Can Video Games Be Taken Seriously?

I enjoy playing video games. They're not for everyone (I'm in a minority among friends even of my own age) but I see them as part of a diet of valid entertainment along with TV, movies, books, board games and the occasional YouTube video.

I've heard a whole range of different opinions on video games - from "that's kid's stuff" to being overly violent, bad, addictive, boring, too complicated or just fake.

Maybe one day video games can be taken "seriously" as a medium - the story, cinematics and emotions that a game creates can be analysed like films are today, with less of the the current (often petty-sounding) headlines concerning faster graphics cards, Playstation vs XBox, or out-of-proportion heroines...who cares about that stuff?

I read a couple of great articles today (thanks to Simon Parkin at Chewing Pixels) which ask if video games can really be taken seriously, far more eloquently than I can:

Steve Gaynor at Fullbright compares video games to a "middle child" and believes that because video games require interactivity there's an entry barrier that TV and movies don't have:

"The most popular entertainment is the work that requires the least foreknowledge, the shortest attention span, that supplies the most instant gratification...Video games are the only popular entertainment that you can actually fail at."

Matthew at Magic Wasteland talks about the maturity of video games as a medium, in summary comparing video games to an adolescent:

"So before we can confidently come forth with our own particular offerings towards the sum of human cultural output, the light of civilization, it seems we must continue to gyrate through this adolescent process of self-discovery, as awkward and humiliating as it can be."

There's a reason video games are not movies, but still, I look forward to a future of watching David and Margaret discuss the quirkiness of Braid or perhaps just being able to talk to normal people about the baddest video game bad guy or a cult classic game or the latest game episode of Fable 2...

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