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Author Topic: Simple question: Do you think Video games can ever be considered as an Art form?  (Read 6088 times)

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Offline WolfyTopic starter


Offline Brandon

Im confident that video games already are Art. A video game can tell a story better then a movie and a book. A game can inspire emotion, explain philosophy,  wow the eyes and the ears. All of those things are often what people say art does so I dont understand how people cant accept video games as art now.

I think the problem is that while most can inspire they just dont. "Artists" tend to think that all games should inspire but while we expect Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa to be visual art we dont accept the painting I did a painting I did in my sophmore art class as art. Its pretty much just a double standard, they want all games to be art but they dont accept all poem's, paintings, or statues as art.


Offline Juicy

Simple answer: yes.

Offline NCIJade

Oh yes, I definitely do. I have played some really amazing games in every genre and games that just blow my mind and make me want to play them again and again, drooling all the while waiting for the next installment to come out... Video games can be, and I think should be considered art, definitely.

Offline Mnemaxa

Look up 'Zun' and 'Touhou'. 

The Touhou games are 'bullet hell' games where you fly a female sorceress of various sorts against other enemies and try and avoid the massive baragges of bullets they fire at you long enough to get a few shots at a time in. 

While this doesn't seem very artistic, you would have to see some of the shots of the final bosses in play to realize the artistic deign, the cleverness of how there is always a way to escape certain death no matter how deadly the enemy. 

More importantly, the games, silly and basic seeming as they are, has inspired hundreds, possibly thousands of artists to create artwork based on the Touhou characters - Zun the programmer is a terribly artist, but his many, many, many fan have generated enough artwork to fill pages upon pages of books with their designs and histories and worlds.  And is that not the definition of art?  "That which inspires us?"

Offline Jude

Kind of a silly question if you really think about it.  Video games are a composition of many types of artistic works; music, illustration, literature, etc.  If the parts are art, then I think it's fairly obvious that the sum must be.

Art itself is such an ambiguous term that it's nearly impossible to argue that anything isn't art.

I also don't understand what the point of saying video games aren't art is (even if it were true).

I take it as either an attempt to label them as an inferior medium by people who are worried about losing marketshare to them or an attempt to avoid being associated with something that is widely seen as pretentious.

Offline Juicy

Kind of a silly question if you really think about it.  Video games are a composition of many types of artistic works; music, illustration, literature, etc.  If the parts are art, then I think it's fairly obvious that the sum must be.

Art itself is such an ambiguous term that it's nearly impossible to argue that anything isn't art.

I also don't understand what the point of saying video games aren't art is (even if it were true).

I take it as either an attempt to label them as an inferior medium by people who are worried about losing marketshare to them or an attempt to avoid being associated with something that is widely seen as pretentious.

This would have been my "complex" answer. Thank you, Jude.

Offline Brandon

I think part of his problem is that he doesnt play games and has to be told what things are about but that never interests him enough to give them a fair chance. The other issue that comes to my mind is he tears down all those definitions of art. If he isnt happy with those definitions then I would like to know what is his definition of art? If I knew that Im sure that I could convince him that video games were art

Offline Jude

Quote
No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.
Heavy Rain, Mass Effect, etc.  If you use the biased criteria that traditionalists put forth this might actually be true, but then you have to wonder if that criteria exists because it's true or if it exists as self-justifying logic.

On pure enjoyment, video games win out any day.  When it comes to emotional impact, how do you even measure that?  Happiness is an emotion, or are we defining this such as only the more complicated, mixed feelings matter?

Competitive multiplayer in a shooter certainly gives me a burst of adrenaline then a sense of euphoria when my team wins (especially if I played an essential role in that victory), whereas the Iliad and the Odyssey put me to sleep.

Offline Brandon

I think the issue with that point of view is they want us to cite games to compare with artists. Those are two different things. You can respect a director, a poet, or a novelist but games are never thought to be the product of 1 person (and films should be thought of as multi person creations as well). I could say Bioware makes some awesome games where most could be considered art through visuals, story, and culture effecting situations but I wouldnt pin any one name to any bioware game.

