I write a lot about video games here. Partly because I'm a gaming nerd who enjoys games. Also because I think games are an interesting art form, the first uniquely new medium since cinema. Games have visuals, and sound, and story. And games have something new, interactivity. When those elements come together well it's impressive.

In yesterday's NYT Daniel Radosh has a thoughtful op/ed about games as art. He believes, but he claims that games today mostly don't achieve artistic merit. They're trying too hard to be like movies, the typical achievement gameplay is too simplistic, etc. I can't exactly disagree.

His hook is his critique of $170M-on-release Halo 3, which "does not succeed as a work of art because it does not even try". Again, I agree. The Halo story is clumsy and poorly told, the visual settings are beautiful but lack poignancy, the music is meh. Halo is a very well crafted piece of gameplay, though, and I respect that part of the gamemakers art.

By contrast to Halo, I keep thinking back to Bioshock. That game, I think, does achieve artistic merit. Mostly in the cinematic form; the art direction is truly phenomenal and the story is good. And the gameplay in Bioshock is also quite brilliant, particularly the interaction between the physics and AI. It all comes together pretty well, and Bioshock is impressive.

Early cinema has its recognized brilliant movies: Birth of a Nation, Battleship Potemkin, Citizen Kane, M, Metropolis. We don't yet have the perspective in games to crown clear winners, but I think most game fans have ten to twenty candidates in their heads. Just because Halo 3 is a guilty Busby Berkeley pleasure doesn't mean the game medium isn't finding its artistic roots.

See also destructoid
  2007-09-29 18:15 Z