Weigh In On The Games As Art Debate

Earnest Cavalli

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Weigh In On The Games As Art Debate



Are videogames art? Your opinion is needed.

This morning we cracked open the Escapist mailbag to a polite missive from Public Insight Journalism intern Gabriel Garbowit. He writes:

Hello Escapist!
I am Gabriel Garbowit, an intern at Public Insight Journalism which is apart of American Public Media. We noticed that the Smithsonian is doing an exhibit on the art of video games and we intend to make that into a story. We also have created a survey for anyone who has the time to fill out about their opinion on video games as art. Since we would like to hear the opinions of avid intelligent gamers, we thought your site would be a good way to get the message out.

Truth be told, we get emails like this all the time, but Mr. Garbowit's message is different for one key reason: he name-dropped American Public Media. That would be the same group that produces A Prairie Home Companion.

And who are we to say no to anyone even tangentially affiliated with Garrison Keillor?

Thus, I bid you all click through to Public Insight Journalism's short survey [https://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/preview/form/american-public-media/bee5f56c5e7f/are-video-games-art]. We know you people have opinions, some of which are even valid, so now here's your chance to thrust your mindshare into the ethereal public consciousness via the highbrow efforts of Mr. Garbowit and his colleagues.

Y'know, while we're here, we may as well use the below comments section for something, right? I know I asked you to contribute your thoughts to the above survey, but if any of you have anything else to say on the topic of games as art, please, do so in the comments.

Do you think games are art due to their being a form of self-expression via the use of symbology and novel communication methods within a medium constructed to express thought? Or do you refute this idea simply because Marcel Duchamp never stunned the Parisian bourgeoisie with a Super Nintendo?

The comments section is below. Do your thing.

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Earnest Cavalli

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I think the word art is so nebulous as to be incapable of NOT contaning games.

I know many have weighed in on the "Lets keep the word Art sacred" side of the debate but the damage is already done, with Tracy Emmett standing over the battered corpse of Art with a shit sketch in one hand and a dirty bed in the other. So where does that leave us? Well it leaves us with Art being a term for the snooty to endorse what they like and quash what they don't. The games as art debate basically comes down to a load of 'Old guard' types, who i tend to respect, telling us "Your widdle toys are not because we said so"

Art is a word of pretense and opinionation rather than meaning, it is an entirely subjective concept that has been erroded beyond all recognition. It SHOULD denote the ability to convey a deeper understnading of the human condition to the veiwer, something games have had for some time now, and which most modern 'art' sorely lacks.
 

LTK_70

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An online survey is probably the worst place to debate video games as an art.
 

Earnest Cavalli

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Scrumpmonkey said:
I think the word art is so nebulous as to be incapable of NOT contaning games.
Exactly.

Basically, in my mind, "art" is ANY creative expression of an idea or thought. It's impossible for games to not be considered art.

EDIT: I just noticed, the picture the OP included is supposedly "one of the greatest pieces of art ever created."

It's a urinal placed on its side. That's it. If you think THAT is art and video games aren't, you can go fuck yourself.
 

Atmos Duality

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An entirely subjective argument over what is ALREADY, by definition, a subjective description?
That's like two-layers of pointless and stupid.

Scrumpmonkey said:
I think the word art is so nebulous as to be incapable of NOT contaning games.
"Nebulous"...what a perfect description of the definition of "art".
 

Earnest Cavalli

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LTK_70 said:
An online survey is probably the worst place to debate video games as an art.
That's why you don't debate in the survey. You debate here. The survey just wants your thoughts.
 

RedEyesBlackGamer

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Earnest Cavalli said:
LTK_70 said:
An online survey is probably the worst place to debate video games as an art.
That's why you don't debate in the survey. You debate here. The survey just wants your thoughts.
You expect me to discuss things on an online discussion board? What madness is this?
 

Dango

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I still have no idea why anyone thinks games have to be art.
 

Earnest Cavalli

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Atmos Duality said:
An entirely subjective argument over what is ALREADY, by definition, a subjective description?
That's like two-layers of pointless and stupid.

Scrumpmonkey said:
I think the word art is so nebulous as to be incapable of NOT contaning games.
"Nebulous"...what a perfect description of the definition of "art".
I think its the only word that really fits, "Illdefined" is a gross understatement. Instead of trying to define games as are we should be worring about both the defination of art, like you said an entirely subjective concept that has been erroded beyond all recognition and why some people are trying use it as a weapon against games to justify their lack of experince of them.
 

