Category Archives: Video games as art

Video Games, Are They Art? The MoMA Says Game On!

Facing Their Doom

When Roger Ebert reviewed the film ‘adaptation’ of id Software’s seminal FPS PC game Doom in October of 2005, while savaging the movie he also fired a shot at its source medium:

“The movie has been ‘inspired by’ the famous video game.  No, I haven’t played it, and I never will…”

This dismissive attitude towards video games raised a few hackles from gamers,  and fires were further stoked in Ebert’s Answer Man column, where he continued to state he considered video games as not worthy of his time.  He finally dropped the hammer on any possible artistic aspirations of video games in his column that November:

“I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art.”

And so the debate has raged for years, “Can video games be art?”.   A counterpoint to Ebert’s protestations otherwise has come previously in the form of the 80 games of various genres inducted into the Smithsonian American Art Museum in March of 2012.  And now, the Museum of Modern Art will be displaying a collection of video games starting next March.  Some of the initial entries will include Pac-Man, Myst, The Sims and Portal, with the museum aiming to add the likes of Space Invaders, Street Fighter II and even Minecraft at a later date, totalling 40 games in all to be interred at the MoMA’s Philip Johnson Galleries.  A particularly interesting entry will be Zork, the classic text-only adventure by Infocom.  Such an example of the brilliant prose found in video games will make an excellent addition.

Kandinsky’s Composizione VIII

Are video games art?  Yes, definitely.  If I were to classify categories, I would say that early video games fall under abtract art.  The sparse mazes, outlined mountains and  geometric characters are all iconic representations of reality.  You could say the renaissance arrived with the lush visuals of games like Dragon’s Lair and Myst.   Modern day entries represent an on-going attempt by game artists and programmers to approach hyper-realism; in lighting, physics and the human body.  Yes, it is art.  To ride the ranges of Red Dead Redemption, as a burning sun sets behind a wide, rusted mesa, is to ride through a Bierstadt or Moran painting come to life. Yes, video games are art, as much as Picasso and Matisse are art.   Especially considering the limited technological canvas most of these electronic artists had to paint on.

via The New York Times
Composizione VIII available at art.com