“What emotions does it evoke?” asks every high-school English teacher of a painting upon reaching the “art section” of that year. “What does it make you feel? What was the intention of the artist?”
If the purpose of art is to convey an emotion and or an experience, then video games along with books, movies, sculptures, architecture, and paintings, should be considered art. When playing Assassin’s Creed II, I experienced the intended emotions; the excitement when racing across the roofs of Florence or the sadness when Ezio and his family are betrayed.
But art is more than just the communication of emotions. Art has countless purposes—communication, symbolism, expression, entertainment, and many, many more. With this broad purpose, how can video games not be art?
Consider again Assassin’s Creed II. The setting alone is art. If someone were to paint a beautiful scene of Renaissance Italy it would be accepted as art. Then why when entire cities are rebuilt in Assassin’s Creed II is it not considered art?
I think the crux of the issue is that once again video games get a bad rap. But this time, its not about those who play video games, but those who makes video games. I believe that when the general public sees a video game they do not understand the sheer amount of work that went into making that game. They fail to recognize that every detail they see, down to the tiniest crack in a stone wall, was placed on purpose, for them, the gamer. That huge game maps took just as much time if not more as creating a model representation. That great musical scores were written for their gaming experience (Hans Zimmer writing music for Modern Warfare 2 comes to mind.)
If many of the game aspects were taken out of context, and shown individually, I believe people would easily consider them art. But once there is intense interactivity and it becomes a “game” people automatically lose sight of the art. They see games as simple and mindless. All games are certainly not art. Most aren’t art. But as technology advances and more money is being spent of video games, I believe more video games will cross into the realm of art the same way movies did. People just need to understand that not all video games are a waste of time, and then they will begin to see the art in them.