Art represents the manifestation of creative thought and expression.
Not only that, but art represents the beauty of expression itself. Being able to express artistic imagination is something people have been doing since the beginning of time, which has allowed it to evolve over thousands of years. One of the most basic definitions of art is this – “[Art] is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting, or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or their emotional power.” (Oxford Dictionary, n.d). This definition of art encompasses everything of what people know as art today, but as stated before, art has grown, changed, and developed into something much more. People can watch movies and become attached to the characters and the stories, or view paintings and feeling emotionally moved. People can play music and have it narrate their life in the moment, just as they can pick up clay and begin crafting a 3D sculpture by hand. All of these art forms, whether creating or indulging in, uphold this definition of what art is, and there is beauty in just that. But there is one form of art that has transcended this simplistic definition. As a combination of “art and science” (Melissinos, 2015), this more recent art form gives those who partake in it the ability to become immersed in an entirely new world where they work to create the art alongside the art itself – this higher form of art, that truly, is not what we know as art, but something much more, is video games.
Video games “turn [a] narrative into an active experience, which film is simply unable to do in the same way. [Video games] give me [something] that nothing else can.” (Suellentrop, 2010).
As stated before, gaming represents a higher art because it truly does offer an active experience. To explain this, when one plays a game, they are immersing themselves in an entirely new reality. Games like Mass Effect and Skyrim give players the ability to not only play the game itself, but also to create their character however they may want. Whether an individual wants to be an elvish mage in Skyrim or an aggressive biotic vanguard in Mass Effect is entirely up to them. Other games like The Last of Us and Bioshock may not offer as much freedom in customization, but offer an in depth narrative that will not only move the player emotionally, but make them question each action they make. This act of freedom within an art form allows for the user to create the art within the art presented. Not only that, but once an individual is in the game world, it is totally up to them what they’d like to do. Whether they want to progress with the story, or explore is their choice to make (while this isn’t true with all games, it’s still relevant to many). The main term to focus on here is active. An individual indulging in the art of gaming is actively creating their experience through the art itself. There is no other art form that offers this type of experience.
To focus once again on immersion, let’s take a look at some aesthetic theories of art.
Video games can fulfill each presented theory of art: Imitationalism applies to art looking realistic, while games nowadays are looking more realistic than ever before. Emotionalism applies to art provoking an emotional reaction, while many games do just that. Instrumentalist art applies to the creation having an influence on society, which games have done as well through the messages they tell through their stories. (Reference, n.d.). It would be easy to argue that games simply are art by saying that they fulfill all the aesthetic definitions – but what is not included within these aaesthetictheories is the act of immersion and effort on the part of the person partaking in the artistic creation. All of these theories are passive, while video games require a more active theory pertaining to immersion. Games will not move without you – the individual who has decided to pick up a controller and press start. They require effort to be engaged and indulged in as one steps into an entirely new world, blind but ready to move forward in the story they plan to make. Effort ensues here – the player makes and fuels the story based on their actions, and those actions create the art. The player, in themselves, becomes an artist alongside the art form, weaving in intricate actions through button presses or choices in dialogue. They are creating their own world based on their own image of what is aesthetically pleasing to them. While some games offer more freedom for creation than others, this act of effort placed on the person partaking in the art is beyond what any other art form has done. The art cannot be enjoyed unless one takes on the form of an artist themselves, thus, making gaming an ascended art that requires its own definition.
Video games are a combination of science, art, and technology.
Game designers are not only artists, but architects that have to envision and create entirely new worlds through digital formatting and coding. Now it’s appropriate to note that film/television also require those who can create sets and architecture, but creating worlds in an entirely digital space is exclusive to video games (CGI movies/ CGI used in film can be looked upon as well, but those still don’t encompass the same need for 3D mapping and programming like video games do, considering games developers also have to take into account that players will be physically interacting with environments). “[Video games] include many forms of traditional artistic expression—sculpture in the form of 3D modeling, illustration, narrative arcs, and dynamic music—that combine to create something that transcends any one type.” (Melissinos, 2015). All of these artistic elements as stated are created by the hands of technological scientists and artists alike. In video games, one thing can’t function without the other – there must be symmetry and continuity between each artistic element provided. Once again, the same symmetry can be seen in other art forms like film, but the difference is shown through the use of technology. Not only do models and environments have to be created from scratch, but the future player must be considered while the creation is being made. Developers must consider artistic changes in modeling, music, environment, story, and character design based on the person who will be playing the game in the future. No other art form takes into account, through technology and limitless imagination, the need to mold and adjust based on the person partaking in the art.
Art may be defined as “works that are created primarily for their beauty and ability to provoke emotion” but video games do so much more than just that.
They offer the player an immersive experience that no other art form has ever provided before. Games allow players to create their own realities through the choices they make, allowing them to become artists themselves as they morph their character and world based on their own personality. Video games also fulfill all the aesthetic theories of art, but those theories don’t include the ultimately aesthetic aspect of being able to morph a digital reality to aesthetically please you as a unique individual – in regards to this, an additional aesthetic theory of art pertaining to immersion should be included to properly present video games as an ascended art form. With this theory of immersion comes the effort made by the player to indulge in the new reality. Individuals who play video games are not just playing a game, but are required to put in a certain level of effort to even enjoy the art of the game itself. And with this effort, comes the ability to create art within art. Games allow a player to make choices, and actually requires them to do so, making the player an artist themselves as they interact within the digital world. And this digital world is created through art and science as graphic designers work to mold interactable environments that are dependent on the player’s choices. This type of precise creation, and account for the ones (the players) partaking in the art isn’t seen in any other art form. Video games as a whole are not art, because they are something much more – they transcend everything we’ve defined art to be, which make video games worthy of its own definition within the art world.
Melissinos, C., (2015, September 22). Video Games Are One of the Most Important Art Forms in History.
Retrieved from http://time.com/collection-post/4038820/chris-melissinos-are-video-games-art/
Oxford Dictionary, (n.d.), Definition of Art. Retrieved from
Reference, (n.d.), What are some examples of aesthetic theories of art?. Retrieved from
Suellentrop, C., (2010, June 18). Inside the Box. Retrieved from
What art forms do you enjoy? Are video games one of them? Leave a comment below!
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