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Video Games Are Not Art?

“Video games can never be art.”  This quote boldly stated by the renowned film critic Roger Ebert is a controversial one that has sparked an outrage all across the gaming community.  On April 16, 2010, Ebert wrote in his blog how gaming can never be art because “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.”  But is this necessarily true?  Why don’t video games get a benefit of the doubt?  I choose to disagree with Mr. Ebert’s statement because video games can possess more artistic potential than most poets can ever dream of.

I will begin to refute his argument by saying that there are several elements of video games that can be described as art.  Actually, video games are consisted of several forms of art: music, visual art, and literature.  Not only are they just stuck in there, they are combined to give the audience the chance to immerse themselves into the full fantasy that the developers provide.  A perfect example of this can be found in the game Heavy Rain.

The cover of the Playstation 3's masterpiece Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain is a game that takes the player into the world of a murder mystery.  The story is delicately crafted to the point that it is comparable to Sherlock Holmes.  Also the player feels more immersed because not only is it an intriguing story, but you are in control of the protagonist and his outcome.  And in this game, every mistake you make can lead to the death of a vital character or even the protagonist.  Like a novel, the audience can become emotionally attached to the protagonist and maybe even more so because the main character’s fate is in your hands.  This complex game allows the gamer come to twenty different endings instead of just one general ending.  So, in the end, the game is actually several books packed into one Blu-Ray disc.

The visuals in the game are another homage to how artistic the game really is.  The graphics provide a more realistic portrayal of people and scenery than a majority of artists. And with the combination of voice acting and a score, the developers can achieve a production quality comparable to famous movies like Silence of the Lambs.

Video games may not have the praise of the famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci or filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, but that is because they are still in the early stages of their industry.  Games like Heavy Rain, though, show us the artistic qualities that they possess and deserve to be recognized as art.  But in the end, I cannot force someone to recognize video games as an art, it is a matter of the audience’s perspective, therefore Mr. Ebert has a right to his own opinion.

Modern Art or Huge Piles of Trash

I guarantee that games will gain notoriety to the point that they will be recognized along with other famous works of art like Primavera or The Shawshank Redemption.  In many ways, I believe they already have.  Pop quiz!  Who directed The Shawshank Redemption?  Who painted the Primavera?  Who wrote the novella Heart of Darkness?  Which company developed the game Halo and who is its main character? Try doing this without researching the answers.

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