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Well, it is the end of the semester but in my case, not the end of this blog. I’m very happy with the work I’ve done throughout the semester but I believe there is still a lot of untapped potential in this blog. I’m passionate about the subject of video games so I will continue going at it through the summer and hopefully, through my sophomore year at Rowan. I will take around a week off of writing on the blog to get through my finals week but after that, I will return with frequent posts throughout the summer and most likely beyond that.

Next week, I should have an extension to my “Are Video Games Art?” post with an interview with the project manager for The Art of Video Games exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In the meantime, check out what I consider my greatest hits:

Oops, Ebert did it again. The famed movie critic has once again ruffled the feathers of gamers everywhere with his recent article unabashedly titled “Video games can never be art.” The article has already garnered 3,965 comments.

In the past few years, the subject of video game art has been studied and examined intently. Many believe that video games have achieved a level of artistic integrity while others believe video games will never be a high art like film and literature have become. Where there is Roger Ebert’s argument, there is the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 2012 exhibition The Art of Video Games.

Mike Tash is a Game Art and Design student at The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale. Throughout his life, Tash has been an accomplished artist, winning multiple awards and scholarships for his drawings, paintings, sketches, and complete pieces. Tash chose to express himself through video games as opposed to more traditional artistic mediums. “The main reason I decided on video games as a means to express myself is because they have always had a profound impact on me on an artistic level. The art in some games makes me want to go out and see the places that it was referencing, the least of which motivate me to make my own art. Not just the visual arts either in a game, the music has the most power I believe. But then again I’m not a musician but I am an artist. I one day hope to become a lead designer on a game so that i can apply my artistic views and someone else’s musical abilities to make a game that doesn’t just entertain someone, it moves them, makes them wiser, and keeps them coming back to buy the sequel; part of the industry I guess.”

What this debate could come down to is what people believe video games are and what exactly defines “art.” “Art” is a fairly ambiguous word with multiple definitions. Three lines of text is considered art. A painting of a soup can is considered art. The latest single by Lady Gaga is considered art. But why? “I guess I would define art as anything that makes people wander into places in their imagination that they don’t normally reach,” Tash said. “For instance, seeing a beautiful meadow out a window is art. Without the window it is still a beautiful scene, but the window sort of captures it for us, makes us wonder what’s on the other side of the window that is making everything look so wonderful.” Video games have been known to move people but if they aren’t art, then what are they?

Video games have taken many different forms over the years and pinpointing exactly what a game is has become rather tricky. Obviously, video games have been considered art by many. They have also been considered sport. Competitive gaming is the most popular form of gaming today. If at any time you want to compete with another person in a game, you can just turn your system on and play a few rounds of Call of Duty or play a game or two of NHL 10. Tournaments have been held for quite some time now to see who the best players are in a particular game. More recently, the MLG has been created for professional gaming. MLG stands for Major League Gaming and it has been featured on ESPN and is sponsored by Dr. Pepper. Tournaments have been televised and the major players in the leagues are able to live comfortably with the money they make through the “sport.”

Video games have also been used as time-wasters. Gamers and non-gamers alike have spent countless hours tending to their virtual farms in FarmVille. There are multiple simulation games like The Sims and Animal Crossing out that have no clear ending but simply mirror life in unique ways. Does it kill time? Definitely. Is it fun? Based on the popularity of them, yes. Is it art? Is it even sport? Probably not. Roger Ebert argued in his original article that video games are more sport than art. A video game does not have to be sport and it does not have to be art. It is flexible and can become pretty much anything the designers want. The creators of Final Fantasy VII wanted to move people to tears and they did it. To Tash, video games “are art, they are sports-like, major time wasters, and much more.”

So, are video games art?

I think most can agree that individual segments of a game are artistic. The visualized worlds in games are unique in that anything is possible while still looking very realistic. Mario’s mustachioed face and Master Chief’s green armor have become memorable images in our society. The music and sounds in video games have become iconic in pop culture. If you played the Super Mario Bros. theme song to a random person, chances are they will know what it is. The compositions in games such as Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, and Halo have been celebrated in concert by full orchestras performing the songs to large audiences. Video Games Live is an orchestra dedicated to exclusively playing compositions from video games and to reveal just how compelling they can be.

