Published on December 3rd, 2013 | by smikey11239
3 Examples of Why Video Games Are a Form of Art
Pretty much since day one, video games have been considered low-brow entertainment by critics, with gamers hearing the phrase, “Video games are not art” to the point of ad-nauseum. Obviously, I don’t have to tell you people how ridiculous this is. We all know how much time, effort, and skill goes into crafting a great video game, from the actors, mo-cappers, designers, artists (hey, there’s that word again!), and everyone else that contributes to making a great game, with the credits for a good game often crushing those of a film in terms of sheer numbers.
No, instead of doing that kind of list, I’m going to keep it a bit simpler and condense my list into three games I recently played and completed that are great examples in their individual ways of why games are definitely art.
1. Saints Row IV
This might seem like a strange choice, but hear me out. While comedy shows and films often have a rough time in regards to the critics, there is no question that good comedy is an art form and anyone who is good at it is truly an artist. At the same time, parody comedy, if done correctly, is an art. Anyone can make a parody of something; it takes artistic talent to make it good. Spaceballs, This is Spinal Tap, and The Naked Gun are all shining examples of this, and each one is definitely a comedy classic. This is how I see Saints Row IV. The game, from beginning to end, is pure parody and/or satire, cracking wise about various films, TV shows, sci-fi tropes and yes, other video games. The men and women behind the game knew it was supposed to be humorous and satirical going in, and instead of just putting that in the background like other games, they said, “Screw it”, and kept the parody blatant and in your face the entire time, ramping up the ridiculousness every chance they got. Despite using so much source material, everything in the game flows very smoothly, and none of the jokes or references ever feel out of place. A pure comedy game like this often struggles in a sea of games rich in story and character development, but the folks at Volition made it happen, and as of today, it stands as the funniest game ever made, at least in my opinion.
From a pure comedic game like Saints Row IV, we get to one of the most unique games I’ve ever come across in terms of the overall package. While the things that made Ico unique have since been done in other games (the recent critical hit Journey immediately comes to mind), Ico was the first, and some say the best. Using an unbelievable amount of minimalism, the folks at Team Ico were able to tell a very touching, heartfelt story of two children trying to escape a castle/prison. With the exception of cut-scenes, the game featured no music, and the amount of dialogue featured in the game likely would only cover two typed pages at the most. Despite this, Team Ico was able to fully tell a great story using little more than beautiful scenery, a skill most TV or movie writers and directors would give their left nut for.
3. The Last of Us
Okay, I admit it. I love the whole zombie culture. I’ve read countless books & graphic novels, watched TV shows & movies, and have played more games on the subject than I can count. Hell, I even sat through an entire episode of The Walking Dead once.
I’ll give you a moment to praise me for that task, once deemed impossible.
And, I’m back. Your head’s still spinning, right? That’s totally understandable and to be expected. Anyway, after consuming that much zombie culture, trying to tell a good, original story about the undead is no easy task. It takes some really special people to do that, and fortunately, the people at Naughty Dog fall into that category. The Last of Us is easily one of the most heart-wrenching video games I have ever played. While the story about two people trying to survive during a zombie apocalypse has been done to death (pun intended), never before has so much effort been put into the story. Although this game is about killing zombies, the real focus is the building relationship between the game’s protagonists, Ellie and Joel. The apocalypse takes a backseat to these two struggling survivors as they scrape together every miniscule amount of medicine, food and ammunition they can find while also trying to not only learn about each other, but realize that Joel needs Ellie as much as Ellie needs Joel. With all the video games I’ve played in my 30+ years on this planet, it takes a special game to touch a nerve and nearly bring me to tears, and I lost count of how many times this happened while I was playing. The fact that it has gorgeous graphics and top-notch voice acting certainly didn’t hurt.
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dustin Nichols (@XDustinEFLX), a Geek Link contributor.