Do Video Games Belong in Museums?
Video Games in Museums?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved video games. Although my love for video games has faded over the years, I still get very nostalgic when I think about the plump plumber Mario or the anthropomorphic hedgehog, Sonic. When I was six years old, I had a Super Nintendo that sat on top of my dresser. The dresser was too tall for me to reach, so I relied on my parents and grandparents to switch the game cartridges for me, so I became accustomed to playing one game for a long period of time. Of all my games, I requested to play Super Mario World, which I affectionately referred to as Yoshi, the most. From the moment the purple switch slid up the gray track to turn the game on, it was complete bliss. The wonderfully melodic music, the colorful and cartoony graphics and the fast paced gameplay made Super Mario World an amazing escape from life and put me in the small red shoes of a little plumber man named Mario.
As a child, I enjoyed the luxury of having many video game consoles. My first console was the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. Then my parents bought me a Super Nintendo when I was six years old and I received a Sega Genesis for my seventh birthday. By the time I was twelve, I had owned and played just about every mainstream video game system that had been released. There was hardly a better feeling than that of receiving a brand new game or even better, a brand new system such as the Christmas I received my PlayStation One. Whether it’s playing Duck Hunt with a Zapper Gun on the Nintendo or staying up all night playing Spyro on PlayStation One, video games have been one special element that makes me very nostalgic when I look back upon my childhood.
When I read that movie critic, Roger Ebert said, “Video games can never be art”, I was shocked. Suddenly, the beautiful images of cartoon hills and bright blue skies were not art. The fantastic melodies that had stuck with me all of my life, were not art. As a fellow lover of entertainment, it surprised me that Roger Ebert could define a movie as art, but not a video game. He has said publicly that he has never played a video game and doesn’t plan on doing so. No one should be able to dismiss one man’s form of entertainment, without at least trying it oneself. There are a lot of misconceptions about video games, I implore anyone who views them negatively or not as art, to play one and then make their decision.
If one were to strip away all the elements of art from a video game, it would no longer be a game. Video games require just what their name suggests, video. To create the images used to represent characters, places and objects, a person known as a graphic design artist animates them. Little movies called cutscenes, are also animated by the graphic design artist and inserted as plot devices to help move the story along in the game. Musical scores are produced by music composers to add atmosphere to the game. A lot of music in video games is composed the same way Beethoven would have composed one of his symphonies, but instead of using a grand piano, the music is composed on a multi-midi keyboard. Sometimes entire orchestras are used to capture music for video games. Without the music and animation, a video game would not be a game. There would be no character to control and no atmosphere with music that rewards the player such as the famous end level flag-music used in Super Mario Bros.
Video games have had a lasting effect on me. When I play Super Mario World I experience the same kind of appreciation an art enthusiast gets when they look at the Mona Lisa. Not all games are good, just as not every piece of art is a masterpiece. Video games are an art that should be experienced before giving critique. Although they may be a parent’s or teacher’s worst nightmare when it comes to the amount of time their child or student soaks into playing them, this should not be looked at as time wasted. The times spent playing these games have created long lasting memories that one can pull from in even the most serious times. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when it comes to video games, it would be best to make that opinion after playing a couple levels of Super Mario World first.