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Video games and art: are they simply just ‘games’ or Interactive canvases?


‘Taking an empty screen and creating a living breathing digital world is a power only a fortunate few will feel. It reminds gamers all over the world why their compelled to ‘Press the start button’, more times than they care to remember.’ GamersTM.

With the BBFC damn gaming, and groups, such as the home grown, Gamers for Gaming, arguing against their decision, it’s not surprising that one of the defences used to support the rights of video games is their artisical integrity.

Okay I’m gonna try and keep this whole blog as lights as possible, but seriously there are some really deep philosophical arguments out there that completely blow my mind. The more research I did into this, the more arguments I was discovering, there are so many types of art, I think its amazing that one video games, can actually include so many of these ideas, and if I wrote about all of them, this would be a fucking massive essay. So I kind of just touched on the points that were most powerful in linking games to art.

Fanart: closely associated with fanfiction: some good, some bad, some homoerotic, but all based on ideas already in existence. Colette Bennett recently visited a gallery event called, I am 8Bit (also featured in this months UK gaming magazine GamesTM) some the best artist around taking icon images and characters and creating undeniably original art. The image below is entitled Peach and Yoshi, in the land of dreams. By Amy Sol. It was in a gallery, you can’t claim that isn’t art.

Okay so the picture below, pretty fucking obvious who it is, (if you don’t know who it is, why the hell are you here?!) now, if you take the metal gear part out of the equation and you saw this picture, hanging in on the wall of some gallery, immediately you to look at it and question it, its defiantly got artistic style and skill, it conjures up all kinds of imaginative ideas, such as assassination, war against terrorists, one man fighting alone, like a spy. But if you take that style, those ideas the image conjures and make them into a game, people suddenly believe that there is no artistic style or skill, rendering it useless as a form of art. I find that it imposable to see how one image from a game is art, yet a bunch of free flowing images (a game) isn’t. Games and art both seek to evoke similar emotional responses from their audiences, surely the image of snake and the game, metal gear solid, both achieve this!

Man Ray declared in his essay, Photography can be Art "Some of the most complete and satisfying works of art have been produced when their authors had no idea of creating a work of art, but were concerned with the expression of an idea."
Both artists and game designers, all start with an idea, and work countless hours to make real, but many people argue that video games and just that, their just ‘games’ and are merely their as an amusement to pass time! Yet take the sound track to final fantasy, if it was just game music, surely you wouldn’t be able to actually go to watch the music performed by the philormonic orchestra. You may read a novel, but aren’t RPG simply massive novels played out in front of you? What about film? Mentally it also requires your participation, like horror films, if your mind wasn’t conjuring frightful thoughts that the film helps you create, it wouldn’t be horror film, it’s the same with games, if they fail to create a scary environment, you won’t be scared. The countless hours cosplayer’s spend recreating character outfits as form of fashion design, only to play out their character in front of the camera, both photography and performance art.

In my personal opinion games aren’t simple an art form, they are many art forms, music, imagery, creativity, writing and many more. You can’t deny that the creator of Zelda was lacking imagination or artistic skill. There is still a stigma surrounding gaming that is making so hard of main stream people to accept, as more than just an interactive pass time. Some people are so horrified by what their seeing, for example the creatures in silent hill, that they forget to look at the detail, the music, the development, the imagery.
I think its pretty obvious that until people like, Gamers for Gaming, fight off this stigma, however much we argue, people will never see game for what they truly are, exceptional pieces of multi-level artistry: Interactive canvases.
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About Hollie Bennettone of us since 5:08 AM on 03.26.2007

I am Hollie 'Pheoinx' Bennett aka Kind of a big deal.

I am the European Community Manager, contributor, host of the BritToid and director of the European video team. I love this website and every damn one of you (well, except you).

fire bird and tiger shark.

If you want to get involved, go to awesome meets and have a group of awesome people send you cat pictures all day, then join the DtoidUK emailer

Email me Hollie {at} Destructoid.com

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I am Commander Shepard and this is my favourite blog on the Citadel.

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