Now there are some games we could pin a single name to such as Peter molyneux for the fable games or Tim Schafer for Psychonaughts but those are at best exceptions. As gamers we recognize companies for their artwork not single people.


Online Vekseid

Sid Meier (the Civilization franchise), John Carmack (Doom, Quake), Richard Garriott (Ultima), Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy)...

Do I seriously need to go on? Nearly every video game ever produced is - at its core - the product of a single person's unifying vision. Someone takes the lead on a project and makes that vision into reality, coordinating developers and artists alike. Or (more often) programming it themselves. Just because massive game studious are trying to sweep their devs under the rug (again) doesn't mean that same vision is not present.

Offline Oniya

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Any new art form is rarely seen as 'art' when it first appears.  Picasso, Jackson Pollack, Giger, John Cage, Mapplethorpe, even Stravinsky and Liszt have tread on the boundaries of 'art' with varying degrees of success.  I see no reason why the fantastic graphics and orchestral themes in a video game couldn't be described as art, but it might take a while before the mainstream sees that.

Offline Brandon

Sid Meier (the Civilization franchise), John Carmack (Doom, Quake), Richard Garriott (Ultima), Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy)...

Do I seriously need to go on? Nearly every video game ever produced is - at its core - the product of a single person's unifying vision. Someone takes the lead on a project and makes that vision into reality, coordinating developers and artists alike. Or (more often) programming it themselves. Just because massive game studious are trying to sweep their devs under the rug (again) doesn't mean that same vision is not present.

That could be true of Franchises but I dont agree with it for most games. Out of your list I would only consider Final fantasy artwork and even then I would probably only include 4, 6, and 10 in the list

Online Vekseid

That could be true of Franchises but I dont agree with it for most games. Out of your list I would only consider Final fantasy artwork and even then I would probably only include 4, 6, and 10 in the list

Your point was that you don't normally think of games as being the purview of one person - when in fact that is generally the case. I've had discussions with some of the lead devs on Baldur's Gate, for example, throughout all four incarnations of their forums. Just because they work behind a corporate name, does not magically make them not exist. There is generally a single lead who sees the project from start to finish, much like any director.

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Offline Oniya

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Your point was that you don't normally think of games as being the purview of one person - when in fact that is generally the case.

Is it necessary that art is the purview of one person? 

Online Vekseid

Is it necessary that art is the purview of one person?

I generally don't think so.

Honestly I think Ebert is just trying to get attention and using whatever flimsy defense he can for a point he knows damned well is wrong.

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While I do not play Video games myself, I think that they can considered a form of art. Because, seriously, what is art? Who says what is art and what isn't? I would say that is is a contemporary form of art. :-)

Offline Jade

As an illustrator and 3D animator, yes I believe video games are art.

When they compare video games to chess, they're looking at it wrong. (I just skimmed the article-- too late in the night for me to be reading bullshit)
The actual game of chess is not art, if that is their argument. But look at the chess pieces they're using. Why are some chess sets worth more than others? What the pieces are carved out of, how they were carved, who carved it matters. Do they tell a story? Yes, you can essentially replace the traditional knight, king, queen titles with a different set of titles and viola, a new story to play out. Can they be called art? They're miniature sculptures. Last time I checked, sculpting = art. Mass produced or hand carved, someone still designed it.

Which brings me back to video games. The gamer playing the game is the audience. They are immersed in visuals, characters, sound, etc. They react emotionally to the visuals, whether it be the character designs, the camera angle, the colors used, etc. Even games as simple as Braid, there is a character and that character can do specific things. Overall, there is a story. For me, the story is a big part of what I call art. How does the artist weave a story out of their chosen medium?

If one were to call, say, Kandinsky's pieces art, I fail to see why a video game isn't.


Wow. I really went on a rant. Forgive me, I get rather worked up about these things...

