Video Games: An Emerging Art Form?
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Video Games: An Emerging Art Form?

Not every game is about saving the princess.

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Video Games: An Emerging Art Form?

On my 19th birthday, I received a video game bundle from my best friend. It included the games Journey, Flower, and Flow, developed by indie game company thatgamecompany. I have played countless games throughout my life, but none have been as unique as Journey and Flower. You see, it’s hard to define Journey and Flower as games at all. Describing a game like Super Mario Brothers is easy––a platforming game where the objective is clear from the get go: save the princess. Journey and Flower, among other titles, transcend the term "video games" in their storytelling approach. To me, these games are a work of art in the sense that they leave interpretation up to each individual player, as a painting or song would to a viewer or listener.

Storytelling is at the heart of art. Consider the piece Nighthawks by mid-20th-century artist Edward Hopper, my personal favorite. At first glance, all you see are figures in a diner on a lonely night. However, the piece beckons you to think of their stories, to use your imagination. Are those two arguing? Why is that man there so late? Is the bar tender trapped or are the visitors at prey? Art does not hold your hand, it expects you to connect the dots and feel something.

I had a similar feeling while playing Journey. At the onset of Journey, the player is simply dropped into a dessert controlling a hooded figure. You are not told where to go or how to play, but you naturally go towards the glowing summit in the distance and begin your trek. Similarly, in Flower, the player simply controls a brisk wind in a wide plain. The objective, you soon figure out, is to sweep through the grass field lighting up flowers, and bringing them to life as a melodious soundtrack follows your every action. If it sounds weird, it’s because it is. These are not what you think of as typical "games" because they do not follow typical video game conventions. In the two hours it took to complete Journey, I felt loneliness, fear, and triumph. Flower and Journey did in two hours what Call Of Duty couldn’t do in 16 hours. Furthermore, upon completing both Journey and Flower, I was able to take away an idea, my own personal interpretation of the experience I had just completed.

As I mentioned, both of these titles are indie titles commonly developed by independent studios consisting of very small teams. Indie games are on the rise and both Playstation and Microsoft have noticed, extending their big platforms to small development studios like thatgamecompany. While some gamers may disagree and simply label these titles as boring simulators, I encourage every gamer to be open to this new revolution. Indie games are generally far less expensive than average games. As a gamer, I have certainly felt the amount of time and passion that has gone into indie projects. While I have definitely felt the same about various big name titles, it is different enjoying a game you know was made by three guys who were engrossingly passionate about their project and risked it all just to get it off the ground. As a result, you might find indie games to be a far more rewarding experience than you expected. Video games are evolving, threading new ground, and offering new experiences any person could enjoy. If you have looked at video games as childish distractions, void of any intellectual or artistic vision, I ask you to please look again.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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