Author Topic: Can Games be considered Art?  (Read 5310 times)

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Offline Cruithne

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Can Games be considered Art?
« on: January 04, 2006, 06:24:58 am »
This is something I have been wondering about recently.
When I say Art I mean something that causes you to think about your world in a new light, or expresses a deeply felt emotion you were previously unaware of.
The medium of games strikes me as peculiar in that unlike other entertainment mediums, it never seems to cross over into becoming Art.
Now I know some games are extremely pleasing to the eye Ico, Windwaker etc  and others like to mess with your mind MGS screen going blank with the name Hideo appearing, or telling you that a code is written on the box (meaning the actual back of the package the game came in), but to my knowledge, I can't think of a single game I would consider Art.

All games seem to fall into the category of testing your reflexes or strategic thinking/puzzle solving, usualy a combiantion of all of these factors.

I'd love to hear from anyone who disagrees and thinks that Games are as valid an artform as any other medium.



Offline Borogove

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2006, 11:42:13 am »
Tough question.  "Art" is one of those strange words that no definition seems to do justice to.  But seeing as games can contain, story, music, dance, visuals, etc. which are widely considered art, I think it quite strange that people would think games can't be art.

I guess you gave a definition to work from though so using that one:
Quote
something that causes you to think about your world in a new light, or expresses a deeply felt emotion you were previously unaware of.
 
The Sims, Sim Earth, Sim City, make you think about the world differently(or at least did for me).  Grand Theft Auto III made me realize that a game could actually make me feel guilty, and it really creeped me out when I realized that the game was really having a real-world effect on me.

I'd say that games can certainly be art, but that it's like any art form that gets commercialized...most of it is just crap made to make money, with examples that'd make you think of the medium as art being quite rare.
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Offline Cruithne

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2006, 02:21:24 pm »
I totally agree, most entertainment mediums exists to make money, and there's nothing wrong with that per se.But whilst I can think of the few examples other entertainment mediums that I would say cross the boundaries into Art, I can't think of a single one from the world of games.
Having said that, this may simply be the result of it being stilll a relatively new medium, after all, how long did it take comics to come up with The Watchmen?

Another prohibitive factor would seem to be the nature of producing games, and by that I mean the timescale, financial input and numbers of people involved.
It's notoriously hard trying to get a committee to agree on a budget, nevermind stay focussed on an abstract artistic goal.

Offline PatMan33

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2006, 03:09:51 pm »
Games can most certainly be considered art.

If you delve out of the mainstream (Not that I do that all too often... that can be expensive) there are some superb games with spectacular stories and memorable characters.

But there are plenty of popular games that are works of art! I consider Wind Waker a work of art. Sure some of the gameplay was trite and boring (Triforce Pieces!) but the story was top notch and the visuals were very nice!

However, most of the games that could be considered "art" don't sell too well... it stands to reason that if the masses want better visuals and more action that some of the elements that make the game more "artistic" will fall to the wayside. Not that they are bad games they just are not works of art.

Also, you have to think about games that can be used to create art, like The Sims. You may not think about it much but some people have done some very spectacular things with the little snapshot taker in that game.

But when it comes down to it, it is up to you and your opinions as to whether or not the game is art and whether or not you want to look at a video game as art.


Anyway, I see a few games as works of art.

Offline T-BirD

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2006, 04:44:57 pm »
Some that I CLEARLY consider art:

ReZ - its ability to evoke a transcendental experience is unrivaled.

Shadow of the Colossus - Besides being beautiful, it actually makes me feel bad for doing what I must to progress in the game.

Max Payne 2 - the comic book/noir-film style and story were excellent, and after completing it once, the game made me battle through other difficulties just to see an alternate ending because I cared so much about what happened to the characters.

If you consider literature to be art (why not, it's a form of expression that conveys ideas).  One of the best would be:

The Xenosaga series (if you can stomach the terrible voicework of part 2).

Beyond Good & Evil is right up there too, I believe.

Gaming, just like literature, movies, painting, sculpture, and music is a form of expression - however, it combines several of these into an interactive medium, often allowing the player to define their own experience (usually within defined boundaries however) as he or she would like.

Offline Darkel

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2006, 05:42:22 pm »
I don't care what anyone thinks. Shadow of the Colossus is art. Period.

