Art and Aesthetics

Authored by: Grant Tavinor

The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533324
eBook ISBN: 9780203114261
Adobe ISBN: 9781136290510


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The video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios, 2011) can be considered a beautiful representational artifact. The naturalism and rich detail of its environments, the evocative nature of its music, and the exploratory role of the player make playing this game a frequently aesthetically rewarding experience. Video games such as Skyrim, and also older games such as Space Invaders (Taito, 1978), raise a number of issues within the discipline of aesthetics. Most obvious is the question of whether these games are actually works of art. But in addition to this familiar question are less frequently investigated issues such as the ontology of video game art, the precise role of the player in the artistic performance and appreciation of games, and whether video games have distinctive modes of artistic expression. This essay surveys some of the recent attempts to understand these issues.

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