One of the things that people say about good art is that it draws you in; paints an entire world for you to escape into for even a moment. Getting lost in a painting is something that people prize as one of the most treasured experiences when looking at pictures or paintings. And yet, video games have been doing that for years, and they’re only getting better at it as well.
It’s nothing to mention today when looking at a game like Grand Theft Auto 4 which plays host to an entire living, breathing city that video games can and do build worlds. I can only imagine that it won’t be a long time in coming before we might see games with cities that are populated with unique citizenry as well, because right now there is some twinning going on that seemingly can’t be helped.
But even without the advantages of the current generation games have never had problems crafting a world that it’s all too easy to get lost in. I’ve seen kids pretending to be Mario or Mega Man as much as I’ve seen them pretending to be Superman or other comic book or television heroes.
If the purpose of art is to ignite the imagination and inspire works of creativity, then games always have and always will qualify. Look at how many of the currently successful game producers and designers attribute their love of the industry to the games that they escaped into. Art begets art as games beget games.
Even a game where the story is minimalist can leave such an impression. Katamari Damacy is a quirky experience, but also a great example of how the world matters and ultimately springs to life as you progress through it. Sure, you start off small, barely noticed rolling detritus to make new stars for the cosmos, but soon you start attracting attention, people flee or stand in awe of what’s happening around them. Ultimately you can even roll the entirety of the world into a star, and somehow that doesn’t come off as horrific as much as it does funny. The game inspires the reckless abandonment of simply not caring what gets in your way: what’s too big for your britches now won’t be in a couple of minutes, so why worry about it?
It’s that carefree attitude that helps elevate KD from something beyond a mere game into more of an experience; unique in and of itself. And really, isn’t that what all good art truly aims to be: a unique experience to be treasured and enjoyed for as long as possible? Surely that is one of the prime indicators that the would be artist has done their job right, and it should be no different for game developers either. For every bland, uninspired piece of art there’s plenty of equally uninspired attempts at cash-ins like movie games or platformers cranked out with obviously marketable mascots abound. But there are gems in both cases as well: the Da Vincis and the Marios. What ultimately separates them is only time, and that is becoming less of an issue as the inevitable passage of said quantity blurs the lines between what is classic and what is modern.