GW: What Does Gaming Mean to You?

It’s been at least 7.2 minutes since Peespee63 had a GW go live, so we thought it would be nice to have another one. This time he discusses what gaming means to individuals and whether or not games can really be art. He also insults sensationalist (read: most) newspapers, so we had to have it go live, really.

What do you think of when you hear the word “game”? Do you think of a rousing game of Scrabble or Monopoly with the family? Do you imagine shooting players in a virtual world? Do you get a soft spot for waggle-stick, er, waggling family-friendly fun in the living room, with Mum joining in even though she thinks she “can’t do it”?

When I think “game”, I automatically think of: my controller in hand, attached to a piece of gaming hardware, playing something epic and immersing myself in the universe presented to me. I love a quick blast of something retro inspired now and again, just as much as I love getting lost in the fantasy and story of an RPG, or the sprawl of a huge city, the open playground for my every whim, or even the gritty, bullet and corpse-riddled battlefields of an epic wartime shooter.

Gaming itself is so massive that we as individuals can only really scratch the surface, but when we come together and talk we discover more about ourselves, our own tastes, likes and dislikes, and those of other, like-minded people (or not, as the case may be).

The media, in particular newspapers, news programmes and investigative pieces such as those found in Dispatches or Tonight, often tar us all with the same brush: that we’re all scummy shut-ins, violent, with addictive personalities and a distorted sense of reality. The truly sensationalist nature of the knee-jerk media paints games as being bad and evil, corrupting young minds and filling your head with nasty thoughts.
In reality, this is not the case: ask any sane person, and they’re likely to tell you it’s just another distraction from the mundanity of everyday life.

But it’s becoming more and more popular, and more a part of everyday life than it ever has been. It’s now like an interactive TV programme or film. There’s nothing wrong with this, it really is fantastic that it’s being embraced now, but it still needs to lose the stigma that surrounds it. A taboo being held up by the fusty, and the self-righteous and the control-freaks in power. Nintendo have been doing more than their share to dispel this, with the socially/family-oriented Wii and DS consoles and their wealth of “Casual” games that are suitable for everyone.

Even Sony, with the black behemoth that is the PS3 and the PlayStation Network has attempted something similar: the tranquil puzzler “PixelJunk: Eden”, and the beautiful and emotionally engaging wind-em-up, “Flower”, and even getting in on the family side with things like “Buzz” and “Singstar”, and the kiddy favourites in the form of “EyePet” and “LittleBigPlanet”

Is gaming REALLY just a form of escapism, though? Is it now a proper art form? If film and music and literature can be classed as works of art, does the new kid on the block have the chops and street cred to be hanging in the Tate or the Louvre? After all, the development and publishing teams would give a hollywood crew a run for their money, whilst scripts and scores are more sophisticated, so why not?

And I’m not just talking the iconography, style, boxart or graphical design, undoubtedly there is that element which of course is art. I’m talking the piece as a whole, the full package. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder and art a subjective thing, can we really include this uncouth and dirty pasttime in with the likes of Monet, Picasso, Burns and Tarantino?

I’ll leave you to think about this, and to discuss it. Mull it over with a bottle of beer or a cup of tea, or several shots of Sambuca. Let me know your thoughts and opinions.