Do videogames count as art?

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Answered by: Tim, An Expert in the All Things Video Games Category
The videogame industry has been engulfed in a huge debate over whether videogames count as art. It took movies years to reach the point that the mainstream finally began to consider it a worthy art form, is it too soon for video games?

One of the main reasons gamers are so passionate on getting their hobby recognized as an actual art form is that it lends legitimacy to their past-time. Until the advent of the Playstation, video games were largely considered by the mainstream to be for young kids and by many parents, to be a "waste of time". Recognition of video games as an art-form not only gives justification to others for the many hours spent playing them but also disproves the myth that they are for children. Movies suffered through a similar problem at first until the advent of films such as Citizen Kane and arguably Titanic which showed that movies had the capacity to make us feel and empathize with people. Many people are still waiting for the videogame industry's "Citizen Kane".

There are quite a few people who would argue that video games have already proven their ability to make us connect on a personal and human level citing a few popular games. In an article on gaming news site, IGN, Michael Thomsen argued that Metroid Prime was gaming's "Citizen Kane" citing its ability to generate empathy through sensation. He cited small details such as "water drizzling on the character's visor", the protagonist "grunting when in pain", as well as "covering her hands when there's a nearby explosion" as all examples of empathy through what seems like mundane sensations. The examples cited are thought by many to be a prime example of video games granting players the ability to truly connect with the in-game character and immerse them in the world.

"The Last of Us", a recently released game about a zombie apocalypse was met with widespread critical acclaim with many also proclaiming it to be the game that legitimizes video games as an art form. The brutality of the combat was said to have reflected the human struggle and roughness of the situation in the game. Many also praised how the protagonist, Joel was put into a "fatherly figure" situation having to care for an adolescent who was born into the apocalypse. Many reviewers said that throughout the course of the game, they empathized with Joel and also felt a desire to protect the kid.

When one asks the question, "do videogames count as art?", I'm of the stance that it doesn't quite matter. Does a group of people acknowledging video games as a legitimate form of art have any effect on your enjoyment of a game? Does it any way increase the impact stories in videogames have had on your life? The answer is no. Convincing critics such as Michael Samyn or Auriea Harvey that videogames are an art-form does not matter, it has absolutely no effect on the hobby as a whole or your own enjoyment of games. Continue playing games because you enjoy them instead of trying to find justification for your past-time.

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