Offline Noelle

We can all thank the modern art movement for the reason we can even have this debate now. Pre-Duchamp, this wouldn't have been a question at all -- it would've been a solidifying 'no'. (Assuming, of course, nobody else thought to write their name on a urinal and display it :) )

Some video games are art, but not all -- yes, thanks to the modern art movement, it's art if that's the artist's intent. It's the same reason you could piss on snow and take a picture and call it art. It's the same reason you can buy a vacuum, put it under glass, and sell it to some curator chump for thousands of dollars. It is if you say it is. It's the reason why art is no longer an object, but can be a cultivated experience -- performance art, if you will. There was a huge shift to not just the end product, but the process of making art in the 60's or so, which fundamentally challenges art's role as being an end product only. Some might even argue that the act of playing certain video games is a performance art in of itself.

How highly regarded it is in the art world is another story entirely. There are better and worse, higher and lower forms of art, usually depending on who you ask; pop art and kitsch weren't well-regarded in their day, but Andy Warhol's works are now highly coveted and Jeff Koons is putting balloon animals in the middle of Versailles. I'd say video games fall on a rung just above pornography, and while its reputation is gradually improving, I doubt it'll reach a truly respectable level for quite some time.

So, art wank aside, short answer: yes.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2010, 08:31:26 PM by Noelle »

Offline Jude

Some video games are art, but not all -- yes, thanks to the modern art movement, it's art if that's the artist's intent. It's the same reason you could piss on snow and take a picture and call it art. It's the same reason you can buy a vacuum, put it under glass, and sell it to some curator chump for thousands of dollars. It is if you say it is. It's the reason why art is no longer an object, but can be a cultivated experience -- performance art, if you will. There was a huge shift to not just the end product, but the process of making art in the 60's or so, which fundamentally challenges art's role as being an end product only. Some might even argue that the act of playing certain video games is a performance art in of itself.
"If the artist intends it to be art then it is art" may be what art theory claims, but I don't know if that's rooted in sound logic at all.  By that definition, Ancient Greek sculptures may or may not be art--we don't know, because the artists are dead, therefore their intent will never be known to us.

What if someone creates something by accident, then after the fact decides that it is art?  When is the intention that is imbued in the final product relevant?  The way you describe what does or does not make something art, basically removes it from any intrinsic quality.  There's no way of detecting with what intent it a particular object was created, and even as the artist, how can you know your own intent?  I mean you can say, yes, I intended this to be art, so therefore it is, but if you made your thoughts more precise, the question becomes, what is your definition of art that you applied to that intention?

If two people with ideas about what art is create art, who really created art?  They're doing fundamentally different tasks when it comes down to it because the term "art" is just a symbol that refers to that definition in their mind.  It has no actual meaning, it's a placeholder

Is there any practical dimension added to an object by the artist's labeling of it as art?  Nope.  Does the object undergo any detectable change?  Nope.  Being told something is supposed to be art may influence the way we perceive that object, but that has nothing to do with the artist's intent, as much as the perspective by which we glance at that object.

I think the question "is x art" is very similar to the question "is x a joke."  You can't universally define a joke, because doing so would require you make it formulaic, which by its very definition defies what humor is.  Humor is quirkiness; deviation from normality in a way that causes the human mind to pick up on that difference, and thus be appreciative of that change.  Because definitions of normal change from person to person, what's funny to one person isn't to another, but that doesn't mean comedy doesn't exist or that humor is defined by the intent of the person creating it (or else that fat kid playing with a lightsaber wouldn't have been a youtube sensation).

It isn't the artist that determines what is or isn't art, it's the observer.  The first person who wrote their name on the toilet and claimed it was art wouldn't have had any success if other people didn't accept their claim, though I suppose that it would still be art to them.

There is no objective definition of art.  Claiming a particular medium or object isn't art is about as senseless as arguing that red is a superior color to blue.  People who put forth such arguments are typically attempting to glorify one medium or work over another for the sake of ego.  "Well I like the color blue more than red, therefore blue is definitely better than red."

Does this mean that all art is equal?  Yes and no, again it depends on your perspective.  If you want something that's accessible for the sake of success and profit, you're going to want art that has qualities that make it easy to relate to.  Some people use art simply to entertain others and others are looking to utilize it as a way to make a statement.  It depends entirely on your goal.

