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Videogames have evolved drastically since their arrival on the entertainment scene in the 1970s. They initially began as a form of entertainment intended to help (primarily) teenage boys pass the time and play competitively with one another.
As television capabilities have expanded into HD and beyond, the graphical capabilities of video games have had to work hard to keep up. Despite this, though, the key demographic of such games has led to the entertainment medium being dismissed as nothing other than digitized games – and, if other youthful forms of entertainment can’t be considered high art, then neither can computer games, right?
But then, this all depends on what you class as the definition of art. In its basest form, art requires vision, creativity, and skill – and you could argue that the creators of videogames utilize these elements in order to produce gripping games that have the power to draw players into a whole new world. Another argument in favor of videogames being considered art is the fact that films – which are increasingly incorporating CGI into the medium – are deemed an artistic endeavor, so surely games with a narrative, character progression, and perpetuating a particular graphical style are forms of art, too?
Computers, Consoles, and Smartphones
Whether you choose to play on a PC, a console, or a smartphone (or even a combination of the three), it’s almost impossible not to recognize the leaps and bounds that videogames have made in the past 20 years in terms of style, graphics, and complexity, running in parallel with other technological advancements.
Increasingly powerful graphics cards and system processors has enabled game artists to push the limits and be more ambitious, which can be seen over the years in visually stunning, compelling games such as The Gears of War franchise (the level of detail far exceeded that of their console contemporaries at the time), World of Warcraft, and Ori and the Blind Forest on PC, and open-world epics such as Journey.
And, as smartphones have undergone rapid changes and advancements in their processing and graphical capabilities, there has been a huge jump made in the complexity of online mobile games. From games such as Angry Birds, online slots CA, games based on films and diverse themes to mobile replicas of classics such as Mario Kart and competitive games such as PUBG, better screen capabilities have been effectively demonstrated via the medium of games, and it can be argued that this is a form of art in and of itself.
Game Visuals Inspiring Artists
An exciting offshoot of video game art has been the inspiration it has lent to up-and-coming artists borrowing from this medium to create unique pieces that reflect the artist’s personal loves. Whether using the image of famous videogame characters such as Nintendo’s Mario and Link, and King from the Tekken games, or replicating the art style used in games (with lots of inspiration drawn from 8-bit games in recent years), contemporary forms of still and interactive art have witnessed continual development reflecting the medium of videogames, opening up opportunities for collaboration and communication.
Another aspect of videogame art that has expanded exponentially in the past decade has been the opportunities provided by games studios such as Ubisoft for the gaming community to add their skill and interests into the games they play.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the game, Skyrim, where the community has worked together to create coding for Mods (artistic modifications) within the game, affecting everything from hair colours and styles to the depiction of different weathers and their effects on the surroundings. This element has allowed the games to be more visually appealing and detailed, turning them into a form of collaborative art in the community.
With technology continuing to advance at a rapid pace, it’s exciting to think about what is coming up next in the world of videogame art!