While browsing Facebook, a friend posted this question:
When viewing 98% of Art that I'm told is important, what I'm thinking is, "Why does this exist and why do other people care about it so much, and why am I learning so much about it!?!?!?!"
I just wanna make video games.
One thought lead to another, and after a few very long replies, I decided to post it all here, instead. My response follows.
Important art is made with intent; especially those made in a time characterized by the lack of such motivation. Evoking feelings and making statements through visual medium is the art of it. The information is presented to you all at once, but the story of its creation and author keep you thinking, unraveling the mystery one minute after the other, piece by piece.
What determines a piece's importance? Consider this:
That said, one of my long-time goals has been sound design for video games. The thought of bringing that essence from still and motion picture's long history into interactive media moves me toward that goal. Also, it sounds like a ton of fun. ;)
There's a reason why Hollywood content is marketed at big-money target audiences. For as much as people notice the similarity in protagonist "heroes," they fail to realize the marketability of a tall, young, white male who "gets the pretty girl," or a movie targeted at African Americans; ie, Tyler Perry and "Black" movies.
What's more, a great number of video games aim for what I would call a more extreme and focused target audience. The mark of a popular video game is often one that supplies constant stimulation. Consequently, developers are creating single-serving games that contain nothing but guns-blazing action, while still others create genre games of their own- all in the name of sales.
Games give the illusion of the player controlling the content, when in reality, the player only reaches as much as is allowed at any point. This leaves room for discovery, which sends a much more profound message than it being served, in a similar manner to the way on-screen action in a film trumps a direct explanation or narration via dialogue. This discovery can be used to the storyteller's advantage, as a 60 hour time investment can pan out and pay off much more beautifully and fully than a two hour film. Game developers simply have the time that directors do not. They can tell the story that painters cannot. This, of course, is the polar opposite of the extreme action games- but, the two can exist as one.
Braid's creator knew this. Look into Bungie's Halo universe (not the one perpetuated by 343 Industries). The Biblical representation is astonishing, and quite obvious at times. The hero- Master Chief, sacrifices himself, though he lives. The unmerciful Flood, the old Covenant, and even the number seven- Bungie didn't get those ideas from nowhere. And then, the not-so-obvious; Cortana and the related Durandal from Marathon are significant in their virtual (see: spiritual) representation as well. Remember The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and its Seven Sages that guide the pure-hearted Hero of Time? I could go on, and perhaps I shall, should anyone ask for more.
I'll conclude with a link to this article by Keith Stuart, titled Are Video Games Art: The Debate That Shouldn't Be, and a friendly reminder that video games, open-endedness and all, are fundamentally different from all the other art forms I mentioned. Even the optimistic comparison to the early days of film should be stopped before it starts. The real question is, how do you make the most of what you have?