Skill still exists even when you move to a relativistic mindset.  A good artist is someone who is effective at creating art which does whatever they intended it to, much like how a good communicator conveys a message well, and a good comedian makes people laugh.

p.s. So the question isn't "are video games art?"  It's, "are video games entertaining?"  If this guy's definition of art is emotional, moving, powerful narrative and imagery, then maybe video games don't succeed at doing that in his estimation.  But I assure you that there are people who disagree (myself included).  The question is kind of pretentious and silly ultimately, this is the sort of debate that you'd see on a gamefaqs forum arguing whether Final Fantasy XIII or Mass Effect 2 is better (not that we've sunk to that level, I'm just criticizing that guy's blog).
« Last Edit: April 21, 2010, 09:25:24 PM by Jude »

Offline Noelle

"If the artist intends it to be art then it is art" may be what art theory claims, but I don't know if that's rooted in sound logic at all.  By that definition, Ancient Greek sculptures may or may not be art--we don't know, because the artists are dead, therefore their intent will never be known to us.

Not entirely accurate. Art history is pretty well recorded. Even without it, you can deduce an artistic piece's purpose through where it is placed and how it was being used. Sculptures being used as relics inside of temples, tombs being decorated with carvings, etc. Besides, contextually speaking, Greek Classicism existed long before the philosophies of modern art came around -- before then, the theory and principles of art remained relatively unchallenged. Modern art completely revolutionized the way we view art today and is exactly why we're even having this discussion. Art was largely considered ONLY the byproduct of an artist's skilled hand for a large number of years -- as a consequence rather than a process or experience.
Truthfully, there's no easy answer as to whether or not if just anyone considers something art, that it's art. Actually, if you asked me, I might cleverly disagree -- Once a singular audience member decides something is art, they have interfered and...they have created art, which makes them indirectly an artist. It may not work under all circumstances, but I think it's interesting to think about in theory.

Quote
What if someone creates something by accident, then after the fact decides that it is art?  When is the intention that is imbued in the final product relevant?  The way you describe what does or does not make something art, basically removes it from any intrinsic quality.  There's no way of detecting with what intent it a particular object was created, and even as the artist, how can you know your own intent?  I mean you can say, yes, I intended this to be art, so therefore it is, but if you made your thoughts more precise, the question becomes, what is your definition of art that you applied to that intention?

That's the issue with modern art. There are whole subsets of modern art devoted to empowering the common man with the knowledge that he, too, is an artist; whole philosophies that attempt to inject more art into life instead of the other way around. Modern art has both valued and devalued itself -- Greenberg tried to define 'high art' and instead got a bunch of reactionary movements made in his wake that ironically became the very definition of what we consider high art.

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If two people with ideas about what art is create art, who really created art?  They're doing fundamentally different tasks when it comes down to it because the term "art" is just a symbol that refers to that definition in their mind.  It has no actual meaning, it's a placeholder

They both did, and you're right. That's the whole scope of the modern art movement -- how do we constrain art? You can write off various works as being, in your opinion, "not real art", and that's fine, but it's a view that's tailored to your tastes and your belief of what art is, which therefore makes it only a limited scope that does nothing to universally define it. Actually, many artists theorized this view, as well -- Rene Magritte's "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" is a good example; a picture of a pipe with a simple caption: "This is not a pipe". It's fundamentally taking objects and stripping them of the definition we think of them as. If it's not a pipe, then what is it? Within an individual piece, the artist invites you to, for a moment, take his word for it. It's not a pipe.

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Is there any practical dimension added to an object by the artist's labeling of it as art?  Nope.  Does the object undergo any detectable change?  Nope.  Being told something is supposed to be art may influence the way we perceive that object, but that has nothing to do with the artist's intent, as much as the perspective by which we glance at that object.

Art is not intrinsically practical, and sure calling something art doesn't change its physical properties by itself, but it has EVERYTHING to do with the artist's intent. People see things all the time and say "I could've done that" (I'm guilty, as you well know), but the fact is, they didn't, and even if they did, their intent, their purpose for doing it may have been different and the end results would have thus changed. Intent changes the way something is displayed, changes the context of the object. That's half the fun/infuriation of modern art. A vacuum is a common household object, nothing special, its value mundane -- but when Jeff Koons placed some under fluorescent lights and a glass case, it became a piece of art that was put on display in various museums and pondered. The very value of the vacuum was changed because one man decided it was art; its function is no longer to clean and serve as a forgettable prop in your closet, but to be admired and valued, on the same level as the Mona Lisa or an old fresco -- its practicality was stripped away completely and now it sits uselessly under glass and security as a coveted piece of art. Isn't it ironic?

