In 2012 the Smithsonian American Art Museum debuted an exhibition entitled “The Art of Video Games”–featuring games that were chosen by a popular online vote. The exhibition’s goal was to demonstrate the development of video games programming and designing techniques over the time span of forty years. Indeed, the progress is undeniable. There were eighty games presented, which were chosen online by the fans and players, through “still images and video footage” (SAAM). In addition to that, the visitors could also watch the interviews of twenty most influential developers and artists to understand the video-gaming culture from a different perspective. By presenting such exhibition, authoritarian Smithsonian American Art Museum assumed that this form of medium is art.
Now, in the book How to Do Things with Video Games Ian Bogost questions whether videogames are the form of artistic expression or a simple form of media. He argues that if using the term art-games, it may “suggest that games can be construed natively as art, within the communities of practice and even the industry of games, rather than by pledging fealty to the fine art kingdom” (Bogost 11). He believes that art-games cannot be classified as a traditional form of art as paintings or sculptures, rather this is a new emerging form, which needs recognition in order to flourish.
Nonetheless, not everyone would agree with Bogost. In 2010 famous film critic Roger Ebert published a blog post titled “Video Games Can Never Be Art”, that raised a lot of concerns among game players. He went on playing with the definition of “art” as well as the definition of “game”, but that did not persuade me in the fact that video games are not art. After all, his most appealing argument was that “one obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game” (Ebert). True, the game is designed to have rules, objectives and goals, while art is a pure self-expression with no rules whatsoever. However, such line of reasoning only goes along with a classic definition of art, and, quite honestly, seems like Ebert forgotten that we live in the 21st century; nineties are irrelevant.
On the other hand, Robert VerBruggen in his article “Games People Play” suggest that the process of creating the game is itself artistic. It is not only a matter of drawing a reality appealing to the eyes of the players but also composing the sound effects. The pre-90s “blips and bloops” are long gone, now the London Philharmonic wilfully takes part in recording pieces for videogames music collection, which includes themes from Super Mario Bros., Call of Duty, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Halo, World of Warcraft, Angry Birds and others (VerBruggen 554). In my humble opinion, VerBruggen is the one who is most precise in answering the question whether videogames are art or not. Moreover, Bogost’s statement makes sense to me as I believe the art of videogames has not reached its peak potential, and with further development of technology, we will see more and more art exhibitions about videogames.
1. VerBruggen, Robert1, email@example.com. “Games People Play.” Academic Questions 25.4 (2012): 552-560. Education Source. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.
2. Bogost, Ian. How to do things with videogames. Vol. 38. U of Minnesota Press, 2011.