By Carson Jacobs | Contributor
"You have five more minutes before I make you get off the Nintendo!"
Almost any person who has invested time in the wonderful hobby of video games has heard this statement coming from their mother at one point or another and shuddered, especially if they were playing an Xbox instead.
When you were found playing video games, it felt as if you were caught lying around, doing nothing of value. You accomplished no mental or physical work - or so it was assumed.
Culture has perceived and, to an extent, still does perceive video games as the "Twilight" of the art world. They're pointless, they waste your time, they turn kids into violent or useless members of society and any other number of statements plague society's view of video games.
One problem with this worldview is that many current adults may have seen the wrong video game at the wrong time. Perhaps "Pong" was their introduction to the world of interactive virtual storytelling and, if I'm to be honest, that may put most people off. But video games cannot be judged from one example. Music has "Friday," books have "Moon People" and film has "Sharknado."
Jonathan Jones, art critic for The Guardian, in response to video games as art, stated, "No one 'owns' the game, so there is no artist, and therefore no work of art."
That argument might work if it didn't devalue every piece of collaborative art that has been constructed since the dawn of humanity. Even coming from the stance of video games' interactivity ruining its chances of becoming art is a hollow point. Books are created to be read, so does the act of reading them cause them to lose their beauty? Does playing one of Mozart's pieces again lower its intrinsic value as art? Does trying to emulate Bob Ross force the creation to become less than it was? Absolutely not. Our generation has been encouraged so heavily to "interact" with art, yet arguments such as Jones' crop up that send mixed signals. Does too much interactivity preclude a creation from being considered art?
Another argument the media loves to perpetuate is that video games are too violent and disturbing, thereby making those who play them violent and disturbed. Those who believe video games do this and more traditional forms of art don't haven't seen Francis Bacon's "Painting 1946" or Caravaggio's "Judith Beheading Holofernes."
My simple point is video games are art, "Goat Simulator" notwithstanding. There are incredible examples of this throughout the decades, but especially some released within the last six or seven years. And can an entire hobby be judged by just a few of its less-than-refined members? Just as there are genres of books and music, there are genres of video games as well. I don't consider Modern art as beautiful as Renaissance art, but it has still been accepted by the art community. "Fifty Shades of Grey" doesn't scream Tolkien or Dostoyevsky to me, but it's still a book, and books are an accepted form of art.
So why does the general population judge video games by standards so harsh that they don't make sense? "Call of Duty" holds less artistic merit than something such as "The Last of Us," but both are video games, and both are art.
Whether it's the argument that they're mindless, they're too violent, or they just don't convey the human experience to the consumer, the main point still remains: video games fulfill many of the same criteria that other pieces of art do in order to be considered art. They have visual art, music, performances, and stories. So what really is a video game but a culmination of the multiple art forms we've enjoyed for centuries?