I've written a couple of posts about whether or not videogames should be considered art. Today I'm going to talk about the kind of craftsmanship that goes into making a videogame.
Actually, I'm going to let this guy talk about the craftsmanship that goes into making a videogame:
For those of you who can't (or don't want to) watch the video, I'll summarize. He's talking about a Game called Fuel. He doesn't talk about the gameplay, or the story, or the art direction. He spends his time talking about the game world. Specifically, he talks about how they used technology to create a truly massive game world.
Even though he doesn't really enjoy the game, he loves the way they made the videogame. Since he's a programmer himself, he's able to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into making it.
His comments actually remind me of Roger Ebert's commentary on Citizen Cane. As you may know, Citizen Cane consistently tops the AFI's list of the top 100 films of all time. I've seen the movie, and I certainly wouldn't consider it the greatest movie ever made. Until I listened to Ebert's commentary, I never understood why the film was so highly regarded.
In his commentary, Ebert talks about all of the techniques that were used to make the film. Early on he said that Citizen Cane has nearly as many special effects shots as Star Wars. That remark surprised me, because I didn't think that a movie like Citizen Cane would need much in the way of special effects. Throughout the movie, he explained several of the more noteworthy special effects that were used to make the film look the way it does.
I wonder if Roger Ebert knew as much about video game development as he does about movie making, if that might affect his opinion that videogames can't be art. Strictly speaking, it shouldn't matter one way or the other. Just because something is challenging to make doesn't make it a work of art.
Still, we admire it when a high level of craftsmanship is used to create something beautiful. Once we know the work that goes into making anything, whether it's a videogame or a movie or anything else, we begin to appreciate it that much more.