Gaming, Video Games

Are Video Games Art? (Part 2)

One thing I love about blogging is that I get to see the different viewpoints of other bloggers and gamers. At the end of Part 1, A Voice told me what he thought made a game art. I’m hoping he doesn’t mind too much that I’m using his comment, because it’s quite insightful! He made three basic points, and here they are in their condensed form:

…Not everything that looks pretty or pleasing can or should be considered art, either in whole or in part…Intention matters…Art makes a point (or points) and, as such, video games considered to be art should appear to be making an artistic statement but without sacrificing too much playability…Functional art [viz. art] objects [that] serve a purpose as more than just an art object (e.g. a meerschaum pipe), is different in kind from other forms of art and proceeds a bit differently…Simply put, video games can legitimately be seen as art insofar as they meet the criteria of functional art.

So, let’s take a look. Do some games intend to be a work of art? Yes, there are many games that are made with artistic goals in mind. Do these games/artworks make a point? Yes, oftentimes games do make a point of some sort, whether it be a moral or lesson learned, or just a good story that needs to be told. Finally, are games functional art? Yes, of course! They are artworks that we can interact with, enjoy, and alter. By A Voice‘s three criteria, video games in general can be considered artworks, although not every game is a piece of art, just like not all drawings (especially mine) are considered art.

Let me clarify: yes, everything is art if somebody says it’s art. However, this is, in my opinion, a stupid way to look at things, because that means that a mountain of dog crap could be considered an artwork. I don’t buy that. Therefore, I feel that art has to meet certain criteria to be considered art. Therefore, if some games meet the criteria, then they’re art by artistic standards (not just the base standard of “everything is art”) while others fail to meet the criteria.

Without further ado, here are some games that either I or some of my followers have defined as works of art. Please enjoy the gallery. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” *Note: You will find that many of these in my list are newer games for a couple reasons. 1: The gameplay was superb; it’s not just the graphics I’m looking at, although they are gorgeous. 2: Many older games don’t stand out in my memory as my “addiction” to video games is more recent than my initial exposure to them; I have more vivid and fonder memories of many newer games.

Here are some screenshots from my favorite artworks: (You can click on any of them to get a larger view, except the first one, I think)
Halo 4
Halo 4
Tomb Raider (2013 Reboot)
Assassin’s Creed III…Connor arguably dons my favorite costume of any video game character. I’m absolutely in love with this regalia; it’s stunning.
Hot Wheels Velocity X… One of my favorite childhood games.
Spyro: Year of the Dragon… Between this and Velocity X, my life was complete as a kid. Oh, man… the feels.
Kingdom Hearts (One of Nathan’s Picks)
Journey (One of Nathan’s Picks
Shadow of the Colossus (One of Nathan’s Picks
World of Warcraft (One of Nathan’s Picks)
The Last Of Us (One of Vitosal’s Picks
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (One of Vitosal’s Picks)


























































































Well, there you have it; these are some of our favorite artworks. As you can see, they range from sci-fi shooter games to post-apocalyptic survival games to a journey through a desert, to mystical lands with humongous beasts. Games can come in all different forms, yet they can share the same awe of a great work of art. These games are the ones that when you beat them, you feel a pain, almost as if you lost something important. These are the games that will leave an imprint on a gamer; an impact that will last a lifetime. These are true works of art.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this gallery as much as I have, and maybe someday I’ll revisit this topic again as the medium evolves even more, but as for now, I’ll just leave this here for you to mull over. I find these artworks breathtaking, and I hope you do as well.

If you’ve enjoyed, please leave a like, comment, and/or a follow, as I much appreciate it. Then, head to the “Links” tab and take a look at the Let’s Play channels my friends run.

Matt Shiflet


7 thoughts on “Are Video Games Art? (Part 2)”

  1. I would find any mmorpg to be a more contentious pick and one that has to be carefully scrutinised, especially in the advent of the stripping down of rpg elements leading to a mere ‘mmo-isation’ of the genre spearheaded by Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. In other words, mmorpgs have to be carefully examined to see if they even meet the criteria of being a mmorpg before we can begin to see if they can be considered art. The current state of affairs demonstrates a continuing de-emphasis of story, an abandonment of a virtual world aesthetic, incoherent lore (cf. Rift) and a more gameplay-centric approach that pushes aside the importance of the world itself and the characters’ various interactions within it (i.e. a lack of meaningful crafting, senseless rep grinding that doesn’t fit with lore, instances not firmly grounded within the lore, making old content obsolete, removing/drastically changing meaningful content, et al.).

