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Can A Video Game Be Art?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Gigiwoo, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Recently, I read this thread about Roger Ebert's bold article, 'Video Games Can't Be Art'. And, that got me to wondering ... Can a Video Game Be Art?

    And, after thinking about it for a while. I wrote an article for Gamasutra.

    Which begins:

    And, after reading it, I'm curious. What do you think?

    Gigi.
     
  2. MarigoldFleur

    MarigoldFleur

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    Yes.

    Next question?
     
  3. hafizmrozlan

    hafizmrozlan

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    Not for me.

    An art is something you look at, something you admire. It is a work presented by the artist for you, from himself, unaltered.

    But games, it can be really beautiful and artistic, but it is interactive in nature, player can change how it's played, how its look like, it can depict differently from what originally intended thus it'll never truly represent the author's original idea nor intention.
     
  4. khanstruct

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    I haven't found that to be true at all. Sure, more open-ended games may grant you the ability to play a game differently, but I have never seen a game that gave interaction so much power, it would change the overall mood, message or aesthetic of the game.
     
  5. fbgbdk4

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    According to a recent exposition by an american museum (MOMA? Can't remember), games are, in the less common denominator, design art. More especifically, even the gameplay is design, in the arty sense.

    In a broder range, it is multimedia art:

    Design: the gameplay
    Art: the art :)
    Music: see above
    Theater, literature, it is all there.

    Indeed, it is the most complete art.
     
  6. khanstruct

    khanstruct

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    I think my biggest complaint when these topics get brought up is that, the people who make the claim that video games are not art (because they have no significant message, they can't affect people psychologically or emotionally, etc) are the same people who, in the same breath, blame video games for corrupting youth and give way to violent behavior.

    Their arguments contradict each other and use nothing but bias opinion, when the truth is, they just don't like video games.
     
  7. Word

    Word

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    Just wondering, why are you asking the same question I asked some months ago and even start the same way I did, and cite Roger Ebert, and repost an article you've used as a reply to my post already?

    Anyway, see old thread for my take on the subject

    I am not.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  8. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    I wondered what Jenova Chen himself was trying to evoke when he designed Journey. And, so I looked it up. Here it is, in his own words:

    And, reading that, I am surprised at how close my own emotional experience was:

    I think Jenova Chen nailed it.

    Gigi
     
  9. Word

    Word

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    Well, then I can only recommend you try playing Armagetron once (see my signature) :)

    It's the only thing you ever play once you're good at it.
     
  10. fbgbdk4

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    Have you ever played Positron? :)

    http://www.gamespot.com/positron/
     
  11. Word

    Word

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    actually pretty sure i have, yeah, but thanks;)
     
  12. imaginaryhuman

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    I think art is more about BEING the artist and creative expression, creating artistically, putting on a `performance` which is artistic. I think that the end result, the form, the finished product itself is not really the art. But what's important is where the art came from, the state of mind and heart, the spirituality behind it, the intention, and that has nothing really to do with the end product. So I think looking at the end product to decide whether it is art or not misses the point of what art is - art as the way the soul expresses itself, the way that creation happens, not focussing on what is created. And then people look to the end result and ask if it's art or try to receive a sense of what the artist was experiencing when they expressed it, but really the end result is just a doorway to the mind of the artist and if you go through that doorway past appearances then you yourself are being an artist, connecting with that person on a level of oneness of mind. Or something.
     
  13. Khyrid

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    Yes, in fact they have to capacity to be art more than any other medium. The fact they are games and it has been considered childish has given the the reputation that they are not.

    Now, many games, if not most are not really art, but that doesn't mean games cannot be art.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise has never been moved by a game before, I pity them.

    shadow of the colossus
    super metroid
    FF7 and others

    to name a few...
     
  14. khanstruct

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    Anyone who thinks that they can determine what art is or is not, clearly doesn't know the first thing about art.

    It can be art you don't "get". It can even be art that you don't like.

    Personally, I don't "get" the plastic snow shovel hanging from the ceiling at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, or the Cherry Spoon Bridge in the Sculpture Garden, but apparently they evoke something in someone. So be it. I'm not going to tell someone that it isn't art; it simply isn't my taste.

    I'm not so arrogant as to make the distinction for someone else.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  15. poncho

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    Nice to have one editor of gamasutra in here

    I do consider some video games as art, the same as some "art" do not think of it as art, i mean some games are just do this think for ever an ever, the same as some art pieces are, this paint with only but a blue dot in center...
     
  16. sama-van

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    Doesn't art is supposed to be a way to communicate his feel?
    A way to say thing from a physical representation?

    I think people they do not think too much about it can express art on their own.

