Cennamology Chief Editor
The jury is no longer out on the fierce debate as to whether or not video games can be considered works of art.
The new concert tour "Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions," premiered at the Warner Theater in Washington D.C. last Friday. The concert featured a full symphony orchestra playing many of the greatest highlights of the music of the Pokemon video game series for fans of all ages.
Long story short, it was a breathtakingly beautiful adaptation of familiar music and is certainly a concert that neither I nor anyone else who was in the theater that night will ever forget.
If the music from the video games is considered art, then how can the video games that the music is from not also be considered art?
The music of video games is just one reason of why the medium should be considered a form of art. Just like the art of film, the art of video games has gone through different stages of development - in visual graphic and sound quality. Also, both art forms aided by the musical accompaniment that graces the background of different scenes and levels.
The success and legacy movie "Jaws," certainly considered a work of art, is due in no small part to the famous music that establishes the uneasy and suspenseful atmosphere as the great shark is coming for the main characters. One of my favorite songs from "Symphonic Evolutions," is the "Team Rocket Theme," which plays as the main character from "Pokemon Red and Blue" is traversing through the game corner hideout and the Sliph Co. building overrun by grunts in order to meet and battle Giovanni, the boss of the criminal syndicate Team Rocket. Both compositions establish the mood in the presence of the antagonist of the movie and video game respectively. Because of the similarities, the game should be considered art just as much as the movie is.
Nintendo is referred to as the "Disney of video games," by many due to its family-friendly content. But that label is appropriate also because of the music. Disney movies are notable for their music - both scores and songs - as is Nintendo, and this concert proves that Pokemon is no exception. The original theme song of the Pokemon anime, played as an encore at the concert, got more people singing along than "Let it Go" would at "Disney On Ice." The champion theme from "Pokemon Gold and Silver," got the audience pumped up just as much as "He's a Pirate," from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise would at any movie-themed concert. Few would disagree that the works of Disney are art, and the ability of the fans to get emotionally invested in the products of Disney and Nintendo as much as they do prove that Nintendo games are just as worthy for being considered art as any Disney movie.
It's because of music that many support the idea of video games as a form of art while not giving the same label to board games, card games, or sports. Video games with lazy, simple soundtracks that are released today are often sharply criticized, and for good reason.
The music, in many respects, can make or break a video game as it can a movie because the public now holds video games to similar standards. If any Atari 2600 game came out today with the same sounds and graphics, it would be laughed at and labelled as one of the worst games of all time. This is because in the period between the early 1980s and today, we have (even if unwittingly) increasingly thought of video games as art as technology has progressed, and have held them to these standards accordingly. In the days when gaming was simpler, it was not viewed of as an art form, so 8-bit sounds and graphics were acceptable, but not considered art.
Video games are a new medium, and this fact is cited by many critics as a reason why it should not be considered an art form. However, film was a new medium once as well, with critics also scoffing at placing it under the definition of "art." Video games as a medium may only be a little over three decades old, but the progress it has made in those thirty years is so immense that it should certainly be considered art. Even Pokemon, which first came out in 1996, has come a long way graphic and sound-wise since its birth. This is evident to any Generation I fan who plays the Generation VI games "Pokemon X and Y."
Video games were not considered art in the 1980s, and rightfully so. It is hard to imagine an entire orchestra playing a sold-out show with the music of "Pong" or "Space Invaders." But they can with music from "Pokemon," "The Legend of Zelda," or "Halo."
If you are still not convinced that video games are art, then go see "Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions." The next showing is Sept. 19 at the Mann Center in Philadelphia, Penn. More dates and locations are set to be announced in the near future.