Video Games as a Modern Art Form

Eric Richter ’23

When playing your favorite video games, all the factors that go into making the game feel good to play, listen to, and look at might just go over your head . From basic textures of the ground, to the design of the world, and the music that accompanies it, there are multiple forms of art required to make a “game feel.” This is a term used to describe how a game immerses the player in its world. It’s important because it describes how all three major forms of art are required for a game to come together, these being: visuals (artstyle), music/sound, and gameplay.

If you were to put the Super Mario Bros. main theme over something like Minecraft, then not only does the atmosphere completely change, but it hurts the relaxing feel as a whole. So not only do these factors need to be of high quality, but developers need to ensure the whole vibe isn’t tampered by one of them. It is with these factors, and especially a video game’s unique characteristic of gameplay, that can make a game so experimental and engaging.

So what exactly can you do with video games that differs from other media? The most obvious aspect is the control the player has. This by itself separates video games from other forms of media, as every experience is different from another. Some games even bank on this aspect with multiple endings and changing scenarios. Others even think outside the box, breaking the fourth wall. The most popular example of a game that does this is Undertale which manipulates saves and even closes the game at some points based on the player’s actions.. Another example of such being the case is the indie game Hypnospace Outlaw, which has the player explore a made up internet based on the early years of the real internet as they seek out what is going on behind the scenes of the company controlling such. 

Less unique to video games, but equally as important, are visuals and music/sound that work with the gameplay to make the experience full. The original Pong used these factors in their most basic form with simplistic visuals that showed the player exactly what they needed to know and audio cues to tell the player when the ball bounced off a wall. However, with today’s powerful technology, fully orchestrated OSTs (Original Soundtracks), beautiful and artistic worlds, and realistic sound design are all possible. 

The amount games can vary in gameplay, music, and style is simply astonishing. There are games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, that go for a cel-shaded style. Including a much more serene music composition and environment to go with it with more of a focus on exploration and player freedom. Meanwhile there are games such as Celeste which differ in every way, making a totally unique experience compared to any other with its own 2D pixel art style and intense but satisfying platformer gameplay. These games can be made by anyone, from big companies to small indie developers and each offering their own unique artistic factors that make them art in itself. The sheer variety in these aspects alone can make a game standout, but it’s when all of them come together that video games become its own artistic media platform.