GAMES ARE ART (Part Deux - The Reckoning)
Most of us know that by the early ‘90s, video games had climbed out of some serious troubles, and were fully coming into their own. Still, making the case that games could be called fine art was a very tough sell indeed. Tough, that is, until in 1997 this happened:
(Cue FFVII Intro)
Leaving aside the emotionally wrenching storylines, music, and compelling gameplay – the crowning achievement of Final Fantasy VII was engaging gamers and non-gamers alike in a fully immersive multimedia experience that simply hadn’t existed before. Stunning visuals, thoughtful composition, and relatable character designs finally managed to turn some heads in the main stream.
(Cue FFVIII Intro)
And if that weren’t enough, a few short years later came the fully engrossing experience that was Final Fantasy VIII. Like its predecessor, this game featured the breathtaking design talents of Tetsuya Nomura, and presented lush visual representations of an epic which transcended time, space, and of course love.
But Fan boy though I might be, I can’t give Final Fantasy all the credit for moving games into the halls of accepted art forms. Though they did lead the charge, those games set the stage for a host of later efforts which range from impressive to downright mind-blowing.
Thanks to this precedent, modern games not only present a unique opportunity to experience visual art in motion, and allow us to interact with it in historically unheard-of ways, but each game presents a plethora of opportunities to examine ourselves in ways we never had – all bundled in one convenient piece of new visual media.
‘Bundle,’ in fact, is a fantastic term to describe what games offer us. In one sitting, we can be empowered, encouraged, sickened, tickled pink, deeply disturbed, love-struck, heartbroken, or perhaps just mildly amused. While traditional forms of visual art are limited to a single composition – a single moment, great games offer us a lifetime. That is why we love them, and that is why they are art.