Special Apology for Ars Videoludica

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Pau Monfort
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Are you tired of being surrounded by people who fail to understand that the video game can now be defined EVEN as a form of artistic expression? Today I will try, using only my humble opinions and some data to support them, to pass on some to you ideas to start between you and these damned gods threads interesting. Who knows, maybe you will be able to change someone's mind!

I know: the issue is thorny, broad and already too much treated and addressed. Often some famous faces of the industry have spoken out on the subject, even going against the ideas that I will express here. Among these we have for example Shigeru Miyamoto (father of "Super Mario" and "The Legend of Zelda") e Hideki Kamiya ("Devil May Cry", "Viewtiful Joe" and "Bayonetta"). The first, during an interview with Glixel reported by Digital Trends said:

“I don't think of myself as a creator of works, I really think of myself as a creator of products that people can have fun with. This is why I have always called my games products and not works of art "

The second instead posted on his twitter profile a short comic strip very particular on the subject:

Kamiya's comic

However, I believe that it cannot be denied that the videogame medium is increasingly establishing itself as a new form of artistic expression. The need to write a speech in defense of ars videogame as talking about all this can only do good to our medium. One could argue for hours about the definition of art and of the connection between the latter and entertainment, however, this is not the right space to do it (I want to remind you that everything that is commonly defined as art is very often also entertainment, just think of music and cinema). If you are interested in reading an article with a more academic and technical slant, I invite you to read everything dear to you later Antonino Lupo has to say on the subject in the following article!

To learn more:
Ars Ludica: Art in Video Games


Come on, I really need to explain why some of them charges made to the video game now can not even stand up? Phrases like "video games are for kids" or "20 and still playing video games?" I don't even want to consider them. But what seems interesting to me is the relationship between the video game message and the gamer's mind. May the latter be affected e plagiarized? Many people (including the likes of Donald "raise the wall" Trump) point to video games as the cause of excessive youth violence. But what do the scholars tell us? Also among these there are different points of view and, if you are interested in reading all the various studies that have followed on the subject, you can learn more at this link. Among all these studies there are two in particular that caught my attention: that of the psychologist Christopher Fergusson (published in the "Journal of Communication") And that of the researchers of the Villanova and Rutgers universities (published by "Psychology of Popular Media Culture"). Fergusson managed to prove that a higher amount of violent games on the market does not imply higher social violence, stating that:

"The consumption of violent video games in society is inversely related to youth social violence"

Researchers from the universities of Villanova and Rutgers instead, having carried out four comparative analyzes between the release of violent games and the number of violent crimes, instead stated:

“Although more and more people have been exposed to violent video games, violent crime has not increased. It seems that the negative effects of video games on violent behavior are either non-existent, or reduced by other factors capable of canceling them "

I think these two studies can safely respond to the accusations that are made against the videogame medium. And now let's move on that if I still talk about these things I get pissed off and let out all the violence that I have accumulated playing video games for years!

We must always distinguish between real and virtual!


We often hear that the video game is a younger brother of the cinema and, in my opinion, it is absolutely true. The connection between the two media is undeniable and, very often, there have been between them crossings e language exchanges. In fact, both of them can be defined for me as "mixtures of art + one". I try to explain myself better: both cinema and video game are a collection of different artistic forms (music, script, digital graphics, photography and much more), but they both have one distinctive art tool. While for the cinema the latter can be seen in the direction, what is that of the video game? In my opinion it can only be theinteraction, intended as an artistic tool as it is capable of creating a link between gamer and work through gameplay.

To learn more:
Cinema and Videogames: Arts in search of Dialogue It is in fact easier, at least in my opinion, to get in tune with the protagonist of a videogame rather than with the protagonist of a film.

