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DJMetal

Video Games as an Art

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I guess it's sorta like with some modern art if they somehow come out becoming incredibly iconic somehow. And Pong was. Yeah, you're right that it's not the only form of epitome of gaming. But maybe it's simply because there hasn't been many games as culturally important as Pong.

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I wouldn't say Pong is the epitome of anything. Culturally moving, yes. Minimalistic and beautiful in design for its simplicity, yes... but I think that's where I'd draw the line, personally.

Also, as I need to leave for work, I've gone one small response to I-N-J-I-N:

Come to NYC, look at some of the art galleries here. You'll find some as bizarre as your "smashing pancakes with a boot" reference. I saw an entire gallery of a photographer's work, dedicated to logging the lives of the crack heads, hookers, homosexuals, gangs, and punk rockers of the East Village fifteen years ago. While from a photographic aspect, the images were lively, had the "auto-newsworthy" status, and in some cases colorful, they were most of the time far more bizarre and terrible than anything I'd ever seen.

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I don't think there has ever been a game made that really deserves to be labeled as art, by virtue of the fact that video games are more commercial than literature, painting, sculpture, and even film. Because they are a for-profit product, video games are meant to cater more towards their audience than a specific artistic vision. Video game developers invest millions of dollars into producing their product. They're not going to take chances with an avant-garde art project. The same thing is happening in hollywood right now. The fact that the medium is catered towards the viewer also limits the artist's vision to a story that the customer would actually want to interact with. Imagine playing the novel crime and punishment. It would suck.

Arguably, you could say that video games are a 'visual medium', and that the graphics in video games are meant to affect viewers in the same way as (this is a stretch) a van gogh. However, to this I would argue that there is more to art than detail. What makes visual art unique is that every artist has a specific style in which they paint that offers a unique perspective of our environment. And while you could argue that cell-shaded video games, and games like okami reflect that quality, you can't say that each developer has a specific artistic technique, or even artistic intentions, when they design their models. For the most part, video game design usually ends up being a competition for who can create the most realistic world.

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I don't think there has ever been a game made that really deserves to be labeled as art, by virtue of the fact that video games are more commercial than literature, painting, sculpture, and even film. Because they are a for-profit product, video games are meant to cater more towards their audience than a specific artistic vision. Video game developers invest millions of dollars into producing their product. They're not going to take chances with an avant-garde art project. The same thing is happening in hollywood right now. The fact that the medium is catered towards the viewer also limits the artist's vision to a story that the customer would actually want to interact with. Imagine playing the novel crime and punishment. It would suck.

Arguably, you could say that video games are a 'visual medium', and that the graphics in video games are meant to affect viewers in the same way as (this is a stretch) a van gogh. However, to this I would argue that there is more to art than detail. What makes visual art unique is that every artist has a specific style in which they paint that offers a unique perspective of our environment. And while you could argue that cell-shaded video games, and games like okami reflect that quality, you can't say that each developer has a specific artistic technique, or even artistic intentions, when they design their models. For the most part, video game design usually ends up being a competition for who can create the most realistic world. To me, that's not really art.

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This thread reminds me of when Roger Ebert voiced his opinion about games, and suddenly the word "art" started to appear everywhere in gaming magazines. Sentences like "the developer hopes to incorporate elements that may revive the art form" just didn't happen before.

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I wouldn't say Pong is the epitome of anything. Culturally moving, yes. Minimalistic and beautiful in design for its simplicity, yes... but I think that's where I'd draw the line, personally.

Then, an epitome in simplicity >insert smiley face<

Also, as I need to leave for work, I've gone one small response to I-N-J-I-N:

Come to NYC, look at some of the art galleries here. You'll find some as bizarre as your "smashing pancakes with a boot" reference. I saw an entire gallery of a photographer's work, dedicated to logging the lives of the crack heads, hookers, homosexuals, gangs, and punk rockers of the East Village fifteen years ago. While from a photographic aspect, the images were lively, had the "auto-newsworthy" status, and in some cases colorful, they were most of the time far more bizarre and terrible than anything I'd ever seen.

