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Video Games: The 21st Century's Fine Art Frontier

A well-rounded, erudite American could reasonably be expected to have read To Kill A Mockingbird and to have listened to some Miles Davis.

But should "beat Red Dead Redemption" also be on that list?

Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives, thinks we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the value of video games. Bissell tells NPR's Neal Conan that a few years ago he began to notice that the video games he played "were steadily creeping up to a place of aesthetic seriousness."

For example, Bissell says, games like Bioshock "were beginning to push the buttons" that he typically associated with really good films or books. Playing those games prompted him to consider form, and narrative and visual meaning much like he would with more traditional art forms.

Bissell likens the spectrum of video games to that of movies. In movies, he says, "some of the big blockbuster stuff is actually pretty smart, and some of the art house stuff is actually incredibly drab and dreary. And the opposite is true -- some of the art house stuff is great, and some of the blockbuster stuff is stupid."

The same, he says, is true for games.

Game designer Kellee Santiago tells Conan that she hopes the ever-evolving variety of video games will "break down this barrier between what's a gamer and a nongamer."

She says she tries to design games that are "more relevant or thought-provoking," with a broader emotional perspective: "We really think that a nongamer is just someone who hasn't found a game that they like yet."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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