Video Games: Just a Game or a Great Work of Art?

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Maxwill Westen, Contributor

What is art? When someone sees that word, they often think of something like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” but the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” 

The creation of a video game is the time for a development team to fully unleash their creativity. Because they have this freedom, with a mixture of the textures and never before seen game mechanics, the final product is often something magnificent. 

Take, for example, a game by the name of “Ark: Survival Evolved.” Ark is an open word game full of beautiful, detailed landscapes, amazing textures and unique mechanics. The game was in development for only nine months, releasing in June of 2015, but that was not close to the end of the creativity that spilled out of Studio Wildcard. Since then, computer hardware has upgraded, allowing for more beautiful and detailed graphics, and flushed-out gameplay. Over the seven years that the game has been out, there have been over twelve official DLCs and countless community-made mods, getting better in every imaginable way with each release. The developers and gaming community seek to make the game the greatest work of art it can be. 

In an article published in The Atlantic entitled “Why Video Games Are Works of Art,” Kyle Chayka talks about what makes art so enjoyable. Looking at a painting from four-hundred years ago, reading a novel like Moby Dick and watching a well-rehearsed play is about the experience, like being in awe at the detail of the paint, the rise and fall of every story’s plot and the actors twenty feet from you reenacting one of Shakespeare’s greatest pieces of work.  Chayka argues that a video game is all about the experience, “it is a controlled passage through an overwhelming aesthetic experience.”  When you are in a good video game, you become your character. You feel the rush of fighting an enemy or finally completing a difficult task. You feel the need to take out the antagonist by whatever means necessary. 

A piece of artwork such as a video game can be enjoyed much more than some other types of art. You experience the adventure firsthand, even control it. You watch every piece of a personalized story unfold right in front of your eyes. In a game like “Ark: Survival Evolved,” the story is completely unique, making the journey of the gameplay the best kind of art.