What constitutes art and can video games fall into the confines of it as a category? This question is quite frankly one that verges on that which is trite and it capable of making your head spin. Video games are becoming a force that cannot be ignored as they take on the art and sports worlds simultaneously.
‘Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt’ at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum does not, though, aim to determine what is or is not art. Instead, the exhibition highlights the design processes common amongst games created over the last decade or so.
As you walk through the exhibition you are immersed in the creative processes of six different video games. In some ways, this portion of the exhibition turns the traditional ideas of a museum on its head and has received mixed reviews. The traditional museum-goer might become the outsider while those more familiar with gaming have an advantage in understanding the content of this exhibition. This role reversal offers the opportunity to look at the world of art through a different lens; a lens which demands more and more attention be placed on technologies, thus revolutionizing the art world and how we experience it.
The exhibition does not ignore certain issues concerning the less than stellar reputation the gaming world has including issues of gender and sexism. It also explores how gaming has impacted the realm of sports through platforms such as eSports. Video games therefore not only raise questions of ‘What is art?’, but also, ‘What is sport?’ In fact, there have been protests centering on video game networks, like eSports. Such networks have even become the center of a Netflix docuseries episode tracing the rise of eSports.
Video games not only push the boundaries of traditional ideas but it allows for artists to create settings and environments through the media of game design. Now, though, video game players have the opportunity to become the artists. Games offer the ability to take photos within the game of scenery and characters creating a rather meta situation of artists, art, photography, and even selfie. While this leads to plenty of less than serious photography, it also results in players creating interesting, even beautiful compositions.
These types of in-game photos blur the line between traditional notions of art and new art potentials. They also create an interactive art platform within an entertainment source. The talent represented becomes two-fold highlighting the carefully created video game environments of game artists and designers and the compositional choices of the video gamer-cum-photographer.
Coming around to the idea of art and video game potentially becoming one is not necessarily instantaneous or straight forward. However, through new video games, like Playstation 4’s 2018 Spider Man game, and exhibitions like the V&A’s, the line between what is art and what is video game seems to be blurring more than a little.
But you can decide for yourself; ‘Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt’ runs through 25 February 2019.