…:::Multi-Genre Research Paper — Video Games as an Art Form:::…


Video games have been a huge part of my life. When I was a little kid my brothers taught me how to use the controller on the NES and since then I’ve always played video games. As I grew up I watched how video games evolved into this huge phenomenon that they are now. They are so evolved that by now video games are being adapted into motion pictures. For this reason, even though I use games for my entertainment, I started to realize and see video games as an art form.

When I read Robert Ebert’s post I couldn’t help but feel like his evaluation of video games as a whole was quite unjust. That someone would even dare state that video games are not art and will never be simply sounded to me somehow difficult to understand since in my opinion they already are a combination of forms of art. For this reason I chose to write about this topic.



Video Games: Form of Art or Simple Entertainment

Earlier this year Robert Ebert wrote in his blog for the Chicago Sun a piece in which he regarded video games as another form of entertainment that could not come close to be considered art. This unleashed a debate between game developers, gamers and people involved in the video games medium over what should be considered art and if following the opinion in Ebert’s article, video games should simply be disregarded as just another form of entertainment. In the end the main question is: what is the definition of art and can video games be part of it?

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines art as “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings” Taking this into account, video games can easily fit into this definition of what constitutes art. During countless years video games have evolved from basic commands and blocky graphics to beautiful and complex stories and almost movie-like graphics. The art created by countless contributors in the end is combined to an ultimate masterpiece that is later enjoyed by millions of people. Still, as Bryan Vore states, not everyone agrees on the definition of art (40).

One of the main points Robert Ebert makes in his blog post is that video games are interactive so the message that is being sent by the artist is manipulated by the player, and therefore the original intended message is being changed. Up to some point it is true but he overlooks the fact that video games are created with the interactivity of the user in mind. The concept of freedom for the user is barely illusory. Although the gamer has a role in the development of the story, every situation has already been established by the artists which are the developers and other people who worked on the game.

One example of this situation that does not involve video games is presented by Stephan Hall.

The performative aspects of art and its production have become increasingly important, from interactive multimedia projects to the entire field of performance art, which involves four basic elements: time, space, the performers body, and most notably, a relationship between performer and audience. While relationships between performers and their audiences seem obvious throughout the history of art – think about any singer, poet, or stage actor performing in front of a live crowd and how the crowd’s reaction can in turn affect the artist – it is the advancement of the importance of the interactivity between artist(s) and audience(s) that has moved into prominence, where process is as much a part of the work as is the product itself. The component of interactivity noted here forms one of the core definitions of a video game (19).

Even though the topic of video games being a form of art still has its issues, its is noteworthy to observe that it shares similarities to other forms of art such as movies, paintings, literature, photography and music, if not a combination of them all. Video games started as a form of entertainment and throughout  the boom of  advanced technology; developers not only strived to create a unique gaming experience for consumers, but also expanded and “perfected” the qualities of these games, intended as means to attract more players and thus making a new market in the industry of entertainment.  Art as a whole is intended to appeal to the senses and video games have successfully attempted to appeal to the humans senses.


Works Cited

“Art.” Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary. 2011. Web. 10 Jan 2011.

Ebert, Roger. “Video Games Can Never Be Art.” Chicago Sun-Times. 16 April 2010. Web. 9 Jan 2011.

Hall, Stefan. “Video Games as Collaborative Art.” Phi Kappa Phi Forum. Baton Rouge, 2008. Vol. 88: 19. Web. 8 Jan 2011

“How Much Do You Know About Video Games?” ESRB.org. ESRB, 2010. Web. 9 Jan. 2011

“The Great Debate.” Game Informer. Gamestop. Issue 207, pg. 40-47. July 2010. Print.


1. Photo Album

Uncharted 3 – ©Game Informer


Bayonetta – ©Game Informer


DK Country Returns – ©Game Informer


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – ©Game Informer


Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep – ©Game Informer


Little Big Planet 2 – ©Game Informer


ICO – ©Game Informer


Halo – ©Game Informer


Sonic Colors – ©Game Informer


Kirby’s Epic Yarn – ©Game Informer


Super Mario Galaxy 2 – ©Game Informer

Tomb Raider: Underworld – ©Game Informer


2. Letter

Dear Mr. Ebert,

The purpose of this letter is to let you know my opinion over your blog entry called “Video Games Can Never Be Art”. As a gamer of many years ever since my childhood I’ve witnessed the evolution of video games. From NES to Wii and from Playstation to PS3, I’ve played countless of them and I do believe they should be considered art. These days video games put much more focus into creating an audio-visual experience that could challenge a movie and the storytelling is every day getting closer to becoming as high quality as any best seller book. Take for example Heavy Rain. The visuals of this game are almost as impressive as a top-notch Hollywood movie and the story is material of a best seller mystery thriller. A game that can transmit the range of emotions like fear, anger, love, hate and many others can easily be put into an art category. The fact that you try to simply judge video games without even trying them leaves a lot to be desired. If you don’t think video games are interesting or you don’t like them at all, I believe you just can’t give a subjective opinion on the subject. If you ever were to give an honest try to video games in a completely subjective way without bringing your already established feelings about it I would enjoy to debate this matter again. Until then I bid you farewell.


