The Art of Video Games: Interview with Henry Jenkins

The Art of Video Games: Interview with Henry Jenkins


My son was about six.
He wanted a Nintendo system for Christmas.
We plugged it in and up came Super Mario Brothers
for the very first time. And I was blown away by the
phenomenal growth and development that games
had undergone. And, I thought, if those ten years
wrought that much change in the capacity of this medium,
this was going to be a medium social capacity. That it was
going to be the art form of the 21st century. I think what we’ve seen
from games so far is just the beginning of what this
medium is capable of doing. There’s already artistic
achievement there. I don’t think there’s a
question that games have become an art,
but I think they can become a richer and deeper art. It takes a while for artists
to really get inside a medium deep enough to understand
what it can do. I think most visitors
to a museum like the Smithsonian have probably
never looked at games through anything other
than a superficial lens. To just look at what’s
going on there, to see the intricate detail, the richness
of accomplishment in just executing the game. Then,
recognize the layer beyond that ━ the design of our
interactions, the design of the play mechanics which is not
just the eye candy that’s immediately present, but the
deeper form of the art that shapes people’s
perception of the world. And them, imagine beyond
that the layer of grassroots creativity where people use
games a starting point for their own artistic expression,
and the social interactions, and the personal memories,
sense of reading and asking deeper questions that the
game inspires. I think there’s a lot to see
here that we don’t see when we see a few minutes
of game footage on the evening news along with
a story blaming games for some act of violence,
what we don’t see when we see the games on the shelf
at Wal-Mart. It is to see games as an artistic
system at the center of a creative culture.

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