Whenever a jarringly new creative medium emerges, there comes without fail a debate about the merits of approaching and analyzing such media. This has happened with photography and film, two media which we today do not question the merits of their critical studies (barring, of course, fringe voices), and we now see the same debate raging anew over video games. One of the most common forms such debate takes is whether or not the new media can be considered art, and with video games this has been a very public debate, as exemplified when Roger Ebert declared "video games can never be art." While I very much disagree with Ebert's opinion (to an extent; I have a subjective definition and will agree that they were never art to him, but that does not mean they cannot be art to others), this kind of debate is very much welcome, as it intrinsically creates critical discussion of such works, and helps forge a new discourse for how this medium should be studied, regardless of its status as art or not.
the study of art is only one aspect of the humanities (as the field is also
engaged with culture, history, et al.), I can think of no field of study more
suited to picking up the task of engaging video games critically than
the digital humanities. Video games are objects that do not lend
themselves well to many of our extant discourses because of their
amalgamation of technology, design, creativity, and dynamism. The
digital humanities not only supports the interdisciplinary, multimedia
aspect of video games much better than many other fields due to the
interdisciplinary nature of the humanities in general, it is also one of the few fields of study to already critically
engage other dynamic texts (e.g. such as in critical code studies, since code
is practically always dynamic in how we can interact with it).
media studies is another more recent field that can also pick up this
mantle and help us engage with video games critically. But what it
cannot offer that the digital humanities can is the amount of support
needed to connect this new mode of discourse with other extant
humanities discourses. In other words, digital humanities acts much
better as an interdisciplinary communicator among various disciplines,
and new media studies is but one of those humanities disciplines which
the digital humanities can include in such a diverse engagement. Video
games should be studied as new media, as narratives, as historical
objects, as visual design, and as more, and the digital humanities will
allow such a complex discourse to be created around them.
Thankfully, I'm not the only one thinking this. In 2012, the Journal of Digital Humanities had a special section devoted to the intersection of video games with the field of history.
While this is far from perfect (in that it only looked at this media
from one field's point-of-view, whereas the digital humanities allows
for a forum to compare the different insights available through different fields of study), it is still a welcome step in the right direction.