news\ Sep 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Author Josh Jenisch puts forth the notion that video games are works of art

December 16, 2008

Author Josh Jenisch puts forth the notion that video games are works of art
By Michael Lafferty

Book states the art of video games can “move and excite and inspire”

In the preface to his book, The Art of the Video Game (Quirk Books, $40 suggested retail but $32 on Amazon), author Josh Jenisch states that “I’m here to make the argument that video games should be considered art.”

He goes on to say that “I believe that great video games can move and excite and inspire people – that they are every bit as worthy of our attention as great films, great paintings, great novels and great symphonies.”

The coffee-table style book is approximately 160 pages in length and features both concept art and screens from 26 games – from Ace Combat 6 and Age of Conan through Call of Duty to Hellboy and Hellgate, then from Lara Croft to NBA Live 08, The Sims, Sonic, Universe at War and ending up at Warmonger. There is a brief history of video-game art, but the book generally deals with the art itself.

Notably, Jenisch includes some of the progressive evolution of characters and scenes, and – at least from this perspective – his argument is valid. While obviously his selection of the art to include is subjective, it still manages to drive the point home, even if some notable exceptions are not in the book itself (one could argue that Square Enix produces some of the most compelling and consistent artwork found in games; and God of War or even SCEA’s Heavenly Sword – both featuring stunning graphics – are not included; of course, one could compile a healthy list of games worthy of inclusion).

But what is offered here is a cross-section of games and the artwork that drives his point.

Obviously the stars of the book are the images that dominate the pages. Presented in a format roughly 9.5” x 11.5”, the pages are printed with a matte finish, nothing high gloss but rather a look that reads well in any light source.

Part of the E3 convention is usually a display that highlights the art of the games. The gallery features art of environments and such, displayed in large formats. Jenisch’s book deviates from that just a bit and rather than filling the pages of his book with merely pretty pictures, he gets down more to the nitty-gritty elements, which includes central characters.

While there will certainly be detractors to the notion that video-game graphics are worthy of the title “art,” one only has to look at the scope of the work, at the texturing and details to realize that the video-game industry is indeed home to very talented artists capable of creating on a grand and even epic scale.

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