Video Games: This Generation’s Opera

I was going to write about the female body and art, but I just got back into World of Warcraft after many years and that’s all I can think about now. With the thoughts I have about video games circling in my head, I want to do that more serious topic later. Right now, let’s just have some fun.

Even so, I have been meaning to write about video games as an art form for quite some time now. Though my skillset is in the traditional, non-digital arts ie oil painting and art conservation, I greatly admire what I believe is to be the most innovative art form of our time: video games.

And no, this isn’t going to be one of those “girls like video games too” kind of posts. I enjoy video games as they are, and yes, I think that it’s perfectly okay to depict female characters as sexy and beautiful. Let’s be honest, if women were actually living the kind of adventurous, physically rigorous, and violent (as in they need to know how to fight in order to survive), their bodies would look closer to how the typical female video game character’s body rather than the average woman living in a first world nation where food is more plentiful, and not everyone has time to get the exercise they need. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the average female body, it’s just that the two different lifestyles would produce different results.

So why am I going so far as to calling video games today’s version of Opera? Well, a long time ago, Opera was considered the epidemy of art. There was a combination of storytelling, acting, music, stage design (architecture, painting). It had so many artistic elements combined into a super art form.

Today, video games are so much more.

Music

Hundreds of people behind the scenes write, compose, and perform complex music scores in many of the video games being produced today.

Also, I remember reading on Facebook somewhere that listening to retro video game music while you work makes you more productive. It’s on the internet, so it must be true.

Acting

Acting is an important part of video games. Good voice acting helps you become more involved with the story and creates a real atmosphere.

The reason why Mass Effect Andromeda was such a failure was that it was obvious the voice acting was rushed, and

“The Goddess Archetype” (Girls in Video Games)

This is more a psychological thing more so than an art form.

Okay, okay, maybe there’s a little bit of “girls play games too”, but this is different, I promise! Something that I feel like kind of emerged from video games organically and unintentionally, is this strange “Goddess” archetype you often see in literature. A literary example are heroes doing great and dangerously stupid deeds in order to be judged kindly in the eyes of the women they do these deeds for.

In my experience, if you were playing an MMORPG, and a female, and a female who genuinely enjoys the game, you were more valued than whatever epic loot anyone was trying to fetch in the raid that day. A lot of young men who play video games tend to be shy, maybe too scared, or rejected by the girls at school, and then there’s a girl on the other side who enjoys the same game he does. They give you presents, gold, walk you through the best instances, and do everything they can to help you. Not because you can’t handle yourself, mind you, but this probably one of the rare times they get to be the hero they’ve always wanted to be. Women who play have a strange power over all the other players. A power that in the wrong hands could do substantial damage.

There are some truly evil men out there who play girl characters in order to take advantage of impressionable men hoping they’re real girls in real life. They take the tributes intended to real women. These men are evil… and geniuses.

“But, Ashley!” you may ask, “What about those terrible trolls who treat women terribly online? The mean words they say are just as bad as if they were beating women in real life!” One, usually they treat everyone terribly online. They’re idiots. And just that: idiots. And two, please don’t be so fragile that you’re bothered by a 13-year-old idiot on the other side who is acting like a jerk online because he feels inadequate in the real world.

Literature and Philosophy

Let’s revisit Warcraft, and approach it from a literature aspect alone. The lore of Warcraft is so dense and rich. It has many languages, histories, cultures. Though throughout the games, you were able to choose what “side” so to speak, it doesn’t tell you that one side is good and the other is evil. People on both sides to evil things for good intentions. It also doesn’t have the simplistic “Good vs. Evil” trope. Instead, it explores the complexity of what people are as individuals. Oftentimes, the Horde and Alliance would make temporary alliances in order to protect their world from outside invaders wanting to destroy it and take away their freedoms.

Assasin’s Creed is another game with a very fascinating message to me. Sadly, I’ve never played them, but from what I have gleaned, the idea is that you play on the side of the borderline anarchist “Assassins” with the villains being totalitarian “Templars.”  The philosophy of the character you play is that everything is permitted, you can do whatever you want, but that means you have to be willing to suffer the consequences of your actions. The villains, on the other hand, believe that people don’t know how to take care of themselves, and they need to be ruled over so that they don’t have to suffer the consequences of their actions. In the end, they’re not really villains, just people with very different viewpoints.

Creating Your Own Art and Story

Games like the Sims series allow you to create your own realities. MMO’s allow you to create a character and you can even write your own story and your character’s motivations. Some people take this too far and many interesting Roleplay scenarios ensue, but even to non-roleplayers, it’s fun to create a scenario for your character as to where your character and why they enjoy doing things like destroying those disgusting goody-two shoes Alliance characters in player-vs-player scenarios… *ahem.* Not that I would ever do such a thing.

And Finally, Choices

What sets video games apart from all other art forms is the use of choice in gameplay. Games like Bioshock (the first game I ever bought), and Mass Effect (the second game I ever bought) allow you to make choices in what actions you take and what you say to people. Sure, anyone who’s played these games knows that both these stories only present the ILLUSION of choice, where your choices still progress the game to the same places and story, but your character and his/her relationship with the characters you encounter change. At the time, this was a very innovative idea.

The best game that embodies this idea is probably The Stanley Parable, where you play an office worker who starts hearing a British narrator telling you what to do. You can deviate from his instructions, and this game has a nearly infinite amount of endings, and it’s quite entertaining to boot.


There are so many other artistic elements, but I’m going to leave this post here. I appreciate you taking the time to read this. I know it’s different than what I usually do. If you would like to add anything to this list, please leave a comment below. Let’s keep this discussion going.

 

 

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