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All Your Art Are Belong To Us
March 16, 2011 9:12 AM   Subscribe

All your art are belong to us. Previously, Rogert Ebert said that video games can never be art. And previously, some disagreed. In a recent opinion piece, game developer Brian Moriarty discusses the debate, and fires a fresh salvo. The piece is long winded, examining art, medium, games, and industry. He seems to conclude that games are not Art, but lengthily addresses what may be the more important question: Could they be?
posted by Stagger Lee (133 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Crimes can be art.

Anything where anyone is creatively attempting to express something, is art. That includes games.

NOW LET'S NEVER DISCUSS IT AGAIN
posted by DU at 9:16 AM on March 16, 2011 [30 favorites]



Crimes can be art.

Anything where anyone is creatively attempting to express something, is art. That includes games.

NOW LET'S NEVER DISCUSS IT AGAIN


Call me vain, but I'm secretly hoping for a discussion of the context, history and analysis from the article. Because it's interesting, even handed, and address all of that nonsense.

Now get off my lawn.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This comment is not art. OR IS IT?!
posted by kmz at 9:19 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, if the man who created Wishbringer, Trinity, Beyond Zork and Loom says that games can't be art...



...then he's wrong.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I will never understand why computer graphics and storytelling are arts, but put them together and allow interactivity, which often greatly increases emotional response, and the art is gone. Put me in the camp of never wanting to have this discussion again. Get off my lawn, I'm gonna go play PixelJunk Eden.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:26 AM on March 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've spent some time thinking about this recently, and I've come to the conclusion that games most certainly can be art, albeit a fleeting impermanent kind. Until there is a universal game emulator that allows us to go back and play any game from any system, once the state of the art has moved on, any games from that era are effectively dead to the masses and will most likely never be viewed again.

Outside of people's memories and discussions and other works of art commemorating the playing of these games.

Games are art in the same way that ice sculpture and sand mandalas can be art, beautiful, perfect*, and fleeting.

*I use the word "perfect" here in the sense that our memories can smooth over rough edges and make something much better than it actually was. In my mind, the game Blood was something I'll always cherish, in the same way that I'll love having gone to a museum to see great paintings. However, I'm sure that playing it again would reveal that it actually kind of sucked. In the time and place where I was when I played it, however, it was perfect.
posted by quin at 9:28 AM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Emily Short wrote a couple of excellent blog posts addressing Moriarty's talk, where she makes the basic point that "games aren't art!" is "shorthand for saying that games don’t and can’t convey anything important, can’t meaningfully enrich the lives of players, can’t be a valid mode of expression for game designers," which seems to be lost on a lot of people who are giving their opinions on this topic.
posted by theodolite at 9:29 AM on March 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


If we value film and photography in the same way we value a painting and each of these things is Art because of the inherent beauty of visual representation then why can't the sun setting aginst a backdrop of the cities and the islands of Panau from Just Cause 2 be Art?

I agree that Go and Chess are not by definition art but I would say that a game of Go/Chess can be presented in an artistic medium. Basically what I am saying is that if you want to be specific and say games are not art I might agree with you but whilst what I am doing in a game is not Art, I am doing stuff with Art in the background.
posted by longbaugh at 9:32 AM on March 16, 2011


As I read it, here's the crux of Moriarty's indeed longwinded apologia for Ebert:

Video games could be art in some sense, but that sense is kitsch, rather than the "sublime art" that Ebert is interested in. The salient kitsch-making feature of video games, as far as Moriarty is concerned, is that they're trying to attract consumers. So they will probably never qualify as sublime art, either because of (1) commercial pressures on even the indie game designers, which will demand them to produce kitsch, or because (2) consciously setting out to create a game that counts as sublime art will just result in pretentious trash.

I think both (1) and (2) are open to dispute, as reasons to expect no game will ever count as sublime art. And although Moriarty recognizes that sublime art is also produced under consumer pressure, he doesn't seem to overcome this counterexample.
posted by Beardman at 9:35 AM on March 16, 2011


I think a big problem with the whole discussion is that "games," or even "video games" aren't really a thing that can be classified or even really talked about as a totality -- I mean, what can you say about Bejeweled that applies to Second Life, Zork, and Call of Duty? (Not to mention that people are now making art ABOUT games.)
posted by theodolite at 9:37 AM on March 16, 2011


I have been researching this question for exactly 1 year.

summation of my findings is that art is expression and gameplay is flow.

the 2 are related in many ways but they are not the same thing

you can wrap art around flow but flow is inherently an internal individual process.
posted by victors at 9:39 AM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


As I read it, here's the crux of Moriarty's indeed longwinded apologia for Ebert:

Video games could be art in some sense, but that sense is kitsch, rather than the "sublime art" that Ebert is interested in. The salient kitsch-making feature of video games, as far as Moriarty is concerned, is that they're trying to attract consumers. So they will probably never qualify as sublime art, either because of (1) commercial pressures on even the indie game designers, which will demand them to produce kitsch, or because (2) consciously setting out to create a game that counts as sublime art will just result in pretentious trash.


I wonder if the same thing could perhaps be said about films, though...at least some of them?
posted by spirit72 at 9:41 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Games are art in the same way that ice sculpture and sand mandalas can be art, beautiful, perfect*, and fleeting.

Okay, so this makes me suddenly ping on something... which I'm going to express clumsily, but oh well...

Games are about process, art is about product... Sand mandalas... are they about the process of making them, or the final, impermanent product? Ditto ice sculptures.

Now, using the article's example of chess... is the game itself art, or are there examples of individual games which are art themselves?

Okay, I don't even know where I'm going with this, but it's tickling something in the back of my mind. As yet unformed, yet still somehow important.
posted by hippybear at 9:41 AM on March 16, 2011


As soon as sometime defines "art" to my and everyone else's satisfaction, I will care about this debate.
posted by Aquaman at 9:42 AM on March 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


I would submit that the PS3 game Flower is a better piece of art than some fuck it, most, of the shit I've seen on display at the New Museum which is, ostensibly, a building full of art.
posted by gagglezoomer at 9:43 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there any other things which we define as "Art" that retain such a degree of interactivity? I think that's the biggest disconnect between Art and Games. I'm curious if this translates across all mediums or whether it's specifically a problem that video games have. As a secondary question does my meddling with someone else's created work mean that it is no longer art?
posted by longbaugh at 9:44 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The experience of any work of art is the result of an engagement and interaction between the thoughts and feelings of the observer and the work itself. A video game just makes that interaction more explicit.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:44 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anything can be art. These strike me as commercial art, but the same could be said of some of the enduring masterpieces of all time.

I am not sure why there has to be a line between certain created things . . . if it is created, seems like it's art. It may or not be good art, a truly subjective judgement, bur surely it is art nonetheless.
posted by bearwife at 9:44 AM on March 16, 2011


If it can elicit an emotion from someone, it's art.
posted by inturnaround at 9:45 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


So they will probably never qualify as sublime art, either because of (1) commercial pressures on even the indie game designers, which will demand them to produce kitsch

Because, as we all know, sublime art has never been created under commercial pressures.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:47 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just get tired of this argument because the people that say that ___ isn't art are being completely dismissive of things they personally don't understand or like.

Art can be anywhere and everywhere, and it should be inclusive, not some kind of exclusive club where only the moneyed elite and educated class can enjoy and express themselves.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:48 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bob just murdered Harry. Now Harry's brother is mad. Did Bob make art?

(I'm on the gamers' side on this, but blanket statements like "If it can elicit an emotion from someone, it's art" are just as absurd as anything the other side says.)
posted by kmz at 9:51 AM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Count me in Aquaman's camp. It seems that, at the moment, one person could say that art is this so video games are/can be art, and another can say that art is that so video games aren't/can't be art, and both are right. It does all seem a little pointless. (At least to a non-arty person such as me.)

One observation I would make: Braid is often cited in this debate, and though it certainly had more to 'say' about the human condition (as classic literature might) than, say, Pac Man, it couldn't be ranked up with Ulysses in that regard. It was an interesting game to play though. Maybe the pressure of making a fun game acts against artistic quality? Would a game that was 'great art' cease to be a game and become something else instead?
posted by thoughtless at 9:52 AM on March 16, 2011


I used to care about this debate, but really, the people who are saying that games aren't or can't be art are so transparently wrong that they might as well be living on another planet from me, and as time passes the idea that anybody could sincerely believe such a thing will be seen as more and more ridiculous.
posted by empath at 9:54 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I see some attempts to distinguish between a work of art, an expression, and a participant, or flow, or process.

What about an orchestra? A performance of an expression of art (the composition), but any fan or critic of classical music will agree that the process, the participants, the flow (the orchestra) is as important to the work of art which is the overall experience.

How is this different from the game itself, which is the expression, and the process, or flow, of its play by a participant?

