Are Video Games All Artsy?

This re-post is brought to you by the Well-Red Mage’s 2nd community question: Are video games art? This was such a fun post to write I thought I’d restore my answer on my new website, eh!

Before I jump into the bulk of my relatively short old post, I must stress (again) that I have NO IDEA what I’m talking about. I also have no education background in anything important, but here is my brain’s rough answer to the question!

For me, “art” is much more than gawking at pretty pictures, reading superb stories, and listening to badass ballads. Art is something that frees me from my own mind – a scary place I frequently find myself trapped in. Art is expression, art is a release, and art is something that inspires me. Movies, TV shows, books, music, paintings, plays, etc. – those are all definitely forms of art. Those will forever take a backseat to the form of art that can take me away from my own life, away from this miserable planet, and put me in the virtual shoes of someone else on a different world… one I might actually be able to save.

Video Games Art 1
Ultimately, art is the result of raw emotions unleashed.

Video games combine graphics, music, stories, and characters into one beautiful artistic package that’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever known. It’s an escape experience that can do wonders for my soul, giving me a safe place where my bottled up emotions can run free. Banjo-Kazooie and Diddy Kong Racing cheered up a bullied outcast. Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and Resident Evil 4 provided an outlet for teenage rage. And then the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy narrative saved me from myself by showing me who I am, making me a better person, and putting fate’s grim place into perspective for me.

Video Games Art 2
Nothing is more artsy than ANY Final Fantasy game.

All that deep emotional stuff is what art is all about for me. Just like any painter, author, actor, or poet, video game developers put their heart and soul into their work – the game worlds they create. The graphic designers paint the world and characters. The composers fill the world with sound and inspiring melodies. The writers weave the storyline together and give birth to the lives we connect with. To top it all off, I’m given a controller and the ability to find my own way through their world. Video games are a powerful combination of mediums that resonate with me more than a standalone painting, song, or novel ever could.

Video Games Art 3
Realistic graphics are not necessary either. I would have had the same feelings if FFXIII looked like this.

As the player, I also put my heart and soul into accomplishing the game’s task. It doesn’t matter if that task is lining up Tetris blocks, bringing down a corrupt god, or racing my way to first place. I am still invested in the world on an emotional level. I feel frustration when I screw up with the Tetris blocks. I feel despair as I try to save the dying world. I feel accomplishment when I see the first place trophy appear next to my name. The final score, witnessing the game world’s final moments, and the trophy are all the result of raw emotion unleashed, which to me is exactly what “art” is.

Thanks for reading!

If for some odd reason you want to read more of my posts, you can find a somewhat organized (and usually up to date) archive of my ramblings… I mean, articles here!

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Published by

"Lightning" Ellen

My name is Ellen, and I've been babbling on the interwebz about video games for over 15 years. Video games themselves have been a large part of my life since 5-year-old me first encountered a SNES in a children's hospital. Fun times... Video game escapism is still the #1 coping mechanism for adult me these days.

9 thoughts on “Are Video Games All Artsy?”

  1. This is an excellent viewpoint! I think is only as important as the response it evokes in someone. Films, games, music… I think all of these mediums can be art 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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