    But at the inverse, people trying to understand too much about art will only be spectator trying to understand things they won't be able to feel one day.


    I'll simply define art from the creation of something we can attach a deep feel.
    There is no art if we do not feel what we do.


    Then well, video games?
    If people get sadness, happiness, etc... playing games.
    I think the video games could be call a piece of art.
     
  17. makeshiftwings

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    Seeing as how there are endless university courses and volumes of books all trying to decipher what is or is not art, I don't think this thread is going to come up with the one true answer. Everyone has a different opinion on what exactly that certain something is that transforms "not art" into "art".
     
  18. nipoco

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    Not for me.
    Games are entertainment. They serve a different purpose than art.

    My 2 cents
     
  19. khanstruct

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    Is a movie not entertainment? A book?

    I'll agree, a lot of games don't make any attempt at being art. Some are simply toys to be played with. However, that can easily be said for most anything else that is considered "art". Movies, books, plays. Heck even some paintings and sculptures make no attempt at being art.
     
  20. drewradley

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    Let's see; many video games have music (art), writing (art) and pretty pictures to look at (more art). So why does putting all those things that are commonly accepted as art into an interactive format make it no longer art? Can the gestalt really be less than its parts? I don't think so.
     
  21. Khyrid

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    It's simple, those who say a video game cannot be art are wrong. Objectively wrong, it's not a matter of opinion.
     
  22. nipoco

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    That is subjective. Art itself is subjective. And it is a matter of opinion.

    This thread is the best example. Some see games as art, and others not.
     
  23. dtg108

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    But I feel that games are sometimes very nice to look at. The atmospheres, like art, really give it a cool feel. So do I think games are art? Yes. If the people that put their good hard time and money into making a game want to call it art, than they can call it art. Art, to me, isn't a definition, but more of an-opinion. Trash to one man may be art to another.
     
  24. scottland

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    short answer: maybe

    long answer: what is art?
     
  25. Dabeh

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    But art is interpreted differently and I find it even better if I can interpret something completely different than someone else, yet it still is art.

    Why does there have to be an "original idea" or "intention"? Can't it just be what it is?

    Why are people more interested in the artist than the art itself.
     
  26. TylerPerry

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    Most don't care about art, nor the artist it is about money and social status.
     
  27. Word

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    As Ebert said, you can't win or lose a work of art. Goethe 'defined' art as a work that pleases us without any sexual or possessive interest. By this definition, games aren't art, because people constantly buy new ones and they appeal to your interest in possessing certain objects. Sure his definition wasn't perfect and included some contradictions, but I think this part is right.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  28. yls

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    That a strange reading of Goethe. So if people buy paintings or watch movies "constantly", they aren't art anymore ? If you find interest in the possession of some comics book then it suddently stop being art ? It's absurd.

    I also like to refer to this quote when i think about art. But it has to be interpreted quite literally : Do playing game enhance your chance of reproduction (survival interest) ? no. Do you play game to gain money (possessive interest) ? No. So they are art by this definition.

    This quote has the advantage to be easily confronted with reality. When i cook pasta it's for food (survival interest) but when i cook pasta and add some spices I like, it doesn't improve the survival interest so it's becoming art. I don't say it's the "best Art of the world" (and maybe it's bad taste :) ) but somehow it's start to become art.

    As said earlier by some fellow, the main issue with this whole discussion is that the question isn't "Are games Art ?" but "What is Art ?". Given the definition, you will get different answer.
     
  29. Blacklight

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    Search 'art define' on Google and you get:
    Games are only possible though human creativity and imagination, and take a lot of skill to make (make well, at least). So by that definition, yes, I do believe games are art.
     
  30. FuzzyLuke

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    One's feelings are one's feelings, after all :)

    I feel the same way about religion as I do about art: it should be introspective and nothing else.
     
  31. Khyrid

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    Nothing is subjective. The universe is objective and so is everything in it. Subjective is just a word we use when we can't fully grasp the countless variables at work. If art was truly subjective then we could take all the art out of museums and burn it and it would be no big deal, just like burning a bunch of random crap.

    Regardless if you accept this, there is nothing that can be differentiated between a video game and other accepted forms of art that can in any way show one to be art and the other not to be. If you believe a painting can be art, then you accept that a video game can be art because a video game can have imagery also.

    So even though people can have their own opinions on what they consider art, because a video game can be identical to other things they admit are art, their arguments are self defeating. That's why I said they are objectively wrong, because they conflicted themselves.
     
  32. drewradley

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    Two words: martial arts.
     
  33. Word

    Word

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    Not what I implied, but ideally a player has a possessive interest in two respects. First, many people buy games as a status symbol or because everyone buys them and they already know what they get through the advertisements, second, he plays it and wants to get points/more levels/bonus points etc. Yeah, comics are art, but they don't have a scoreboard.

