People always ask me why I’m so into video games.
“Aren’t they a waste of time?”
That’s usually how it ends up, and no, I don’t think they’re a waste of time. Video games are intriguing in the idea that they encompass beautiful music and sound along with the intricacies of coding data and graphics. Video games to me are like interactive little works of art. Take the time to appreciate what goes into making a video game. The gaming medium has only been around for a little over half a century. As technology develops, so does the industry. History has shown us everything from a simple game of Pong to the expansive world of Skyrim.
Above: The Dragonborn faces his greatest adversary – a game of Pong
The thing about art is that either you get it or you don’t. Impressionistic paintings or a haunting opera can be hard to understand when you don’t understand the culture behind it. And that’s the thing about video games, is that it extends into a cultural phenomenon. Fan-art and community made remix albums to classic soundtracks are abound online. Websites such as OCremix.org are filled with community-built playlists and album compilations from Street Fighter to Mega Man. The interesting part about the Internet is that music hobbyists remix these memorable tracks to their hearts’ desire. The Internet is flourished with every individual’s take on Saria’s Song in LOZ: Ocarina of Time. Sure, they might not compare to Pachelbel’s Canon, but they hold a strange value within our culture. Hum the Super Mario theme and 9 times out of 10, they’ll understand what you’re talking about.
However, it seems as though gamer culture is not as widely accepted. Gaming is often looked down on and categorized into nothing more than a guilty pleasure. Gamer culture is not just limited to how we behave on Xbox Live, rather it is more of an identity – gaming has shaped most of our lives in one way or another. For me, Zelda: A Link to the Past on the SNES taught me how to read and write before stepping foot into a classroom. Video games hold an intrinsic value for many gamers – from glorious set pieces and graphical feats to game design and mechanics.
Video games have evolved from simple bleeps and bloops to technical feats of raw power. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the artistic value of a video game. The mainstream often caters to the “CoD” crowd – which, in my opinion is a wonderfully crafted game in its own right. Video games offer a broad palette that suits anyone’s taste, from the simplistic and addictive nature of Wii Sports to the complex design of Portal. There’s a video game for everyone.
But the question remains, are video games art? Art is a medium that isn’t meant to be interacted with, but that’s the thing about video games – they combine different creative outlets to create an interactive world.