If you can think back to 2005, you may or may not remember a particularly large splash that was made among video game–and to a lesser degree art–fanatics when critic Roger Ebert claimed that video games “can never be art.” It was a statement that, for years, Ebert refused to comment or expound upon the statement until almost 10 years later. While he ultimately stuck with his assertion that he did not believe them to be art, he recanted his ability to comment on something that he had, in large part, not experience.
Ever since then the debate has continued to rage on with publications such as The Guardian and VentureBeat weighing in on the side of Mr. Ebert. Typically, it seems the older generations carry an opinion that starkly contrasts those of the younger, video game-oriented generation.
Many objected when the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that video games are art, and therefore are allowed protection under the First Amendment. Many more, however, have embraced the idea, and rightfully so.
Video games have been around since the early 1970s when Atari released Pong. It’s not far off to image that Pong may not be breaking down barriers, reinventing expressionism or providing a release to artists. However, in June of 2013, Pong did find its way into the Museum of Modern Art, cementing itself a legacy as a piece of art.
And since Pong, video games have only grown more and more in depth, coming closer and closer to simulating the art that has been recognized and appreciated for centuries. Newer, more modern video games can absolutely be viewed as art without so much as a second thought. With different developers and different designers working in different studios you noticed vastly, vastly different styles. It’s not difficult to notice the difference in style between a company like TellTale Games and ones like Crytek or Ubisoft.
Numerous forms or concepts were originally rejected or looked down upon originally, as were many artists. Van Gogh famously sold one painting in his lifetime. Video game company Naughty Dog’s game “The Last of Us” sold 1.3 million copies within seven days of its release, as the story and artwork that laid the foundation for the game itself were considered moving and groundbreaking.
Video games and their various producers, directors and art designers are unique and they’re beautiful, and most of all, they’re art. They tell a story both as a whole as well as through still frames and dialogue, much the same as a movie or painting can.