If we abide by the strict definitions suggested upthread, then only the original composition of a piece of music is art, whereas its performance by an orchestra is... something else? Just as artful as if played by a computer using MIDI?
posted by gilrain at 9:55 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Art" includes anything that any individual regards as art, and anyone saying definitively otherwise is practicing cultural Stalinism.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:57 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm tired of this discussion and any discussion that boils down to "Is it really [some arbitrary label]?" Whether the label is "art" or "punk" or "racist" or anything else, the argument is always more about defining the label than it is about the actual subject of the discussion. If the point of the discussion is to compare video games to other media or debate the merits of video games, then let's just do that, rather than trying to decide what vague and mostly meaningless meta-category they should be filed under.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:57 AM on March 16, 2011


Video games can be art.

*walks out of thread*
posted by eyeballkid at 9:58 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really isn't the question the importance of video games as art? Not are video games art?

I mean Thomas Kincaide is "art", but he's trite and worthless intellectually.
posted by JPD at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


*throws "ASK ME ABOUT LOOM" badge to the floor, stomps out*
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:03 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really isn't the question the importance of video games as art? Not are video games art?

I mean Thomas Kincaide is "art", but he's trite and worthless intellectually.


I wish this were the question. That would be an interesting debate, and I think very few games would make the cut.

However, alas... the question really (still) is "are games art?" for many people.
posted by gilrain at 10:06 AM on March 16, 2011


Films are art.

Roger Ebert thinks so highly of film as an art form that he dictates the value of individual films by pointing his thumb in one of two directions.

I can can dictate the value of individual games by pointing my thumb in one of two directions.

Therefore, games are art.
posted by notmydesk at 10:07 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seems like the important point here, and one I reluctantly (albeit provisionally) agree with, is that games, if they are to be considered art at all, fall into that category of mass-market art known as kitsch. Just as most films and most paintings and most sculpture and most anything else that exists for the purpose of providing aesthetic pleasure. That's kind of hard to wriggle around. And his point about the massive budgets and millions of hours of work that go into making something like Black Ops, well, it's a good point. You don't spend years and millions to make aesthetic statements when you're in the business of making money. And I agree with him also about the artistic trapping of indie "art" games: most that I've played substitute solemnity for profundity and confuse gestures toward "better" art for making "better" art.

But neither he nor, in the end, Ebert, deny the POSSIBILITY that a game can rise to the level of "sublime art". That the industry is organized in such a way as to almost guarantee that that won't happen is dismaying but inevitable -- has sublime art ever arisen out of an engine of capitalism? I dunno. I'm no art historian.

But maybe by warning the industry of the seduction of kitsch this lecture will strike a chord, and someone, somewhere, right now, could be coding the game that really will be up there with Picasso's Guernica and Michaelangelo's David, and maybe I'll get to play it. That'd be great.

Of course, that game just might be Minecraft.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:07 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish this were the question. That would be an interesting debate, and I think very few games would make the cut.

An average day of posts on reddit would demonstate that for the current generation, video games are far more important to them than movies and books as cultural touchstones. It's not even close.
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


And his point about the massive budgets and millions of hours of work that go into making something like Black Ops, well, it's a good point. You don't spend years and millions to make aesthetic statements when you're in the business of making money.

But maybe by warning the industry of the seduction of kitsch this lecture will strike a chord, and someone, somewhere, right now, could be coding the game that really will be up there with Picasso's Guernica and Michaelangelo's David, and maybe I'll get to play it. That'd be great.

"David" took three years to make, and Michekangelo was paid a heckuva lot of money to make it by its sponsor, the church. Arguably to increase the prestige (and patronage) of their services. Early church advertising, in a way.

I'm simplifying, but its not like "art for profit" was an unusual concept in the classical world.
posted by gilrain at 10:13 AM on March 16, 2011


Cheat codes discovered for pricless artworks

A fresh perspective on the "are games art?" conundrum was gained today, when the Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid announced that a cheat code had been discovered for Picasso's Guernica.

"I am excited to report that this masterpiece can be understood much more easily by holding down the control key and repeatedly pressing 'Y' ", announced Miguel Zugaza to a packed audience.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that a flipping a toggle switch on the penis of Michelangelo's famous statue of David allows the viewer to gain access to hidden levels of meaning.

Some have resisted the use of art cheat codes and special moves, claiming that finishing artistic works using only the standard rules provides a more "satisfying experience".

But the new discoveries have many high-profile supporters. "This represents a profound development in our understanding of art," said Peter Schjeldahl, art critic at the New Yorker. "For centuries, human beings have killed and been killed trying to possess the most beautiful artistic treasures. Yet all along, we could have had some extra lives, if only we went DOWN, DOWN, MEDIUM PUNCH + UP". He then demonstrated this point with a flying kick at a priceless Ming vase.

These extra artistic bonuses are also expected to be particularly useful for readers of difficult literary works, as the end guy is usually really hard. If you can never finish Joyce's Ulysses, try reading pages 3, 4 and 7 in quick succession - this will weaken the final chapters substantially and allow you to complete the book in minimum time. SPOILER ALERT: it turns out that Leopold Bloom is actually a ghost and he ends up possessing Whoopi Goldberg's body for a short while.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:13 AM on March 16, 2011 [26 favorites]


From Andrew Plotkin's comment on Emily Short's blog post:
And if there’s an *element* of surrender, well, — first, as you say, that’s something the game designer sweats over. And second, the traditional notion of Art is perfectly at home with offering the viewer choices of interpretation. That’s a constrained notion of choice, but we love offering players constrained choices.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:16 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


(sorry, link)
posted by en forme de poire at 10:16 AM on March 16, 2011


I will cop to "induces emotional response" as a necessary but not sufficient criterion for sublime art. I'm wondering what else is required.

The point about authorial control is intensely interesting to me. We've seen in previous art threads how some people (myself included) are at least weary of blank canvases, "my message was you get out of it what you bring to it," Art of Confusion style of art. Setting aside just that portion of it to talk about Art with a message (rather than art with a meta-message), how much authorial control is required for sublime art, and in that range of authorial control, can you still make a playable, satisfying video game?

David Lynch is notorious for his love of authorial control. Take Mulholland Drive, where the DVD was issued without chapters, in an attempt to force the viewer to absorb the whole thing in one sitting. Obviously, much of the attempts at authorial control are doomed to practical failure, but within that, there is a struggle between people who would like to walk by a painting with their lips glued to a soda straw and one eye on their cell phone and the artists who would, if they thought they would get away with it, cement the feet of the casual viewer to the patch of floor before the artwork and not let them go until they had answered a short quiz.

Knowing that player choice conflicts with authorial control, how much can you get away with? Players frequently complain of railroaded games. "Rails" is a not-uncommon gaming term, both within videogames and role-playing games. Can we provide enough of the illusion of choice while still satisfying the authorial control Ebert believes necessary (but not sufficient) for sublime art?

I don't know the answer to this.

And wow well is that art delivered to be appreciated? Did I really commit to the experience? I did not have my glasses prescription updated, the lighting was poor, did I get the whole thing? Similarly, how much of the game must I play through?

If the gaming culture could get beyond discussion of the mechanics and the ranking gee-whizzery of polygons rendered per second, I think questions of message might be more praised. How many of the early games were "play this until you die?" Lasering incoming missiles, dodging ghosts, blasting apart approaching asteroids — overwhelmingly, the message is of frantic survival — and then comes the death. Insert another quarter to experience this struggle again.

It would be interesting to see if the balancing act between control and choice leaves enough time to juggle message while walking along that tightrope.
posted by adipocere at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2011


Until there is a universal game emulator that allows us to go back and play any game from any system, once the state of the art has moved on, any games from that era are effectively dead to the masses and will most likely never be viewed again.

Why does it have to be a single emulator? There are working emulators and perfect rom sets for pretty much every major piece of gaming hardware that isn't currently being sold commercially. It's a lot easier to play a particular obscure out of print Nintendo game from 1987 than it is to listen to an obscure out of print music album or read an obscure out of print novel from the same time period (although obviously there are a lot more 1987 novels and albums that are currently in print than there are 1987 video games that are currently being sold).

Modern games where online multiplayer is a major factor is a more tricky situation though. Aside from the technical problems of emulate a proprietary unreleased server system, you would never be able to really recreate the experience of playing something like WoW years after it stops being popular. But this is not really different than the fact that modern theatre can't exactly replicate the experience of seeing Shakespeare's plays as they were originally performed, or the fact that a large amount of previous works are no longer being performed at all.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:18 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there any other things which we define as "Art" that retain such a degree of interactivity?

Architecture is regarded as art, and we use buildings for recreation just as we use videogames for recreation.

Interactive art

Performance art

John Cage's 4'33" consists largely of sounds made by the audience.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:18 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Yours is the most civil of countless messages I have received after writing that I did indeed consider video games inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control."

I hadn't come across this particular quote in the debate, but I feel like Portal (which is, in my opinion, the best-written video game I've ever played) addresses this very point directly and intelligently.

The whole game is explicitly about the concept of authorial control; GLaDOS moves you around according to the blueprint she's got, and while you have the illusion of "playing", you're constantly forced into doing all the things she wants you to in order to proceed. At every opportunity, the narrative of the game makes a mockery of the "free will" you believe you have while playing it, all while being as grimly funny as, say, the movie Adaptation or the comic Acme Novelty Library.

