There are several questions that plague our thoughts like what is the meaning of life? Why do bad things happen to good people? How can the Flintstones celebrate Christmas when Jesus Christ wasn’t born yet? One question that isn’t asked about as much as those other questions is what is art? A simple answer would be something along the lines of a drawing, a painting, a piece of literature, or a sculpture. But because this blog needs to be longer that answer is too broad, too simplistic and leaves to many questions, but at the same time makes you sit down and think, which often times is better than a direct answer.
Others would consider everything to be art, literally everything; from the garbage can to your bedroom door to the water fountain, and who is to say they are wrong? Considering everything to be art may be scoffed at, determined to be absurd and regarded as a mind-trick question but if you think about it every thing that is manmade was once an embryo in human thoughts that became a reality as a result of creating them with their mind and their hands.
Video games have come a long way from being regarded as children’s toys to acknowledged forms of art much the same way drawings or movies are classified as art. Games have narratives, themes and even messages like books or movies, so they are art in of themselves. There are many games considered art, games that are in a category of their own being of their creativity, uniqueness and presentation. Games like Slender and Bastion are thought of to be art games.
I myself consider an “art” game, as well as art in general, to be anything that gets a message across through a subtle method of expression, a piece that individuals themselves can interpret without the aid of being told directly.
Let’s take the game LSD, I know the title might invoke a few ridicule but LSD is quite noteworthy on the topic of art based games. The game itself is based off of the dream journal that Hiroko Nishikawa, a staff member at Asmik Ace Entertainment, had. LSD is a dream simulator, the game plays in a first person perspective as an unidentified character ventures about the intriguing world of Nishikawa’s dream. There are no enemies to fight or end goals to meet, you simply wander about and explore. This is like the movie Inception where you really are going through someone’s dream.
Another game that bases its experience artistically rather than complex mechanics is Journey for the Playstation Network. Journey is an interactive parable, an anonymous online adventure to experience a person’s life passage and their intersections with others. You wake alone and surrounded by miles of burning, sprawling desert, and soon discover the looming mountaintop which is your goal. Faced with rolling sand dunes, age-old ruins, caves and howling winds, your passage will not be an easy one. The goal is to get to the mountaintop, but the experience is discovering who you are, what this place is, and what is your purpose.
For the question of what is art in games, I gave my opinion but not an answer, as there is no clear answer no matter how much we agree with our own. Video games are an art form, and it’s not because they have amazing graphics, but also because they provide consumers with a unique experience that no other artform has replicated. It provides a journey enriched with a mythos, a world, characters and a story that people can interact with. So why are art based games a separate category if all games are art? Same reason why artistic movies are placed above other kinds of movies, mainly because art critics go crazy over them but also because it expresses itself through subtle messages that inhabit our thoughts and proceed to stimulate our minds.