Video games have evolved into one of the most important digital media. Molleindustria tries to answer whether they can also be social works of art.
When I started with media studies a couple of years ago, I did not think about video games. Not that I do not like video games–in fact, I still have my old SNES. But video games were there for the fun, not related to media studies. At least that's what I thought. However, I am realizing more and more that this is about to change. Video games have become important aspects of media culture, even pop. Instead of games following the movies, movies are increasingly following games. Musicians are licensing their songs to games like Guitar Hero. On Rebel Art, I stumbled upon an interesting Italian collective of artists who approaches video games as political media.
Molleindustria between black humor and social messages
Molleindustria is a group of Italien designers, programmers and artists freeing the video games from its focus on fun. They want to establish it as a medium that comments on social developments. This approach reminds me of the fight of photography in its early days: away from a purely technical means to record reality, towards establishing as a form of art with its own rules. The vision: Artists should be able to express their ideas and thoughts in a similar way like they do with other media since quite some time.
This aim does not mean that the games are not fun, as the collection of flash games by Molleindustria shows. You can fight for the hegemony of a certain religion, simulate orgasms and take insights into the workings of a global enterprise. In these games, the artists do not shy away from criticizing social and economic injustice with a lot of black humor.