VG boundaries 4

Video Games as a Form of Art

According to Kellee Santiago, modern video games are akin to the cave paintings of our ancestors. They are the crude beginnings of what will undoubtably become a magnificent artistic medium. But what does it mean for something to be “art” ? Santiago uses the following definition: “Art is the process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.” From my experience, I can certainly attest that many video games are capable of evoking a myriad of emotions, as well as providing jaw-dropping visual experiences. However, this broad definition is problematic, for even things that are not considered art forms can fit this criteria.  Therefore, I am going to contextualize the analysis of video games as an art form with already established art forms, such as drawing/painting, music composition, and filmmaking.

Firstly, what are the goals of all these art forms? It could be to express the creators’ experiences, thoughts, and feelings. To evoke the audience’s emotions or appeal to their senses, as Santiago believes. Or perhaps even to influence the audience’s thoughts by conveying different perspectives. Paintings, poetry, films, and music all fulfill these goals. So why should video games be cast aside when many of them are actually mixtures of these art forms? There is no denying that the graphics of video games have become increasingly detailed and realistic. In fact, every frame in and of itself could be considered a piece of digital art. If an animated movie can be art, then the design and animation of a video game character and video game world should certainly qualify.


A screenshot of a game called Never Alone

Most video games also have music scores that enhance the player’s experience. In fact, many people actually listen to the music scores of video games separately, and if this music alone is art, then the music in the context of the game should be no different.Some of the most recognizable melodies come from video games (e.g. Zelda and Super Mario)!


Similar logic can be applied to the storytelling aspect of video games. The cut scenes, either in the context of the game or compiled separately, are no different from a film. Therefore, I would consider video games as art, especially when taking into account the amount of creativity, time, and resources that go into them. What is even more remarkable about the medium is its breadth, anything from delicately crafted indy games to big AAA titles can fit the description of art.

2 comments on “Video Games as a Form of Art

  1. kassidy179
    May 12, 2018

    I agree with the point you make about video games as a combination of other art forms like film and music, which is why video games do count as a form of art. It’s hard to define the lines between what can be considered art and what can’t, partly because most of the time what we view as art is subjective to the individual. However, you do make good points about music and film evoking emotions from people and how those two mediums are counted as art, therefore also counting video games as art too because it incorporates aspects of both film and music while still evoking emotion from the game players. I think the only difference for video games as an art form is its interactivity with the audience, and that unique characteristic itself doesn’t limit the potential of video games as an art form; if anything, the interactivity of video games seems to enhance its use as art because we, as an audience, are directly participating in the art itself, which definitely plays a role in evoking emotions from us.


  2. River_Scallop
    May 13, 2018

    This semester, I’ve re- conceptualized my understanding of art to be less attached to a tangible product that can be quantified, and have begun to understand the creation of space, or of a process, as art as well. Video games definitely fall under this definition, and are a type of art that, like kassidy179 mentions, does the work of engaging the audience directly.


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This entry was posted on May 11, 2018 by in Theory & Criticism and tagged , , .

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