Offline Cruithne

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2006, 09:00:02 am »
I don't care what anyone thinks. Shadow of the Colossus is art. Period.

I do care what other people think, else why bother to post on a forum like this in the first place?

I think I'm still gonna disagree with most people that have posted so far, even though I do agree that some of the games mentioned are extremely beautiful, prettiness in and of itself is not Art in my book.
The one example given that has some merit is Rez, it does set itself apart in being able to transport you to a semi-trancendental state.

Offline PatMan33

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2006, 11:58:27 am »
I think I'm still gonna disagree with most people that have posted so far, even though I do agree that some of the games mentioned are extremely beautiful, prettiness in and of itself is not Art in my book.

Well in my book I think that games are art.

 :-*

Offline Cruithne

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2006, 01:32:19 pm »
What? every game?

If not, which ones ?,and what sets them apart from the other games you don't consider art?

Offline Pando

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2006, 01:38:59 pm »
If graffiti is considered art, then video games are definitely art.

Offline 762

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2006, 01:43:59 pm »




(Kids art)


Which one seems more artful?

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Offline T-BirD

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2006, 01:57:54 pm »
Pong's actually not a bad example in this regard - it's a reinterpretation of something most of us are familiar with in some form, using a set of guidelines (aka, limitations of technology). What self-portrait, still life, etc isn't an interpretation of a real thing? Some are simply more successful than others.

Right now we seem to be obsessed with making things as real as possible (graphics-wise) - I can't wait to see more of the modernism equivalent that's been mostly lost in the last decade or so.

-------------EDIT-------------- (to avoid a double post)

Aren't videogames, like any other industry, innately driven by money? Money equals sales equals popularity, and, in the industry as we know it, popular demand determines the shape new games will take in the future. Games can't be developed without money. Game publishers flock to it. So why shouldn't creators?

Here's where the question of artistic integrity comes in. Capitalism can inspire creation, certainly, but often the best art is produced in defiance of monetary restraints, of realistic business models, of preoccupation with worldly gain. If mainstream videogames will always be defined by the ebb and flow of supply and demand, perhaps what we need to take risks outside the system, for the sake of art. Because, in a way, that's what raises a work from the level of entertainment to the level of art, even if it's not successful art - the hope to get something more out of it than money. Mediocre books are made all the time; they're usually the best-sellers. That doesn't mean there's no such thing as literature. As with games, originality often lies outside the restraints, both economic and cultural, of the mainstream.


For the sake of argument, from http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/26/13

The problem is, taking risks outside of the mainstream tends to bankrupt you.  Sega loved doing unusual, quirky games, and now the former powerhouse of the 16-bit era is reduced to being a publisher.

Nintendo at least has enough loyal customers that they can afford to take risks....but does every second game seriously have to have "Mario" in the title?  I guess if you want to sell units, it does...
« Last Edit: January 05, 2006, 04:43:24 pm by T-BirD »

Offline Borogove

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2006, 08:32:46 pm »
Unfortunately, what should be considered "art"  is pretty subjective.

Game Design is about designing an experience for an audience.  Sounds like something I could call art.
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
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Offline Darkel

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2006, 11:14:07 pm »
What? every game?

If not, which ones ?,and what sets them apart from the other games you don't consider art?

Yes. Every game. Every painting. Every movie. Every book, dance or song, is art, nomatter what your book says.

Don't mean to be so hostile but, this is something I feel strongly about.

Quote from: Dictionary.com
The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
By definition, videogames are one the best examples of Art. Just because they are stereotyped as mindless shooters for children doesn't make them any less worthy of the classification.

Definition
Link

Offline Cruithne

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Re: Can Games be considered Art?
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2006, 02:41:25 am »
Darkel

I didn't think you were being particularly hostile, just vigorously defending your own views, same as the rest of us.
Certainly, according to Dictionary.coms definition games are art, but then, so is the paint scheme in my bathroom using those rules.

T bird

Thanks for the post and the link, it's food for thought.
I happen to think that the prohibitive cost of making games stifles creativity, but with the seeming emergence of things like Xbox marketplace, or even Steams operating model, where quirky little games like ragdoll Kung Fu become economically viable, we may yet see what I consider Art

As an afterthought, the Mod community as well.