When people ask me why I spend so much time playing video game, I usually tell them to piss off, especially if my mother is one of them. However, after quite a bit of deliberation, I figured I might as well make a case for myself once and for all. I wanted something that could be referred to as needed, so I don’t have to think every time a random bar nerd tells me I’m socially inept. Not that I would bother with explaining myself, of course, because I have better ways of wasting my time.
I’ve been playing video games for only around a decade, a lot less than some people I’ve talked to could claim. I don’t see that as much of an achievement, referring to the amount of time one has spent on these things. To this day, people are still telling me I’m going to grow out of video games sooner or later. “Why do you play?” they ask. “Entertainment” I replied. “Why not movies, or books, or music, or sports” they harp. “These things aren’t exclusive” I sighed. Somewhere along the way people got surprised of the amount of free time I have, not realizing that unless they have anything to criticize about the results of my job their best advise would be not to say anything at all. To this day, I still watch movies, listen to music, and read actual paper-printed books. While they are also entertainment, they do not replace video games, and video games do not replace them. If you’re about to point out the fact that I neglected to mention sports, that’s for a completely different time.
Back on the subject of video games, while “entertainment” is usually what I’d say to shut people up quickly, it’s much deeper than that. Sure, back when I was an elementary school student games don’t usually mean much more than that, then again I didn’t even understand English back then so what the hell did I know. Video game, throughout everything, is the only consistent thing that I could spend my time on ever since I realized what a keyboard is. I don’t mean for it to sound as depressing as it did, but I could care less. I didn’t pick up an appreciation for writing and cinematic flares until later in life, and believe it or not, they greatly enhanced my experience with video games. That’s why I play video games in general, because of the experience. The same thing could be set personally for other types of media, but none does it in such a level. I play a game because I enjoy it, same as everything else, only video games are superior. Before you grab your pitchfork, sit down and read for a second. Video game is the medium that combines all others: music, visuals, and writing, along with something unique to itself: interaction. A good video game blends all of that greatly, into a piece of art that has never been available before.
Right, video game as an art form. I cannot talk about this without mentioning Roger Ebert, and his statement: “To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.” The fallout of this statement was rather hilarious on both side, although it’s somewhat funny how Mr. Ebert conveniently forgot how movie wasn’t considered a form of art a while back. The fact that he never comes back to the argument already shows how much faith he has in defending his position. To be fair, it was funny how people even took his comments seriously in the first place. He’s a film critic, which in this day and age has no authority over a medium that’s obviously out of his grasp. I won’t dwell on it though, as I already stated that his opinion isn’t worth noticing, and should never have been. That’s not to say the merit of the argument is laughable. There are many of them though, and they never seem to be able to be consistent with their definition of an “art”, mostly just shifting the goal post to whatever they feel fit their narrative. The closest thing to a legitimate argument ever put forward was by Tale of Tales, claiming that video games are created to satisfy the needs of a market, while art is to satisfy that of the artist themselves. While I would have little problem pointing at the music industry or movie industry and have a good laugh at such a flimsy excuse of an argument, it certainly isn’t entirely incorrect. I understand its merits, as the game industry is becoming similar to those I mentioned, hell bent on homogenizing personal experiences with nothing more than check lists and pretty particles. It’s certainly a jarring sight.
That, however, makes no attempt to discredit video games as art. Most of these arguments could be summed up with people pointing out the differences between games and conventional art and claim they are criteria. What did I expect, really, from these people with sticks so far up their bum they claim superiority based on their own different opinions. You might call me a hypocrite, and you’d be correct, but not in this case. I say games (or at least really good ones) were designed as unique mixes of other medium’s characteristics while adding interactivity on top of it. It’s going to be the closest thing you’d ever find to an objective argument, folks, don’t wait around for it to be wrong. I’m not as daft as to claim every video game ever made was a work of art, of course, but then again no one can do that for traditional art forms either. There are good video games, and there are bad video games. There are those which make me feel like I’m enjoying an ice cream sundae while receiving a foot massage, and then there are those which resemble scraping my back with a squirrel, and everything in between. A great different, and superior aspect, of video games is that if an aspect of the game is not up to par, the experience can still be had. You might not necessarily care a whole lot about a story when what you really want to do is to point and click at various humanly targets on the screen and watch blood splatter out, and that’s the beauty of it. What is a book if the plot is bad? What is a song if it’s entirely made up of scratch noises? What is a movie if it was nothing but explosion and set pieces? Those would be simply bad at an objective level, because the medium carrying them is extremely one-dimensional. A game is anything but, and that’s why I spend so much time appreciate that greatness.
The image belongs to 2k Games