Games Now Legally Considered an Art Form (in the USA)

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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Games Now Legally Considered an Art Form (in the USA)

The US National Endowment for the Arts now considers videogames eligible for artistic funding, legally recognizing them as an art form.

The "games as art [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/tag/games%20as%20art?from_search=1]" debate will likely continue raging for years before videogames reach complete cultural acceptance, but at least one important organization now officially considers games art: The US Federal Government. Or, rather, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) considers games art - which technically amounts to the exact same thing.

For those not familiar with the NEA, it is a US government organization-slash-program which funds artistic projects around the country which will "enhance the public good." If you're an artist who wants to make a beautiful sculpture for a public place, for instance, and you don't want to sell it commercially - but you would like to continue eating - you can apply for a grant of up to $200,000 to make your work of art. There are all sorts of regulations and scrutiny in the application process, but that's the basic idea, anyway.

The NEA opened its application doors this week for 2012, and announced that it would be changing its criteria for what counted as art. Most significantly for our chosen pastime is that the category formerly known as The Arts on Radio and Television will now be known as The Arts in Media. It will include film, television and radio artistic projects, but will also add satellite-based and internet-based media (as opposed to just landline-based broadcasts) and, you guessed it, interactive media:

[blockquote]Projects may include high profile multi-part or single television and radio programs (documentaries and dramatic narratives); media created for theatrical release; performance programs; artistic segments for use within an existing series; multi-part webisodes; installations; and interactive games. Short films, five minutes and under, will be considered in packages of three or more. (Emphasis ours)[/blockquote]

Of course, any developer who wants federal funding for his or her next game will be competing with filmmakers, TV producers, radio stars and now internet productions too. Still, it means that an aspiring game-maker with an idea for an artistic game - which would have to be available for free, mind you - might have a shot at making it without being beholden to a larger publisher.

Naturally, this wouldn't just be the AAA-style of game that we're all accustomed to. Not only is $200k laughably small to the sort of money that goes into your average Call of Duty or Portal, the NEA only offers grants to projects which it deems for the public good. It's a safe bet that whatever game projects it approves - if any - will likely be different from what we see on shelves at GameStop.

But really, whether or not this grant will fund the sort of games that you and I would play for fun in our free time is ultimately irrelevant. What matters is that the NEA now officially considers videogames worthy of artistic merit, which is pretty damn cool.

(Via Icrontic [http://gaming.icrontic.com/article/nea-video-games-are-an-art-form/])

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BreakfastMan

Scandinavian Jawbreaker
Jul 22, 2010
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The question now is, how will this effect the Supreme Court case. I mean, if the NEA thinks that games should be considered a valid art-form, what will that say if the Supreme Court decides to side with California? Even more worrisome, if the Supreme Court still does side with California in light of this, what will be the effect on other art forms, like literature and film? It could set a worrying precedent... This could be very good, or very bad.
 

scotth266

Wait when did I get a sub
Jan 10, 2009
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Damnit Funk, I was hoping that this was a ruling on that Supreme Court case. Still, good news to hear.
 

mad825

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Mar 28, 2010
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PixelKing said:
Now we just need this in the UK.
We do because.....

This is not the US where the law is needed to recognise the medium to prevent heavily censorship.
 

Dango

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Feb 11, 2010
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I still don't really get why everyone thinks games have to be art.

Edit: Stop quoting this post. Reading through dozens of quotes all saying roughly the same thing gets old, disregard this post and write something that actually contributes to the discussion.

Double Edit: No seriously, stop it.
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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What you forgot to mention is that it's almost impossible to censor art in the US, basically killing that Californian thing.
 

binvjoh

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Sep 27, 2010
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Can I get a hell yes?

Dango said:
I still don't really get why everyone thinks games have to be art.
I don't think it's as much about being considered art as it's about getting some sort of recognition of the value as a serious part of society.
 

Steve the Pocket

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Mar 30, 2009
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John Funk said:
There are all sorts of regulations and scrutiny in the application process
Well, they don't work. I've seen what passes for "art" in outdoor public installations these days. I've seen playground equipment that looks more like a sculpture than some of those things.
 

Pillypill

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Aug 7, 2009
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this is exciting, it's a shame that this isn't a global recognision but it may well spread to other nations soon.
 

Jonluw

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May 23, 2010
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That's good.
Are we going to get abstract games now? Dadaistic games?

Are we going to see an interactive version of 'My bed'?
 

Booze Zombie

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So, if I were to desire to make a game that simulated in detail the difficulty of being a criminal... I might receive public funding for that, due to it having artistic merit?
 

dragongit

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Feb 22, 2011
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The guys at Extra Credit will love to hear this news! Games like all forms of media are finally coming to their own, and finally recognized as a form of art! And as all forms of the media; from design, animation, film, literature, ect, there will always be those whos subjects and content many may not agree with. But in the name of art we have to look past that to the media as a whole, and allow it to function and grow, instead of hindering it.

Games are not just a toy for children, they are a means of artistic expression, a way to inspire. I don't know if they exist in the world, but I would love to see a videogame museum. Literally just a huge museum where people can come to sample the finest from the past, from pong to classic arcade games, and even console systems throughout the ages. As I said, it could already exist, but now that its classified legally as art, I'm sure it could be more of a possibility.
 

Drummie666

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Jan 1, 2011
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Alright, Now then, where can I find the people protesting this decision? Anyone? I would love to hear all the stupid things their saying.

BTW, this is fantastic news.
 

dragongit

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Feb 22, 2011
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Booze Zombie said:
So, if I were to desire to make a game that simulated in detail the difficulty of being a criminal... I might receive public funding for that, due to it having artistic merit?
Grand Theft Auto?