Rhetoric in Video Games?
Rhetoric in its basic form is intended to be used to help persuade, inform, or entertain. People may argue that video games aren’t a legitimate art form because its content is unimportant and meaningless. Perhaps that can be said about the early history of video games for one of the earliest games created like Pong, however nowadays games have much more depth and content that words like “meaningless” no longer apply.
Many games include complex stories that feature relatable characters and scenes that people can learn from or draw connections to. People can even learn first hand about history in games such as Assassins Creed, Call of Duty , Medal of Honor, and Battlefield. Each of these games feature stories that include historical events that can teach players about the significant times in history. Players learn the dates of major battles, the names of important leaders, the weapons and vehicles used, and the sort of dialogue used during the period. Though not all parts of the game are entirely based on real events, the main plot points are founded on true events that took place.
People can’t really make an argument that video games aren’t a legitimate art form. If paintings, books, movies, and poems are considered art then video games have to be considered art. Video games utilize many different art forms with the visual design and storytelling aspects. If writing a story is considered a form of art the story itself in a game is art. If painting a picture of a soldier is a form of art, designing a soldier for a video game is art.
Art also has many rhetorical aspects tied along with it that connect with video games as well. The art form of painting, drawing, etc. is the embodiment of visual rhetoric. People don’t just draw, paint, or sculpt just for the hell of it. They have a reason behind their work that can influence or inform the viewer. People can almost feel the emotion of the artist sometimes when viewing artwork. That emotion can be felt in video games. I myself have found that I become emotionally attached to some characters in video games. In the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare trilogy the main character and protagonist John “Soap” MacTavish, first introduced in the first installment of the trilogy, was a character that many fans loved and cared about. In the third Modern Warfare game Soap ends up dying and the other main character, Captain Price, mourns his death by slamming his fists into the chest of the now dead Soap yelling in anger. Looking back on when I myself experienced that part of the level know that I got choked up and held back tears. The character whom you knew and loved had just died while the most bad ass character in the game is holding back tears over his fallen comrade. The fact that someone can feel such a connection to a fictional character shows the rhetorical power in video games.
Games like Call of Duty also have the ability to influence action in people. In an article by Simon Parkin for The Guardian, he talks about how one of Call of Duty producers was contacted by the Pentagon to help the government predict possible attacks and scenarios the United States could be faced with in the future. The more recent Call of Duty games feature attacks on the United States that are so possible to actually occur that the government has asked Dave Anthony, former Call of Duty producer, to help predict and prevent future attacks on our nation. Call of Duty has also been the influence on many people being interested in joining the United States Military. The fact that a video game has influenced thousands of people to join the military and the hiring of a video game producer to aid in national defense is another instance of the rhetorical power of video games.