In fact, since playing Portal, the whole "are video games art" debate seems so obviously ridiculous to me that I can only read the "but they can't be art, or at least, not really GOOD art" crowd as grasping at increasingly desperate True Scotsmen.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:19 AM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I have to imagine Mr Moriarty hasn't heard of Passage, because after playing this "game" once the entire "game as art" debate, already assumed moot by many, is undeniably proven so.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:20 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will never understand why computer graphics and storytelling are arts, but put them together and allow interactivity, which often greatly increases emotional response, and the art is gone.

Very well put. It made me think of JRPGs, which are often essentially interactive manga or anime. I've been to art exhibits that were dedicated to nothing but anime and manga, and no one was objecting to the basic premise that they could be art. There may not be a whole lot of "high art" in video games so to speak, but there's no reason why there couldn't be.
posted by Hoopo at 10:21 AM on March 16, 2011


Previously, and if you haven't played it, be prepared: it can be an emotional experience.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:22 AM on March 16, 2011


Knowing that player choice conflicts with authorial control, how much can you get away with?

This kind of thinking about games is why I'm not a fan of game narratives. Games at their best should be about designing worlds and systems and letting the player interact with them freely. Minecraft being an absolutely flawless example. There's no authorial control, except in the design of the rules and the initial conditions.

But even something as simple as, say Tempest 2000, I would say is a highly advanced game, in terms of the art of pure game design.

It's when people try to make games artistic by making them more like other kinds of art that they tend to fail both as artists and game designers. Don't make me stop playing so I can watch a story. If I wanted a story, I'd watch a movie. If you are designing a game thinking: "How can I make a player watch this carefully scripted experience so I can communicate this important idea" instead of "How can I craft a game system such that the player understands this important idea", then you're doing it wrong. Anything you want to say should be communicated through the experience of playing the game itself. And if you can't communicate it through gameplay, then you should be trying to communicate it some other way besides making a game.
posted by empath at 10:27 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Based on this video, it's no wonder Ebert doesn't think videogames are art.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:28 AM on March 16, 2011


Games are games. Or interactive experiences if you like, or whatever term you want to use for the media which we as a society have decided to call video games. They're not books and they're not movies. And that's fine - they don't need to be. My own opinions on this run about as follows:

1. Again, they are what they are. There is an element of interactivity and player choice driving games which makes them their own thing; they do not do, nor do they attempt to do, the same thing as a film or a novel or any non-interactive media. I don't personally believe this makes them better or worse - it makes them different. I honestly think that there isn't much sense in comparing the media in question. For example, is Pixar's UP a better or worse movie than A Fistful of Dollars? The correct answer is: Shut up, that's a fucking stupid question. The only reason to favor one over the other is your own personal preferences but beyond that they are completely different movies attempting to do completely different things. You can measure them by how well or poorly they accomplished what they set out to do, but not against each other's goals, because UP was a terrible Western and A Fistful of Dollars is just an incredibly shitty uplifting animated movie for children - it's not even animated! You get the idea. A movie or book works in terms of telling you a story, to which you might relate or which might get some synapses of your own firing. A video game puts you in that story. It's a different thing.

2. It is okay if Roger Ebert thinks video games are not, and can never be, art. It is! Really. Unclench. The dude is a movie reviewer, an incredibly erudite writer, and a lover of literature. He does not play video games. He does not care about video games. That is an okay thing. If he doesn't share your hobby and in fact believes your hobby is kind of bullshit, that is okay. If he's right, then he's right. If he's wrong, then history will so prove. He's already stated that on his terms video games cannot be art. He didn't say they can't be good or moving or worthwhile. What he did say was: But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic," and that is an unassailably true statement. Note he said most gamers. That kid on Xbox Live screaming the word "faggot" over and over again is not examining the sociopolitical implications of pulling the trigger on digital terrorists. Like it or not, that's your majority. So it goes. Anyway: It is just Roger Ebert's opinion, and there are probably more important uses of your time than to try to win that particular beachhead in this whole thing. Like not seeing this as a thing to win, for one. And this is important because...

3. As has been covered by other comments, there are as many definitions of "art" as there are people who use the term. If it doesn't fit one person's definition but does fit yours, then hey, okay. This is all quite meaningless and stupid unless it is seen not as a conflict but a discussion. And honestly, Ebert has been inundated with comments from gamers who see it as a necessity that their side win. Fuck that. You don't win a discussion. So what does this mean? It means that video games can be art if you think they can. It means that video games can't be art if Roger Ebert thinks they can't. It means that there's an opportunity here to explore the nature of what we consider art and the way we as a species and culture engage mentally with works of artifice and it's being drowned out because of a group's collective insecurities about the stigmatization of their hobby. Think of it this way: The "games as art" debate will never reach an end until we have a definitive and concrete idea about what is (and thus is not) art which we all can agree on, and that is not going to happen anytime soon.

But what ultimately happened is that Ebert has admitted that video games may someday be art, and that he does not believe that they currently are. His comments on Flower or Braid are dead-on. Braid represents a step up from, say, Pac-Man. Its writing is still shitty.

So:

Are video games art? Yes. No. Someday. Never. Pick one that suits you.

Are video games art on par with novels, movies, paintings, et cetera? See above. If you want to talk in terms of quality, I'd say not yet. But that's a product of market forces: you sell a movie by making it dumb and taking no chances. You sell a video game by taking no chances, and the thing costs sixty bucks. There's an undergrowth of interesting ideas and whatnot out there and I think it's going to be interesting to see where it heads.

But think of it this way:

Drawing, as a form of expression, has been around for at least thirty-five thousand years. Novels have been around for a millennium, or even longer (or shorter if your classification differs). Drama goes back at least four thousand years. We've had moving pictures since about 180 AD, and actual motion pictures for about a hundred twenty years now, give or take.

Video games have existed as a medium for about forty.

Shit moves fast in our world. Forty years seems like forever, but it's not. It's certainly not enough time for a mode of expression to develop fully and/or explore the possibilities it presents.

If you love video games, give it time. If you want to see them taken as seriously as movies and books, give it even more time, and recognize that you're not likely to see it happen in your life, but stay hopeful that you will. If it's really important to you that they become accepted that way, maybe start learning how to make them.

But those are just my thoughts and maybe I'm wrong about a lot of it. Anyway, there it is.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:30 AM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why does it matter so much to you what another person considers art? I can't believe we keep having this pointless debate.
posted by rocket88 at 10:34 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Braid represents a step up from, say, Pac-Man. Its writing is still shitty.

I could argue about the quality of Braid's writing (if you were annoyed by the point of view of the writing, it was intentional), but I think the game would have been better without any writing at all.
posted by empath at 10:34 AM on March 16, 2011


On a listserv I run, we've assembled a running list of what qualifies as ART. For your reference, here it is:

WHAT IS ART:
- perfection
- a Grand Idea
- permanence
- not formulaic
- Shakespeare counts
- U2 doesn't
- Woody Harrelson is right out


Looks like video games are OK.
posted by mattbucher at 10:41 AM on March 16, 2011


I would honestly be more willing to entertain the argument that Michaelangelo's David isn't art. After all, David is just a naked guy carved out of marble that you look at for thirty seconds and go, "right, naked guy, that must have been hard to make." Resident Evil 4 is an entire world that I lived in for 20 hours at a time, twice.

All of which is to say, please come on to my lawn.
posted by meadowlark lime at 10:42 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would honestly be more willing to entertain the argument that Michaelangelo's David isn't art. After all, David is just a naked guy carved out of marble that you look at for thirty seconds and go, "right, naked guy, that must have been hard to make." Resident Evil 4 is an entire world that I lived in for 20 hours at a time, twice.

A world where it would be trivial to include a high resolution 3d model of David, for that matter.
posted by empath at 10:45 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


One observation I would make: Braid is often cited in this debate, and though it certainly had more to 'say' about the human condition (as classic literature might) than, say, Pac Man, it couldn't be ranked up with Ulysses in that regard.

This is a weirdly common thing to say - Moriarty says something similar in his lecture - and it's perplexing to me. Games can't match up with one of the greatest acts of creativity in the history of humanity? Jesus, we've been ploughing away at this for forty years now! Fuck it then – let's pack up and go home.

I reckon we've reached a pretty thrilling point in the history of game design. Film, music, writing - to a greater or lesser extent, they're iterating on what's gone in the past. There's tomes and tomes of criticism and theory and (for the latter two) thousands of years of back catalogue. There's Citizen Kane and Ulysses. A billion experiments have been tried, and they've succeeded or failed. When was the last time someone wrote something new about music? I mean, really, really new?

Games have none of that, and I think that in the last three or four years games developers – often indie developers, but not exclusively – have started to notice. People are trying amazing things. What if there's a game you can only ever play once? What would happen then? What if you tried to mix metaphors into your gaming mechanics? What if a game made you feel guilty for playing it? What if a game punished you for playing it? What if a game had saddles for riding pigs with?

