Why are they called video games? Okay, stupid question. We all know why they are called video games, but why do we still call them video games. The term is so literal. It is a game that you play on a video screen. Is that the best we can come up with? Why do we come up with something cool like….. Visual Attack Challenge Activities? Or VACAs for short. I realize it’s kind of wordy but it was just off the top of my head. Give me a break.
This is a topic that came up on the podcast a few weeks back (episode 21 I think) and it has been in the back of my mind ever since. When I thought about it I realized where the term “movie” came from. They started out as “moving pictures” and then over time it was shortened to movie. So why hasn’t that happened with “video game” yet? Maybe it just hasn’t been long enough. Movies have been around since the 19th century. I’m not sure when the term “movie” was coined, but it was probably in the early 1900s if I had to guess. So at worst, it took 40 years for people to start using the word “movie.” Video games have only been around since 1970 or so, but that is still about 40 years. So why haven’t we come up with a term like “gamies” yet? Besides that fact that it is a stupid sounding word.
All forms of art seem to have their own title, film, theater, literature, etc. Why don’t video games? Some argue that video games are not art. I think Penny Arcade summed that argument up pretty well when they posted this comic that states, “If a hundred artists create art for five years, how can the result not be art?” I say games are art just as much as anything else. I don’t get what the big deal is with this whole “are games art” controversy. The more I hear the arguments against games, the more they sound like high school kids yelling rude remarks from the “cool table.” To me, video games are no different than books or movies. All of them are a medium for entertainment and some are more interactive that others. There are bad books and movies just like there are bad games. Think of some of the bad movies you have watched and the boring books you have read. If those can be considered art, video games are more than deserving of the title.
Video games seem to be a medium that is continuously improving itself. Rapidly. Think about how far games have evolved in the last 10 years alone. It still blows my mind that on the screen, a whole world is being generated in real time and I can interact with it. It is hard to appreciate that sometimes. Oddly enough, the times I remember it are when some sort of glitch happens and forces me to remember that the world I am looking at isn’t real. Sure CGI movies look great and all, but they are on a set path. Nothing you do can change the world or characters you’re watching. With a video game, you can create, destroy, kill and revive all at you own will. The fact that video games work at all is amazing. So how can that not be art? How can something so “mind bottling” not have its own term?
I can see in the future, the term being shortened to “vid games.” It is a little quicker to say. If I have learned anything from Batman Beyond and the Buffyverse Fray comics, it’s that all terms in the future are truncated. I guess people in the future are busy and can’t be bothered with extra syllables.
I’m not saying video games have to have a different name, it just strikes me as odd that they don’t. Really, I can’t see any reason that we don’t call them something else other than nobody has ever thought of something better. I guess it just takes some person to come up with random terms like, Controller Exhibition Play, Hand Manipulation Coordination, Interactive Participation Experiences, Electronic Hand/Eye Harmonization and Representative Physical Activities and hope one of them sticks. By the way, I’ll have to talk to Tony but I think I might have used up my quota of quotation marks for the year with this article.