Video Games as High Art

A heady, amusing read which refutes Roger Ebert's claim that video games cannot be high art. The article examines and provides examples of the numerous ways in which video games are capable of raising human consciousness, and suggests that much like cinema was looked down upon 100 years ago, video games are similarly misunderstood by a largely uninformed populace.

"Imagine if you'd never watched a single movie all the way through, and then suddenly decided to publish your opinions regarding the artistic merits of film, and you've got a pretty accurate idea of Ebert's authority on the subject of video games. As a film critic, he's one of the best. It's just too bad he's a bit sanctimonious when it comes to other types of media. Film making was similarly dismissed by classical artists as the medium first took its baby steps during the early 20th century, and I would expect someone who appreciates the arts and is familiar with history to be more open minded when it comes to the new kid on the block."

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qwertyuiopasdfghjkl3543d ago

This article might be the best I've read in a long time. Here's a message I posted awhile back when this same subject reared its head...

First lets examine the simple definition of the word "art".

"1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.
2. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium."

Video games right now should be considered the most complex form of art, because it combines various forms of simple "art" ideas. Some examples of these simple art forms converging into one piece are the graphics themselves, musical score or soundtrack, sound effects, texturing, modeling, etc etc.

Others have argued player interaction cancel out Video Games as an art form. While in reality, interaction is what makes video games stand out as a more complex and immersive art form. Artificial Intelligence is another example of the kind of ground breaking things achieved only through video games.

Next time your playing a game, whether its Halo, Mass Effect, Assasins Creed, Mario, Zelda, Crysis, Call of Duty, Drakes Fortune, or Metal Gear Solid, ask yourself...

Are the many minds behind this game trying to *imitate*, *supplement*, *alter*, or *counteract* the work of nature using amazing visuals, superb sound, challenging AI, and natural interaction to invoke emotions and most importantly entertain me?

or in short hand "Is this artistic in any way, shape, or form?"

donalbane3543d ago

I really appreciate your kind words. I thought about this essay in the back of my mind for over a year, but didn't write anything about it because, frankly, I feel bad for Ebert, who is currently battling mouth cancer. Still, his words kept popping up in my mind, and I felt that if I could breach the subject with a respectful tone, it would be OK. I doubt Ebert will ever read it, though, so no harm done.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words. I thought people would say, "Old news", and move on. Turns out, since this isn't flame bait, it will probably tank here due to the bias N4G has for powder keg, console war type of issues.

NewC3543d ago

I know what you mean by the "powder key, console war type of issues".

Nice article, it's nice to find a few sites here and there that offer slightly more intellectual views on topics of gaming.

You should check out some of the articles by Patrick Woods on Game and Player ( There's occasionally some heavy lifting needed to grasp them, but they're quite interesting.

avacadosnorkel3543d ago

it's a game and a movie...and a better movie than most animated movies Ebert reviews.