Games as Art

A lot of places like to bring up the idea of games as an art form. I definitely agree that it is possible, but I was thinking about it and I think there's a serious flaw with the way they are categorized. When I hear something described as being a art I see that as something that is able to express and convey emotions.

Yahtzee over at The Escapist mentioned in a recent review that the point of a game is to have fun, to which I fully agree. Games also like to tell you a story and some try harder than others. I think the problem is that a lot of games handle these two separately. If I think of games that I have a strong emotional attachment to most of them have very little to do with gameplay and more to do with the story. In all honesty you could just sit me down in front all the cutscenes from Xenogears and I'd be perfectly happy to never touch the controller.Now I'm not saying I didn't like playing Xenogears, but that's not what left the lasting impression on me. Is it a game? Yes, but that has nothing to do with the emotional attachment I have to it.

I think a perfect example of art in games would be Ico. The story to the game is very subtle, there are only a handful of times throughout the game with cutscenes. Few of those have dialogue and most of the dialogue is intentionally in a language you can't understand. The emotion of this game comes from actually playing it and the story is simply there to tie it all together. If you were to just sit back and watch the story play out, it really nothing special. But while playing it and interacting with the characters there are moments that effect me just as much as Xenogears does.

I think it will be quite a while before more games are able to find the right balance that Ico did. The goal is and always will be to entertain us whether it be through gameplay or story. I just wanted to clarify what I think makes a game a work of art.