Readings: Video games as art
While discussing the new video game “Halo 3,” Daniel Radosh writes in today’s New York Times that video games are poised to enter a golden age, but they ain’t yet art. He suggests that a return to the narrative complexity of interactive text adventure games of the 1980s could be “a starting point for an artistic revolution of the future”:
A handful of popular games, like the recently released BioShock, flirt with moral ambiguity or pose questions about the nature of identity. But their ambition has always exceeded the result. The games that come closest to achieving artistry tend to be non-narrative: manipulable abstractions of light and sound, whimsical virtual toys or puzzle adventures that subvert the gamer’s sense of space, time and physics.
If games are to become more than mere entertainment, they will need to use the fundamentals of gameplay — giving players challenges to work through and choices to make — in entirely new ways.
Like cinema, games will need to embrace the dynamics of failure, tragedy, comedy and romance. They will need to stop pandering to the player’s desire for mastery in favor of enhancing the player’s emotional and intellectual life.