In 2012, the Smithsonian American art museum announced the opening of an exhibition titled, “The Art of Videogames.” Since then, the question if video games were truly a form of art has been widely debated by art critics and gaming enthusiasts alike. The first video games were created in 1960 and have massively gained popularity since 2000. Being immersive, intellectual, and interactive, video games can be regarded as the best form of art being the ultimate combination of the arts.
Delivering with such remarkable intuition, video games have become one of the leading forms of art in which no others mediums have been able to accomplish. Audiences welcomed Super Mario Brothers, a video game developed by Nintendo, with so much popularity that the developers continue to recreate versions of this game to this day. When played, even from the start of the opening scene the character appeal and smooth animated graphics beckon the awestruck player into the whimsical world of the plumber, princess, and mushrooms. The visual effects then go on to meet its pinnacle performance as the graphics collide with the attractive sound effects and catchy tunes. When played with the rendered graphics and brilliant soundtracks in sync, the player experiences a virtual reality so frustratingly entertaining and at the same time, magical. Now, can the Super Mario Brothers theme song become the world’s next Appassionata? Of course not, but neither can “Love Yourself”, even though both have become very influential songs in modern pop culture, and even though Justin Bieber is a talented artist.
In addition to its immersiveness, video games have also become increasingly intellectual. Many of Great Works that are famous today are not only famous because of the notable talent displayed, but because of the mysterious meaning trying to be conveyed in the work. Books, movies, and paintings alike try to incorporate hidden “easter eggs” that contain valuable knowledge. A recent investigation on Leonardo Da Vinci’s world famous painting, the Mona Lisa, for example, has revealed that many mysterious letters and numbers have been inscribed in the eye of the smiling woman. Sitting on the pupils of the mischievous poker face, an “S” and an “L” hide concealed from the naked eye, hinting at a ambiguous code argued by many connoisseurs to be the famed Da Vinci code. Video games prove to be no different. World of Goo, a game developed by 2D Games and nominated for multiple innovation awards, says a lot about capitalism and pollution. At face value the game is played by bonding adorable lumps of goo in order to create a tower of blinking, black balls, but as the game progresses, the background sets the stage to a worsened reality. The player experiences smoggy skies, sandstorms, and wasted water sources — the result of a overpowering corporation monopolizing the world’s precious resources. Prestigious propaganda signs sit up tall reading a disturbing message, “You can’t stop progress.” The game, contrary to the common belief, was not created for the sole intentions of money. World of Goo is trying to convey a deeper meaning, warning us to stop the advancement of massive corporation superpowers before they stop us. Pretty intelligent for a video game.
Finally, video games are the finest form of art due to their interactivity, an exemplary feature not even available to the other forms of art. There is a common saying that people do not truly know what love, terror, anguish is until they experience it for themselves. Art therefore, should be made with intentions to help the user experience what the artist is feeling because art is an extension of how humans express their emotions. Beethoven didn’t strike the first chord in his Grande Sonate Pathetique so that people would laugh. His composition was written conveying his deepest sorrows and infuriation inexpressible with words. Beethoven wrote it so the audience could feel for themselves what he was feeling, experience his emotions, peek deep into his heart. Video games, on the other hand, maintain the best way to experience what the author is trying to convey because the experience is not visual, auditory, but kinesthetic. Video games are the finest form of art because its user experience involves player activity and player exploration to find out and truly understand what is happening. Take the popular turn-based strategy video game Sid Meier's Civilization V for starters— the fifth game of the multi-award winning series. Civ V has a complicated interface that allows the player to seamlessly play as an empire of an ancient civilization. Because of the excellent usage of graphics and interactivity design, the player is able to enjoy experiencing the exhilaration of obliterating his rivals and the rewarding benefits of patience. It is only in video games where you can immerse yourself completely, whether it be trapped in the Mushroom Kingdom, in the desolate post-apocalyptic ruins, or at the face of Genghis Khan.
So one can argue that yes, video games are undoubtedly a form of art, if not the most sophisticated form of art that exist now. Video games are the rich broth on a cold day— the end result of the fantastic mix of ingredients poured into a masterful creation but its effect is spoiled if pick its components apart and expedite the validity of the art as a whole. Sure, video game graphics aren’t as smooth as Disney Pixar animated works, nor is the music a new classical masterpiece. The masterpiece itself lies in the greater picture, with all of these combined. As Beethoven once exclaimed, "Art! Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this great goddess?"