None of these games are going to match up to Ulysses in terms of encapsulating the human condition. They're too broad; too rough. But it's easy to try something no-one's tried before. You can make a game over a weekend and everybody on the internet might be talking about it by Friday afternoon. It's genuine experimental creativity – not in a "not many people will like it" way, but in a "Fuck it, let's see what happens if we try this" way. Nothing's refined, but everything's new. Things are developing at a monumental pace. I have no idea where we'll end up, but god it's fun to be there while it's happening.
posted by dudekiller at 10:49 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


insert long, meandering paragraph here where I decisively prove that Michelangelo's David is, indeed, an entire world where I, and others, have lived for many hours, despite its apparent simplicity of form and subject, and despite the fact that I haven't even seen it in the, erm, flesh, yet
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:49 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there any other things which we define as "Art" that retain such a degree of interactivity?

There's architecture, fashion, and a long-standing tradition of treating objects are both decorative and useful as works of art, especially when imported from cultures that didn't have a big system of salons and galleries purely for the display of otherwise useless object of art. In addition to fine art painting and sculpture, I've seen curated in art museums:

African barber signs and coffins
Egyptian canopic jars
Frank Lloyd Wright furniture
tournament armor created for Henry VIII of England
blunderbusses
carpets and tapestries
interactive installations made of candy with an invitation for museum patrons to take a piece
a Fender stratocaster.

So the argument that games can't be art because they're interactive doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I will note that in my hometown, the Lilly Library considers mechanical puzzle games to be worthy of an exhibit along with its Mayan Codex and Gutenberg.

I'll agree with Emily short via theodolite above that this is: "shorthand for saying that games don’t and can’t convey anything important, can’t meaningfully enrich the lives of players, can’t be a valid mode of expression for game designers,""

I'll be happy to accept the premise that games are not high art or art, provided there's an agreement that we can have the same kind of conversations about games that we have about film, television, comics, mainstream publishing, and the lowbrow photographic and graphic design ephemera that fill our lives.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:49 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bob just murdered Harry. Now Harry's brother is mad. Did Bob make art?

I dare you to identify a single one of my murders that wasn't a mastercraft of evocative textures and sensual emotions, reminiscent of Dore, Goya, or in the case of the wood-chipper thing, Pollock.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:50 AM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


god dammit famous monster
posted by dudekiller at 10:51 AM on March 16, 2011


I make games sometimes. I really don't set out to make art, that's for others to decide. I wouldn't call my games art explicitly, but in a technical sense they are a medium I use for expression and thus art.

I still think video games are something that's going to occupy the same cultural gutter as comics do. At least for now. But I've met Indie game developers on the bleeding edge of the movement, and I'm confident they're batshit insane enough to make it art in the eyes of critics.
posted by hellojed at 11:00 AM on March 16, 2011


What if Michaelangelo had made, instead of a statue of David, a kit consisting of a hammer, chisel, block of marble, and precise instructions detailing the location, position, chisel angle, and applied force of every stroke used to make the statue?

I don't really know what my point is.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:00 AM on March 16, 2011


What if Michaelangelo had made...

I also may not have a point, but you might enjoy this.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 11:04 AM on March 16, 2011


If you are designing a game thinking: "How can I make a player watch this carefully scripted experience so I can communicate this important idea" instead of "How can I craft a game system such that the player understands this important idea", then you're doing it wrong.

As a lifelong fan of Final Fantasy games, I have to disagree here. I actually enjoy carefully scripted games sometimes.
posted by Hoopo at 11:05 AM on March 16, 2011


What if Michaelangelo had made, instead of a statue of David, a kit consisting of a hammer, chisel, block of marble, and precise instructions detailing the location, position, chisel angle, and applied force of every stroke used to make the statue?

If his kit contained the precise instructions for creating "David," then surely he had already exerted the actual creativity required to make "David," and thus the kit would be art. Or are we arguing that it was only the physical process of the work that was the art, rather than the act of creation?

The blueprints for a beautiful work of architectural art contains the essence of that work of art, right? Or do we attribute the finished process to the construction crew rather than the designer?

Not sure how this relates to games, though.
posted by gilrain at 11:06 AM on March 16, 2011


Stanford on Wittgenstein on Games.

1) There is no coherent definition of "game" that applies to all examples.

2) There is no coherent definition of "art" that applies to all examples.

3) Thus, asking if "games" can be "art" is an incoherent question.

QED.
posted by klangklangston at 11:08 AM on March 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


The thing separating games from art is that art is BORING and games are AWESOME.
posted by baf at 11:10 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


What if Michaelangelo had made, instead of a statue of David, a kit consisting of a hammer, chisel, block of marble, and precise instructions detailing the location, position, chisel angle, and applied force of every stroke used to make the statue?

I reckon he'd have made modern art, several centuries ahead of the curve, and it would have been completely awesome.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:12 AM on March 16, 2011


gilrain: The blueprints for a beautiful work of architectural art contains the essence of that work of art, right? Or do we attribute the finished process to the construction crew rather than the designer?

Not sure how this relates to games, though.


Well, there's a tradition of critical writing about architecture that explores the development of architectural works. There's a similar tradition developing for games, which is where most of this conflict comes from.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:23 AM on March 16, 2011


Arguing over whether something is art tells you way more about the person doing the arguing than it does about the work in question.
posted by oulipian at 11:23 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Heian Japan, where art was central to court culture, the game of Go was considered an art form. When he says "If Chess and Go, arguably the two greatest games in history, have never been regarded as works of art, why should Missile Command?", he means 'by white people.'
posted by Quonab at 11:28 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why does it have to be a single emulator? There are working emulators and perfect rom sets for pretty much every major piece of gaming hardware that isn't currently being sold commercially

Maybe not a single emulator, but while it is certainly possible to play tons of old games, in many cases it is not a trivially easy thing to do: I loved MDK and MDK2, but trying to share them with a coworker today would require a level of work beyond just finding a copy and opening it up. And for a lot of people, that extra level of effort would be enough to dissuade them from even trying.

Time passing could make this easier as people rediscover lost treasures and develop better ways to make them more accessible, or, more likely, they'll just fade into memory, with only descriptions to let people know what the experience was like.

(I very much hope that a lot of the games from the mid 90's eventually make their way into online emulation. There were some really brilliant examples that would be a true shame to see lost to the world.)
posted by quin at 11:29 AM on March 16, 2011


Arguing about whether a game is an art is a game (not an art).
posted by pracowity at 11:36 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


How much of this debate comes down to the incongruity between the stereotypical image of "art" as something one experiences quietly and contemplatively, versus our images of experiencing video games, which for me involves 8-year-olds in pajamas sitting cross-legged in front of a TV, shrieking and mashing buttons?

If you're shrieking and mashing buttons, can it still be art?

On preview, what the quidnunc kid said.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 11:49 AM on March 16, 2011


...you would never be able to really recreate the experience of playing something like WoW years after it stops being popular. But this is not really different than the fact that modern theatre can't exactly replicate the experience of seeing Shakespeare's plays as they were originally performed...

Oh god. I'm imagining a future where there are organized virtual flashmobs of people briefly trained in macros and WoW etiquette, all to simulate a "historically accurate" WoW experience for queued up users in a museum display.

I approve.

Anyway, the more this "games? art? bluh?" thing comes up, the more reductive I become. At this point, I look at dice and consider them kinetic art waiting to happen. The world these people who deny games are art live in, I really don't want to live in that world with them.
posted by Mizu at 11:49 AM on March 16, 2011


I thought Ebert had recanted his position on video games -- wasn't it posted here?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:54 AM on March 16, 2011


Oh god. I'm imagining a future where there are organized virtual flashmobs of people briefly trained in macros and WoW etiquette, all to simulate a "historically accurate" WoW experience for queued up users in a museum display.

