Insert Coin to Value Art
I can read a book and pull themes from subtext and narrative. I can observe a Monet and take in the beauty of its color. I can watch Rogue One (for the 4th time) and appreciate the effort put forth by its actors. You know what I can’t do? I can’t get past the wind tunnel level of Battletoads. If you know what I am talking about, you have my deepest sympathies. This game and many others have made me appreciate what video games require as an artform. Video games are the only pieces of art that demand you “beat them” in order to fully appreciate them.
Video games have made significant advances in the last 30 years.. We’ve gone from jumping on turtle shells and saving princesses to spelunking in search of ancient treasure. We have shooters, platformers, cinematic adventures, puzzlers, the list goes on and on. Yet, the only way you can fully appreciate video games is to, still, complete them. You have to endure level after level, cutscene after cutscene, but then the credits roll and you lean back and sigh in blissful achievement. I have spoken with many a gamer who has gawked about the brilliance of a game’s story or the gob-smackingly beautiful resolution to which the game was displayed, but every single one of them still had to overcome the challenge of finishing the game. Playing a videogame is one thing. Completing a video game is something entirely different. This is a brilliant way to experience art.
Some people listen to music to relax after a long day of work. Some people read novels to pass the time on a Sunday morning. Some people, such as myself, like to unwind by traversing the dangerous landscapes of Morrowind. The difference? I don’t have to fret over my progression into the other artforms. Sure, I may have to re-read a few sentences in a book here and there or I may misunderstand a painting’s deep and thoughtful undertones but oh well. I can still experience the art in front of me. Video games are a whole other story. In video games there is the risk of failure. Of defeat. I can’t progress in a game, I can’t continue to experience a game, if I can’t beat it. I can skip a line or two of a chapter or skip a track on an album and it doesn’t hurt me any. In fact, I get to move past the less desirable moments and get right to the good bits. Video games…not a chance.
Aging with this industry has made me reflect on and appreciate what it is video games do as an artform. Yes, all art is enjoyable and can evoke some of the most raw emotion, but video games challenge us to earn those moments. They are an artform that has perfectly married literature, music, and artistic aesthetic. They have molded minds of all ages and inspired creativity. They challenge the gamer, and through that challenge they reward them with not only an experience, but a swell of excitement as the fanfare of victory sounds in their heads. Skills must match desire , and if it doesn’t, gamers can either “git gud” or move on to another castle. Me? Personally, I can’t wait to try the wind tunnel again.