Can video games be art? The debate isn’t going to die out any time soon, but one strong argument is that if movies, books, plays or other forms of storytelling can be art, then video games can too. While it is similarly impossible to define what ‘art’ is, one helpful angle is to look at a given work’s ability to produce emotions in an audience. And sometimes, video games can do exactly that.
Whether it’s grief at a tragic event, wonderment at a game’s environment, fondness for its characters or just the savage joy of exterminating your enemies, plenty of computer games have succeeded in creating an emotional reaction in their players. Creating an emotional response isn’t just a function of programming, but of visual design, writing, voice acting, and a dozen other disciplines working in harmony.
Plenty of games are just excuses to throw polygons around and compare DPS like it’s a mating ritual, but as the medium matures, a wider audience is demanding more from their games.
That includes strong emotional engagement, as shown by the following games and the moments where they dared to make us feel.