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Discussion Topic (29 JAN 2013) — Video Games: The Transmediating Art Form

In a lecture given by Dr. Quijano, a discussion ensued over the idea of video games being art. Roger Ebert, a prominent film critic, is an opponent of the notion by proffering Plato’s notion of art being the “imitation of nature;” whereas web blogger “Sophie” contends that the engaging interactive media provides the emotional investment necessary to be considered art. On this issue, I have a strong inclination to side with Sophie, i.e., I deem video games as art.

I agree with Sophie’s viewpoint stated within the web article that an emotional investment is made when interacting with the digital art form. At the end of her article, she cites Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts 2 as examples that elicited certain emotions from her. Extracting an instance from my experience, I used to play Starcraft, a well-known, real-time strategy game. Starcraft had both a story and online multiplayer mode, in which the game was renown for its multiplayer action. After selecting one of the three racial groups, that being Terran, Zerg, or Protoss, the player is initially given command of several units and base structures from which to expand operations and complete mission objectives. With respect to the concept of emotional investment, this is experienced through the game-induced, adaptive mindset, in which the player is immersed into the intergalactic wartime conditions and becomes the Terran commander, Zerg overmind, or Protoss executor. After completion of a military campaign and cycling through a myriad of emotions throughout the process, the player is either rewarded with the thrill of victory, or punished with the agony of defeat.

To address Ebert’s suggested definition of art as an “imitation of nature,” he implies that video games do not conform to this standard. To contend, I propose the following logic in a succinct fashion. Art imitates nature. Nature evolves or degenerates. So, does that mean art must also evolve or degenerate due to its mimicking nature? If this is true, then it is possible for art to transmute accordingly; specifically, transmediation as discussed within the professor’s most recent lecture.

My personal opinion is that art is the stimulus that provokes a response. The stimulus and/or response could be anything and/or nothing at all. However, I philosophically digress. The point being: art can exist in any form. If anything, video games could be considered an art form, in which the interactive stimuli elicits quite an engaging, and entertaining, response. The statement made by Ebert, i.e., “video games can never be art”, represents a form of ignorance as exhibited by his unwillingness to play a video game. In his defense, a possible hypothesis for his demeanor is that Ebert did not grow up with the video game culture. However, I offer Ebert a thought resounded in time for enlightenment:

“Just like a parachute, the mind properly functions when open.”

Roger Ebert’s post:

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2010/04/video_games_can_never_be_art.html

Sophie’s post:

http://www.sophiehoulden.com/can-art-be-games/

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One response to “Discussion Topic (29 JAN 2013) — Video Games: The Transmediating Art Form

  1. That was a great short response. I think the bit on art being an imitation of nature was a bit off. You were on to something with the core idea, but instead of mentioning examples (maybe a sim game?) you add a second, somewhat unrelated, idea on top.

    On the other hand, I really like your Starcraft example.

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