I’m always quick to come to the defense of the video game industry when I feel it’s being unfairly criticized. Too often, critics say that the industry is overrun with characters and storylines that are targeted at kids. They believe that the industry hasn’t matured over the past twenty years, and is still caught in a time when plumbers and hedgehogs were all the rage.
The critics simply fail to see that today’s gaming industry is a much different place than it once was.
That’s precisely why I found myself in a somewhat frustrating conversation recently with a friend that told me the film industry deserves far more respect than video games could ever earn. He told me that classics like “Citizen Kane,” “The Godfather,” and countless others have done more for arts and entertainment around the world than any video game ever released.
As expected, his argument then turned to games themselves. He said that even so-called “mature” games, like Call of Duty: Black Ops or Mass Effect fail to offer the quality of entertainment and artistic expression movies can muster.
For sure, it’s an old argument. And it’s one that those on either side of the debate feel strongly about. But it doesn’t make it any less relevant. And as a video game fanatic, I feel it’s my duty to support the industry that has given me so much entertainment over the years.
See, I believe that some video games deserve just as much respect nowadays as movies. I would agree that sports games, children’s titles, or most of Nintendo’s first-party titles can’t be held in the same light as film classics, but I do believe that several games, including one of my favorite titles of 2010 — Mass Effect 2 — deserve the same respect as films.
Video games today are made with multi-million dollar budgets, have teams of writers developing compelling storylines, boast outstanding musical scores, and deliver a level of entertainment that was thought impossible even a decade ago. They are so compelling, in fact, that they keep us intrigued for dozens of hours. Try to find me a single movie that can do the same.
So, perhaps I’m not so sold on the value of film over games. Do I think games deserve more respect than movies? Of course not. But I don’t believe movies deserve more respect than video games either.
Video games are bridging the gap between fun and artistic expression. And I think it’s time we all appreciate that much more than we already do.