I’m a little late to the party, but I’d like to put down my own thoughts on whether or not video games could be consituted as “art.” My answer to that question is that video games already are art, and have been so for a very long time.
Before I start to elaborate though, I want to point out that disagreeing on one thing does not mean you have to disagree with someone about everything. I really like the way Roger Ebert writes, and just because I think he’s wrong in this respect doesn’t mean that it invalidates the rest of his opinions. He’s still very much someone I respect, and I think we on the internet could stand to remember that.
While I cannot tell you when exactly video games “became” art, I can trace back the history of video games and point out any number of instances where art has sprung forth in video games. When Space Invaders was released to arcades, it was one of the first video games to feature “characters,” creating an identifiable adversary to overcome. When Miyamoto Shigeru created Donkey Kong, he created an entire story told with simple animations over multiple “scenes.” Mario himself was a fusion of practicality and creativity, created from the desire to have a distinct hero whose lively animations would still be understandable given the limited technology.When Pitfall debuted, it was not only a technical achievement, but also challenged players to revisit the game repeatedly, to identify with the characters in a way beyond the creator’s intent. When the Famicom was released in Japan, video game music legend Hip Tanaka took on the challenge of learning how to program in Assembly so that he could have finer control on the composition of his scores. When Kojima Hideo was told to make an action game on a system that couldn’t even handle having more than three moving objects on the screen, he created Metal Gear and laid the foundations for “stealth” in video games.
And that’s not even getting into the 16-bit era, or RPGs, or the modern advances we have today, with global communication between players working towards common goals, increasing levels of interactivity,
Art is created from the conflict between imagination and reality, when men are given a set of limitations and must find a way to work within their confines or to break from them, and that is the constant struggle of video game developers. Art is created when people are moved by what is front of them, and you will find a whole generation of people who can recall when video games brought them some of their greatest moments of joy and sorrow. Art is created when people are inspired, and I will tell you personally, video games have inspired me in innumerable ways.
Are video games art? Why, I can’t see why they wouldn’t be.