This week saw one of the most important advances in the place of video games in American society when the National Endowment for the Arts officially accepted the medium under its definition of art. Video games were included in a fairly sweeping reform that extended the label to all digital media, including Internet-exclusive content and platforms connected to mobile technology. This isn't merely a symbolic gesture, though. The NEA's acceptance of video games has at least two implications that will change the medium forever.
Mr. Rohrer may be just one guy, but he has created some of the most compelling miniature art games in recent memory. Adopting vintage graphic styles, his games weave enigmatic little narratives that reflect upon the workings of the human mind. Whether they wax philosophical about the human need to create art or the way we operate within communities, Jason Rohrer’s games remain curiously addictive all the while.
I look forward to the day when video games occupy the same stratum of culture as film and TV shows, the one that accepts them as entertainment but also allows them to reach for and occasionally achieve high art. That said, the medium still has a long way to go before it gets there. The majority of games out there have little value as tools of thought provocation or education, though there are a few that can serve as unique springboards for both. The following three games would fit perfectly into a social studies class at many levels of education.