One of the many questions plaguing the art world is whether or not to consider video games works of art. More and more each year, graphics are becoming more impressive and realistic, and gaming companies are hiring on graphic designers and artists to up games’ aesthetic value. Some video games have even been added to museum collections for their impressive design and cultural value. As time goes on, more people are arguing that video games ought to have a place in the art world.
But is it fair to label video games as art? Games, too, have a long history in the world, one that is separate from the existence of art. Games were invented as ways to interact, socialize, imagine, compete, and explore. Art, on the other hand, is often created to be studied, analyzed, enjoyed, or provoke some other emotion in viewers.
There is no question that video games include art. But games, in general, come with a whole different set of rules. They force interaction, and that is what’s at the core of them. We don’t simply study or watch games—we play them, we affect them, we live them. Art may have an affect on us, but there are few installations that actively allow us to influence change in it.
The graphics, music, narrative, and ideas behind many games certainly qualify as art on their own, but when they are combined in conjunction with player interaction, they switch realms and become games—games, which have been played for centuries. They have their roots in ancient games, played by children and adults alike.
It seems silly to place art alone on a pedestal; to say that art is better than games. Our culture includes many elements, and both art and games are integral to it. They both help us grow and learn, teach us lessons, and make us reflect. The line is not black and white; there is some crossover. But all said, it should be okay for games to stay games. They don’t have to be art to be great.