Interesting-- it seems much harder to deny the possibility that art can be about video games, or be made using video games...
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 12:01 PM on March 16, 2011


ARGH

Mistakes made by many people in this discussion, including some who should know better:
  • Games as they exist today are not the same thing as games as they can ever be. So, just because DOOM doesn't look like the Mona Lisa, it doesn't mean that a genuinely artistic game can't ever be made.
  • The game industry as it exists today is in hyper-blockbuster-seeking mode, so a lot of games are being made right now that are the equivalent of Michael Bay movies. That doesn't mean games have to be made using it, or even with a profit motive, which some of the claimants are failing to see. As the indie gaming movement picks up steam we may see this less often.
  • The intended audience of many games is of a type (adolescent and young-adult boys) resistant to art. That doesn't say anything about what either games or art have to be.
  • The meaning of "art" is slippery, and in this case especially it's hard to pin it down because different people are holding games to different standards. Aesthetic appeal? That's easy? Has there been a game like Citizen Kane? Maybe not, but if you're going to hold it to that kind of standard I really don't think anything could convince you, and I suspect you don't intend to be. I mean, are Picasso paintings "as good as" Citizen Kane? If that comparison is meaningless, then it's meaningless when talking about games too. I guess this means we should ask, if games could be high art, but the people who are saying that can't be art don't say high art. They should be made to narrow down their terms.
  • That leads towards my next point, that the meaning of "what is art" is subtly different depending on medium. Movies and literature are not art in the same way a painting or a tune are. For these things, and for higher levels of "art," it starts to get to the place where a novel or a film has to bring more to the table than looking and sounding nice. It starts having to say something about the world. Artistic games, which contain wholly novel aspects that no other art form has ever had, will look likewise different. In short, some people are going to need to gain a level of epiphany before they will see the art value in video games.
  • Anyone can make a video game. Yes, ANYONE. Most of the tools are still complex now, but they are getting easier to use. It doesn't require a team of hundreds working for The Man anymore. This is exactly the same relation of work power and personal vision that produced most of the great works of art in painting, composition and sculpture. That means we should by rights have started seeing independent games that look artistic by now, if it is possible. And lo, we certainly HAVE seen such things.
  • Not only can computer programs (of which video games are a type) be art, they can be used to MAKE art. Even some video games can be used to make art: remember Mario Paint? And there are even video games that can be used to make video games! This sense, computer programs can't be art; they're better than that, they are meta-art.
Some games that are probably art?
  • QUOP. Yes, QUOP! It's a unique idea well-executed. It's not much of a game, but that's why I chose it; it's got a minimum of game elements yet it's still a game, and also yet it's still art. It even has a sly social point to make with it's "PARTICIPANT" reward at the end for failing.
  • Half Life. Yes, even though it's a first-person shooter. Think about it, it's a lot more artistic in its presentation than most movies. The game has the courage to show you what ordinary life is in Black Mesa through a lengthy, wholly in-engine intro scene where you ride to work and get started doing your job for the day. When the actual "game" starts, it looks exactly like the
  • A lot of things Nintendo has done really. Pikmin I'd put up as art. Zelda: Wind Waker too. Probably the original Zelda and Super Mario Bros. while we're at it.
  • A lot of interactive fiction. Go on and find it yourselves, we had a thread about it not long ago.
  • ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. But like, DUH.
  • Anything I said in my previous list from some months back which I'm too aggravated to search for right now.
I am starting to hate these threads, because every time they come along I end up having to make some of the same points all over again. Unfortunately the people who are saying that games can't be art have LOUD VOICES, while those of us who know, absolutely for sure, that they can be art, have quiet voices. And so we keep having this damn argument over and over again. ARGH
posted by JHarris at 12:02 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Time passing could make this easier as people rediscover lost treasures and develop better ways to make them more accessible, or, more likely, they'll just fade into memory, with only descriptions to let people know what the experience was like.

If it wasn't blatantly illegal, someone could easily put up an easy to download package of every game released for any given system with the appropriate emulator(s). It's technically very easy to do. The only reason this doesn't happen is because of licensing issues.

Maybe not a single emulator, but while it is certainly possible to play tons of old games, in many cases it is not a trivially easy thing to do: I loved MDK and MDK2, but trying to share them with a coworker today would require a level of work beyond just finding a copy and opening it up.

You can buy and download legal versions of MDK and MDK2 that will run on a modern Windows computer for $5.99 each.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:03 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not only can computer programs (of which video games are a type) be art, they can be used to MAKE art. Even some video games can be used to make art: remember Mario Paint? And there are even video games that can be used to make video games! This sense, computer programs can't be art; they're better than that, they are meta-art.

As I said in another thread -- video games contain all other forms of art inside them. There isn't any kind of art that can't be included in a game. You could listen to a symphony, watch a film, read poetry, view a painting, dance in a ballet, design a building -- anything which has ever been considered art could be done within the context of a game, and more.
posted by empath at 12:08 PM on March 16, 2011


If Chess and Go, arguably the two greatest games in history, have never been regarded as works of art

Pah. I do regard them as such. I'm sure you can find others who would too. The problem here is not that they aren't works of art; it's that it's a novel concept to many people, who just haven't had that light cast upon them yet.
posted by JHarris at 12:08 PM on March 16, 2011




Smithsonian Institution exhibition The Art of Video Games

"Video games use images, actions, and player participation to tell stories and engage their audiences. In the same way as film, animation, and performance, they can be considered a compelling and influential form of narrative art."

Really, it's not rocket science. It's not even interesting art theory.

I can't be the only one who thought this article was really bad.

Look at us! Video games are now bigger than movies!

But they didn't need to be great art to get here. They just needed to be great fun."


Same with movies.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:18 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a better question: Is Art a Game?
posted by empath at 12:21 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are plenty of classical pieces written by the great canonical composers that are nothing more than background music for parties, and people still lap them up. Are those not "art"? What about architecture, which often doesn't express much at all? Woodcuts for popular publications?

"Art" has had different meanings throughout the course of history, and they're still used interchangeably. When talking about art as a value judgement, people use the definition that really took off in the Romantic period, of art as an almost divine expression of the artist's will. In just the past few hundred years, we've come to think of art as a catalyst of innermost reflection and change — something that's "good" for us, that's more than "just" entertainment. How can people avoid getting up in arms over their favorite mediums not being art, when this sentence essentially forces those mediums into historical obscurity, while the boring and pretentious "my child can draw this" pieces float up as a representative of humanity for future generations?

Me, I prefer the older definition of art, the one in which craftsmanship and aesthetics can stand toe to toe with any spiritual attributes the piece may have. Yes, I'd like for video games to be more subtle and expressive, and I eagerly await the day when I feel something other than differing degrees of joy and wonder when playing one. (Jason Rohrer, in my opinion, is on the cutting edge here.) But does that mean that games currently aren't art? Only if you can say the same for "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik".

Personally — and I realize this might be a vast oversimplification — I think this is exactly the reason why popular culture blew up as much as it did in the past century. While the old high-brow mediums were struggling to become more and more avant-garde, even to the point where the artist's idea completely trumped craftsmanship, popular mediums like rock music, movies, and comic books came in and filled the niche those older mediums were so eager to leave behind. People like being awed and entertained, and what can do that better than a rockin' guitar solo or epic boss battle? I guess having meaning is nice, but meaning has always ridden on the coattails of entertainment, and the old guard has been too full of itself to notice.
posted by archagon at 12:24 PM on March 16, 2011


remember Mario Paint?

I absolutely drew boobs using Mario Paint

SUCK IT, MICHELANGELO
posted by Greg Nog at 12:30 PM on March 16, 2011




I am starting to hate these threads, because every time they come along I end up having to make some of the same points all over again. Unfortunately the people who are saying that games can't be art have LOUD VOICES, while those of us who know, absolutely for sure, that they can be art, have quiet voices. And so we keep having this damn argument over and over again. ARGH


FWIW I'm starting to get the sense I should have kept my warm, "that was an interesting article" feeling to myself and not brought it here to share it.

I hadn't actually realized how entrenched and knee-jerk opinions about the whole thing were. I find the topic interesting, but the commentary has been pretty juvenile.

Oh well. Lesson learned.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2011


Opinions are "entrenched" and "knee-jerk" because it's almost a personal attack to tell someone that the moving experiences they've had playing games can not possibly be art, and the very long debate Ebert already churned up has had a long time to cement.
posted by girih knot at 12:40 PM on March 16, 2011


I have more sympathy with the argument that Ebert has very high standards of art that excludes most of the movies he talks about. But there again, Ebert's career is based on the assumption that it's reasonable to apply critical analysis tools to bad cinema as well as good.

My horse in this race is that things like Morrowind's complete refusal to provide the player with a canonical history, and DA2's choice to make the welfare of family a central motivation for the protagonist are interesting and intentional design strategies that are worth talking about.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:50 PM on March 16, 2011


I hadn't actually realized how entrenched and knee-jerk opinions about the whole thing were. I find the topic interesting, but the commentary has been pretty juvenile.

Honestly I've noticed more signal than noise, at least in this thread. But that's just me.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:51 PM on March 16, 2011


Maybe Super Mario Brothers includes a visual component that would be regarded as art if it was in a room in museum, but this doesn’t mean the game is art any more than it makes the room art. The fact is that you could subtract all the art components of the game and it would still be recognizable as a game. But if you took out the game mechanics and left in all the art, it wouldn’t be a game anymore. For example, you can play a game of chess with a set of ornate sculptures as pieces which would be considered art. This doesn’t mean chess is art, because you can equally play chess with cardboard squares with the words “Pawn”, “Bishop” written on them. This is unlike something like cinema, which is also built out of several different kinds of art: cinematography, acting, fiction, music, etc. All of those components can be separated out and experienced as art in their own right – but it seems like even the most strident defenders of games as art stop short of claiming that the game mechanic itself is art. If it is an art form, it’s the only one where its defenders ignore what’s unique to it.

I think games are more akin to a venue where you can experience art than they are art, and the debate should really about the ways in which they can enhance or detract from the experience.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:53 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


All of those components can be separated out and experienced as art in their own right – but it seems like even the most strident defenders of games as art stop short of claiming that the game mechanic itself is art.

