Why Video Games Shouldn't Be Art - MagicalSarai Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Why Video Games Shouldn't Be Art

I can already tell that I'm going to get some people coming in here and yelling at me, so to those of you who are steadfast and staunchly firm in the belief that games are art: bring it. For those of you with the mindset of listening to pragmatic and logical thought, hear me out and feel free to comment.

Now, I would like to start things off by saying this: Video games have wonderfully beautifully crafted moments, scenes, worlds, characters, ect that all could and do exist within the realm of art. Heck, they hire artists to work on every video game; however, that does not a solid argument make for place video games unfairly into that category.

Ah, you probably caught that.

Yes, to say that vidoe games are art is not a benefit, but rather a detriment to videogames as a whole. You see, art is held to a standard that most other entities cannot compare. Art faces off against time, critics, the masses, the snobs, the elite, against the economy... and I know that many of you are say "so do video games" but for art there is a sense, this urgent need to make a statement, to forever hold as a statement, to make a lasting impression upon the world that will never fade away, and that need must be upheld through time, critics, all the aforementioned... and why on earth would we want to place that kind of pressure upon not only our video game makers, but on our favorite medium as a whole? Why?

"Artists are bizarre, fixed, cold... That's you George you're bizarre, fixed, cold. I like that in a man, fixed.... cold." - Sunday in the Park with George

Take the recent issues with Mass Effect 3 (no I am not going in depth with this dead horse, it has been beaten enough). It is a perfect example of where people demanded change, and other people demanded adhering to "artistic integrity".

Now, please tell me why this word has come to hold so much weight? Artistic integrity? Monet didn't have artistic integrity. He painted over his paintings on countless occasions. Da Vinci? He painted the Mona Lisa over something else. Art constantly evolves, and so do video games, but sadly art had evolved into a realm where "changing" anything from the original "artistic view" is now something dreadful. Forget evolving opinions, design, or view... to change is something the world always has done, but now art is stuck in this "you can't change the idea once it has been created!!"

You get critics and patrons vehemently snarling this with saliva dripping from their fangs as they sit perched above their keyboards just waiting for "artists" (be they truly, or a writer, a gamedeveloper, et al) to "screw up" in their opinions before they swoop down and begin tearing them to shreds.

Critics already play too much of a role in the videogame society, a society with the word "game" in it should be fun for everyone. Yes, you need to be informed and to be able to find out what a game is like, but that doesn't mean critics should be able to hold the almighty pen of destiny and cast judgement upon the entire medium (which they do now). Mass Effect 3 was critically acclaimed and yet thousands upon thousands of fans told Bioware that they did something wrong. The critics staunchly adhered to "artistic integrity" as this perfect vision that stupid, little, whining plebeians just couldn't grasp... and Bioware was mocked for even considering a change to this "artistic" masterpiece.

Why?

Why shouldn't game developers do everything in their powers to make the games fun for ALL people?

I think that sounds like a pretty good world, especially if the gamemakers are allowed to make money for these changes. why shouldn't they? They build a good, decent game that most people liked, and those who had a complaint here and there about something superficial (story related... something that wasn't game breaking, although some people will argue otherwise about any issue they feel "ruined" a game) should be willing to pay if the developer went out of their way to specifically craft new material to address said issues.

It's a game... like Monopoly and Sorry! and LIFE! They are supposed to be fun and bring people together and I don't mean by creating discord and criticism and infighting. Video games as art has done just that. More emphasis on the critical side, more people against each other because of differing "artistic" viewpoints... less fun.

Here's a what if:

What if, when you where a kid out playing with your friends... and you were all making up games and playing with your imaginations, out popped a critic to decide whether or not your "game" was inventive, inspiring, visceral, defining or even fun? It doesn't matter that you are having fun or your friends are having fun, the critic has decided, told the world, and now a whole bunch of people who have never played your game, seen your game, or given it a chance will be affected by his words. The sad sheeople will have been influenced, and the rest will probably have an opinion formed one way or the other after hearing from the "critic". You game should have just stayed that. A game. Fun and simple and your own experience. You could then tell your friends about it... the world goes on and on.

Video games used to be just  that: a fun media all their own. They should have stayed that way. What is wrong with being unique and undefined? They aren't movies, they aren't paintings, they aren't books... they are videoGAMES. They cannot be measured by other medium standards and they should only be measured by the people playing them. Forbes should be chiming in on a company's profit margins after every games is released, the stock market shouldn't dictate how well a game should do, there is so much tied up in this industry now that it has lost a great deal of the magic it once had... and it is a little sad.

It's like watching a child playing pirates, plumbers, and super hedgehogs... seeing as he grows up and gets a job and becomes disillusioned.

I can't help but wish videogames could have grown up without all the extra baggage... but there is one piece of baggage that we as games don't have to bring along: the damn artistic debate. I guess what I am trying to say is that every molecule, ever fiber, the entire essence of videogaming is so much better and so above the concept of just "art"... that the community should strive with every little movement to make videogaming a thing of its own, not fit it into a category of such critical drudgery.

Lets play some games.

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