Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Video Games As Art? Sure, Why Not

That’s what the Smithsonian Museum of Art in D.C. said when it decided to have an exhibit exploring the 40-year evolution of video games.

The museum was serious enough about the idea that they asked a professional programmer and gaming enthusiast to curate the exhibit, which starts next year and runs from March 16 – September 30, 2012.

Chris Melissinos, of Northern Virginia, has a background in programming, having worked for Sun Microsystems for many years. While there, he worked his way up to Chief Gaming Officer, a position within the gaming division he convinced the then-CEO to create in order to take the company to the next level. Ultimately, it was his high profile within the gaming community that led to his curator gig for the Smithsonian.

All that is fine and dandy, but let’s get back to nuts and bolts, here. Which is: can video games really be classified as art?

If you apply the standard definition of “art” to video games, then yes, they can be considered art. Art is the “quality, production, expression, or realm--according to aesthetic principles--of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” Video games are certainly appealing to plenty of folks around the world (including my brother, who can literally spend hours at a time playing with his online buddies). Video games contain narratives and engage and influence audiences, just like that other popular storytelling medium, film. And have you seen the graphics on some of these games nowadays? More and more, video games contain sophisticated worlds with realistic surroundings and beautiful environments that make it hard to tell a game image from reality. Mad talents (and artists), those gaming programmers.

But seriously, “art” is a subjective thing, right? Frankly, I don’t see the artistic merit in Jackson Pollack’s drip paintings, but my husband thinks they’re awesomely avant-garde. And naturally, the writer (and snob) that I am, I think literature is some of the best art out there, while my husband finds most fiction boring and self-serving. To each his own, right?

Right. So the Smithsonian—and Mr. Melissinos—should go on with their bad selves and have a field day convincing us video games are an art form. Because they are.

Well, except maybe Pong.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I agree that video games are an art form. I also believe that the creators of such are brilliant artists.Thinking up these games takes many hours of planning, patience and putting them together. Not to forget the individuals that play the games.I can not say that they are artists, but something has to be said about their patience. Many of these games are very detailed and difficult to maneuver. After about an hour of trying to 'shoot' the baddy, I would give up!! Being an over 60 female, my talents in this department are, shall we say, compromised? So I commend anyone that has the talent, patience and ability to play these games. That in itself tells me that the persons that developed the video games are artists, and the games should be right up there with art.
    Now, where did I put my book???