You are absolutely, 100% wrong.
posted by empath at 1:02 PM on March 16, 2011


Video games are a part of a larger cultural process by which the problematic of art slowly begins to become unrecognizable. This is why this conversation is so meaningless.

In a world of pure logistics, of objects, where the only kind of things are things (the kind of world that video games represent and reality is now indistinguishable from because of the wide acceptance of the satisfactoriness of positive scientific mechanistic explanations), the SUBJECT too disappears.

There is no "art" without subjects. Yay?

Yes, yay! Because who needs subjects? Who needs art? Who needs play?

Play, subjects, and art are all necessarily directed toward what Bergson, Eco, and others have called "the open".

Video games are the opposite of "the open". They are about disposable experiences that, for a short time, simulate the open, but are really by definition quite closed. That's why, contrary to colloquial usage, video games contain absolutely ZERO play. Instead, they contain "fun", which is the closed off version of play. Fun is faux-play, like play twinkies. It's play with nothing at stake. It's play that doesn't matter. It's play for robo-consumers like you and me.

It is hard to learn anything new anymore about being a subject from any plastic or performing art, or from any experience for that matter, but least of all from a game. It is hard to learn anything new about the world in a way that matters or "means" anymore to anyone anywhere. We're just not subjects.

If video games "can't be art" (OMG, who fracking cares?), it's because there's no art left to be made, and no "human" living left to be done. We are post-human. And post-art. (Something Theodor Adorno asserted we probably were about half a century ago. Even then, the prospects of there being any "art" left were slim, and the people who've kept the category alive, Adorno would say, are a lot more like video game fanboy lifestyle prostitutes than they'd like to admit.)

So can we please just let the AIs to fight it out so we don't have to keep up the charade of it MATTERING that human beings participate in play (art)? Let's just start a new prize for conversation bots trying to pass the Turing test, except we'll have half the entrants write a "completely aesthetically numb ignorant bourgeois dinosaur film critic" (Ebert) bot and the rest will write an "even more aesthetically numb ignorant bourgeois frat-geek fanboy angry gamer douchebag mob" bot. And then let's let them go at it. And then let's go do something else.

But can we please stop pretending that this conversation matters (as carried out) except on the terms of marketing, cultural legitimacy, and revenge of the nerds?

If we care about whether video games are "art", it is not remotely because we know anything about art, play, or about being human either, frankly - it's because we want to maybe make some money, but mostly so we can go on doing what we do while having our parents and boy/girlfriends not laugh at us. It's so at cocktail parties we don't have to feel inferior to the actor, the jock, and the intellectual who made us feel that way in high school.

These are the only registers on which these things matter. There's no existential problematic. There's no political problematic. There's no ontological problematic. We are eating, defecating, attention machines trying to stave off excruciating boredom. We are "meat boys". We are pac men and ms. pac men. We are toadstool princesses. And SO IS EVERYONE ELSE.

We are no different from film buffs, wealthy collectors of Warhols, and post-rock diddlers who make their own instruments so they can compose in 12 tone scales.

We video gamers are just as good as everyone else, because the world that produced our hobby made everything else as banal as our hobby at the same time. So we are, as the kids say, FULL OF WIN. And lulz. Because everything sux equally now.

Can we just be happy that everything is as ignorant, addled, and inhuman as we are and keep pressing buttons?
posted by macross city flaneur at 1:12 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


"This doesn’t mean chess is art, because you can equally play chess with cardboard squares with the words “Pawn”, “Bishop” written on them. This is unlike something like cinema, which is also built out of several different kinds of art: cinematography, acting, fiction, music, etc."

Yes, but most games are more than the sum of their mechanics. What about the levels, the framing, the camerawork, even the physics code? What about the feeling of intensification as you progress towards the end of a level, methodically synthesized by the developer's choice of geometry, color, and music, and the feeling of sweet release after you defeat the boss?

I can see your point for something like chess or even Angry Birds, where the mechanic is the focus of the game. But once you add content, all bets are off.
posted by archagon at 1:13 PM on March 16, 2011


Of course videogames are art. Firstly, there's no absolute separation between art and game playing, and many arts have explicitly involved game playing in their processes, including literary exercises based on chance pioneered by the surrealists and improvisational games incorporated into a theatrical narrative -- the European troupe Gob Squad does a great deal of this. It's even played a role in film, albeit a rather minor one. "Drowning by Numbers," as an example, incorporates a great deal of game playing in its mis en scene, while what was Hitchcock's cameos in his own films but an artist playing hide and seek with his audience?

A lot of video games are explicitly narrative constructions, and many are heavily plotted; the only difference is that the player becomes the main character in the narrative and helps direct the action, albeit within a framework created by the game creators -- you're going to find it awfully hard to go too far off the path the game has mapped out for you. And there are parallels in theater to this, too -- I have been to a number of productions where I am expected to participate, as a character, and my participation effects the outcome of the play. Some of these experiments are quite highly regarded -- W. David Hancock's "The Race of the Ark Tattoo" is almost entirely formed by how the main actor interacts, in character, with his audience, who are expected to behave as though they are at a rummage sale.

We can either err on the side of inclusiveness or exclusiveness when we define art. Erring on the side of inclusiveness forces us to reexamine our assumptions about what art is, or should be, or could be. And that's what a lot of good art does -- it challenges. Erring on the side of exclusiveness allows us never to have to deal with those challenges. But I like the challenges, and one of the challenges of approaching video games as art is understanding that video games are their own thing, with their own history, and their own qualities, and if you are to approach them as art, you must understand them on their terms.

Ebert has chosen not to engage this discussion. He's a good man in a lot of ways, but, seeing as he makes his career criticizing something that has previously been derided as not being art, this seems pretty small-minded of him. But, then, he's also exhibited a reflexive contempt of 3D, based in pseudoscience and a strange hatred of the fact that it's sort of gimmicky. Of course it is! What in Hollywood isn't? The star system is gimmicky! Narrative itself is sort of gimmicky!

He's free not to care to consider a subject, but only a fool makes pronouncements about what is and what isn't art, especially when their contempt comes without education.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:13 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


You are absolutely, 100% wrong.

Which part? That no-one claims game mechanics are art? Citation needed. If someone can make a good case for that, I'm happy to accept that games are art. I'm just saying that for me, the debate turns on that question.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:14 PM on March 16, 2011


If his kit contained the precise instructions for creating "David," then surely he had already exerted the actual creativity required to make "David," and thus the kit would be art.

That's a sigh short of explicitly defining my lawnmower as art.

That said, someone's expectation that they can restrict my understanding of my lawnmower as art is bullshit for sure, so... I agree with you.

...Or are we arguing that it was only the physical process of the work that was the art, rather than the act of creation?

That's a much more interesting question-- just the sort of question that good, daring displays of art prompt us to actually ask-- especially a good culture jamming.

Think of 'found art'-- its identity as art is ascribed most often through not just that assertion ("Arise, mere object-- ye are art"), but also the transport of, and new context given to it. One could hardly argue that the lack of the 2nd and 3rd steps, transport & contrived context, would break the deal. It sounds silly to even suggest it.

What's the less prohibitive about the act of photographing a rose than merely stopping to smell it? Nothing. Recognizing something as art is still an act of creation: that sunset, that dirty dish that looks like a smiley face.

This is why pieces like 4"33' are so fucking awesome: they expressly make that statement and exist as an example of it. The infinite potential of content is analagous to the infinite potential of interpretation.

For video games-- as others have stated from different angles more or less-- I would say that it is prolly not the norm for a gamer to consider the gameplay an act of creation on their part, but.. as others have also said-- they can; same goes entirely if you substitute "gameplay" for "design" in that sentence.

But the discussion isn't mired in the infiniteness of subjectivity.
Art is subjective ; (rational) discussion is objective.

Our discussion isn't the hammering of subjective pegs into objective holes.

The real discussion is examining both of the terms overall and observing the further introduction/development of whatever objective relationships there are.


I also went to an exhibit at the Firehouse gallery in Burlington VT that entirely consisted of games programmed by local artists, & it was awesome.

I would consider that an objective instance of art and games coinciding.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:17 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


For example, you can play a game of chess with a set of ornate sculptures as pieces which would be considered art. This doesn’t mean chess is art, because you can equally play chess with cardboard squares with the words “Pawn”, “Bishop” written on them.

You're cheating with this example, because the specific physical representation of chess pieces is not actually a part of the game. It's still chess with abstract tokens for pieces because chess is meant to be an abstract game. Whereas removing the narrative aspects of an inherently narrative work, or otherwise reducing something to the point where it becomes dull and mechanical is not really a true representation of the work. Let's say that you don't consider blocking to be an artform. You could take a play, remove all of the costumes, acting, set design, etc. and end up with just people physically walking around on stage (which is arguably the only "unique" thing about theatre that does not exist in any other media). And it would still be recognizable as a play in the same way that Portal would still be recognized as a game if you removed everything except for abstract representations of the game mechanics.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:18 PM on March 16, 2011


This is why pieces like 4"33' are so fucking awesome: they expressly make that statement and exist as an example of it. The infinite potential of content is analagous to the infinite potential of interpretation.

just to clarify-- by the "infinite potential of context," I mean whatever the audience might do during the piece.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:45 PM on March 16, 2011


DAMMIT: make that "...content." LMAO
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:46 PM on March 16, 2011


That no-one claims game mechanics are art? Citation needed.

