Interactive Art

GameArt

A lot of people have argued that video games are not art, because they allow the player to change the story. This somehow changes the original author’s ability to make any kind of important point through the game. One reason I think this is funny is because so many games have linear stories, which the player cannot change no matter what they do. My other arguments against this view will take some explaining, so prepare yourself.

One quick point I would like to make is that games obviously include art, such as 3D models, textures, music, cinematography, voice acting…all of these are considered art on their own, but the fact that they are put into a game somehow negates the possibility that the whole is art. If we look back, film was the same way; it took people a while to consider film to be an art. Games are the same way, and eventually I think Interactive Storytelling will also have it’s issues with being accepted by the public.

I see art as the way that people (sometimes called artists) express what is inside of them in a way that people outside of them can understand. Think of it this way: a person has an idea inside their head, such as a story, and art is how they choose to express that story. They could use good ol’ prose to express themselves, or they could go with film, or graphic novel, or even video game.

That’s my definition of art. I understand that it is very broad; seen this way, pretty much anything could be considered art. But is that wrong? Should we limit what is allowed to be considered art? Some things are easy to place boundaries around, such as the Sciences, but art is not something that we can measure, such as a volume or mass. art is a part of humanity, and humanity is infinitely complex. Therefore art is infinitely complex.

I would be interested in hearing how you define art. Leave a comment, and let me know.

Premise

Oh no, it’s that word again. Did I ever actually promise that I wouldn’t use it anymore? whether I did or not, here it is. So what does premise have to do with art?

Premise could be one of those ideas that a person has in their head, which they want to express to the world. Maybe they’ve gone through some life-changing event and want to show the world that life’s short and we shouldn’t wast time hating people. Rather than writing some blog post about it that nobody’s going to read (can you detect the sarcasm?) they put it in a story about a person who’s perhaps gone through the same life-changing event, or they could do something more subtle, such as show the futility of hating people, and the benefit of loving people.

The use of premise in an interactive medium, such as video games or interactive storytelling, is no different from the non-interactive mediums. This is a topic I have already discussed at great length in another blog post, but it is worth repeating. The author of an interactive storyworld can express their premise through characters the player can interact with, or the world the player is in.

The World

A writer can say a lot about their worldview just in how they create the world of their story. Think of something like Star Trek; no matter what the characters chose to do, the world was always the same, and it expressed some very foundational truths (in Gene Roddenberry’s eyes) about life, the universe, and everything. Ideas such as humanity is important, people are basically good, there are aliens out there and they evolved from primordial goo; whether you believe any of this or not, it is obvious that the creators of Star Trek did, and they wanted to express that not only through the stories and the characters but through the world itself. A sci-fi universe with aliens and one without will both express very different views of how the universe works.

Games such as Mass Effect and Fallout do this as well; no matter what your character chooses throughout the game, you cannot change the basic worldview of the people who created the game. There will still be aliens in Mass Effect, and people will still be basically evil in Fallout 3.

The Characters

The premise can most definitely be expressed through different characters. Sometimes a single character embodies the main premise of a story. A story about an underdog that succeeds is going to be very different than a story about an underdog that fails.

Think of characters such as Frodo in The Lord of the Rings or Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Both of these stories would be very different if Frodo was an adventurous mountain man or if Luke was an old oracle. The character of Frodo shows that even small (short?) people can save the world. Luke kind of shows the same thing, but a little different…I’ll leave that discussion up to you.

The point I want to make is that characters with different personalities can personify different premises, and they don’t even have to be part of a certian plot, but if put in the right setting, a character can make a huge difference.

Conclusion

I hope this post has cleared up some confusion about art that is interactive, such as video games and interactive storytelling. I’m sure some people will disagree with me, and if you do, leave a comment! I am curious to hear other people’s opinions on this somewhat controversial topic. Hopefully we can learn more about each other’s views through this interaction.

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