Video Games: The Latest Form of Art

This topic is currently on debate, and I’d like to elaborate on my side of it.

Video games have the potential to be the greatest art form yet. These games we play on our computers and consoles combine literally every other form of art and add interactivity to them. Interactivity is one of the best ways of conveying a message, and I see no reason why games can’t take advantage of this. The most obvious method of using games to teach is, of course, teaching.

Studies have shown that people learn better when they’re having fun. Now, obviously, teachers and instructors around the world would take advantage of this opportunity after the study, right? Well, some did. I’ll give ‘em that. But to this day, there are still very few people motivating their students with the fun factor. Why is this? It’s not becaue of the biased reasons my “games are art” friends will give. With the addition of what is essentially a game to the classroom, many students will look at as just that: a game. Actually, I’m willing to call it: most students will look at some sort of experience point system as a game. They’ll do their homework and get good grades, but it won’t be for the grades or the life benefits. It’ll be because the next level, or the next achievement. I can understand this stuff, because, being a teenager myself, I can relate to this mindset and I can’t deny it. This is what I am as a human. I’m motivated by things I enjoy. Still, games and game mechanics can be used effectively in a classroom if used correctly. The way the teacher or instructor uses the system can mean failure or success. Despite the points against it, I’d encourage instructors to make full use of video game mechanics in the classroom, whether you want to use RPG-style experience points and leveling up or anything else. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s proven to work, despite a narrow focus as a side effect.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should elaborate on why I think games have so much potential. My first point, I’ve already spoken. Interactivity: the best way to convey a message. Secondly, the immersion a player has in a video game world can make him or her consider the actions s/he’s taking more than if s/he was just watching a movie. Today, most games’ moral choice systems amount to the standard “good and evil,” which is an okay start. Most choices gamers make are purely strategic, but there are exceptions. For example, in the game Fallout 3, I was given the choice to blow up an entire city and receive a huge sum of money or leave the city as it was. Actually, there were more than two options. I could have told the quest-giver I’d blow up the city, but then shot him in the face immediately afterward. Or, I could have told him he was out of his mind, but took him up on the offer later anyway. I chose to save the city. I didn’t have to do this, but I shot the man so that he wouldn’t endanger any of the citizens later. Strategically, the logical choice would have been to blow up the city, since you’re severely lacking caps and connections at that point in the game, but contrary to what many think, real-life morality can actually cross into virtual worlds. Yes, this was a shallow choice of good and evil, but the purpose of the example was to show that not all game choices are based on robotic strategy.

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