Not long ago, calling video games an art would’ve gotten you laughed out of the room by most people. Despite that, video games have grown significantly over the past ten years. Whether it’s the increase in sales, a greater focus on story or better graphical capabilities, video games are becoming a new and viable way to weave an interesting and interactive tale.
Even with all of the pieces available to become a respected artistic genre, the video games genre is held back by its community, the community that insists that video games artistic choices fit their personal agenda. Probably the most damaging thing to a developing art is when developers are pressured into fitting their design choices around what other people believe the game should be. In the video game industry in particularly, many people are guilty of pressuring artists in to fitting their agenda.
During the recent release of Dragon’s Crown, some of the character designs came out before the game itself. The entire game uses a very exaggerated art style with both in male and female characters, but one of the designs in particular caused an uproar. One of the female characters was too scantily clad for some people’s tastes and journalists and bloggers alike jumped all over this character as a picture for male oppression in video games.
The kind of tunnel vision shown in this whole fiasco though illustrates the ridiculous knee-jerk reactions to different art styles in video games. Every male in the game was equally ridiculous in stature and characteristics, so a quick look at the game could tell you that the way the characters look was not a personal affront on any particular gender, but an artistic choice.
Were this any other form of art, the idea that this particular female was being objectivised would’ve been ridiculous. Painter’s aren’t told to paint a certain way as not to objectivise women. Photographers aren’t told who they can and cannot photograph as to not to insult our senses. In order for an art to grow, people have to understand that being insulted by a game is one thing, but feeling entitled to what you consider an “acceptable” game is quite another.
The story of course swings both ways. With video games becoming more open and prone to telling stories of marginalized groups, many people have made a point of criticizing stories that involve female protagonists, homosexualiy, and other things that go beyond the stereotypical gamer “comfort” zone.
Some games like the recently released Remember Me had troubled being published because the player plays as a female protagonist that experiences a relationship with a male. Publishers claimed that this situation would make the male audience too uncomfortable and scare them off. Claims like that not only hold back potentially good games from being released, but demean the gaming population as a whole.
As gaming continues to grow, it’s on people like myself and others to grow with them. Games are no longer a market that can be controlled by personal bias and it’s my hope that in the next ten years, people will begin seeing video games as less of hobby for young men and more as an artform that everyone can enjoy.
Brian Fosdick is a senior JTC major with a minor in political science and enjoys when you send all of his hate mail/love confessions to firstname.lastname@example.org