    Well, d'uh. Has nothing to do with the fine arts, which is what the topic is about.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  34. khanstruct

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    That's an assumption. I've never bought a game as a status symbol, nor do I know anyone who has. I have bought games based on recommendation, but I also see most movies and read most books based on recommendation.

    Have you ever played an RPG. You don't play for points. You play to see the story through to the end and find out what happens. This is also true for nearly every modern, single player game.
     
  35. Word

    Word

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    So replace advertisements with "friends' recommendations"... RPG's still include fights you can lose, don't they?
     
  36. drewradley

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    You may be referring to fine arts but that is not what this topic is about. In fact I think you are the first poster to add "fine" to "art" in this thread. If you are asking if video games are "fine art", then, probably not, but then again, neither is any other form of pop art.
     
  37. khanstruct

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    Its the same either way. I buy a game because its recommended, just like I see a movie because its recommended. I even go to museums because people recommend them.

    Do you think anyone just stumbles upon the Sistine Chapel? Of course not. They've heard about it, read about it, and they've seen pictures of it. They absolutely know what to expect (on a superficial level), just as it is with game recommendations.

    Of course; and that is part of the art. It allows for more emotional investment from the user (and therefore greater emotional return). More so, in fact, than any other art form that is meant to evoke emotion.
     
  38. Word

    Word

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    Yeah, but you can't simply buy the Sistine Chapel.

    I also wouldn't suscribe that games in general require you to be more emotional than other art forms, see FPS games - many people blame them for making people less emotional. I'm not saying they're responsible for someone getting nuts and running amok, since I played some myself, but clearly they're part of the problem in some way. Maybe some RPGs do, but it's not the rule.
     
  39. khanstruct

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    No, but you can simply buy a painting, movie or book. Again, the same example applies.

    And no, people blame video games for making people more aggressive and less empathetic. Slightly different wording, but vastly different meaning.

    Ever since Super Mario Brothers, the bulk of video games have focused around telling a story. That was why you played them! To find out that Samus was a girl! That Super Mario 2 was all just a dream! That Cloud Strife was a schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur! To rescue your pet frog, only to discover that HE had become the great evil monster!!! (bonus points to anyone who knows what game I'm talking about)

    I think you approach games too superficially. Or maybe you just play mindless games. Or maybe you don't pay attention to them when you play them. Maybe you're an emotionally detached person. Either way, its not the fault of the game if you're not getting anything out of it beyond "status and points".

    Hundreds of millions of people are drawing meaningful and lasting experiences from these games. They are, without question, art. Possibly the greatest form of art there is.
     
  40. Kinos141

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    To answer the question, it already is.
     
  41. Arowx

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    Games = Art

    QED

    Art = Games
     
  42. Word

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    And yet you watch the Sistine Chapel without a certain objective aside from thinking about it, the artists, or how they made it, and what stories the images tell. You aren't 'kept back' by the feeling that you have to get further or need to win something. Explore more, yes, but not score, beat the game. Plus you can always return and move where you want. If there had been a 3d version of the Sistine Chapel one could explore before the Chapel itself was built, THAT would have been art.

    I'm thinking the same about you and art.

    So why is the medium so special? Can't the stories just be put in books, or comics, for the same result?

    I didn't say that this is anything negative, it just nullifies the possibility to consider it art, in my eyes.

    One can say the same about religion and how so many believers can't be wrong that there is a god. I'm Catholic, but even I understand that one thing has nothing to do with the other here. False argument.

    As you can see, there are lots of questions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  43. khanstruct

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    So you think, the moment someone is able to interact with something, it can no longer be art? Art must be passive? What if I'm watching someone else play? Is it art then?

    How so? I'm a fan of all forms of art. I'm not claiming the statue of David is bauble. You, however, are making the claim that games are nothing more than toys.

    They could, sure. Much in the way that many movies are turned into books and vice versa. The unique thing about video games as an art form is that they allow for interaction.

    Receiving a boon for experiencing a piece of art doesn't diminish the art itself. They have gift stores at the Louvre, does that nullify the art there?

    Not even close to the same thing. Nice try though.

