Are Video Games the Next Art Form?
Cinema & New Media Arts | On Jun 05, 2013
PERHAPS IRONICALLY, THE GROWTH of video games may help the general population talk about other forms of art, specifically interactive art. They present easy entry into a certain world. “Interaction is something that artists have been exploring for a long time with performance art and interactive art,” Gage says, “but it’s been locked away. Those weren’t things that were available to the masses; you had to be interested in them. Games provide a way for a tremendous number of people to have an understanding of a very strange thing, which is interactive art. Anyone can make it. And anyone can understand it.”
The ability of nearly anyone to make a video game is the most important development. It’s a young, rapidly developing medium, one that sees massive growth on a yearly, even monthly level. Video games may or may not be the next great art form—and really, it doesn’t even matter—but they are certainly the next great space for creative exploration. “For a long time, the means of production has been sequestered by industry. We’re now seeing the democratization. It’s interesting to see the themes that are emerging,” Brin says, specifically noting the growing subsection of games about gender. (For more on this theme, check out Anthropy’s book, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form.)
Warren agrees to a certain extent: “I don’t think there’s a trajectory that games are better, but I do think that there is an awareness about creating value can be an end for these games. That didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago.”
Even Leibowitz, a lonely soldier in the Video Games Can’t Be Art camp, knows the value of games. For him, the discussion isn’t about whether or not something is art; it’s about the genre as a whole. “I think we need to get very serious about this medium,” he says. “It deserves finer thought. It deserves much finer writing. It deserves attention.”