Jonathan Blow and Rod Humble (creator of the Sims), Jason Rohrer among many many others.

They don't think mechanics are the only art involved in game making, but all of them say its the core art of game design. Everything else is only there to reinforce whatever you're trying to communicate through the mechanics.
posted by empath at 1:50 PM on March 16, 2011


(Rod Humble was the lead designer of The Sims, not the creator, sorry)
posted by empath at 1:52 PM on March 16, 2011


They don't think mechanics are the only art involved in game making, but all of them say its the core art of game design. Everything else is only there to reinforce whatever you're trying to communicate through the mechanics.

Just to elaborate -- games are about learning. That's the experience of playing almost every game. Exploring a system, learning how it responds to your interactions and 'mastering' it. Or beating it, or exploring it, or whatever you can do with the system.

So if you're a game designer, almost by definition you're teaching, and what ever it is you're teaching is going to primarily be done through the mechanics of the games. People will often say things like 'my brain felt like it was being rewired' when they get really good at a particular game like Tetris or Starcraft or Braid, or Portal. When you are designing a game, you are literally changing the way someone sees the world (or a particular model of the world, at least). And your primary tool for doing that is the systems you create. It's not the story, for the most part, that's going to have the biggest impact on the player. It's the skills you're teaching -- whether it's tactics or hand eye co-ordination, or thinking ways time can be manipulated, or solving a puzzle in an adventure game, etc.

That's with the pure game.

With a narrative game, really the only thing that games have to offer that movies don't is a transfer of agency from the protagonist to the player, but you need to have a game with real consequences and real choices, which almost by necessity make the storytelling less effective, at least from my point of view.
posted by empath at 2:01 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Astro Zombie: But, then, he's also exhibited a reflexive contempt of 3D, based in pseudoscience and a strange hatred of the fact that it's sort of gimmicky.

I'll stick my neck out and defend him on this point. His criticism of 3D isn't a "get off my lawn" impulse but based on:
1: reduced contrast due to the dimness of the projected film
2: the practice of using 3D to upsell bad movies and fund lowest-common-denominator crap
3: lack of attention given to technically superior projection systems that offer better resolution and higher frame rates.

Which are points that's reasonable to disagree on, but it's not "pseudoscience."

burnmp3s: You're cheating with this example, because the specific physical representation of chess pieces is not actually a part of the game. It's still chess with abstract tokens for pieces because chess is meant to be an abstract game.

Russian and Eastern chess sets often do this due to the influence of Islamic injunctions against idolatry. Japanese, Korean, and Chinese chess variants are identified with characters rather than sculptural shapes.

Chess enthusiasts will often talk about the aesthetics of certain well-known games, or the beauty of a well-crafted puzzle, but the reasons for this are often esoteric and not easily understood without a fair amount of theory.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:26 PM on March 16, 2011


They don't think mechanics are the only art involved in game making, but all of them say its the core art of game design.

I can't help but think of Okami
posted by Hoopo at 2:36 PM on March 16, 2011


He's also argued that we did not evolve to watch 3D.

And it's nonsense.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:37 PM on March 16, 2011


Games are only art if it's a Critical Mass emulator, with maybe Lady Gaga in it.
posted by everichon at 2:53 PM on March 16, 2011


Killer 7 is an example of a game that has a great deal to say both aesthetically and thematically.

I consider it to be an extremely sophisticated work of art - more so than, say, Citizen Kane. It's easy to dismiss a statement like that, not least because a) it's a "shooter" game steeped in pop culture, and b) on a first impression - or even after a whole playthrough - it can come across as inscrutable, weird for the sake of it, and pretentious. But it does, in fact, back up that pretentiousness with an real depth of meaning... while at the same time, being extremely damned cool, and expertly negotiating the tension between being "cool" and being "clever," or between being "serious" and being "stupid".

Really. Vast as it is, that plot analysis only covers about half of what could be said about the game. You could write an equally long essay on the actual techniques and artistry of how the game presents and implements its themes. And then another one on how Suda 51's work reacts to videogame culture and pop culture in general.

Games are art, but that's not a very meaningful statement. More importantly there are already games that have achieved the level of "great art". That doesn't mean they can necessarily be compared to, say, the Illiad. The Illiad is generally uncontested as both "Art" and "great art" in part because it is a work that has been venerated and canonized by the establishment. Games are too new to have been treated that way.
posted by Drexen at 3:01 PM on March 16, 2011


(Here's a Wikipedia link to Killer7 which somehow didn't make it into that post).
posted by Drexen at 3:02 PM on March 16, 2011


I can see why some people think Video Games cannot be art.
Their just the ones that have never played Portal.
posted by fullerine at 3:56 PM on March 16, 2011


'craft' is not 'art' is not 'ART'.

'craft' is a name for skilled work.

'art' is a name for a category of things that make you feel stuff and don't really have any other purpose.

ART is defined by the passage of time.

Ebert is saying 'games will never be ART no matter how much craft they exhibit. because... well just because. Oh, fuck it. Fine. Think what you will.'

Everyone else is saying 'sure games can be small 'a' art because duh, and some few games are ART and here's why'.

Moriarty's kitsch thing is fine and perceptive, though. Starcraft 2 single player, for instance, is nothing but kitsch.

Rapid technological change and mass market economics are great for rapid development of craft, but the ART quality is a rare, pleasing byproduct rather than an inevitable conclusion.

It's like how early talkies were all about 'OMG IT'S A TALKING MONKEY HAHAHA' and early 3d films were all 'QUICK THE BADDIES ARE COMING THROW DAGGERS IN SLOW MOTION OUT OF THE SCREEN'.

Sensation evolves to sensibility, but we need a stable platform for the craft to work on - which is why most of the really arty indie stuff uses pixel tech from the 80's.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:22 PM on March 16, 2011


Sensation evolves to sensibility, but we need a stable platform for the craft to work on - which is why most of the really arty indie stuff uses pixel tech from the 80's.

Also: Interactive Fiction, to an even greater extent.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:28 PM on March 16, 2011


Rapid technological change and mass market economics are great for rapid development of craft, but the ART quality is a rare, pleasing byproduct rather than an inevitable conclusion.

Right. But this has been true of every art form since the beginning. For each of Shakespeare's plays there are dozens we don't remember now, because they were awful. And yet at the time, some of those crap plays were popular. Go figure.

The transition from "There's obviously no way that can be art" to "Oh wow, that's art!" is happening more slowly in the popular mindset than, say, movies, mostly, because current video games are dominated by the Hollywood blockbuster model of pandering, sensationalist garbage. People confuse the few big-selling games that follow that model for the entirety of game development, mostly because they're highly visible because of the nature of advertising these days.
posted by JHarris at 4:36 PM on March 16, 2011


I'm surprised that no one has questioned the assumption that high art was not made for commercial purposes. Rembrant is one of my favorite painters, yet many of his paintings were commissioned portraits. Does this make them kitsch? Going by Moriarty's definition, the only painter off the top of my head that I can think of as a high artist is Van Gogh. And even that is arguable. The great composers all had patrons who payed them money to produce great music. To find true artists, those who create art for art's sake (which seems to be an essential component of high art), we need to move to the modern era.

While I don't know if video games are art (although the last bit of Braid did inspire that je ne sais quoi that I get from looking at Magriette's The Human Condition or The Key to The Fields), I do know that the definition of art that Moriarty is using is incredibly flawed. In the Louve, there is hallway after hallway of Renaissance art. Honestly, it looks a lot like Michelangelo's or Rafael's. It becomes kind of mind numbing after a while, honestly. By Moriarty's definition, I would say that Michelangelo and Rafael created great kitsch.

I would argue that it is not the commercial aspect of art (or the commercial target of said art) that makes it kitsch and prevents it from being "high art." Instead, inspiring a feeling of the sublime, of the indescribable in a sizeable number of people (purposefully left vague), then it qualifies as high art. The results of your decisions can inspire this, just as the results of the decisions of another can.

A final question, just to stir up trouble: is this art? I'd argue it is, but I suspect many would disagree with me.
posted by Hactar at 5:47 PM on March 16, 2011


Why is this still a question? It's like asking 'is punk music?' or 'are graphic novels literature?'. There's some quote from Outlaw Vern where he talks about anything that affects that many people must be art.

I grew up on videogames. The thrill I got when I stepped into Hyrule Field for the first time isn't art? The way I care about John Marston isn't art? The perfectly balanced and infinitely replayable mechanics of Tetris aren't art? The abstract genius of Pac-Man, so iconic he adorns walls everywhere, isn't art? Okami's character design? Bayonetta's fluidity? None of those things are 'art'?

