Video Games and Art

***Originally posted 8/29/2015****

The above links to a rather interesting interview by Mike Diver of Matt Sainsbury including an excerpt from his book Game Art, and it has gotten my mind moving a little so I decided I’d give you a chance to read it before subjecting you to my own rambling.

Beyond the fact that it excited my own gaming fandom by referencing both the Mass Effect series and a game from the Persona series as well as introduced me to two games I now really want to play, it also hit on some points which tie in to why I became the gamer I am today.

The expansive nature of video games in reference to their styles of art is covered better in the linked article than I could manage, so instead I’ll just focus on my own awakening to and enjoyment of video games as art, which predictably enough focuses on the narrative aspect.

As with many children of the early 80’s I did more than my fair share of gaming before any sort of artistic awakening, with my own introduction being the NES.  I spent many an hour with Megaman, Mario, and assorted other characters, even once sat and played the Rescue Rangers video so long that my eyes formed a crust which sealed them shut and required a bit of home first aid to remove.  That taught me a lesson about moderation in gaming at least.

It wasn’t until the SNES that I had my awakening however, specifically with what I believe to be the best in its series – Final Fantasy 6.  Here was a game with fully developed characters.  They truly reacted to the events that were unfolding beyond just the gaining of new items/special abilities I was used to from every other game I’d ever played.  They were dynamic, real people with hearts and minds that were both scarred and strengthened by the hardships they endured, which ranged from world-shaking to entirely interpersonal.  More than this though was the fact that due to the fact that I was directing their actions, and there with them for every moment of the story, I not only bore witness to their story, I lived and felt it right alongside of them.

I was already an avid reader by that time, but this was a new time of narrative immersion for me, a type I couldn’t get from a book.  It so struck me that for years afterward I would rarely play anything other than RPG’s.  Even now I still tend towards games with a strong narrative style, but thanks to the growth of games as a story-telling medium I have a much wider genre base to choose from – horror, sci-fi, fantasy, on and on even to more real world related games.  While I would never give up books entirely for games, since I do still very much love the particular styles of immersion they offer, I could also never imagine given up gaming for this same reason.

Ultimately this love of gaming as a narrative art combined with my already present love of written fiction as an art, and my desire to create my own fiction.  This combination is what ultimately led me to pencil and paper RPG’s, that ability to create and interactive story for others to play through, and more often than not to totally scramble so that I would be forced to catch up to where the story had suddenly veered.  My enjoyment of such in person game-storytelling also led to my desire to create my own system, so that I could have rules and mechanics that fully reflected my own stories and their worlds.

So to sum up I suppose I would just say that I fully view video games as an art form.  There’s just not much else other than art that I can conceive capable of so fully striking awe, inspiring creativity, and pushing to constantly act towards the creation and practical worship of both as they have in me.  Ultimately for me, gaming and narrative fiction are my two greatest loves, and they are in my view merely two facets of the same priceless gem.

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