Paper 2

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Video games have been gaining credibility in the art world as a form of fine art.  As culture moves towards a greater sense of acceptance of video games, the art world will also assimilate games as a valid form of expression.  Over the next decade video games will redefine what is considered fine art.

Designed as multi-media cultural objects, video games may be read, interpreted, and analyzed with the same methodology other art forms are disseminated.  Paintings and sculptures may be contextually analyzed in the same way by assessing the symbols, signs, and compositions to reveal meaning.  All forms of expression are informed by some politic, ideology or philosophy.  One purpose for  creating art is to create shared experiences for its audience.

Games have been creating shared experiences since games started being played.  The advent of the internet and video games has only created a larger pool for generating common experiences.  Exposure plays a large role in creating this empathy, one must be exposed to something before they can relate or interpret it.

Approximately six million people view the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, France each year.  Each viewer gets to view the painting for approximately fifteen seconds before they are ushered along.  The twenty-five thousand hours a year of interaction time is dwarfed by the three-hundred billion hours a week that games are played.  More people are spending more time playing video games than making trips to museums.  Video games engage players on a much higher level for two reasons: higher accessibility and longer engagement time.

What is considered art has a great deal to do with what a culture will accept as art.  The Twentieth Century was a time of great upheaval to artistic traditions.  Instead of generation to generation, the definition of art changed at a heightened rate, to the point where new artistic movements start and fade nearly every ten years.  Prior to the last decade, comics were rarely considered art.  As more people were engaged by comics, they became more sophisticated, and culture shifted to consider them as art.  Another example would be street art.  Video games are in a similar situation.

Video games such as Tetris were designed around the idea of solving visual puzzles.  Generating patterns, and putting them together in a composition is how visual art is made.  Other games such as Gary’s Mod encourage they player to generate content.  The player is given tools to play, but not burdened by pre-defined goals or objectives.  This open-ended approach also extends to how games are being made.

Valve is a game company that prides themselves on allowing their employees choose their own projects to work on.  They own the intellectual property to all of their games, and have created a distribution system to deliver games to their audience without having to go through a third party.  They are passionate, creative and committed to creating quality experience for their customers.  The same could be said for any successful artist, in any medium.

A tremendous amount of art is generated in the process of creating a video game.  From pre-production to final product, concepts are made, music is scored, and models are rendered.  Every element in a video game is designed and coded into place, arranged into an overall composition that is incomplete without a player.  The player is a necessary component to a game, making the end user a collaborator in the process of creation.  Some games such has Halo Reach have allowed users to generate content to increase replay value.  User generated content is the first step towards video games being considered art.

Just as with street art and comics, video games are reaching a point of maturation.  That is to say there is a large enough audience of people who appreciate video games as art to convince an even larger part of the world population.  Over the next decade video games themselves will be viewed as a collaborative art form.

Culture is changing and expanding at an exponential rate.  Information is traveling faster, people are more connected, and a greater empathy is being generated.  During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, large fresco murals were commissioned to educate and inspire awe.  Spectacle has always been a part of what attracts people to art.  There is no more engaging spectacle today that the ones created by video games.  The methods by which art is created advances with technology.  As tools become easier to use and the audience becomes more complex, it can be reasoned that independent game projects will become more common place.

Infrastructure is now in place for creatives to seek patrons.  Kickstarter is an example of how independent projects are being created today, and will only grow with frequency over the next ten years.  There are several independent video game projects having great success in garnering funding from the public such as Double Fine’s Adventure.  Without the constraints of a large corporate publisher, they were able to raise over three million dollars to create a game as they envision it.

Another source of funding is available through the National Endowment of the Arts.  NEA grants are issued to explore interactive media arts including video games.  With public funding readily available game designers will be able to explore the limitations of their medium.  Video games as art exist at the edge of those limitations.

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