The Debate of Video Game Art

As Roger Ebert said, “video games can never be art.” In his blog post, he explains his reasoning and responds to critics about the subject. However, I’m a critic myself and disagree a bit with his statement. So, I felt the need to explore this very same question. Are video games art?


Well, the Smithsonian American Art Museum seems to disagree with Egbert. Interestingly enough, “The Art of Video Games” exhibit will open March 2012, based on democratic choice of what video games seem to be most visually and emotionally stimulating. The exhibit will be the first of it’s kind, highlighting the evolution of video game art from the past 40 years.

The most interesting part of this is that they are allowing the public to vote on the video games included in the exhibit.

Voting takes place online,, from Feb. 14 through April 7. … The website offers participants a chance to vote for 80 games from a pool of 240 proposed choices in various categories, divided by era, game type and platform. The winning games will be displayed in the exhibition as screen shots and short video clips.  –Art Daily

This brings me back to my original question, are video games art? According to Kellee Santiago, who was a graduate student from USC,  “art is a way of communicating ideas to an audience in a way that an audience finds engaging.” Therefore, video game art would fall into that category, yes?

When you think about video game developer Nintendo’s most recognizable character, Mario, what image comes to mind? The fact is, many faces have been given to Mario, just as many other video game characters throughout the years.

Video game developers give birth to characters on paper first, just as other artists do. From there, small changes are made to wardrobe, physical features, sometimes the character is changed completely. Every alteration is made for a reason, to give a character personality, or given something to relate.





Another example is the character Aerith Gainsborough, the icon of the Final Fantasy franchise. Aerith’s first design was created by Yoshitaka Amano and adapted by Tetsuya Nomura for the video game. There is symbolism behind her clothing, hair, and eyes just as there are symbols behind “The Creation of Adam.

In a nutshell, I think video game art is interesting and should hold some value in the art world. If you’re interested in this topic, Kellee Santiago gave a presentation at USC arguing the fact that video games are art. The video is a bit long, but she brings up some interesting points of debate and thought.


2 responses to “The Debate of Video Game Art

  1. Pingback: The Art of Pixels « Art Dish·

  2. Pingback: Video Games Ruled First Amendment Protection « Art Dish·

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