However well done each segment is, the combination of the elements is what makes the games so special and unique. The Prince of Persia movie coming out soon will in all likely cases not give the same experience playing the game did. Being able to climb, swing, and jump your way through the levels is the fun of the game. A Bioshock movie would never come close to capturing the experience the game delivered as the idea of a video game is part of the final message of the game.

Grand Theft Auto IV could not be delivered any other way because it would lose its rich satire and tenacity, elements that make the game so memorable. The game is a modern take on the American dream. The New York Times called Grand Theft Auto IV “a violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun.” The same could not be said if GTAIV was a movie or a book. The story and the social satire would be greatly lessened and the impact of the final product would be null. These stories are well done and should be experienced by everyone but the only way to truly deliver them is through video games.

In Roger Ebert’s latest article about the debate, he asks why video gamers care so much that video games be considered art. I would say to most gamers that they should believe what they want and move on. Like in any other debate, each side is often too stubborn to abandon their original beliefs and Ebert will die believing video games will never be art. Maybe one day they will be, but until then, why not the fact that gamers can experience something others cannot and possibly wish they could.

George Mason University, a school based in Fairfax, VA known for their basketball teams run in the 2006 Final Four, found early and surprising success with their new Computer Game Design degree.

The university’s goal for the program was to get 110 students in it by 2012. Their expecatation have been shattered with around 200 students already enrolled into the program.

The school believes that the program will stimulate the economy as well as inspire students.

Rowan Gamers

With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 having the biggest launch across all forms of entertainment and your mom hogging the computer to play Farmville all day, there are more and more gamers emerging each and everyday. So I’ve created this piece to highlight the new and veteran gamers alike here at Rowan University.

Name: Tim Vitale
Major/Year: Physics and Secondary Education / Freshman
Currently Playing: Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Bioshock 2, Mass Effect, Half-Life 2, World of Warcraft, The Sims 3 (I play lots of games at once, and usually don’t finish)
Most Anticipated: The New Legend of Zelda, Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver
Top 5 Games: 1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker 2. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 3. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening 4. Super Smash Bros. Brawl 5. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Top 5 Systems: 1. Microsoft Xbox 360 2. Nintendo Wii 3. Nintendo Gamecube 4. Mac/PC 5. Nintendo DS
Favorite Gaming Moment: Camping out for the Nintendo Wii, playing through The Wind Waker, sneaking my GBA to before and after school day care and “linking up” with my friends every morning.
Favorite Part of Gaming: Escaping the real world. Doing all of the side quests, getting all of the optional items, and maxing out skills before beating the game.

Do you wanna be featured on my blog as a Rowan Gamer? All you need to do is copy and paste the template here and shoot me an email at: nintendomaster@comcast.net

  • The title of the email should be “Rowan Gamers”
  • Use your Rowan email so I know you’re a Rowan student
  • Try not to make the last two sections too long, two or three sentences max

NGM7589R8F8N

Since the departure of the two heads of Modern Warfare 2 developing company, Infinity Ward, more and more people are leaving the company, making some worried the team is dead.

Though the team looks to be slowly crumbling, a member of the company says the situation is bad but not fatal.

The two former heads, Vince Zampella and Jason West, have recently formed a new developing company, Respawn Entertainment with EA.

The School of Performing Arts at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools in East Brunswick, New Jersey is performing a play based around video game addiction.

Jennifer Haley, an LA-based playwright, wrote the play in 2006. The story revolves around neighborhood kids who get overly obsessive of a new game entitled Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (N3RD).

The play is rated T for Teen.

Grand Theft Auto IV

Instead of Grand Theft Auto being the cause of violence, a program in Merseyside, England  is using it to prevent violence.

Educators use images from Grand Theft Auto, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon from The Simpsons to provoke discussion about the real-world consequences of violent actions.

This program is a collaborative effort between the Merseyside branch of Support After Murder and Manslaughter and the Merseyside Police. The branch chairman of Support After Murder and Manslaughter, Gaynor Bell, believes the parents are to blame for violent behavior as they did not teach the children right from wrong to begin with

I actually have faith in this program. I have always stood by that parents need to be responsible and know if their child can identify the difference between right and wrong. Grand Theft Auto won’t teach kids to kill but it may provoke the ones who don’t know better. Parents need to sit down with their children and put the world into perspective for them. And if the parents don’t feel as though their child can handle a video game, even a Teen rated game, then they shouldn’t buy it for them.

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