Yes, some video games are works of art and I’ll tell you why!

Game news Yes, some video games are works of art and I’ll tell you why!

It is the moment of the most famous chestnut tree of the year: “Is the video game an art?”. Of course, we never tire of answering. Today it’s my turn.

A story of perspective

This article is a piece of opinion, it is subjective by nature. The author’s opinion is personal and not representative of that of the rest of the JV editorial team.

What is art? In my most simplified imagination, it is an aesthetic or moving human creation. So simple. If I try to remember my plastic art lessons, I also have the stereotypical memory of a somewhat lunar teacher who asks me to develop my creativity from fairly elementary elements; like this time in fifth grade when I had to build a fly cage from a briquette of fruit juice. Given my overly simplified definition of the thing, I will rather look for that of more enlightened people. For the International School of Cultural Professions, art brings together human works intended to touch the senses and emotions of the public. Well, well, it’s actually not that different; it is also quite simple to understand and easily assimilated to a multitude of creations. From lines of code and a little creativity, you can create great video game works that become art.

What I find more difficult to understand is why a small part of the public still believes that video games are not an art. If you suspect it, I raise the question following the position taken by a certain Jean-Pierre Mignard, a lawyer who, on Twitter, said: “a film can be a work. A game is a game“. In fact, this is not a very new opinion. In 2007, critic Rober Ebert made headlines by stating with the utmost conviction that video games cannot be an art. The argument? “No one, inside or outside the game world, has ever been able to name a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, novelists or directors.“. Yes, if on my part I have some title in mind to refute this sentence, why must we also compare the medium with another, older one, to give it legitimacy?

The parable of Stanley and BioShock Infinite

    Yes, some video games are works of art and I'll tell you why!     Yes, some video games are works of art and I'll tell you why!

Oddly enough, Ebert’s opinion had found support from Hideo Kojima, whom many consider to be an art creator. In his opinion, “if 100 people pass by and only one is fascinated by what this room exudes, it is art“. And to continue:A video game must ensure that the 100 people who play this game benefit from the service it provides. It’s a kind of service. It is not art“. Let’s try to think about it without burning our brains too much. I tend to distinguish pure entertainment products from other types of games. So beware, my perception is not necessarily the right one, it is fueled by my culture of the world and my own tastes. I’m not saying I’m right. But there are two notions that, I believe, govern this sector and that sometimes oppose or intersect: art and profit. When FIFA simply responds to a request and openly embraces a profit cycle, The Stanley Parable rather independently attempts to shake up the traditional codes of the medium by weaving a clever philosophy of free will.. Between these two parallels there are also games like Bioshock which, while adopting the standard trend of first-person shooters, build a narrative so clever that it touches the senses and emotions.

Total art or unique art?

But that raises another question (finally, my brain is smoking): I talk a lot about storytelling, so are video games just a vehicle for other art forms like literature? many believe that the video game is actually a set of arts: that of architecture, the stage, music, or even cinema. However, I think it forges its own singularity through its interactivity with which it becomes able to forge an unparalleled narrative.. Is there really something more poignant than how Spec Ops: The Line forces you to rain white phosphorus on a building before discovering it was actually full of civilians? If the game once again follows the pattern of the classic shooter, it is also part of a unique concept of “positive negative experience” ; the latter refers to an intense and binding experience, but equally rewarding, because it brings new perspectives. It’s bright enough to make it a work of art, in my opinion.

Spec Ops The Line and Mutation

    Yes, some video games are works of art and I'll tell you why!     Yes, some video games are works of art and I'll tell you why!     Yes, some video games are works of art and I'll tell you why!

The erroneous statement by Mignard (the lawyer mentioned above) also makes me think that there was a time when cinema was not considered an art. Perhaps video games are still too young to find the legitimacy they deserve. Be that as it may, even if it is consumed by the entire planet, it will never be unanimous, and it is quite normal. I have never been entranced in front of Marcel Duchamp’s fountain, which we nevertheless deliberately study in art classes. It’s all a matter of subjectivity. I tend to share the tastes of my colleagues very little. It will be difficult for me to make him understand that Mutation, a narrative game in which a gang of mutants simply exchange neighborhood gossip for a few hours, is an absolute masterpiece. In writing, Aymeric’s masterpiece is Metal Gear Solid for its storytelling, its underlying messages, or even its ingenious handling of the infiltration system. For meakaya, it is undeniably Journey for the obvious poetry of him. xsable relies on Elden Ring and its ability to wonder. As for Carnbee, the rare gem is Silent Hill 2 for its richly detailed storytelling. Perhaps for someone else the absolute masterpiece of art is FIFA 22? Who am I to judge? After all, someone unnamed just whispered to me that Spec Ops: The Line was too overrated to be mentioned in this article. The question of video games as an art keeps coming back because it can only be subject to a multitude of individual perceptions and as many different tastes and emotions.

Feel free to share your opinion on the subject in the comments!

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