How the Makers of Mass Effect Use Tolstoy to Prove Video Games Are Art

A while back, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts started up their Guru lecture series where greats from the world of film- and television-making would speak on their inspirations and insights from each medium.


Now, BAFTA's a clever outfit, one that's given out awards to video games for the last eight years. Impressive, no? That'd be like the people in charge of the Oscars doling out recognition for a title like, say, Limbo.

So, knowing what they know, BAFTA's also invited luminaries from the world of video game design to talk to their members. BioWare's co-founders were among the games folk who spoke and the clip above shows snippets of the lecture and Q&A with Drs. Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka. The partners cite a quote from Russian literary legend Leo Tolstoy to explain why they believe video games can be art. It may not be a debate that rages with the white-hot heat of a few years back, but Zeschuk and Muzyka's comments show that games needn't be thought of as so different from other forms of creativity.


The whole BioWare BAFTA lecture can be seen here, along with clips from past lectures.

Bioware Video Games Lecture at BAFTA [YouTube]

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I've seen a lot about this topic, but I have yet to see anything that explains why it matters.

Who cares if video games are art or not? What does it change in the world if they are or are not considered art? Is there money to be had? Is it about prestige? Is it just so we can update the dictionary definitions?

My personal opinion is that they are art. I don't know how they could be considered anything less when their constituent parts are visual, audio, and written art. Still, my questions stand.