Com­mer­cially vi­a­bile and HAV­ing cul­tural im­pact, can vIDEO GAMES be con­sid­ered art?

HWM (Singapore) - - Think - BY HUR­RAIRAH BIN SO­HAIL

"We want to make games that will be com­pared with the works of Shakespeare" - Vic­tor Kis­lyi, CEO Those are some big words from one of the gam­ing in­dus­try’s big­ger play­ers. Equal­ing the il­lus­tri­ous works of Shakespeare is quite am­bi­tious, but it drudges up a ba­sic ques­tion: Can video games be con­sid­ered art?

One def­i­ni­tion of art is some­thing which elic­its an emo­tional re­sponse and ex­ists for the sole pur­pose of ex­ist­ing. The truly great works of art are those that stand the test of time. Mu­sic, movies, dance, the­ater, paint­ing, sculp­ture, ar­chi­tec­ture and many other medi­ums meet the cri­te­ria to be con­sid­ered art, and have their own master­pieces that have with­stood the test of time. But whether video games fall in the same bracket isn’t clear.

Many of the com­po­nents of a video game, on their own, are al­ready widely ac­cepted to be art. The nar­ra­tive arcs for video games – like the one of Bioshock In­fi­nite – are get­ting to a point where they ri­val the depth and im­pact found in lit­er­a­ture. De­vel­op­ers are work­ing to­wards mak­ing their in-game cut-scenes and game­play meet the cin­e­matic stan­dards of movies. The di­rec­tion of games such as Jour­ney is on par with mod­ern art. Un­for­tu­nately though, the sum of the parts some­times does not turn out to be the same as their com­po­nents. As time pro­gresses, video game ti­tles may evoke emo­tions in play­ers com­pa­ra­ble to the great works of art. But a quick look at the gam­ing in­dus­try shows that time­less­ness is a hard tar­get for games to meet. The in­dus­try is built on per­pet­ual for­ward mo­tion, with the next con­sole, the next graph­ics card, the next plat­form mak­ing older ti­tles ob­so­lete. Per­haps in the fu­ture there will be one gam­ing plat­form to rule them, and we may get our first video game master­piece which will play on for cen­turies to come. Per­haps not.

But there is one hur­dle which will for­ever bar video games from be­ing con­sid­ered art. They are games. Games, by def­i­ni­tion, have win­ners and losers. Games, by def­i­ni­tion, ex­ist to de­ter­mine a vic­tor. Un­for­tu­nately this is at odds with art, which ex­ists as a thing of beauty with no other pur­pose or func­tion. Much like chess, video games in their cur­rent guise have a stronger claim to be con­sid­ered a sport than an art.

"As time pro­gresses, video game ti­tles may evoke emo­tions in play­ers com­pa­ra­ble to the great works

of art."

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