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Are videogames art?

Have you ever considered video games as a form of art? An opinion that would, no doubt, be controversial among various circles, as it is common for people to see video games for much less than they actually are. They are commonly perceived as a product, as something that exists for the sake of keeping the corporate machine going, and as one of the more basic forms of entertainment. Of course, the video game industry has been growing in recent decades and has gathered a substantially large following, but how many people actually delve deep into seeing video games for the unique works of art that they are? 


“How are they unique?” one might ask, and the answer is hiding in plain sight. The reason for their uniqueness is that what makes video games at their best so impactful is the way they combine different forms of art into a perfect amalgamation that unveils before the player’s eyes while also allowing for a secret ingredient that enhances the experienced player receives from all of them.


One of the most obvious ways in which video games are artistic is their visual side. How many hours were spent in the beautiful yet haunting world of “Witcher III,” the breathtaking alien architecture of “Halo,” and the alluring lands presented in “The Elder Scrolls” series? Being able to visualize those words as they were intended by their creators is art in itself, and when applied in the context of gaming, the picture before you serves to create an enticing atmosphere, unique for each game. Serving to enhance it even further is, of course, the music. There are countless compositions created for the game, be it the epic fantasy music by Jeremy Soule or the completely off-the-rails boss fight themes of “Metal Gear Rising,” the music department never sees to impress, making some of those songs and compositions go as far as to become pop-culture elements.


Arguably an even bigger part of the art that goes into video games is the art of writing. Many video games nowadays share a distinct storyline with all kinds of characters taking part in it. Writing a story for a game is different from writing a novel or a movie, as it needs to be positioned in between the flow of gameplay. Yet, as proven time and time again, a well-written story and characters in a video game can be as enticing as those in other mediums, going as far as to move players to tears. Take a look no further than “The Last of Us” and its dramatic tale. Sprinkle all of this with masterful voice acting that will make the player feel like they’re interacting with real people, and a recipe for the game that will leave an impression is all but guaranteed. 


But what is the secret ingredient that plays into everything I mentioned before and is a common thread between all video games? That is immersion. After all, when you are reading a book or watching a movie, you witness events unfold from an outsider’s perspective, but it is not the case in video gaming. Every action the playable character performs is done by the player. Every movement, every battle and adventure, and in some cases, even fateful decisions are all performed by the player. This allows one to feel like they are the ones making all those choices and they are an active participant in the story, providing an experience like no other. It is the player that walks among the beautifully crafted worlds, the player who takes up on the challenges and threats that only they can stop. 


Immersion is what makes art combine and provide an incredible experience from which no one can look away.


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