Posts Tagged ‘understanding comics’

Art Car Fest 2006 - 34.jpg

Used under Creative Commons License. Photo by L. Marie

Well this is a huge step forward in the “are video games art” debate. The Smithsonian Art Museum is opening a new exhibition dedicated to the art of video games. Here’s an excerpt from their website.

Video games are a prevalent and increasingly expressive medium within modern society. In the forty years since the introduction of the first home video game, the field has attracted exceptional artistic talent. An amalgam of traditional art forms—painting, writing, sculpture, music, storytelling, cinematography—video games offer artists a previously unprecedented method of communicating with and engaging audiences.

I am very excited by this. Obviously I fall on the side of the argument that very much believes that video games are art. But I’m known to have a very liberal definition of what “art” is. Scott McCloud has what I think is the best definition in his groundbreaking work Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art.

Art, as I see it, is any human activity which doesn’t grow out of either of our species’ two basic instincts: survival and reproduction. . . . . Because of its independence from our evolution-bred instincts, art is the way we assert our identities as individuals and break out of the narrow roles nature cast us in. . . . “Pure” art is essentially tied to the question of purpose – of deciding what you want out of art.

If you like comics, art, or communicating ideas then you should read this book

Now video games certainly have a large appeal due to how they tap that survival instinct, whether appealing to the part of the brain that is wired to run from sabre-toothed tigers or the part that is wired to gather food. And I’m sure somewhere out there video games have enough cachet to help someone get laid (maybe South Korea? It would explain the time that country dedicates to Starcraft). In the meantime, the dialogue options in Mass Effect and Dragon Age will help us seduce that collection of pixels into some PG-13 fun.

But the lush scenery of Skyrim? Art. The easter eggs in World of Warcraft? Art. The soaring soundtrack of Halo? Art. And I’m so happy to start seeing established, serious institutions embracing video games. From the Smithsonian museum to classical orchestras partnering up with Play! – A Video Game Symphony.

It’s unlikely that I’ll make it up to DC for the grand three day opening extravaganza, but the exhibit will be traveling after it’s had its run there. The fun starts on March 16th and the party don’t quit until March 18th so check out the website for the full program of fun.