Why Other Mediums Fail to Capture the Essence of Video Games

My previous post was a photo story that I was required to create for class. When I was given that assignment, my first thought for a theme was “Video Games as Art”. I struggled for a few days just trying to figure out how to present the art of video games in the form of a series of still images.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that such a task is impossible. The cause of this impossibility lies in the fact that the very element of video games that allows games to convey messages in their own unique way cannot be captured in a photograph.

A photograph or painting sends messages through visual imagery. Everything that a photograph or painting is can be found in what one sees. This lack of extra dimension, beyond what can be interpreted from a photograph’s visual aspects, means that a photograph cannot capture the essence of video games. In truth photographs, radio, film and even books fail to capture how video games are art. The reason for this lies in the fact that of all forms of art only video games are interactive.

One finds the true power of a video game in its interactive elements. A game’s mechanics and interactive design can convey feelings of power, helplessness or loss as well as complex morals and themes. If something cannot capture the interactive factors of video games, the art of games cannot be properly represented by it.

Video games can be visually beautiful, have brilliantly designed narratives, and outstanding sound design, but while other mediums can capture these artful features of video games, one can only experience the interactive elements that make video games unique by playing video games. Any other representation of video games just does not do them justice.

Chickasha High School Homecoming

Chickasha High School Homecoming
I had to make a photo story for my Mass Communications class, so here are the fruits of my photographic labor.

Josh Rushing at OU

Last Monday, Josh Rushing, an award-winning reporter for the news media network Al Jazeera and a Marine Corps veteran, visited the University of Oklahoma and spoke to my Intro to Mass Communications class. Unfortunately, our time with Rushing was short, but there were some interesting points brought up in our time.

When Rushing was asked how he attempts to stay impartial and unbiased, Rushing pointed out that not every story has two legitimate and supportable sides. Rushing referred to a story he covered about houses in low-income communities in Cleveland that have old paint containing lead. Many of the houses have caused children to get lead poisoning before the families later would leave the house. These houses are supposed to be inspected, but Cleveland is years behind on inspecting these homes. Multiple families, one after another, will move into these homes only to discover that their homes make their children ill. Very few will argue this is not a problem, so there are not truly two sides to this story. While Rushing took a stance on this issue, there was not truly another argument to be biased toward.

This way of thinking seems logical, but one must be careful not to conclude that there is not other reasonable argument when there is in fact another argument. While I this way of thinking is occasionally correct, it can also be used as an excuse to report an issue in a heavily biased view and claim that one was not aware of a reasonable counterargument even if one was aware of other accepted arguments.

One point of Rushing’s that I agree with completely is that we should strive to have a better understanding of the world.

Humans tend to fear what they don’t understand and from this fear hate is often born. This tendency can be very clearly seen in the widespread Islamophobia and fear of Arabic people in the United States. Most Americans do not understand Islam or Middle Eastern culture. Most news about the Middle East and Muslims is about terrorists and fighting terrorism, so Americans tend to quickly connect anything Middle Eastern with terrorism. Many American leaders claimed Al Jazeera was in league with Al Qaeda despite the fact that Al Qaeda was actually opposed to Al Jazeera. Americans would be able to deal with issues concerning Islam and Middle Eastern people and culture more reasonably and logically if they had a better understanding of the world.

This problem’s main cause as well as its potential solution both are a responsibility of the media. The media tends not to discuss events occurring in other countries other than terrorism and the history of other cultures is not widely discussed in the media. News outlets should cover more events involving other cultures with intent to create better understanding of those cultures. Infotainment sources like the History Channel should feature stories about the history of other cultures and other parts of the world to help the general public have a better understanding of the world in order to make reasonable decisions as citizens of the world.

Rushing clearly possesses a great passion for journalism and a desire to improve the world as a whole. I am thankful that he took time to visit Norman and speak to me and my classmates. If you’d like to check out some of his work, you can find his show Fault Lines at http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/faultlines/episodes.html.

What Question Drives My Interest In Media? And What Question Am I Hoping To Find The Answer To Regarding My Media World?

People look to media to answer all sorts of questions. They may want to know what is going on in the world, what to do with their life or one of an infinite number of other questions one may desire an answer to. The question that drives my interest in media is “what choice will provide me with the most pleasure and fulfillment or benefit society the most?”

I attempt to be a responsible and informed consumer and citizen. Before I buy a product, I consult reviews, compare alternatives and simply attempt to gather as much information relevant to my decision as possible. This process applies to to everything from toothpaste to video games.

Last night I watched a recording of the second presidential debate of 2016 on YouTube. While I lean heavily, although not enthusiastically, toward one of the three candidates who are on the ballot in all fifty states, I still watch all the debates to get the best understanding of each candidate’s policy as possible. I’d love to hear what Johnson has to say in the debates in order to be as informed as I can potentially be, but we’ll discuss issues with America’s voting system, political establishment and election process another day. I use this information to make the decision I consider to be the best for society, even if the electoral college burns my vote.

One also has questions one would like to find an answer to concerning media and one’s media world. I wish to discover how to make the general population, video game developers and video game publishers understand and respect video games as an art form.

I find no other art form as powerful and enjoyable as video games. Through the player’s direct interaction and mechanical control of video games, messages can be conveyed in a way unique to the interactive medium of video games.

Unfortunately, a great many developers of video games, possibly the vast majority of developers, do not utilize the most powerful and unique element of video games to its full potential. Developers tend to create games exclusively for entertainment or create games that use cinematic techniques to convey a message. While both of these types of games can be art in their own way, they don’t use the medium to its full potential. If one can watch a game and understand its message, then why not just make it a movie instead?

For video games to be taken seriously as an art form, more video games that use their mechanics to convey their message need to be developed and exposed to the general public. The question I need an answer for is how do we get developers to make these games and get the general public to understand them.

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