As a young adult, I think most of us who have seriously played video games boggle at the idea that they aren’t art. It’s something we take for granted – an obvious truth. However, there are still people who are debating that something so thought-provoking could be art.
I want to boil down the different forms of media that video games contain – and explain how they take it further.
Concept Art – This is, in its truest form, art. Paintings of people, places and things, arraigned to be aesthetically pleasing. There’s no debating that this is art, in my mind. Some of the most masterful art I’ve seen lately has been concept art for Guild Wars 2. It doesn’t cease to take my breath away. Until I passed out.
Plot Development – Video games can be linear, with one prominent plot and multiple sub plots, or a single plot with no sub plots, or multiple available plots based on a character’s choices and decisions. These range from the fairly straight forward JRPG genres like Golden Sun, to more open ended worlds like Skyrim where your choices will open up different opportunities to you.
Script Writing – Writing the dialogue, and making it seem natural, is always a challenge and an artform. You want it to flow well and for character’s personalities to be explored throughout the story telling process. Since this is how most games get across a huge bulk of the story, it takes a lot of talent.
Voice Acting – More and more, studios are looking at voice acting to add another layer of immersion to games. Finding the right actor, getting subtle intonations and inflections right, and having the voice suit the game style are all very real challenges. Borderlands 2 required the voice actress for Lilith to be able to fully play Lilith as well – the voice had to fit the character’s physical looks.
Graphics – Finding a unique, interesting graphical style or sticking with the style customers expect both offer different challenges and skill sets. Taking a concept art design and putting it into the game, especially in 3D games, is an art all its own. As 3D art continues to develop, games have the ability to get more and more realistic.
Soundtrack – A good game soundtrack can set to tone to the world and add important atmospheric tensions. Fallout 3’s soundtrack contrasted deeply with the wasteland, and never was this more accurately thrust at us than in the teaser trailer. I know I’m not the only fan that still gets a shiver when they hear “I don’t want to set the world on fire…”
These are all arts, in and of themselves. Drawing, Plotting, Writing, Developing, Voicing, Designing and adding music are all recognized and celebrated arts.
It makes no sense that when you add them all together, it ceases to be art. The work put into games, the artists that produce these modes of entertainment should be celebrated for what they are, what they do, and what they provide to society.