Monday, March 30, 2009

I study video games. It's legit.

To borrow a phrase from Family Guy's Peter Griffin, "you know what really grinds my gears?" That some people still scoff at the idea of studying video games. That some people don't think video games are as culturally significant as films are, or as novels are. Hearing non-gamers belittle video games is like listening to an illiterate belittle literature. I could give you any number of reasons why video games are culturally important--important enough for us to critique, to study intelligently, and of course, to enjoy artistically. Why, Bungie's Halo 3 broke the entire entertainment industry's record for first-day sales, with $170 million.


And Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has long enjoyed status as an all-around masterpiece musically, visually, and conceptually.


That's where these come in: Video Games Live, Dear Friends, Distant Worlds, and Play! A Video Game Symphony. "These" are video game concerts, orchestrated by world-renowned symphonies.
Aw, I can't do them justice. Go here and read all about them: "Video-game Concerts Bring New Life to Hallowed Halls."


Both these shots (of Video Games Live) are taken from Game Informer's "Video-game Concerts Bring New Life to Harrowed Halls"

What I can say is that if you haven't already, give video games a chance. Talk to a gamer about the artistic prowess of game-developers and animators. Next time your nerdy friend plays game-music in their car, don't grimace; listen carefully. You may not have caught on yet, but chances are, you know someone who has realized the value of video games. Don't be afraid to learn from them. Heck, next time you see me around, ask me about video games.


These screen-shots are from Shadow of the Colossus--a game I often cite as being hugely artistically significant.

And yes, you just read one of the only No, I Am a Cat entries in which I've become defensive. Mark it on your calendars.

8 comments:

Darius said...

i have to say, i honestly hope that some non-gamers take a look at this and it inspires them to take a second look at our defining art form. games do need to be legitimized as an art because, in my opinion, there seems to be more time put into the art and message of most games being released these days then most of the big name movies we see coming out in theaters. along the idea of a game being art, if you really want to see it from the visual side you should definitely check out okami for the ps2 and wii or even street fighter 4 (which looks like a watercolor picture put into motion). either way, serious kudos for this article and i hope to see some more in the future.

Mnemosyne said...

And kudos to you for your thoughtful response!

corywins said...

Great post Ali! I do have to caution - there are many gamers who share your viewpoint, myself included. However, take for example a chunk of the $170 million - screaming whining 14 year olds who want Halo because it's cool. Yeah, another stereotype, but what I'm trying to say here is that you have to be careful who you talk to. There are a lot of people who appreciate games in the way you've mentioned, but you've got to be careful to who you talk to if you're interested in this sort of thing. Some people just want to kill things.

Mnemosyne said...

I totally agree, Cory--and it does feed the stereotype of games having no societal value. On the other hand, I suppose we are moving into an era of casual gaming (which is, in itself, pretty interesting). It's such a complex issue...

The reason for this entry actually stems from my research proposal: I applied to do video game research (I can't say what kind) through our Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity office, and though I don't find anything out until at least Wednesday, I'm worried my proposal will be met with scorn. When I tell fellow students, even, about what I applied to do, some think it's ridiculous that I would ever be considered for funding.

corywins said...

Yeah. The whole casual gaming trend is something else entirely. In any case, good for you! It might get laughed at, but it never hurts to try. One of my friends at Carleton is actually doing his entire senior thesis on video games, I'm not quite sure what though.

Meagan VanBurkleo said...

Hey! Found your blog through the GI website, I wrote the feature you linked to! I am sure that you know this since you read the piece, but Distant Worlds is playing in Minneapolis this Saturday. The tickets are now buy one get one if you enter in the code FANTASY when you check out! I figured you might want to know!

Mnemosyne said...

I think I'm actually going to save up for Video Games Live! instead. Thanks for the heads up, though--I really appreciate it! :)

Mnemosyne said...

Oh, and thanks for taking the time to read my post! Good to know it gets around somehow.