National Public radio in the US has been running some interesting pieces on video games recently. Lately they’ve taken a stab at a question that becomes more and more important as gaming revenues continue to swell:
Are video games art?
Other media have a long history of relevant, moving social commentary. Movies and books lately have all been tackling important issues – Iraq, international politics, teen pregnancy, etc. But video games mostly stay away from all that ‘commentary’ stuff. There’s a fringe of activist games, sure, but no equivalent to Syriana or Juno. Why not? Are games simply incapable of this sort of sophisticated, nuanced commentary on reality?
Definitely not, as I hope the examples I’ve written about here prove. With enough budget, you could make a socially relevant, thought-provoking blockbuster game. Some day, someone will.
In the meantime, I agree with the conclusion Heather Chaplin, NPR’s correspondent, draws: “Until gaming gets serious, its cultural prominence is just wasted opportunity.”
The piece itself is well worth a listen (4 mins).