The art of the 21st century

By OZHAN ZARIFI
Staff Writer

Move aside films! There’s a new kid on the block. They’ve been here since the 1970s and they’ve been making an impact on our culture ever since. For years, there have been debates and arguments over whether video games should even be considered an art form. There are thousands of different games, with genres including everything from action and sports games to casual and strategy games. Referenced every day in social media, advertisements, at the mall, and sometimes even at school, gaming is now a pervasive part of our everyday culture and society.

There have been disputes whether video games should be considered art. Legally, they have been considered art since the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association ruled that video games are entitled to First Amendment protections in 2011. But does the public agree? In an interview with OPSM2 US, Hideo Kojima, one of the most talented and accomplished game designers today, argued that games aren’t really an art form.

“A video game should make sure that all 100 people that play that game should enjoy the service provided by that video game,” he stated. “It’s something of a service. It’s not art. But I guess the way of providing service with that video game is an artistic style, a form of art.”

This definition as a service, however, raises the question of what should be considered art. There are many different forms of art, ranging from literature to the performing arts, such as dancing and theatre, to visual arts, such as painting, architecture, sculpting. Photography and cinematography are newer forms of expression resulting from the constant growth of technology. Video games have many aspects that deserve the title of being artistic, perhaps even more than other forms of art. They’re special: a game can have great gameplay, a well-developed story, or stunning visuals, all of which may have artistic merit. This means that there are artistic games that have some or even all of these qualities, making them harder than most other forms of media to evaluate objectively overall.

One example is The Last of Us, a critically acclaimed game lauded for its narrative, visuals, and characterization, among other aspects. It depicts the story of a man and a young girl who have to survive together in a post-apocalyptic world. Its charming story and complex characterization received high ratings from reviewers like Metacritic and IGN. Another example is Battlefield 1, a first-person shooter game set during World War I. Usually, such shooting games get awards for their gameplay and multiplayer functionality. However, Battlefield 1 won several awards not only for its gameplay, but also for its jaw-dropping and realistic visuals, a difficult achievement for a fast-paced, action game. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End also raised the bar with vivid visuals and an unexpected attention to detail. From its scenery to its characters, its graphic design makes it one of the most beautiful games of our generation.

But a game doesn’t have to have realistic graphics to be beautiful. Many indie game developers make games that look beautiful through their original styles. Such products include Firewatch, in which the illustrator placed bold and vibrant colors to illustrate the game’s atmosphere. Another game is Cuphead, which included a side-scrolling point of view and the challenging aspects of a run and gun game. Inspired by animation styles from the 1930s and 1940s, the game won many awards for its animation, art style and music.

The modern video game has many features. It’s a form of expression, from a single person to a whole team or studio. Yes, it could be a service, as most games now are, but every few years, there are games which go above and beyond that, gems in the pile that show self-expression and beauty, the artistry of which is sometimes overlooked. People need to have an open mind on what constitutes art, because as society and culture change and grow, art evolves as well.

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