    I'm not saying its art because millions of people say so. I'm saying its art because millions of people have emotionally meaningful experiences from gaming. That's not an opinion, its a fact. (Unless you're brazen enough to tell people that they're wrong about their own emotions.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  44. makeshiftwings

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    I think Word is doing the same thing Ebert did; putting the cart before the horse. He knows beforehand he doesn't want games to be art, so he's trying to think of things that are different between a game and a movie and then claiming that those things are what make it "not art", despite the fact that most definitions of art have nothing to do with what he's talking about. Yes, a game has a controller and a movie doesn't; that is one difference between a game and a movie. But you can't just point at differences between a game and a movie and claim that that's what makes it no longer art. People used to claim that movies weren't art along the same lines. They knew they didn't like movies, and they didn't want them to be art, so they said things like "Movies move, paintings don't. Therefore, something is only art if it doesn't move." Just as people back then were using silly differences to try and justify their dislike of a new medium, people today do the same thing with our medium.
     
  45. npsf3000

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    I figure games are art... because art is very general 'something created with skill and imagination'.

    I find most who disagree with that sentiment, try to define art in a way that is:

    A) Inconsistant with the usage of the word art [artefact, art of war, graphic artist].
    B) Indescribable. Often revolving around a magic 'something' that 'some' people get yet others don't.
     
  46. makeshiftwings

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    I think another way to look at it is deciding what additions to a work of art make it stop being art. If I tape an Xbox controller to the Mona Lisa, does it stop being art? If I add a page saying "Flip a coin to see if you win!" to the end of War and Peace, does it stop being art? If I add an interactive dvd menu to the beginning of Casablanca, does it stop being art? I don't think any of those additions suddenly disqualify something from being art.

    The world's foremost art curators think games are art, some of the greatest artists of our time think games are art, our greatest art museums have displays of games as art. Just because a washed up old movie reviewer who is losing his audience to games grumbles about it doesn't mean they're not art.
     
  47. Word

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    The difference between me and Ebert is that I want games to be art, yet am convinced that they aren't. See my thread on the subject.

    No, if one interacts to get a certain amount of points or reach something concrete, as opposed to abstract, like beating the game. The players aren't performance artists. This is mostly about the passive role of the recipient to me.

    Did you read the other thread? Anyway, I love games, and I especially love old 1950/60 tin toys and regard them as art. I don't regard boardgames like chess as art, except if, say, the chess table itself can be seen as such. I don't view current video games as art because I think we're still in the pre-cave-painting phase, and I've tried to explain why in the other thread.

    The question I'm asking is, would you really be missing anything in the plot if you take away the interaction? I guess that's one of the reasons Walkthrough videos are so popular.
    Yeah, but once you stand in front of the Mona Lisa, there's nothing you need to unlock or soldiers you need to pass, you just have to think and you get no silly tutorial unless you buy a guide. Most games simply don't challenge me on a moral or intellectual level, and the ones that do still won't allow real decisions - you just have a few pre-defined options at best (stealth kill/frontal attack etc) and mainly need to collect stuff or pass rather dull tests to advance.

    People also had emotionally meaningful experiences from other stuff, like religion, or football. It doesn't justify anything however, or mean that the religion with the most followers who have such experiences is the right one. Or that the soccer club with the most Hooligans is the best. I am not telling people they are wrong about their emotions, but their emotions have little to do with the question whether games are art or not (mind you, I'm only talking about most current games). Using the railway isn't art either if you have an emotionally valuable experience by enjoying the landscape go by. Maybe current games are more comparable to vehicles, they serve plots and gameplay and are professionally designed, but they aren't anything beyond that.


    Um, it doesn't change because you put a controller in front of it. But the controller AND the Mona Lisa isn't a work of art, just the painting. It's just what you described, a work of art and something that has little or nothing to do with the rest. At best they're means by which you can access something.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  48. makeshiftwings

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    What about games that don't have scores, fixed goals, linear plots, or even endings? I think you're limiting yourself to shooters and action games. Minecraft has no score, goal, or plot, and it didn't have an "end" for the first two years of its life; even now its "end" is kind of a pointless aside that most players ignore. The Sims games don't have scores, plots, or endings; you set your own goals. Most RPG's center around the story and the journey, not "winning". Books and movies have ends; you "win" when you finish them and you work towards reaching the end. Merely having an end point and wanting to see how a narrative ends does not transform something from art into non-art. Whether you're turning the pages of a book or fighting monsters, you're interacting with the medium with an end goal in mind to see how things turn out for your character.
     
  49. Word

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    We've talked a great deal about Minecraft in the other thread. It's an exception, yeah.
     
  50. Ghoxt

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    Apparently someone doesn't play very many video games if any at all.

    Some of the most beautiful architecture I've ever seen has been in a video game, and I've travelled the world.

    A quick example is Guild Wars 2, and the many vistas in the game that are breathtaking, one notable city is Lion's Arch which when I first played the game I kept saying, I wish this was for real as it was incredible design.

    ART has many faces, and the Movie critic should know better. It really is in the eye of the beholder. I'm sure he's never gone beyond Pong.