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What is art in the modern world?

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What is art in the modern world?

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a western-themed, action video game created and published by Rockstar Games. It is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Rockstar publicity poster 2018.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a western-themed, action video game created and published by Rockstar Games. It is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Rockstar publicity poster 2018.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a western-themed, action video game created and published by Rockstar Games. It is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Rockstar publicity poster 2018.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a western-themed, action video game created and published by Rockstar Games. It is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Rockstar publicity poster 2018.

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Recently, the New York Times published an opinion piece called “Red Dead Redemption is True Art.” I highly recommend you read it but for those who refuse, it’s about how Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) transcends the medium of video games to become a classic of storytelling, and how it is an example of video games changing.

I agree with all the points that Peter Suderman makes in his article, none more than the charge that RDR2 stands up to titans of entertainment like The Godfather, and The Searchers. These are both classics in filmmaking, and in art. They were able to transcend their field and become something more than movies. I believe RDR2 has done the same thing, even though it won’t be considered a classic by the wider public.

The season’s best blockbuster isn’t a TV show or movie. It’s a video game.”

— Peter Suderman

Roger Clark, the actor who brought the main character Arthur Morgan to life in RDR2, believes some video games are art.

“I think it’s the content that determines that not the medium,” he said.

New video games are being released that not only advance storytelling, but that push the boundaries of what was thought possible technically by creating living worlds the player gets to experience.

“They are becoming more intricate, immersive and mature than ever before,” Clark said. “It is a rapidly expanding way of storytelling, one where the audience is a willful participant experiencing their own unique version of the narrative and not just a spectator.”  Notice how I didn’t call Clark a voice actor? That’s because he, and all the other actors who worked on this project, did extensive performance capture.

“It was acting, a lot more than solely voice,” Clark said. “Everything you see in the game was recorded and captured by the cast in much the same way theatre or film is performed or recorded respectively.”

It is a rapidly expanding way of storytelling, one where the audience is a willful participant experiencing their own unique version of the narrative and not just a spectator.”

— Roger Clark

Clark, as well as the other actors, worked in a dimensionally accurate set while wearing motion capture suits. They recorded sounds simultaneously, making this much more similar to a movie than any video game. Roger Clark not only did what a normal actor does for a movie but he also performed in a booth like a traditional voice actor.

“Some of the work was done in a booth, much of the in-game dialogue whilst riding to missions for example,” Clark said. “The actor is in a booth with headphones and a mic and records whatever lines are on schedule for that day.”

In addition to all that, he and the rest of the cast worked with one of, if not the longest scripts ever at 2,000 pages.

“I don’t think there are many scripts as large as this,” Clark said. “I worked on the project for 5 years and recorded about 90,000 lines of dialogue (so I’m told). It is not dissimilar to 5 seasons of an hour length television series but in one game.”

Because RDR2 chooses to tell its story through the medium of video games it won’t receive the praise it deserves. Some video games are still stigmatized. Even people who work in the industry recognize a prejudice against them.

“There is a stigma that is beginning to fade,” Clark acknowledged. “Many still regard it as for children and of no social or critical value with too much violence. There are still many video games out there that support this stereotype but things are changing rapidly.”

Battle Royale games like Fortnite, though fun, perpetuate the idea that games are for young male audiences, that games have no story and are all about killing.”

Battle Royale games like Fortnite, though fun, perpetuate the idea that games are for young male audiences, that games have no story and are all about killing. But over the last decade more and more games have been made with stories for more mature audiences.

“They are loaded with human, [and] nature themes and have already commercially surpassed Hollywood films as far as revenue is concerned,” Clark said. “With articles like the one in the New York Times, the misconception that video games are mindless entertainment for children is being put to bed further.”

It’s unfortunate that my grandparents, who love movies and great storytelling, will never experience the modern epic that is Red Dead Redemption 2. For them, video games consist of solitaire and poker on the Ipad.

However, I take solace in the fact that just as my grandpa has shown me movies like Rear Window and Bridge Over the River Kwai, I one day will be able to hand my children or grandchildren the story of Red Dead Redemption.

“People scoffed at radio, then film, then film with sound, then television, it’s a generational thing I think. Many new things are resisted by the status quo,” Clark said. “Time will always tell. Video games aren’t going anywhere.”

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