    With that said, some examples from the 1990s and early 200s would include: Doom (PC), Quake (PC), Shadow Warrior (PC), Duke Nukem 3D (PC), System Shock 2 (PC), Silent Hill 2 (PS2) Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (PS2), Fatal Frame (PS2), Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (PSX), Final Fantasy VII (PSX), Bushido Blade (PSX), Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee (PSX). From these examples you can see that games from all sort of genres ranging from FPS to Horror to RPG to Adventure to Fighting can make the cut.

    And then there is Demon’s Souls. It’s name says it all.

    1. I haven’t ever played an MMO (My computer isn’t up for the task) but from what I’m hearing, it’s a shame that they’re starting to put aside what’s important. You’re definitely right; with how much they’re changing, we have to judge them accordingly and maybe be a bit harsh on them since it’s the full experience of the game that makes them an artwork.

      1. I just noticed that your link redirects people to my main blog rather than my gaming blog. Considering the audience you aim at (people interested in video games) it’s likely best for you to either link exclusively to my gaming blog ( or, if you’re so inclined, to both my main blog and my gaming blog. The first option seems to me the best one but both work and the choice is yours.

        In respect to mmorpgs, your casual substition of ‘mmo’ for ‘mmorpg’ proves a point that I’ve been making for years. When the genre came to be mmo was synonymous to mmorpg and, to save space, the last three letters were often dropped when speaking of mmorpgs. So, mmorpg became mmo. The thing is that the meaning of words is very affected by how we use and misuse them as they are, after all, essentially empty vehicles until they they are filled with a particular meaning. (This means that language is inherently mutable, utterly mutable in fact, but what makes language understandable is that we are not constantly moulding it into different things despite our ability to do just that.) In other words, the more people used the substitution the less the full meaning of the acronym was preserved and communicated to others. Now ‘mmos’ are just places to do things with other people (read: massively multi-player online) instead of doing things with other people in a virtual world (read: massively multi-player online roleplaying game).

        Now the feature (mmo) stands for the genre (mmorpg) and, because of that, the genre has all but disappeared. And this is what makes it so difficult to consider mmorpgs as video game art objects: they are largely unfinished and unfinished art objects cannot be considered art, however artistic or artful they may be. This could bring us to the questions of non-art v. art, good non-art v. art but that’s an issue for another day. For now it’s enough to gesture to the fact that an art object must actually be complete and mmorpgs, being mmo-ified, bear the marks of an incomplete work.

  2. I suppose you’re right about how the terms MMO and MMORPG are kind of molding together, since I never really put any thought into the difference between the two; I just kind of assumed that they were the same thing, but I was wrong, I guess. I’ll try to keep that in mind from now on 🙂
    On the other hand, I went ahead and changed the link re-direct, so it should go to your gaming page now.

    1. Thank you.

      Here ( is an example of why mmorpgs are a contentious example. What is basically being said here, without actually saying it, is that (1) no content until late-game or end-game content matters and (2) the story, a huge part of what makes a rpg, doesn’t matter and we’ll let you pretty much skip it all so you can play the content that matters. This runs contrary to a game like EverQuest II that allows players to level sync down to earlier levels to complete content they passed by at-level if they so desire using Chronomages (

      For my part, I have always had great difficulty playing mmorpgs. Sometimes it was the community (WoW), sometimes it was the developers making terribly choices (Rift) and sometimes it was because of the time sink (FFXI). When you are in college and graduate school you can’t afford a time sink. Now that I finally have the time to devote to a mmorpg I find that it’s even more difficult than when I first dipped my toes in the water back in 2006 and for two reasons: I want to play other games at the same time and people that are just…well, awful people. There are simply too many involved in the mmorpg genre and in order to see all of the content I’d want to see I’d have to either stomach them or run with a consistent group, this last bit being more problematic because I want to play other games while not being ‘tied down’ or unduly inconveniencing a group that needs me. It’s not fair to me to always miss out, to be constantly behind, and it’s not fair to force or expect people to wait on me when they are more interested in playing the game than I am.

      Various games have developed or re-developed content that is solo-friendly, but when it comes down to brass tacks I’ve come to realise that it’s just not for me.

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