When you hear someone talking about art and the various mediums it applies to, video games normally don’t come to mind. As a matter of fact, until recently, video games have been seen as a time waster. A kid's activity, or even a form of entertainment that causes laziness. Though these things may be true in some instances, even today, video gaming is indeed an art form. And I'm not talking about artistic value when it comes to playing shooters online with friends. That's more entertainment at its purest form. What I'm talking about is artistic storytelling, character development, and stylization using the interactive medium.
We are in an innovative time for creative storytelling. As our technology progresses, we see artists from every walk of life pushing their inspiration and stories through different avenues. In recent years, we have seen a progression in creative freedom in gaming with companies like Naughty Dog, Bethesda, Media Molecule, and CD Projekt Red to name a few. It is because of gaming's progression that this recreation is finally seen as what it is, rather than be in the negative spotlight that it has been in for some time now.
But what makes gaming so artistic, you ask? Well, it has a lot to do with its ability to draw people in almost instantly. By giving someone control of a character's movement, actions, and decision, you are opening up a world of artistic possibilities that were not available before. You are given the chance to provoke thought and leave the player with something more than just a fun time. You are giving them an experience. And these experiences can, and in most cases will, have emotional responses. Isn't that what art is all about? Provoking thought? Discussing the human condition? Attempts at emotional response? If you're still not convinced, here are some examples in recent gaming history.
1. Last of Us
2. The Little Big Planet series
3. The Fallout series
A lot of people will read this and say "whatever," but just give me a moment to explain. Fallout is an open world RPG that takes place after a nuclear holocaust. I know what you're thinking. "Wow, sounds real original." Okay, but here's where we get into the stylization and specific tone that separates Fallout from other games in the same genre. Taking inspiration from the 1950's outlook on what the future would be like (you know, like flying cars and living on the moon), then uses that as the foundation. It's a what-if scenario. What if humanity used nuclear energy to save itself rather than destroy it? When we get to the year 2077, we realize that it has its own consequences. Eventually, there is a nuclear holocaust after humanity dries up the world's resources. Once you get into the game, you see that the universe is a mix of 1950's culture (cars, music, furniture, etc.) and blends it nicely with futuristic tech (laser weapons, robots, etc.) Though the story elements may not be completely original, the execution is without a doubt creative.
4. Heavy Rain
4. The Witcher series
This one makes the list because of its ability to take a worn down genre and revive it. Fantasy RPGs
These are just a few examples of artistic storytelling in the medium of video gaming. There are of course thousands of others out there ready to be admired. Don't think of gaming as just entertainment. See it as an appendage to the art movement. A branch on the tree of creativity.
What other games do you think has great artistic value?
By David White