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OPINION: Modern Art for Modern Times

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

by VIVIANO GONZALEZ - Let’s take a moment to appreciate video games as the art form they are.

I have stood at the top of a grass-blown knoll overlooking the sea, a view that stretched to cover a land of sprawling islands traversed only by my sailboat and me. I have played a musical instrument that controls the wind. I have been a sword-wielding teenage adventurer, a ghostbuster and a short Italian plumber in search of his kidnapped love.

Of course, you could say that none of these experiences were real or meaningful because they happened through video games. Games, having rules and objectives, can be "won" and therefore lack a “soul.” I beg to differ; video games are nothing if not experiential. They are visuals and music and poetry all wrapped up into a single package. A video game isn't just a game—it is an experience that provokes an emotional response in its audience, be it wonder, anger, love, frustration or joy.

I remember the first time my mom showed me “Pulp Fiction.” I was astonished by the incredible storytelling, bizarre script and dark humor. Now, as my 16-year-old self, those exact reactions came back when I woke my good ol’ PS4 and decided to play “Persona 5.” I cannot describe the rollercoaster of emotions I felt upon completing the game.

Video games are art. That’s it. This is a simple concept that many people don’t seem to accept. Over the years, many genres have been questioned as an art form, from books to movies and now video games. A long time ago, books passed the test and are still considered art. In the 1900s movies were up for debate, and they eventually passed the test as well. Now, when the industry is as big as ever, video games are up for debate. This is the hardest yet, as this form of “art” is interactive. Paintings are things to look at in awe for their stunning beauty and complexity, and books convey great stories, but there was something missing the whole time- the ability to interact with the art. Sure, the paintings are pretty and the books are interesting, but the ability to control the art, to change it… was missing.

In October 1958, physicist William Higinbotham made what is widely regarded as the first video game ever made, called “Pong.” It was a simple tennis game, but it soon became a hit. This simple tennis game birthed a revolution. People started innovating and changing technology, creating new games, such as “Pac-Man,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Defender,” “Asteroids”… it was truly wonderful. Kids and adults all over the world enjoyed this new way to have fun. Here and now, video games have progressed so far as to have almost life-like visuals. Games on PlayStation 4, like “Horizon Zero Dawn” and “Spider-Man,” look absolutely gorgeous. Other games, like “The Last Of Us” and “Heavy Rain,” have engaging stories. Whatever kinds of things you like— violence, puzzles, beautiful sights, horror escapes, challenges, ways to connect with friends or just a great story— video games have it all, sometimes all in one.

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