The Eighth Art

The Eighth Art

Erick Valencia, Copy Editor

Art is the most important characteristic of humanity as a whole. Since humans lived in caves, lacking the concept of society, art was (and still) is the most symbolic way humans have to express themselves. Art has been present throughout every civilization, but all of them have a different interpretation of the world around them. However, just recently in the 1970s, came the advent of video games. In their brief lifespan, they have had an outstanding impact on society. I, for one, have been playing video games for the last 10 years and not once did I ever consider them art because they’re “just entertainment.” This changed as I grew up and learned more about the world, concluding that video games are the eight art. 

The arts, according to Merriam Webster, are only activities like “painting, sculpture, music, theater [and] literature” and are defined as “a group of activities done by people with skill and imagination.” Based on this definition, anything that a human does can be considered art, even something that can be promptly dismissed as menial, like video games. However, it is not that simple. The idea that a video game could be considered art is flabbergasting and even offensive to some people. That is understandable to some extent, as “gamers” have been portrayed as lazy losers all throughout the media. For example, there is the famous video of a German kid yelling at the top of his lungs while losing at a video game, as well as the famous South Park image of what a gamer looks like. At the same time, there is the whole violence-video game issue going on in the US, where video games are taking the blame based on terrible criminal acts such as school shootings. I disagree with all of this. First off, these examples are extremely specific and do not typify the entire gaming community. Just because one psycho didn’t know how to control himself and was exposed to the internet doesn’t mean that that’s how all players behave. Furthermore, the whole “video games cause violence” phrase is just a scapegoat for politicians and leaders who just want an easy way out and don’t want to take the blame for the country’s violence issues. For instance, US President Donald Trump stated that “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society… This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.” If this were true, countries like Japan and South Korea would have huge problems with shootings and gun violence. But in fact, according to NPR, they have some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world. Both of these countries are top consumers of video games and have huge gaming communities. In spite of the controversy, video games have endured criticism from several entities by proving their legitimacy and value. 

With all that said, video games have the potential of becoming one of humanity’s most important art forms. As of 2020, the video game industry already makes more money than both the movie and music industries. Which, according to Forbes, generated around 152.1 billion dollars in 2019. This is no small feat. Music and movies are world-sized industries that are present all around the world, displaying the massive impact video games have had on the entertainment world. This, however, is not a complete representation of how “complete” this new medium is. There are three entities when it comes to game design: the creator, the game, and the player. The creator is the one with the vision, the inspiration to create the game. The game is the canvas where the creator puts everything it wants on it, the expression and the connection with the player. The player is the one who experiences the art, the one who interprets the game whichever way they might like. If the player is able to absorb the game’s meaning and the creator’s intention and at the same time generate his or her own conclusions, then art is made. Moreover, video games are a culmination of all the other arts. A game needs music, architecture, writing, cinematics, poetry, etc. Video games have a parallel with cinema, having many of the same components. “There are some arguments against it because movies have many ways to be interpreted but at the end are just one product. Yet, with video games, the entire experience depends on what you do, on the choices you make,” Mathias Echavarria, 12th grade TCS student, said. As Echavarria said, videogames add something else: interactivity. Video games have to design their world to make it interactive and interesting. There has to be a link between the player and the game, either a complex one like in Dark Souls or a very simple one like in Pac-Man. If a game is able to have an immersive world where the player is happy to be in and excited to come back, then I don’t see any difference between a video game’s world with a book or movie’s. 

Art is subjective. Anyone can have an opinion on anything that is considered art and think of it however they want. A piece of art can be either considered an angelic gift or a pile of crap, depending on who’s judging. In spite of this, video games are undoubtedly a type of art. Or at least they are on their way to becoming one. “It’s a new medium, it has only been around for 40 years. The first time someone made a sculpture they grabbed clay and made a figure, they didn’t think it was art, they were just building whatever. As time passed, sculpture became a valid form of art and is shown in museums. So time will tell as to when video games will be considered art to people,” Echavarria said. With immersive worlds, creators’ imaginations can come to life, and check all the boxes required in order to become one of humanity’s greatest forms of personal expression.