The argument for video games as art has been one that has gone back in forth in many a conversation. Often, any individual whom has become a fan of this form of entertainment can appreciate and clearly see the artistic talent and creativity that goes into making a game. As we clearly have been told by those in the know time, and time again our opinions as fans do not matter, so what can video games do to make the jump from the tag of, testosterone mindless garbage that the masters of the arts, those within the artistic community that deem what is art worthy see it as? What will be the vehicle that takes it to another level? Travel back in time with me as we look at how those throughout history dictate what is art and how those that create masterpieces from the heart are able to break through.
From the 1700 to the late 1800 century, to be considered a true artist and have your art appreciated you must have had your art shown in a salon. A salon is a private gallery shown to the upper echelon of society, to have your art shown in a salon you must first have a degree from one of the fine arts schools, and your subject matter had to have fallen into the parameters of those whom head the salon. So in an effort to become an established artist many young creators strived to take their skills to one of the mentioned art institutions where they were trained in the specific style of what was assumed to be “The Art of Art.” Then after completion of said school, they went and created pieces within said guidelines.
While many a beautiful paintings came out of this time period, it stopped young artist from finding their inner creativity, to color outside of the lines and create works of art that not only captures the soul, but showed true skill outside of what was deemed art worthy. Eventually the salon system forced radical and modern artists to seek alternative or unofficial exhibition sites. Thus the birth of modern art and art as we know it today, free from closed restrictions allowing artists to create from the heart.
If we look at gaming as art we can see some similarities in how history may repeat itself. At its heart gaming or the process of creating games is that it is back by money, or those wanting more of it. Big business finances developers so that they may create big budget titles that will double investments made by big business. (Salons=Big Business) The Halos, The Gears, The COD’s The Maddens, while from a game point standard are very good and entertaining, do not show or convey any radical exploration of art in gaming at least not to a point that it can truly be considered art. While this comment may spark some of you to question what I say, let it be known I am not saying those that make these games are not artists. In fact I compare these developers to the youthful artists in the day whom hone their skills to be swooped up and paid to make these cookie cutter games, once again making a comparison to these amazing artists whom are forced to follow the salon style of art.
But what of those in the indie gaming scene that make community game or art games like Flower? Well while Flower may be an exception, have we ever heard of anyone from that development team before? The majority of indie developers doing anything artistic are first or second timers with either not big enough budget to do something unique, or not enough necessary experience to create what they envision, giving us mostly have hearted games. Those that sometimes do something truly different get swooped up fairly quickly by bigger development teams and put onto projects that may kill their artistic dream game
Then just like the underground salon creating a way for new artists to express their skill and creativity while being able to have artwork be shown, I see that downloadable gaming is what will free games from its shackles to take it to the next level, to be considered a true art form. Imagine if you will with the future of gaming being all DLC, it will of course cut many costs from the bigger houses, putting more money back into the developers whom fund these massive big budget games. Could the possibility then be for artists and developers from big studios who have honed their skills and have had enough experience in creating games to be allowed create unique gaming experiences, full of emotion, away from the experiences we are familiar with, while the blessings from their development houses. These artists are given the resources from which to use them and maybe a venue from which to display them. The risk reward factor would be much less at this point for a studio. They could have, or claim name to someone or to a small team that create something that is universally beautiful and accepted within the art society bringing it into the realm that movies and music have.
We hear a lot of people complaining about the erratic price structure in DLC gaming and while I am one individual whom likes to both be money conscious, and have hard copies of my games I am slowly thinking to myself if I ever truly want to play truly artistic games by masters that can create things of beauty, I have to be more supportive, both in what I say and what games I buy online. Steam is doing a good job as well as Xbox Arcade and even the PSN network at creating or allowing the creation of games that offer more substance. Now look I said substance not art pieces, but we have to be supportive of substance, so it may grow into full stories and games, and once that mold is broken and the pieces of marble has been swept away can gaming have its David.