Last week while the gaming industry was living it up in California at E3 the Illinois State Senate passed a bill regulating restrictions on the sale of video games to minors. Illinois State Senator Deanna Demuzio is the Senator responsible for sponsoring this bill, and while Illinois is not the first state to consider such measures, what is particularly galling... what is particularly insulting... is Demuzio's statement to the press regarding video games.
"Video games are not art or media," she said. "They are simulations, not all that different from the simulations used by the U.S. military in preparation for war."
My initial knee-jerk reaction to this statement is to cite dozens of examples in which video games are artistic including everything from the sweeping dramatic camera movements in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to the engrossing storyline behind Chrono Trigger to the 8-bit color tiles that make up the sprites of Super Mario Bros. I cannot be convinced that video games are not art. A solid video game can be every bit as artistic as any film or novel and nothing can change my mind about that. I have played too many immersive games over the years to believe anything else.
The truth here is that this statement did not come from an informed person. It came from a State Senator who is standing up against The Big Bad Video Games that somehow break into the homes of her constituents and force the children to play. Senator Demuzio has most likely only heard of video games for their violence factors and not for their rich storylines, lush graphics, memorable music, or endearing characters. She's certainly entitled to her opinion just as I am entitled to mine, but I believe that she should explore the world of games closer before making uninformed statements such as the one above.
There is a game coming to stores later this year called The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It is expected to be one of the most artistic, most detailed, and most dramatic games of the year (if not of all time). I'd like to suggest that Senator Demuzio take a long weekend to experience Twilight Princess and then explain to the press how she believes that video games are not forms of artistic expression.