What Is Video Game Art?

The influence of video games on global culture is so pervasive that visual artists regularly use video game concepts and technology to create installations for galleries and museums, as well as to post art on the Internet for a wider audience. The use of video games or modified versions of video games to create a visual artwork is known as video game art. This one-of-a-kind art form forces viewers to reconsider their perceptions of games, art, and perception.

Many visual artists get creative inspiration from video game ideas and images on a regular basis. Feng Mengbo, a Chinese artist, used video art to express his ideas about Chinese history in a 2011 installation at the Museum of Modern Art. The video game art of Mengbo was projected on two screens, each measuring 53 feet (about 16 meters) in width. Viewers were required to switch back and forth between the two screens in a game that was both perplexing and difficult to master.

By making the game nearly impossible to win, if at all, video game art frequently contradicts ideas about competition. However, what these “games” achieve is a high level of viewer involvement. When large screens are used in installations, the viewer feels as if he or she is entering a different world. Viewing video game art in this setting is a unique experience that is distinct from playing a computer game, though some video game artists do make their work available online.

Some visual artists create video game art from the ground up, while others don’t mind stealing ideas or elements from existing games. Modified or “mod” video art is when an artist takes an existing game or game concept and uses it to express a creative idea. Arcangel, a well-known artist, is well-known for his use of modding. In 2002, he created an artwork consisting of clouds moving across the horizon using a modified version of Super Mario Bros. Feng Mengbo created a mod based on the video game Quake, in which every character resembled the artist.

The first video game was created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961, and the video game industry was worth $20,000,000,000 in 2011. Some argue that a lot of the art created for video games qualifies as “art,” though this is debatable. Experts who support this position point out that films were once considered too lowbrow to be considered an art form.