Videogames are the newest form of art
In general terms, videogames are:
- (Generally) ludic.
- Integrative of other forms of art. In a certain sense, it’s the opera of our time: a ’total art’ (à la Maetterlink’s L’oisseau bleu)
- Input-hungry, in that even the most minimal form of videogame requires action from the player (generally) interacting with a set of virtual rules (physics, collision paths, dialog choices).
Videogames are, still, deeply generational and generally not considered a mature form of art, mostly due to the conservative nature (in commercial terms) of visible, triple-AAA games. The reason some videogames try to hijack our reward systems (not necessarily something bad! that’s entertainment for you) is the high cost of developing a game - but that leads to a difficulty on balancing the artistic and innovative aspects of videogame-making.
Additionally, and very ironnically, most of the most artistic decissions of videogames have more to do with the platform itself and the way the user interacts with the game than with other aspects of it. This leads to further insulization of the art into a certain generational and cultural niche.
Still, I feel there is much work getting done into shaping videogames as a form of artistic experimental innovation. Due to the very nature of videogames, they can represent the biggest range of forms and structures ever seen by any art form: from the first person rpg to the strategy, passing by the graphical adventure or graphical novel and the puzzle. As long as the player has a minimal agency over the program, the videogame will work as such.
Sometimes, this agency is technical, but much of the most interesting games out there use their narrative toolsets to make the player craft their own narrative by virtue of the very same mechanisms they are mastering.
In a certain sense, it’s very interesting to me how it’s essentially a form of art that is opaque to a certain age bracket. A wholly new, exhuberant art form is forming in front of your eyes - one that will likely be the source of software archaeology at some point in our lifes. So, maybe the question to make here is: Would you choose to be there if you could see the first sculptures done by anyone in humanity?, specially knowing it’s almost likely to be bound to disappear?