The debate over what counts as art has raged for centuries. Famous artists we know today were once under scrutiny for their art. Today the debate now includes a new art form: video games. So are critics right to say that video games are not art, or is there more to them than meets the eye?
Video games are art
Just like any modern form of entertainment media, video games are undeniably an art form. No one debates the legitimacy of film, photography, or digital paintings as art. So why should video games, which are essentially interactive movies, be excluded?
Video games serve an aesthetic purpose
Hundreds of hours are spent on the artwork and aesthetic appeal of the modern video game. With so many talented concept artists, 3D modelers, and texture artists involved in the making of a single video game, one would be hard-pressed to deny the artistic power behind a video game.
Video games of any genre can have an emotional appeal to them. There are many video games which seek to tell a powerful narrative through the gameplay and storyline. Whether they be RPGs (role-playing games), action/adventure, shooter, or even puzzle games, video games offer a wide array of interactive avenues in which one can experience an emotional story or impact.
Video games may not live up to the standards of art aficionados of the past, but times and cultures are changing. In the history of art, there have always been new and rising art forms whose legitimacy in the world of art were vehemently debated. Video games are the new Picassos; widely criticized, but art all the same.
One could argue that art is interactive; a dialogue between the work of art and the viewer. A person sees a work of art and connects their personal experiences with the image portrayed. The viewer influences the art, and vice versa. Video games go a step beyond this to where the player can not only experience and influence the art on screen, but can directly manipulate it.
Video games are not meant to elicit an aesthetic or emotional response from a player. They are instead a media which seeks to sell itself to as many people as possible, just like any mass-produced, off-the-shelf product. A car may look aesthetically pleasing, but it is still just a product meant to drive a person from point A to point B. A video game is the same.
Video games are products
Products are meant to sell, not to elicit an aesthetic or emotional response. Video games are mass-produced and fly off the shelves to serve consumers' desire for entertainment. Art seeks to appeal to aesthetics and emotion; video games seek only profit.
Video games do not elicit an aesthetic or emotional response
Video games are meant to be played with as a toy. A child does not ponder the meaning of the toy nor does one connect with it emotionally. A child does not stop to appreciate the aesthetics of the toy; the child only plays with the toy. Such is the nature of video games.
Video games are not art because art is not interactive
Art is something to be experienced, not influenced. Anything which claims to be interactive art is an activity, not a work of art. Video games fall into this category therefore video games are not art.
No one can deny the artistic beauty which goes into the development of a video game. But no video game has ever mastered its art in the way that fine art has been mastered by the greatest artists. Culture has not been impacted by video games like it has been impacted by other, more established art forms.
Video games do not measure up to great artworks
No video game can be compared to the greatest works of art in history. One would be hard-pressed to find a single video game which has the same cultural impact as da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh, etc.
Video games have artistic elements, but are not fine art
A video game on the whole cannot be considered a work of fine art because it is just a toy meant for the purpose of entertainment. However, the art which goes into the creation of said video game cannot be denied as an art form.