Than what, pray tell, is 'art'?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:12 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem the 'games is art' crowd make is they focus too narrowly on story and context. Reading Action Button has broadened my mind on this. Sure, Shadow of the Colossus and Planescape Torment are profound. But so is the sense of flow you get from hours in a shump.

On a more basic, aesthetic level i prefer pixel art to lots of modern art. It's just a really nice style.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:25 PM on March 16, 2011


Good Art Sends a Different Message to Everyone. Good Design Sends the Same Message to Everyone.

Saying that "Games are not art" is exactly the same as saying that "Canvas is not art." Sure, it is true, but once the canvas is tainted with crayon, paint , blood or nothing, then it can be interpreted as art.

So, any video game that is different to each person who views it, is art. And I haven't seen any video game that is different for each player (yet)...

But there are a LOT of video games that have great design.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 6:45 PM on March 16, 2011


And I haven't seen any video game that is different for each player (yet)...

Have you ever read people talking about what Braid was about?
posted by empath at 7:30 PM on March 16, 2011


Exploring a system, learning how it responds to your interactions and 'mastering' it. Or beating it, or exploring it, or whatever you can do with the system.

This part reminds me of the classic Frankfurt School critique of instrumental rationality that they believed underlies capitalism. (But I’m somewhat skeptical that this analysis applies to capitalism today.) Essentially, it’s possible to critique this aspect of gaming by noting that its appeal lies in the desire to master, control, exploit and dominate. Even in games which are not explicitly violent, they contain the structure of domination in that they pose challenges that the player is forced to overcome. Foucault makes a related point about the military, the factory and the school as sites where individuals are submitted to disciplinary power – don’t these also show up in gaming? The military connection is obvious – realistic military simulators, the use of these types of games as recruiting and training tools for the US military. The factory is becoming even more applicable, with the MMORPG problem of grinding (repetitive in-game tasks that are reminiscent of factory labor), gold-farming (low-wage workers in sweat shop conditions playing multiplayer games to produce in-game currency) and also social gaming, where social interaction in games is a kind of unpaid labor that companies are able to extract a profit from. And the school is a place where we have our brains rewired by power. I think it’s overly strong to claim that all games are necessarily structures of domination, but at the same time, this line of critique resonates with me, and maybe there’s a connection to the misogyny/homophobia/racism of some parts of gaming culture. (This isn’t really related to the question of whether games are art or not. If they are art, they still could tend towards art that glorifies domination.)

The link about the Marriage game is probably the closest to making the case that a game mechanic can be art. The rules of the game are intended as a metaphor for what the designer believes are the rules of marriage, although color and shape symbolism are also an important part of conveying the meaning. And this works so long as the player also understands marriage as a game that you can win at by mastering the rules. But this seems strange – we have a game which through its game mechanics represents… another game? That means that the game mechanic isn’t really a metaphor, it’s an instantiation of the marriage game in a different medium. Maybe the problem here is that many people don’t experience the world as a series of challenges and rewards, so the world can’t be simulated for them by restaging the rules. A musician doesn’t experience playing music as earning points for accuracy, so Rock Band doesn’t evoke the experience of playing music.
posted by AlsoMike at 7:34 PM on March 16, 2011


Essentially, it’s possible to critique this aspect of gaming by noting that its appeal lies in the desire to master, control, exploit and dominate. Even in games which are not explicitly violent, they contain the structure of domination in that they pose challenges that the player is forced to overcome.

If you provide a human being with a new environment, unless he or she is catatonic, they will attempt to explore it, understand it and probably to master it. That's just human nature and people did that before there was capitalism. Some of the first attempts at art, in fact, were themselves attempts to control their environment through sympathetic magic -- in fact, an attempt to create a simulation of reality on the walls of their caves.

In any case, there are free-form games (like minecraft in peaceful mode) which have absolutely no challenges beyond what you set for yourself.

I don't know how you'd classify "Passage", for example -- a game whose primary mechanic is walking left to right, getting old and dying. Exploration, trying to get points and finding a mate are entirely optional.
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on March 16, 2011


i really encourage you to listen to any of Jonathan Blow's talks on games if you're genuinely interested in this debate.

Here's one from 2007 where he excoriates the industry for making bad games while explaining not just that games are art, but how they are art, and how they could be better.
posted by empath at 8:03 PM on March 16, 2011


And this works so long as the player also understands marriage as a game that you can win at by mastering the rules. But this seems strange – we have a game which through its game mechanics represents… another game?

It works in as much as the experience of playing 'Marriage', the game mirrors the experience of Marriage as it's lived, in the same way that looking at a painting of a person mirrors the experience of looking at the person. It doesn't need to be exactly the same, only similar enough to evoke recognition.
posted by empath at 8:11 PM on March 16, 2011


And I haven't seen any video game that is different for each player (yet)...

most of them are, based on the player's skill and preferences and such. to move away from art games, look at fighting games. to me, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is a game about mashing buttons to make my favorite characters do amazing things. to a fighting game fan, it's a deep game of strategy and counter-strategy

or sandbox games. did everyone who play them do the same things? of course not
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:51 PM on March 16, 2011


In any case, there are free-form games (like minecraft in peaceful mode) which have absolutely no challenges beyond what you set for yourself.

Sim City
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:51 PM on March 16, 2011


empath: "They don't think mechanics are the only art involved in game making, but all of them say its the core art of game design. Everything else is only there to reinforce whatever you're trying to communicate through the mechanics."

This is pretty much what I was trying to communicate last time. This is also why I sigh when people use what I like to call the "subset argument" for videogames-as-art (i.e. movies are art ⇒ movies are a subset of videogames ⇒ videogames are art) because it completely misses the point of videogames.
posted by yaymukund at 10:22 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My argument last time was merely that even if you don't consider pure game design to be art, then the fact that everything that anyone does consider art can be included in the act of making games would by necessity also make a game which contained them also art.
posted by empath at 10:33 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The enemy angels in Bayonetta remind me of those great old paintings, all strange limbs and light
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:19 PM on March 16, 2011


My argument last time was merely that even if you don't consider pure game design to be art, then the fact that everything that anyone does consider art can be included in the act of making games would by necessity also make a game which contained them also art.

Moriarty brings this up in his talk/article, though: "Suppose I design a platformer with backgrounds by Michelangelo, black and white characters from Ingmar Bergman movies, pop-up quotations from Shakespeare and music from The Well-Tempered Clavier. I call it All Your Art Is Belong to Us!"

There's an animated .gif demonstrating. It's quite a ridiculous thing, and I don't think anyone would call it art, at least not under the stringent definitions that Moriarty and Ebert are adopting.

I dunno, man. I feel like I should have a stance on this argument, being a member of the games industry myself, but all I can say for sure is that in order to say whether games can be art or not, you first have to define art. And that itself is an argument that's been happening for thousands of years, and is still on-going.
posted by rifflesby at 12:39 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having said that, I don't want to be a killjoy on the discussion, so I'll throw this out: if a catalog lists all the artworks in a museum, with photographs, is the catalog itself art? If not, then it's insufficient to claim that games are art because they can contain things that are recognized as art within them.

And if so, then... well, all I can say to that is that our definitions of art are way misaligned.
posted by rifflesby at 1:11 AM on March 17, 2011


Interestingly, there are languages where "art" doesn't exist as a word. Art certainly exists in that culture. Loads of paintings, movies, fiction, etc will exist but not this weird umbrella term "art."

It makes me think "art" is a pretty nebulous term, in the same way "god" is a nebulous term. Or "race", which is often debated around here.

It seems to me that debating whether video games are art is really just expending energy on the wrong types of issues, unless I guess, you're--god forbid--a professional art critic. In which case, making up issues to give yourself something to discuss is just part of your job.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:55 AM on March 17, 2011


Only had time to skim over it: It seems he's trying to equip his point with formal power by putting together an argument that consists of hundreds of one-liner syllogisms. And he's the game designer. No wonder he thinks games can't be art.
posted by quoquo at 5:42 AM on March 17, 2011


In which case, making up issues to give yourself something to discuss is just part of your job.

But art critics can be only half of what drives this constant debate. It would go nowhere if gamers responded with indifference.

Are there video game designers who want people to think of them as great artistes? Video game players who want nonplayers to take them and their hobby more seriously than nonplayers take other sorts of games? If there wasn't always someone on the other side insisting (rather than showing) that games are or will be or could be Art, the silly debate would go away.
posted by pracowity at 5:43 AM on March 17, 2011


.There's an animated .gif demonstrating. It's quite a ridiculous thing, and I don't think anyone would call it art, at least not under the stringent definitions that Moriarty and Ebert are adopting

From what I can tell, all he proved was that animated gifs aren't art.
posted by empath at 7:30 AM on March 17, 2011


Evvis his wef th bidding.
posted by herbplarfegan at 2:37 PM on March 31, 2011


Oh, Christ.. that was supposed to go on the 'Cheezburger buys Knowyourmeme' thread.
posted by herbplarfegan at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2011


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