Yamil Ahmed


3. Review – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

In this new entry of Naughty Dog’s most acclaimed series, Nathan Drake is thrown in action from the very beginning. And this time Drake is not bulletproof.  While you stare the screen in amazement at the most outstanding visuals ever, you realize that it’s not a cut-scene… It’s actual gameplay!!! There is no discerning difference between gameplay and cut scene graphics. You start controlling a beaten, bloodied Nate trying to crawl out of a huge train wreck while he’s barely even able to walk.

This is just the beginning of a new adventure that takes our favorite fortune hunter all around the world in search of the Chintamani Stone. From the middle of the jungle, to a city war zone in Nepal, and even the middle of Shangri-La the action is unstoppable. Nolan North gives an amazing performance which makes Nathan of one of the most believable characters of all time. His comic remarks are spot-on. More than once a found myself laughing at the comments of the character which adds to the credibility of the character and the story which this time manages to make you care about what happens to the characters in it.

When speaking about gameplay, platforming sequences are more fluid but more challenging due to the more complex level designs. When you least expect it something in the environment changes, may it be a falling rock or a loose pipe and thus comes decision-making. This time the gunplay, as opposed to the first entry of the series, is polished to a military shine. Accurate, smooth targeting and a wider selection of weapons allows the game to overcome its predecessor flaws.

In conclusion this entry’s gripping story, hilarious dialogue, and extraordinary gameplay makes it the crown jewel of the PS3 and a true work of art.

4. News Article



Past April the renowned film critic Roger Ebert started a controversy on his blog when he said “Video games can never be art”. This comment provoked the reactions of thousands of gamers, developers and journalists on the internet defending video games as the new art wave.

Ebert stated that video games would never achieve the level of poetry, films, and novelists. He also stated that “Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control”. Countless magazines, internet blogs and game journalists were quick to reply stating the reasons why video games are art. Although Ebert stood by his statements he later released a statement in which he said that maybe he shouldn’t have talked about a medium he didn’t completely understand.

In the end this just proves how this topic is more a matter of opinion. We may never agree on whether video games are art or not but, we already know that when the debates start both defending and against it groups are going to be quite vocal about it.


5. Top Ten Video Games of All Time

This a list of my top ten video games of all time.

10. Final Fantasy VII


9. Heavy Rain


8. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past


7. Kingdom Hearts 2


6. Final Fantasy X


5. Fallout 3


4. Super Mario 3


3. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess


2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves


1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time



The purpose of this research was to inform and maybe up to some point explain my point of view when it comes to this controversy. I really like technology and video games is probably my main hobby. It was really fun writing about something that I’m so passionate about.

I still believe video games are a form of collaborative art. All the work and creativity that is involved into the creation of video game is almost unbelievable. Maybe it isn’t up there with the major art forms but in a not so far future they will probably be considered as good as any other.

V. Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

Ebert, Roger. “Video Games Can Never Be Art.” Chicago Sun-Times. 16 April 2010. Web. 9 Jan 2011.

In this blog post, acclaimed movie critic Roger Ebert, explains why he believes video games are not a form of art. He basically states that video games do not achieve the reaction that other forms of art achieve. He continues to explain how he believes that video games do not even deserve his attention and that consequently calling them art is not accurate at all. This source is higly helpful since it helps to understand how the controversy started.

Hall, Stefan. “Video Games as Collaborative Art.” Phi Kappa Phi Forum. Baton Rouge, 2008. Vol. 88: 19. Web. 8 Jan 2011

This article is a reaction to the expressions of Roger Ebert toward video games as an art form. In it Stefan Hall explains the problem with authorial control which is Ebert’s major concern towards regarding video games as art. First, Hall explains the different aspects of user interaction in all kinds of art and how it affects the art itself. Later he explains how art itself can be collaborative and still be art. This article helps to the research since it challenges one of Ebert’s main points for not considering video games an art form.

“How Much Do You Know About Video Games?” ESRB.org. ESRB, 2010. Web. 9 Jan. 2011

This page show video game statistics in the United States for the year 2010. This statistics are provided by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) and show how relevant and influential video games are at this particular time.

Murphy, Samantha. “Can Video Games Be Art?” New Scientist. Vol. 207 Issue 2278, pg 3. 18 Sept 2010. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

This article provides answer from various video game designers and video gamers to Ebert’s comments towards video games and if they can be considered art. The author introduces a panel of video game experts that discuss what makes video games a form of art. Various video game experts proceed to explain how video games are already being treated like art although some of then believe it is unnecessary to seek the validation of the word art itself. This article can easily give an idea of what the controversy is about and quickly explain it without giving unnecessary information.

“The Great Debate.” Game Informer. Gamestop. Issue 207, pg. 40-47. July 2010. Print.

This article is also a response to Ebert’s comments. In it game critics give seven examples of video games that should be considered art in one way or the other. More than an article itself, it is a list of games that share qualities that other forms of art already have consequently making the connection that video games can be art.



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