossus. Another visually stunning game, storyline to match.
Sword and Sworcery. By far the most beautiful mobile game I've ever experienced. Every scene is full of breathtaking pixel art. Be sure play it with headphones because it has a beautiful soundtrack to match.