Quote
I think the question "is x art" is very similar to the question "is x a joke."  You can't universally define a joke, because doing so would require you make it formulaic, which by its very definition defies what humor is.  Humor is quirkiness; deviation from normality in a way that causes the human mind to pick up on that difference, and thus be appreciative of that change.  Because definitions of normal change from person to person, what's funny to one person isn't to another, but that doesn't mean comedy doesn't exist or that humor is defined by the intent of the person creating it (or else that fat kid playing with a lightsaber wouldn't have been a youtube sensation).

Of course you can't define it. I don't disagree with this in the least, and that's why art is such a strange, pretentious, confusing, ridiculous subject to discuss. Most people look at a vacuum under a pile of glass and say "...but it's just a vacuum," but others (and I hate to say it, but usually it's people who HAVE studied modern art and are starting to "get it") understand that intent is precisely WHY that vacuum is art.

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It isn't the artist that determines what is or isn't art, it's the observer.  The first person who wrote their name on the toilet and claimed it was art wouldn't have had any success if other people didn't accept their claim, though I suppose that it would still be art to them.

You're right, and if nobody would've given a shit about a urinal with a pseudonym on it mounted on the wall (and believe me, a lot of people didn't), it would've likely fallen into relative obscurity. But consider the context of the times: until then, art's purpose was as pretty objects to look at with occasional symbolism, but was largely used as decoration and only considered art if it required the artist to make it himself (this is also later challenged in modern art by Sol LeWitt). But nonetheless, it's all heavily subjective -- you don't consider it art, but the fact that even one person does makes it so and that's why it's art, even if you don't believe it is. It's like the world's biggest loophole. Do you hate art yet? Hahahahaha...

Quote
There is no objective definition of art.  Claiming a particular medium or object isn't art is about as senseless as arguing that red is a superior color to blue.  People who put forth such arguments are typically attempting to glorify one medium or work over another for the sake of ego.  "Well I like the color blue more than red, therefore blue is definitely better than red."

Does this mean that all art is equal?  Yes and no, again it depends on your perspective.  If you want something that's accessible for the sake of success and profit, you're going to want art that has qualities that make it easy to relate to.  Some people use art simply to entertain others and others are looking to utilize it as a way to make a statement.  It depends entirely on your goal.

Skill still exists even when you move to a relativistic mindset.  A good artist is someone who is effective at creating art which does whatever they intended it to, much like how a good communicator conveys a message well, and a good comedian makes people laugh.

You hit it exactly here.

Quote
p.s. So the question isn't "are video games art?"  It's, "are video games entertaining?"  If this guy's definition of art is emotional, moving, powerful narrative and imagery, then maybe video games don't succeed at doing that in his estimation.  But I assure you that there are people who disagree (myself included).  The question is kind of pretentious and silly ultimately, this is the sort of debate that you'd see on a gamefaqs forum arguing whether Final Fantasy XIII or Mass Effect 2 is better (not that we've sunk to that level, I'm just criticizing that guy's blog).

His definition of art only acknowledges the likes of the art which sets out to do just that. There is art which sets out explicitly NOT to do that. I guess this is really just an argument that goes in circles.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2010, 11:15:10 PM by Noelle »

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Video games are art. Some people like MR Ebert are just too thickheaded and set in the way they think to aknowledge this fact.

Offline DarklingAlice

This makes me sad. I generally really like Mr. Ebert as a critic, but lately not so much. This may just be the last straw for me. Video games can be art. Not all video games are art. But to exclude an entire genre of expression from the category of art is just small-minded and ridiculous. It is disappointing to see him fall victim to his own prejudices and lack of adaptability.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

I generally don't think so.

Honestly I think Ebert is just trying to get attention and using whatever flimsy defense he can for a point he knows damned well is wrong.

That.