Unlike the cinema, in fact, the video game puts those who use the work at the center of the work itself. The gamer is asked for one active and not passive participation, he is in his own way the modeler of his own experience. The video game allows us to to live -and not only of watch- everything that appears on the screen, we are the center around which everything revolves. All this makes the gamer feel even more emotionally involved, as it has a more direct relationship with the characters and the environment. The interaction can lead to new horizons, especially on the factor aesthetic and that narrative. The examples to do would be too many, I could cite works like "Valiant Hearts", "Journey", "Persona 5", "Shadow of the Colossus", "Octopath Traveler" and here I stop because I risk transforming this part of the article on a shopping list. However, an "honorary" mention must be made for works of the caliber of "Red Dead Redemption 2" and "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" which allow us to actively explore settings that are truly "moving paintings"(Not that the titles mentioned above don't do it eh, mind you). These two games in particular, however, do it with two diametrically opposite approaches, still managing to amaze in both cases. The extremely realistic style of the second interpretation of the old west by Rockstar Games contrasts with the touch halfway between cartoon and pictorial of the new opera starring the hero of the legend. Unlike a beautiful painting, or a beautiful scene in a film, those who use the video game find themselves absorbed in a digital work that allows him not only to explore every single ravine but also of interact with it via the controller. One could describe the latter as both one video camera as it allows the player to modify his experience according to his will (always based on the limits imposed by the software), but also as a portal that manages to transport the gamer into a living world (and managed by its own rules) created by the human being. For example the freedom that the aforementioned (but never too praised) Breath of the Wild gives the player - thanks to his total exploration, chemical engine and to the "free fiction“- manages to make him feel at the same time actor, viewer e notes of the whole adventure.

Valiant Hearts is an excellent example of a video game with a great aesthetic and narrative impact.

As for the narration, the works of the master Hidetaka Miyazaki (creator of the series "Dark Souls" and "Bloodborne") showed how the video game can tell a story in a completely innovative way. As you all already know the lore dei souls is told through an accurate and coherent setting, without using cutscenes or too many dialogues but rather using object descriptions ed scenic elements. In fact, Miyazaki himself stated that:

"A well-built world could tell its story in silence"

Dear Hidetaka Miyazaki shows us that it is a good habit to praise the sun!

In my opinion this silent fiction that distinguishes the works of From Software it is something that can only be found in the videogame medium. Miyazaki transports the gamer to an unknown world, and he is alone living in that world that the player can find interesting ideas to reflect on why he is in those conditions. In short, I find it very difficult to re-propose something like this in a film or in a book!




"Despite everything, it's still you"

Then we cannot fail to speak of “Undertale“, another masterpiece that manages to convey a message using his own gameplay as a tool. The work of Toby Fox managed to charm audiences and critics despite the apparent simplicity of the title, but how did she do it? It's simple, the player is given aalternative to what has always been a main feature of many video games, killing monsters. And it is thanks to this aspect that the plot evolves and changes based on the player's choices. In fact, since the beginning of the adventure, it is explained that you can even talk to monsters and save their lives through the commands "ACT"And"MERCY”Present in the battle menu. It is then up to the player to decide whether to exterminate the race of demons or try to find a way to convince every single monster not to attack us. Doing this on the first run can be very difficult, however, as not killing monsters is not earned EXP points and then you get stuck at level 1. This obviously means that in the final stages of the game even a single shot can kill us. In fact, to fully appreciate the game it is necessary to perform at least 3 or 4 runs, but believe me, this it is not a defect. The first run is almost one introductory run, which leaves you ecstatic for how it succeeds - through genius ruptures of the fourth wall ed game design ideas- and emotionally involve who is on the other side of the screen. The game makes you feel like shit even just for thinking about attacking monsters as if nothing had happened. In fact, each of them has their own personality and character, they are living beings, like humans. Just like the latter, they too are divided into "good" and "bad". The player is completely free to choose: Do you think all monsters should die just because of their nature? Perfect, kill them all in cold blood. Instead, do you want to simply save your life and escape their kingdom? Go and only kill those who stand in your way. Do you think it is unfair to harm a living being only because it is different? Roll up your sleeves, talk to each of them and explain that your goal is not to kill them. After the first run you always want more, you start a second one, a third one, until you manage to discover every single secret of that world so neat it seems real despite the retro graphics. In short, you approach the title for its fame or for its very particular combat system, but then you become attached to it for the poetry with which he manages to tell a story so much simple e commonplace as touching e moving.

And you? Do you prefer to fight or take the peaceful way?






What fascinates me most about the video game is its ability to suck me into other worlds, managing to detach me from my person. It is thanks to the interaction given by the gameplay that I manage to estrange myself to the point of living fantastic experiences almost feeling them on my skin.

During a visit to the Van Gogh Museum one of the many works that particularly struck me was "Still Life with Bible”, Composed by the great artist in honor of his father's death. The description of the audio guide quoted a sentence from Vincent:

"People look for God in books, I prefer to look for him in the canvases"

In this way Van Gogh wants us to understand that he found inact of painting same peacefulness that the Christian finds in the encounter with God. It may seem like an absurd statement, but I try God in a cluster of pixel through a controller.

Van Gogh, Still Life with Bible (1885)

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