The day is Oct. 4, and fans are cheering in a sold-out Staples Center. A beautiful gold trophy is hoisted, and it stares at 14 teams, each consisting of five players. A prize pool of around $2 million is on the line and live streams on the Internet are not open. As an event of such magnitude and sponsorships, to the unknown, it would be okay to make the fair assumption that this is a sporting event, but no, this is the League of Legends World Tour Finals.
After watching a live stream of the finals, as the victors took the stage with fireworks and confetti, I couldn’t help but feel amazed. Video games, a relatively new form of art, have come a long way from the days of simple pong. While I was not born in the era of Atari and 80s arcades, I still delved into the world of video games while it was in its younger state. My first system was a Sega Genesis, released in the early 90s, and I remember being blown away by the graphics that the system could achieve. Foolish was I, because now, not even a full two decades later, the technology behind modern video games has become so powerful that it is becoming difficult lately to tell the difference between an avatar and real life. What shocks me, however, is that even after witnessing the speed of which technology has evolved in these games, many still dismiss video games as being a true art form. Video games, outside of the gaming community, get ridiculed and undermined by film and literature enthusiasts who can’t seem to adopt the idea that video games are the next big art form. If 2013 was any indication, it just might become the biggest art form.
Another monumental moment of the video game world in 2013 was the release of Rockstar’s famous title “GTA V.” “GTA V” (Grand Theft Auto Five) broke boundaries and demanded respect. Starting with sales, “GTA V” broke six Guinness world records, including:
1. Best-selling action-adventure video game in 24 hours;
2. Best-selling video game in 24 hours;
3. Fastest entertainment property to gross $1 billion;
4. Fastest video game to gross $1 billion;
5. Highest grossing video game in 24 hours; and
6. Highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours.
Number three and number six should really spark interest because both of those triumphs incorporate the entertainment industry as a whole. Other Triple A titles such as Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed IV” and Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us,” have garnered attention for the sales as well, showing the entertainment industry that games can sell just as much, if not more, than the ever-so-popular movie. Video games are making huge strides in terms of sales, but, another aspect of them should establish respect, “immersibility” and storytelling.
Video games are not so simple as just beating all the guys on the screen anymore. Games create entire worlds and complex three-dimensional characters, which are interwoven together to give you an experience that only video games can deliver. Games are also getting longer, meaning the player spends much more time with a character or characters, really bonding with them as they control them out of their situations. Games such as “The Last of Us” and the new “Tomb Raider” reboot are prime examples of this, because they force the player to make tough decisions that affect the narrator and give the gamer the same feeling as the character. Video games can only provide this experience, and as technology grows and characters become even more life-like than they already are, the connection between players and characters will only get stronger.
Video games are a new art form compared to the ancient novel and the older film genre. It is only natural for parts of society to underestimate its abilities and impact on entertainment. With gaming’s growing success and continuous evolution, I hope that many change their minds and start to look at gaming as a respected art form. I believe 2013 broke grounds for gaming notoriety, and each follow-up year will be better than the last. Respect will come in due time, but if more titles accomplish the feats of “GTA V” and the like, then respect might come sooner than later.