Highbrow High Score

The Art of Gaming Intellectually

Well, how do you do?

with 5 comments

Hello! Welcome to the first post!

My name is Rachel and I’ll be writing this blog.

I’m what some might call a “nerd.” While I recently graduated from a small liberal arts college with a degree in Writing, I’ve always been a gamer. I can recall my dad booting up “Doom II” on our old PC when I was about 7 and stealing my brother’s giant, gray GameBoy brick to play “Tetris” for hours… I guess it’s in my blood.

But, because my mom read an obscene amount of books (seriously – obscene), I was forced to spend a lot of my childhood in libraries and bookstores… What was I to do but read?! Two totally different nerds combined and I’m obviously my parent’s daughter. On a side note: Thanks for the glasses, Mom and Dad!

I suppose that’s why I want to start a blog. It’s obvious that the video game industry has taken a stronghold in recent generations and is a medium that is often vilified, rarely considered and mostly misunderstood by the “traditionalist” standards of arts or literature. Though this is not true for each and every video game ever made, the storytelling techniques, attention to detail, and audience engagement that some games deliver can be closely related to our current understanding of “the arts.”

What do you think? Are our games on the same cultural and intellectual level as our literature? Please leave comments and share your ideas and stories.

Next post, I’ll be discussing some of my favorite pieces, if you will, from both mediums and hopefully, some of yours as well!



Written by highbrowhighscore

September 4, 2010 at 9:39 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Great post Rachel. I am not a gamer (except for those exhilarating Tomb Raider games!), so I can’t give specific examples of art within them, but can say that video games are slowly becoming classified as examples of “art”. The best way to think about this is the idea of the “basement” culture and criticism. Basically, the basement theory has worked on every form of new entertainment that has risen in the past. At first, books were the intellectual holy grail – the only level of this imaginary pyramid. Once film arrived, books were still seen as intellectually superior to movies. The movies were, at this time, in the basement. Then television came along. Guess what moved up? Movies! Now that television is experiencing its move up through the house, the video games are beginning to move out of the basement as well – probably due to the internet/Facebook/Twitter/texting. I’m not sure what the next “basement” thing will be, but I know there are definitely critical, entertaining, and smart discussions about video games taking place. Who knew Lara Croft was more than big boobs and guns?

    Matthew O

    September 5, 2010 at 7:49 am

  2. Rachel, what an interesting first entry. : ) Also, for me, a largely unanswerable one. But definitely a question worth posing.

    Some scattered thoughts…

    (Broadbased info that most people are either intuitively or directly aware of): “Intellectualism” itself has had so many up/down trends in the intermediary years between the beginning of life and now. (Of course.)

    As extrapolated from that point, today’s argument seems to be: What’s an “intellectual”? What does it mean to be “traditional”? What do these charged labels connote? And what are they “doing to” our culture (an attitude of victimhood if I’ve ever heard one).

    My hope, though, is that our next theory-based battle will be an aim to extricate ourselves from these reemergent (albeit modified) stagnant arguments that one form of art is superior to another and actually start creating something new, something bold, and something that’s, in the same measure, worth enjoying in its own right. Something that draws upon the vestiges of the past in the pursuit of a dynamic, satisfying future.

    That’s not to say this new “item of interest” in the cultural/art scene will be superior. Or even that I know what the heck “it” is. But it’ll give us (“us” being the critics who first espoused these circuitous argments) something to do rather than gripe. Who knows? Perhaps the call to action is already being heeded and we just have to wait to see the full fruits of the labor of the artists (and I use that term liberally) of the last few months/years/decades. Whatever “it” is, I look forward to seeing it. Mostly because it’s a moving target, and the importance of the knowledge of when we’ve arrived at “it” will hopefully pale in comparison to the wonder that is this wondrous new creation.

    Just my take/sleepless rambling (okay, maybe mostly the latter) on it.


    September 6, 2010 at 2:12 am

  3. Fifty years ago film was seen the way video games are today; lowbrow entertainment without any artistic value. It’s in the process of a shift.I’d point to Bioshock as a prime example of an artistic game. It’s literary and philosophical criticism of Ayn Rand and Objectivism.
    The hump the gaming industry faces is that games are never designed for the sole purpose of artistic value. A good game has to be fun to play.
    The advantage games do have is personal interaction and immersion. The player drives the story instead of just watching it the way you do a movie. Given another ten years games will have significantly more artistic respect than they have now.


    September 7, 2010 at 2:25 am

  4. Well, I am not much of a gamer, but my boyfriend loves to play them! The last game I completely played every level of was Mario Cart for 64…. Although I did play Halo and Resident Evil 5 not too long ago, I am not even remotely (haha) close to knowing much about video games. However, even though I was a math major, I do love the classics of literature. I think it will be interesting to see how you find parallels between video games and literature. Oh…and…. I LOVE YOU! (and miss you horribly…) I can’t wait to read more of your blog lady!

    Kaitie Fern

    September 7, 2010 at 1:02 pm

  5. I’ve been gaming since I was two years old. I remember playing Pac-Man and Donkey Kong on an old Atari-2600 in my bedroom. Video games have changed so much since then, from 8-bit graphics with simple story-lines and bits and beeps for tunes to full-CG rendered graphics with complex story-lines and epic music scores. I admire games for making a foray into the world of art, but I believe that there are those that will still believe them to be “mindless entertainment.”

    I have played a series of games for the Nintendo DS called the Ace Attorney series. For those not familiar with the series, these games are simulations of courtroom trials intermixed with mystery solving and crime scene investigation. The one thing I enjoy most about this series of games besides the humor, the quirky character, and game play is the fact that I feel like I’m reading a mystery novel as I’m playing. It’s fun and engaging to try to figure out the mystery of the case you’re working on. You feel real surprise when something you think is the right answer to solve the mystery takes a completely different turn in a way you didn’t expect. If the mystery novel parallels weren’t enough, this game series does use some elements from the literary toolbox. For example, this one character, a prosecutor, loves to make his arguments in coffee metaphors. While strange, as a literature lover, I was intrigued to see just what this guy was going to say next that would be some complex metaphor for coffee and try to figure out what exactly that has to do with the trial.

    Games like this series and others are why the lines between literature and gaming come together. I’m very interested in how this blog will play out and look forward to future posts.


    September 8, 2010 at 4:11 am

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