2010-05-22

A word on Gaming in general

Or at least my views on it.
This is an opinion post, you have been warned. ;o)

I'm going to delve into that pandora's box known as "games as art". It's been done to death I know.

Anyway, I came across this 15 minute presentation today:


I largely agree with this presentation. Games are a wonderful media with an amazing future. However I don't really expect them to be taken as art.

Personally games mean a lot more to me than a picture, tv program, movie, music or even a book ever will. And that's because it's both none of these whilst at the same time being all of these.

In a game you can combine a wonderful stylistic view (like Okami's) with visually dramatic story arc scenes (like Heavy Rain) whilst playing an epic sound track (too many to mention, just listen to some game soundtracks sometime) and having an over-arching story as long as a book without missing things out due to how long your audience is likely to want to sit in one spot (large JRPGs do this best, like the FF series). Oh, and it's all interactive as well. No other form of media can do all these things at once. Movies come closest, but lack the long-term story or interactivity.

This isn't to say games should be the only media. Personally I think they're by far the best around and they're almost the sole method I use now for 'proper' entertainment, but they'll always be a place for stories you don't interact in. For example, I still love a good book and I listen to music whilst coding as trying to play a game at the same time would be hard. But movies and TV have near no meaning to me. There's a handful I like, but it's not with the same passion I feel for a game. I struggle to find any film that engages me and TV is even worse. But that's a personal view of a fairly hardcore gamer. What I will point out is that many of those who criticise games don't play them. I do watch movies and TV, I just don't enjoy them anywhere near as much as I do games.

Now, despite all this, I still don't think games can be classed as art by most people and the simple reason is this: The definition of art is woolly. It will never be 100% certain.
In short, the fault lies in the people who define what art is, not in the games, which often inspire higher emotions than many, personally, for me, I'd even say all, forms of artwork.
This is why I've used the term "media" in here. Games are definitely a media, and in terms of entertainment media they have all others beat. In terms of engaging the user on an emotional level they have all others beat (assuming it's a good game) purely because they have interaction, which makes you feel in the story. No other medium can do that.

So, that's my take on the piece. Feel free to disagree in the comments.

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