Call of Duty or Frida Kahlo?

Video games are their own form of art


When you read the headline you probably thought to yourself “Wow, what is this crazy nerd talking about? Video games can’t be an art form. They’re just a piece of mindless entertainment for kids.” I might be a nerd, but I’m not so crazy after all.

Video games are gorgeous. Just take a look at some of the games that came out this year. For example, “Battlefield V” and “Red Dead Redemption 2” are absolutely breathtaking visually, but that’s not what this editorial is about. I’m talking about the emotional impact a video game can have on the player just like a piece of art in a museum or a musical composition can have on its audience.

Art is pleasant to look at. Music is powerful and adds emotion. Books introduce a story that hooks the reader. Video games use all these elements combined to make a perfect experience for the player.

Yeah, there are  games like “Call of Duty” or “Fortnite” that are mindless entertainment, but every once in a while a video game so beautiful comes out and truly makes an impact. The game that did that for me was “Dark Souls.”

“Dark Souls” is an older game, known for its gruesome and unforgivable difficulty. What many people don’t realize is that it has a fascinating world, amazing story and a gorgeous score. The world is dark and gives the player a sense of overwhelming loneliness and insignificance in the giant world

of Lordran.

“Dark Souls” has little to no ambient music when you’re traversing the world. The only sounds you hear are your own footsteps. Instead, the developers use music to coincide with certain actions made by the player. When you’re walking through the world you always have a feeling of anxiety that at any moment you could die and have to start over from the last time you rested in the game.

The feeling lives with you until you accidentally stumble across Firelink Shrine, one of the only safe areas in the game. The music that plays then fills you with warmth and security, something hard to come by in “Dark Souls.”

The bosses of “Dark Souls” are huge Lovecraftian abominations, except for the last one, Gwyn. When you walk into the Kiln of the First Flame, the area where Gwyn is, you expect a huge monster-like creature that you’re going to slay and save mankind.

Instead you find a man in that cave. A hollow shell of someone that was. Gwyn lost everything. He lost his kingdom, his knights, his wife, children and friends. Even with nothing left he sacrificed himself to keep the dark at bay. Gwyn’s story is one of tragedy and can best be summed up with the beautiful music that plays while you put the old man to rest.

Gwyn’s theme is a piece that is different from the other music that is associated with other bosses. Instead of a loud orchestral arrangement, it’s a melancholy piano duet. One piano plays a riff of the same notes over and over again while the other piano plays a pretty melody. The bass note riff symbolizes how the world of Lordran will go on as you replace Gwyn while the other melody describes his tragic life.  

Things like these are what make video games special. You might not see video games hung up on walls in museums or in the must-read section at libraries, but they should be considered art.