I solemnly believe that video games are a form of art, and gamers engage in a creative activity whenever they play. Moreover, games are at the top of the storytelling evolution. This blog post explains my thoughts on the matter.
First, there was oral storytelling; then there were drawings and inscriptions. Then came the written form. Later, humans created cinematography, combining visual and oral storytelling in one.
All of those mediums encourage your imagination to fill in the blanks. And while your mind is hard at work processing the information, reading or watching a story unfold is still a somewhat passive activity.
Games take storytelling to a completely new level. It becomes interactive, allowing the player to influence the story by making decisions. In games like Dragon Age, your playthrough will be wildly different from that of another person. And even in games that give you more of an illusion of decision-making, such as Skyrim, the sequence of events will still unravel in a different manner than that of another player. And in games, stakes are that much higher, especially if you tend to self-insert or associate strongly with the protagonist of the story.
So in many ways, gaming is a much more stimulating activity than watching a movie or reading a book. You get to participate in the fictional world as opposed to just absorbing the new information. That’s why I believe that games are at the top of storytelling evolution.
Getting inspired to create fanart
And now that I’ve submerged myself into several fandoms that revolve around gaming, I can decisively say that experiencing games is an art form in itself. So many people get inspired by what their characters go through that they create fanfiction, fan artwork, videos, songs, poems, and everything in between.
Great storytelling, of course, is at the heart of this phenomenon. Well-developed characters make you wonder what happens to them after the game, and natural curiosity encourages filling in the blanks that the narrative inevitably has. And what happens if the world-building is phenomenal, but the canon story doesn’t go your way? Well, that’s a recipe for many Alternative Universe scenarios. And if you’d like to escape a typical videogame war-related setup with its fighting and suffering, modern AUs are here to help too. I cannot express how much joy I’ve had going through Coffee Shop and Academia AUs; it is so great to see beloved characters in the world where they don’t have to engage in battles all the time. It’s like taking a “story” mode in games to a whole new violence-free level!
Having said all that, I’m not trying to take anything away from simply enjoying a game exactly as it is and moving on when it’s over. However, this is not how fixation works for some people, me being the prime example.
It’s all up to you
And, of course, fanfiction and fanart are not exclusive to video games. There are plenty of works that people have made based on popular books, movies, and cartoons. Shipping and developing relationship stories that go beyond canon are also widespread. In fact, one might even argue that they are somewhat more common because movies and shows get more exposure in the world.
However, creating fan content based on video games differs in one very significant way. Many modern games require a protagonist, an original character, who goes through the story and forges a new path forward. Who is that person? Sometimes players are locked into specific appearance, gender, race, or background. But in some games, all details are entirely up to you.
It makes me so genuinely happy when I see the elaborate backgrounds that people come up with. It’s fascinating to learn your OC’s favorite colors, the best position to fall asleep in, and the tolerance level for specific smells. In relatively small fandoms, people even know each other’s OC’s names, looks, and ship preferences.
Ast surrounding video games takes many forms; it’s not just written fiction and images. Players share their opinions through written reviews and video essays. Streamers live-stream their playthroughs and react to the twists and turns that the game takes.
Some people exchange art based on their skillset. For example, it’s common to see a digital artist collaborate with a writer to create a graphic novel that helps you visualize a new story. These collabs give birth to magazines, calendars, and massive charity events that celebrate favorite games and characters in multiple ways.
And this is how the art of one kind inspires people to create art of their own. It’s a chain reaction that brings loads of joy to all participants. Game developers get a fanbase that is actively promoting their games both within and outside of the gamer community, and gamers get access to mostly free content that revolves around their favorite games. Creators of fanart, in turn, slowly grow their following and gain recognition within the fanbase.
Playing video games is an act of art, and I’ll be forever grateful for this entertainment medium. Games help me be creative and allow me to experience emotions and events that I wouldn’t have otherwise. They introduce us to the circumstances and decisions that we couldn’t imagine encountering and force us to see the world from a different point of view, stimulating our minds and creativity levels.
Have you experienced that? What game made you want to create something new and exciting?