LordOrin

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To quote Penny Arcade: "If a hundred artists create art for five years, how could the result not be art?"
 

StriderShinryu

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Thank you for bringing this to our attention, I was more than happy to fill out the survey. I also think those deriding this as just another online survey are being a little shortsighted. Yes, there are a few survey style questions, but there are also several short answer style questions plus the possibility that the information seeker will contact you for even more details on your opinions. A simple "Are Games Art? Yes/No" this is not.

As for the question itself, yes games are very clearly art. Certainly not every game is "art" but neither is every movie, painting, book, piece of music, etc. No one says that a movie can't be art simply because The Transformers films exist, and no one says that just because movies can be art The Trsnsformers films should not be allowde to exist.
 

jurnag12

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I'll simply cite a quote I once read on a forum somewhere:
"If dozens of artists put their blood, sweat and tears into something for months or years at a time, how can it not be considered art?"
 

Earnest Cavalli

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I was always for the preservation of the term art as what it initially meant. Hence, to me art is literature, art (painting) and music. Whatever combines those roots is an elevated form of art. Hence, cinematography just like games combines all three root forms of art. In many ways a movie allows you to experience art much more intensely than any of the root forms would because it combines them and you experience them all at once. At times this allows for easy creation as one has more means to an end, but sometimes it's very hard to picture abstract ideas, to even imagine them let alone visualize them. Hence, games can thus just like movies be an elevated form of root art forms, taking the initial art form a step further, developing it, but can also mean its downfall...depending on idea and creator.

What games do which no other root form of art or combined form of art can do to such an extent is allow for the creator to express himself exactly the way he would. I hate it when people interpret art they way they want because it could as easily have been cow dung on grass they would have interpreted it the way they want. An artist has a message which his audience either succeeds or fails to understand. Charles Baudelaire even had to publish an explanation of his poem Les Albatros because people insisted on interpreting it anyway they want and never as it should be interpreted. With video games artists can design everything the way they want to, from the look of the characters to the environment and how the plot develops. Certainly, some still allow for imagination when creating characters because they know it's what the majority of people want...not to understand the message but to create the message themselves without having to write or design anything. Whichever way a developer creates his game is entirely up to him, hence artists can flourish: 1) there is no room for imagination as the audience can only receive the message the way the author envisioned it (of course, there's still room for interpretation plotwise but you can't have it all), 2) there's as much room for imagination as the other half of the audience would want (plotwise in Bioware rpgs and sandbox games when it comes to roaming). Both these 2 points are impossible to be achieved without video games. But not only the author can express himself better than ever, the audience can experience the message better than ever. Suddenly the envisioned world is more than just letters on paper or paint on canvas. True, cinematography did this already, but the audience isn't just a simple bystander anymore, the audience not only sees and hears the form of art but also feels it...and even controls it.

I could go on and on, but the essence is there; video games are the to date the most perfect form of combined art. And if anything other than literature, art and music is supposed to be coined as art than it's video games.
 

Dango

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Satsuki666 said:
Dango said:
I still have no idea why anyone thinks games have to be art.
You meant other then to try and justify spending sixty hours a week playing video games?
And why exactly would anyone feel the need to justify this?
 

Earnest Cavalli

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Dango said:
And why exactly would anyone feel the need to justify this?
Duno mabey because they are sad sacks of shit who are secretly ashamed of their hobby? Either that or they know that they have an unhealthy obsession with something and are trying to justify it so people will stop bothering them about it.
 

Lordmarkus

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OutrageousEmu said:
I think may have gone overboard. I just wrote out a full essay on why Shadow of the Colossus is art.
I'm with you mate. First why Led Zeppelin IV the greatest album ever and then why Half-Life 2 and Portal is the supreme examples of "Showing vs Telling" in games. Back to something useful.
 

Earnest Cavalli

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Lordmarkus said:
OutrageousEmu said:
I think may have gone overboard. I just wrote out a full essay on why Shadow of the Colossus is art.
I'm with you mate. First why Led Zeppelin IV the greatest album ever and then why Half-Life 2 and Portal is the supreme examples of "Showing vs Telling" in games. Back to something useful.
Uh, no, Shadow of the Colossus is still a better example of "show without the need for huge exposition" than Portal and Half Life 2. Because there is virtually no dialogue in Shadow of the Colossus, whereas there is in Half Life 2 and Portal.