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Art a by-product of video games

Sean Black's picture
In this blog series I’ve spoken plenty about surveillance, and the prevalence of surveillance culture in our society. Recently I stumbled upon this feature by David Chandler on Kill Screen. And its sentiments deserve all the attention.
Salvador Dali
Long-form features like these are daunting to begin reading but this particular piece grabbed me from the off and, I think, is worth its weight. Give it a read if you dare.
The tl;dr that I took from Chandler’s feature is that video games act as a critique of modern sentiment. They act, as any piece of art does, as an analysis of contemporary culture – highlighting the inadequacies of society and communicating popular opinion.
This relates to broadcast in several ways because much of the sentiment that is purveyed through contemporary video games has to do with that surveillance culture that was spoken about.
More and more frequently modern video games are dealing with the issues that arose from global surveillance disclosures – i.e. NSA spying. Chandler cites games as diverse as Watch Dogs, Transistor, BioShock Infinite, and Infamous: Second Son.
When one really gets down to it, it makes a whole lot of sense that video games, as a genre, should carry the same social commentary weight that cubism or impressionism, of old, did. That is the progression of our society in the Internet age.
Chandler talks about how video games are essentially trying to break down the surveillance narrative by providing you with the tools to do so but problems arise when one considers the construction of a video game.
Video games are lines of code. They are art, but they are constructed. The very world in which you are allowed to roam and partake in anti-surveillance sentiment in, say, Infamous: Second Son is, at its very heart, structured.

To that end it speaks to the very nature of society, I think. It speaks to the futility of even attempting to retaliate against surveillance culture. No matter what is attempted, the society in which we live (as fragile as it is) is firmly planted.
However, the sentiment still stands because the construction is made by an artist who is deliberately making a statement against these societal issues.
Does that mean that game creators are the Picasso’s, Vincent van Gogh’s, and Salvador Dali’s of today? I would say yes – and that is exciting.
In case you missed it, here is the original long-form feature.

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