Art is a highly subjective term, but I can tell you that after spending so much time in museums in the lead up to this exhibition, I’ve never had a painting or a sculpture drive me to become emotional. However, I have had games do that. Games have this way of reaching us on a level that most art cannot, because it is an amalgam of art. It is the best of what we can do with art all wrapped up into something that becomes greater than its parts.
– Chris Melissinos, creator of “The Art of Video Games” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Screenshot from thatgamecompany’s Journey.
8 responses to “Games have this way of reaching us on a level that most art cannot…”
That is interesting- I have become emotional with just regular ol’ genius quality art but I can understand the gaming angle—-and if it can do that it must be genuine art as well.
I’ll be the first to admit that not all games trigger deep emotional responses, but, in those that do, it is such remarkable experience. Games have made me so scared that I’ve dropped my controller and fled the room, so happy that I’ve yelled out “Weeeeeeee!” without irony, and so sad that I’ve openly wept for minutes in front of a pause screen. No other medium – not books, not film – has made me feel so deeply, personally invested in the fulfillment of its purpose.
Did you get a chance to see that exhibit at the Smithsonian? I didn’t but a friend got me the book.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see it in person either. But I have the book, too! 🙂
“It is the best of what we can do with art all wrapped up into something that becomes greater than its parts.”
As a poet I am strongly opposed to the first part of this statement, I find it patently false. As a gamer, not someone who merely fucks off, derps out or is simply looking to ‘be entertained’, but as someone who critically analyses, cares about and strives to improve their skills in relation to video games, I wholeheartedly agree with that last bit. And, again, as a poet I wholeheartedly agree with that last bit: video games that aim to be art are great because of how their parts all work together.
There’s something very artisan-like about making video games, it’s an artisan process that’s undertaken most often by teams compartmentalising various skill-sets and bringing them to bear together to make a finished thing. Looked at in that light, it’s truly incredible when the game does what it does wonderfully and isn’t marred by trying to do more than it rightly should. It’s why I think a game like Bushido Blade is beautiful despite the graphic style, why Amnesia: the Dark Descent was arguably perfect and why multi-player games like MOBAs are critical failures.
Thus, to “[g]ames have this way of reaching us on a level that most art cannot, because it is an amalgam of art[,]” I would add ‘when done right, when done well’. As an artist I am very aware of the limitations of my medium, what it can do and can’t do along with what it can do well and can do poorly. This is largely because my art regard (poetry), like so many others, is ostensibly passive. Even when people approach art with an interpret-it-before-attempting-to-understand-it mentality they ultimately approach something and act with it or against it, they don’t ever INTERact with it because that sort of thing just isn’t possible.
Video games are essentially interactive and, in a very important way, they do nothing unless interacted with, in a very different way than other forms of art. Video games can be interacted with not so much poorly but glaringly inappropriately, attempts at play that seek to subvert the intention of the game’s designers. That is a danger that seems to me unique to video games and it’s opposite is a very unique positive. When we interact rightly and well with video games, when we are enriched by play in this manner, we are enriched in a way that is quite different than other types of art because we are doing something quite different: we’re not so much moved by as we move with.
Each type of art genuinely has something special to offer, something it does arguably better than any other art, and in video games there’s not only that but a blending of arts that can make something really special.
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I'm wondering whether you might be interested in sharing your perspective on games and art for my gamer stories project. Here's a link to the archive: http://mariethebee.me/category/video-games/gamer-stories/
Honestly, I have a feeling that any story you have to tell about games would likely be wonderful.
Let me know!
Thank you. It would be interesting, to be sure, however I don’t know whether or not anything I have to share would be a terribly appropriate fit.
I look at video games through a very critical lens, something that is arguably considered inappropriate in the current climate. There is much good to be had in gaming and video games, however I focus more on the negative aspects both because they are so appalling and because few people are actually talking about them in any meaningful way.
This is something that is likely quite polarising, so I’d offer that you take a look at my entries in respect to video games -see either the ‘video games’ category on my blog or click the Gaming link for some entries that I found to be especially important, though this last needs to be updated to account for the last few months.
There are a number of really great things I could write about, such as situations playing Left 4 Dead 2 with my girlfriend and even meeting her in Final Fantasy XI nearly four years ago where she eventually asked me out, went on a date and promptly moved in with me. I don’t want to do the power of these really great moments any damage by writing about them less and I don’t think that they do. It seems to me that it demonstrates that, given the current environment in the video game industry, they are all the more important for how truly rare they are.
I’m interested in presenting the stories of gamers from all walks of life and of different perspectives. A critical lens is fine by me.
That said, your Final Fantasy XI romance would make a very fine story indeed! 🙂