When a person walks into an art museum, what should they expect to see? A painting? A sculpture? A book? A poem? A video game? Most people do not expect to see a video game in a museum. They see them in their house, on their book case, or being played on their TV. Should they expect to see video games as art? This is a controversial issue that has been going on since the creation of video games. Like a painting created by an artist, a book written by an author, or a poem written by a poet, the creation of video games should be considered as a form of art due to the effort put into their creation and the effects they have on the people who experience them.
Calling video games art is not anything new. Video games are just as legitimate as other, more common forms of art. This was determined in a court case in California, which argued that video games should not be sold to minors because of the violence in them. The case took place between 2010 and 2011, in the Supreme Court. In the case, it was argued and declared that video games, like art, fall under the First Amendment, which means they have First Amendment rights (Sutter 4). This was very good news to video game developers. The Court Justices said the issue might be addressed and re-examined later, but for now, the First Amendment backs up video games. With its officiality, this statement by the supreme court shows that video games fall into the same category as other forms of art approved by the government.
However, even with the approval of the government, some people refuse to believe that video games should not be considered art. Such a position can be countered by putting into perspective the amount of time and energy every aspect of a game requires to be considered complete. Very detailed pieces of art can consume massive amounts of the artists time. Making video games take years, because the amount of detail that goes into the making of a video game is far greater than the detail that can be achieved by a painter. For example, imagine a field of grass in a video game. An artist draws or paints blades of grass and moves on. A group of developers, on the other hand, take a couple of days to write the code for every single blade of grass, telling it to sway one way or another (Mirasol 11). To put that into perspective, very talented painters, such as Picasso, produced an average of three to four paintings a day (Tervooren 6). This shows that video games in fact are art.
Similarly, video games can be considered art for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons people consider something to be art, because of the emotional impact it has on the player (Tucker 3). People feel different things when they look at a piece of art or read a book. They could feel happy for the character, sad because of a death, confused by the looks of the painting, or many other emotions. Video games also influence these emotions on the players. If a character someone loved dies, they would feel sad. If someone loses in a game, they might feel angry. If someone beats another person in a game, they would feel victorious. All of these different emotions that are caused by video games show that a video game is not just a game, but an experience. This one reason is enough to convince people that video games are art.
Moreover, curators started to notice connections between video games and art. Certain museums have showcased video games as a form of art to express their opinion on the debate. One of these museums is The Smithsonian (Tucker 2). The Smithsonian created an exhibit with nothing but video games. The exhibit shows the evolution of video games in the past forty years, in an artistic perspective. Similar to how people compare paintings from different artists made in different time periods, the museum compared video games and their advancements since their creation. As expected, people were able to see that video games did indeed evolve. At the beginning, they were kind of basic or simple, but as technology advanced, things got more complex and players were able to do more, due to creative people joining the industry (Smuts 13). In comparison, the evolution of video games is similar to the evolution of art, which went from carvings in caves to posters for propaganda.
Reasons such as the amount of time and effort put into their creation or the emotions they influence show that video games should infact be considered art. They are not as simple as they might seem. Video games are the art of this time period. So the next time a video game is seen, whether it is a graphically intense game on a console or a simple app on a smartphone, understand that many people have sat down for hours and hours, in front of computer or at a meeting desk, thinking about how they should entertain the players of the world, with their own art.
Mirasol, Michael. “Why Video Games Are Indeed Art | Far Flungers | Roger Ebert.” All Content. Far Flungers Archives, 2 Apr. 2011. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.https://www.rogerebert.com/far-flung-correspondents/why-video-games-are-indeed-art
Mozuch, Mo. “‘Fallout 4’ Is the Most Complex Entertainment of Our Day, but Does That Make It Art? ‘Fallout 4’ will be one of the most artistic video games ever made. Whether that makes it art is up for debate.” Newsweek 13 Nov. 2015. Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Mar.2016.http://www.newsweek.com/2015/11/13/fallout-4-todd-howard-389473.html
Smuts, Aaron. “Are Video Games Art?” Are Video Games Art? Contemporary Aesthetics, 2 Nov. 2005. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.http://www.contempaesthetics.org/newvolume/pages/article.php?articleID=299
Sutter, John D. “Supreme Court Sees Video Games as Art.” CNN. Cable News Network, 27 June 2011. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/gaming.gadgets/06/27/supreme.court.video.game.art/idex.html
Tervooren, Tyler. “How Long Does It Take to Create a Masterpiece?” Riskology. N.p., 23 May 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.https://www.riskology.co/how-long-does-it-take-to-create-a-masterpiece/
“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” Digital Trends, Nick Hastings, 2 Dec. 2016, www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/best-skyrim-mods/.
Tucker, Abigail. “The Art of Video Games.” Smithsonian. Smithsonian, Mar. 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/games