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Are video games art?
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Video games elicit an emotional response

Video games of any genre can have an emotional appeal to them. There are many video games which seek to tell a powerful narrative through the gameplay and storyline. Whether they be RPGs (role-playing games), action/adventure, shooter, or even puzzle games, video games offer a wide array of interactive avenues in which one can experience an emotional story or impact.

The Argument

Artworks elicit emotional responses from their audiences. They can call to mind feelings of joy, sadness, nostalgia, fear, anger, etc. When we view an artwork, we interact with it by projecting our personal experiences onto the artwork and derive emotion from how we personally relate to it. Artworks are also vessels through which people can vicariously experience other worlds. A person who views a painting of a meadow might see themself in the meadow, enjoying the sun and the fresh air. They may feel happy or peaceful at imagining themselves in such a scene. Video games are no exception to this rule. Video games have a visual storytelling element with which players can interact and connect. They can represent the struggles of society such as in the main storyline of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or they can represent an ideal world where one can create their own utopian paradise such as in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Players project themselves into video games just as people might project themselves into a painting. Just like the person who imagined themself in the meadow of a painting, a player of Skyrim can create a character who looks exactly like them, and play through the storyline as if they are the hero of the story. The art form may be different, but the concept is still the same. Video games are art because they elicit the same range of emotional responses as any painting, novel, film, or otherwise.

Counter arguments

While art does seek to elicit an emotional response, it only seeks to elicit the emotions that the artist intends. An artist tries in their artwork to provoke a specific response from their audience; this is the dialogue between the artist and the viewer. The only choices made were the choices that the artist made in creating the artwork. The final outcome of those choices is the artwork itself, which is then viewed by the audience. The audience is the consumer, not the decision-maker. With video games, however, the player is the one making the choices which affects the final outcome of the game. Players can have experiences that weren't intended by the game's creator(s). The medium works against itself in creating a solidifying experience across the board for all players by having so many choices and routes to take.[1]



[P1] Art can elicit emotion from its viewers by the ways through which people connect and interact with it. [P2] Video games are art because they can elicit emotional responses and connect with their players.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Art elicits emotion, but only the emotion that the artist wants the viewer to experience. [Rejecting P2] Video games are not art because the player leads themself to the emotions they want to experience, not what the creator intended.


This page was last edited on Friday, 24 Apr 2020 at 14:43 UTC

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