Video Games as an Art



Course Instructor


Video Games as an Art

                Over the years, controversy has continued to exist concerning the question of whether video games should be categorized as a form of art, or whether these do not qualify as an art. This remains controversial even in today’s entertainment industry. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the government in the United States of America approves of video games, and categorizes it together with other creative works, this controversial question has persisted even presently (Jewell WEB). In addition, despite the fact that video games sometimes comprise artistic forms of music and graphic design, there still remains doubt and controversy about their qualification as art. Different critics have argued that generally, games cannot be considered as forms of art. These include film critics such as Roger Ebert and art critics such as Jonathan Jones. The argument of these critics against qualification of video games as art mainly draws from a philosophical point of view (“The Guardian” WEB). However, the recent criticism of Robert Ebert about video games was countered by the US government, which emphasized that video games are a form of art (Tassi WEB).

Regardless of all the controversies surrounding video games and their authenticity as an art form, there are those individuals, who like to identify with video games, and are greatly involved in playing them. Such individuals support video games, and most think of it as a form of art, despite what the critics might say about video games. An example of such individuals is Blissel Tom, a popular author of the book Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. He is a man that is obsessed with video games, and confesses publicly, how he can spend many hours playing video games. Blissel is convinced that video games is a form of art, and in his book, he refers to video games as an art form. According to him, video games are an important art form.

Recently, I met one of my childhood friends, who lives in a different state. I learnt that he has taken up video games seriously, and he loves playing them whenever he is free. I talked with him lengthily about video games, and realized that he is well informed about video games. When we separated back while still young children, my friend had not been exposed to video games, and had never played them. However, several years down the line, he presents himself as an ardent fan of video games, and comes out as being obsessed with video games and being knowledgeable about them. He too considers video games as an art form, since like other art forms; it requires skills and talent to play them.

Besides the Federal Government, which has categorized video games under the other traditional art forms, the Smithsonian American Art Museum also considers video games as an art form. Previously, this museum undertook seven consecutive months hosting an exhibition, which they called ‘The Art of Video Games.’ In this exhibition, the museum aimed at celebrating video games as an art form, which has existed in homes for an approximate 40 years (“Smithsonian American Art Museum” WEB). According to Jewell, video games today have revolutionized, and cannot compare to those of the past decades. She notes that these are an amalgamation of all the different types of the traditional art forms (WEB). These views coincide with Blissel’s views, as all these consider video games as art.

According to Blissel (350), video games are an important part of a person’s social life. In his book Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, Blissel sharply argues against the critics of video games, including those who do not consider video games as an art form. In the cultural aspect, Blissel considers video games as important as other art forms in the society, and equal to them in capacity. In his book, Blissel compared video games to traditional art forms such as movies, and novels. In Blissel’s comparison of video games with other traditional art forms, he finds out that video games have both a positive and negative side. In as much as they are important to a person’s social life, they might as well have detrimental effects on the person. This is the same case as movies and novels. Although these video games and other art forms are important art forms in society, they might be used in the wrong context. In addition, these might bear negative content, which might be detrimental to their audience. Therefore, the interpretation of this is that, it is wrong to disregard video games as art forms on the grounds of its negative effects in society, since other art forms also do have their particular dark sides. All art forms have a degree of negative impacts in society, but the fact remains that the negative side of video games has been capitalized on, to propagate and continue its controversy in society.

            In order to prove video games an art, the players must approach video games, with the kind of approach that is given to other art forms. People create art, and it shows characteristics of the creators’ innovativeness and originality. Art requires skill; therefore, the players of video games must prove their skills in playing video games. They therefore, should play the video games with high technicality and interpret them creatively. In addition, art has an emotional effect on people. Therefore, video game players must as well relate to this. There are different makers of video games in the world today. However, the countries that produce the most video games are Japan and America. Although America tops all other countries in video game production, different countries produce different types of video games. Nonetheless, video games can be produced in any country, and their production is not tied to America alone.

            I learnt from my childhood friend that one might play video games at different times, whether day or night, depending on the player themselves. However, Blissel confessed to playing video games whenever he felt, and would take long hours playing them. Nonetheless, one should have self-control while playing video games, to avoid getting addicted to them, as this is inappropriate. Video games were created for different purposes. Nonetheless, since this belong to the entertainment industry, it is right to consider entertainment, as the main purpose of video games. Other purposes include the development of critical thinking in people, as well as the enhancement of intelligence level in children.

Players of video games play the video games in different ways, depending on the type of the video game. However, generally, the first step is to choose the video game system one is interested in. This depends on an individual’s choice and taste, cost, and the type of system available to an individual. Secondly, while on the system, one chooses the game they wish to play. These can be found online by browsing different sites, including Facebook. One might also read about types of video games on magazines. The next step is for one to set up the game system. Different video games are set up differently; therefore, one might use the manual or instructions to set up the video game system. If online, one might choose to play the game online. If it is a home console, one simply connects to the TV. After putting the disk in the right slot, one follows the instructions on the manual, in order to play the selected game. Manuals are important for the first-timers. Those who have mastered playing video games rarely use manuals (“Kotaku” WEB).

As Blissel argued in his book, video games are significant in a person’s social life. First, this can be taken up as a hobby. Blissel argued that video games lead the player into another world of their own, which makes them relax their minds, and forget about their little worries. This is the same effect novels have on people. When reading a novel, one goes into his or her own world, which the author has created in the novel. Video games also impart critical thinking skills and enhance intelligence levels of young players. This is a characteristic of most art forms, as they all influence positively on the development of a person.

If video games were accepted wholly as a form of art, different things would change in society. As of today, most parents restrict their children from playing video games, due to the negative perceptions they have toward them. However, if video games were to be accepted by everyone, including the critics, as an essential art form, this might see more people play video games, including those who previously had reservations toward them. Additionally, the negative side of video games might be more pronounced, since people will have more freedom to play video games. Some might therefore, take advantage of this opportunity, and engage in inappropriate manners of using video games. While some people would be addicted to them, others would choose to play video games with violent content or other inappropriate themes. Therefore, although the US government considers video games as an art form, most people are yet to embrace this reality.



Works Cited

 “Kotaku.” Video Game Instructional Manual. 2013. Web. Viewed 28 February 2013


“Smithsonian American Art Museum.” The Art of Video Games. March 16, 2012 – September

30, 2012. Web. Viewed 28 February 2013 <>

“The Guardian.” Are video games art: the debate that shouldn’t be. 28 February 2013. Web.

Viewed 28 February 2013 <>

Blissel, Tom. Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. New York: Vintage Books, 2011.Print.

Jewell, Catherine. “Video Games: 21st Century Art.” Wipo Magazine. 2012. Web. Viewed 28

February 2013 <>

Tassi, Paul. “Video Games Now Legally Considered an Art Form in the US.” Forbes. 5 May

2011. Web. Viewed 28 February 2013


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