15
Oct
2012
Welcome to the Review to Be Named Games Section!
Are Video Games Art?
Jhaan
Before we can ask ourselves, "Are videogames art?" We have to ask ourselves, "Are we reviewing videogames as art?"

A distinct evolution is occurring in videogame development. For the past few years, stories of videogames are getting as much emphasis, if not more, than the actual gameplay. Metal Gear Solid 4 recorded as much time in cutscenes as it did in gameplay. French Developer Quantic Dream created Heavy Rain, a videogame with so little gameplay that it was categorized as an interactive movie. Heck, even Pokemon now has a mature storyline that goes way beyond "Your rival is a dick. Kick his ass in everything."

And yet despite developers efforts to place games in the same pop culture vein as movies or books, few people do. Why? Well, I blame us. Us, as in the people who review videogames.

In the past, videogames were solely an interactive experience. From Pong to Donkey Kong, Space Invaders to Pacman, games were all about playability-the experiences and takeaways audiences had were based on the videogame's interactive entertainment values. As such, reviews for videogames were predicated solely on how engaging the gameplay was. It makes sense-"”technology at the time severely limited what a videogame was capable of doing.

Nowadays though, you have the Bioshock series, the <>Mass Effect trilogy, Dishonored, Ni No Kuni, Assassin's Creed; games that mix the interactive qualities of a videogame w/ an engaging plot-driven experience found typically in movies or books. Developers like Edmonton's Bioware are throwing around the term, "artistic integrity" when talking about their videogames because they're evolving into something comparable to other mediums that people already consider "art".

But while videogames evolved, our examinations of them have not. Whenever reviewing games, the qualities that justify videogame's artistic image are rarely talked about. Reviews fail to expand upon plotline or story driven content; categories typical in movie and book reviews. Even prestigious videogame websites like Gamespot and Gameinformer don't have a subcategory for "story" when reviewing videogames, instead clinging to the videogame reviewing philosophy of the past. In case you were wondering, their only subcategories are, "Concept, Graphics, Sound, Playability, and Entertainment".

So back to the original question: "Are videogames art?" It's a topic that's certainly becoming prevalent in the medium, and you don't have to look very far for evidence w/ exhibits like the Smithsonian American Art Museum's "Art of Videogames" popping up everywhere. But even that exhibit has the review philosophy of the past"”I can't tell you how bummed I was to see that the stand for Mass Effect 2 talked mostly about gameplay and very little with the story content driving the gameplay.

And that's what I'm here to do. At RTBN, I hope to expand upon the artistic qualities of a videogame that are often overlooked on other websites, namely the storylines. We can't argue if videogames are art if we don't first change how we review and perceive videogames in the first place.

Videogames have evolved. It's time for their reviews to evolve as well. Welcome to the Review to Be Named Games section, where I plan to do just that.
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