Sure. I'm not saying that they can't be. People make trash into art, I even heard of 'sound' museums where all you do is hear inane soundeffects turned into an appreciable form. That's the thing to me. Like Warhol painting a can of soup and www.IntoThePixel.com taking smaller artworks of games into a real gallery, it all comes down to taking it down to a concentrated level. Like your example, it's all about finding the grungier parts of society and turnings heads that way. To me, games as art is the same. Even the most hardcore of gamers won't call ALL games of ALL genres in ALL aspects as art, even though I'd personally say so as a gamer. Sorta like with martial arts. The aspect of fighting in itself is an art. But it just can't be appreciable to anyone who may not be a martial artist or a gamer as a form of art.

But if you're to appreciate games as artforms, you have to pare it down to a specific aspect. Like you'd probably have to do with more obscure ways of showing art. I don't want to compare showing game as an artform to showing trash/obscure art, but I think that comparison might work. Because games are a product, obviously, you have to pare it down to something that people can appreciate in an aesthetic level. Like, is the game showing a cinematic aspect like Metal Gear Solid? Or a frantic array of colors and music like Rez and Every Extend Extra? Or is it a cultural milestone of some sort like Mario, Frogger, Space Invader? Or it has a wild fantastical look and vision like Planescape? Beyond, that even, is how the creative heads beyond the product in games have a lot of artistic talent and to sweep it all aside as 'can never be art', I think that does them a lot of disservice.

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When I say cautious, I merely want people to enter the debate without fishing for concepts. Think of a game that is mostly cinematics, like the first cut scenes that were pre-rendered and looked nothing like the in-game graphics. There's a jolt ther that really isn't in other medium. Imagine this new Batman movie with excellent raves, what if Heath Ledger's scenes as Joker (which everyone is raving about seemingly) were only done by him half the time, and during slower moments they filled in with the old Joker from the old Batman movie. The later Batman movies even had that whole nipples on the suit. People whined about the new Dumbledore in a Harry Potter movie. We simply write things off like this in games. Like its somehow okay to not maintain how thigns are going. An artist can fight the mold, but there are still plenty of cases where gamers point to their genre and see only how its good.

Speaking of cutscenes, those are just movies inserted into games. If we accept that videogames are merely a hybrid movie with playable elements I think I'm very right to caution against it. There are several games that are beggining to fight against having non-interactive cutscenes, though it typically takes the form in button mashing (RE4, God of War). Every year or two we seem to make another step towards a better experience.

I have very little doubt we'll be seeing further improvements.

A note on gameplay; We're all kinda used to it, but look at the NES controller and the last/current gen of contorllers. The sheer number of buttons and sticks surely confounds the experience, but holding the shoulder button for major actions in Metroid Prime or SotC enhanced the experience I feel. Controls are for the most part technical and tend to be void of experience enhancing elements. Also noteworthy off the top of my mind, R1 to hold Yorda's hand. Simplicty in controls, one attack, ICO was modern simplicity.

We're far too forgiving of the medium's current flaws. They're being worked on, though its not usually a priority. I still say give 'em time.

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I don't think there has ever been a game made that really deserves to be labeled as art, by virtue of the fact that video games are more commercial than literature, painting, sculpture, and even film. Because they are a for-profit product, video games are meant to cater more towards their audience than a specific artistic vision. Video game developers invest millions of dollars into producing their product. They're not going to take chances with an avant-garde art project. The same thing is happening in hollywood right now. The fact that the medium is catered towards the viewer also limits the artist's vision to a story that the customer would actually want to interact with. Imagine playing the novel crime and punishment. It would suck.

Arguably, you could say that video games are a 'visual medium', and that the graphics in video games are meant to affect viewers in the same way as (this is a stretch) a van gogh. However, to this I would argue that there is more to art than detail. What makes visual art unique is that every artist has a specific style in which they paint that offers a unique perspective of our environment. And while you could argue that cell-shaded video games, and games like okami reflect that quality, you can't say that each developer has a specific artistic technique, or even artistic intentions, when they design their models. For the most part, video game design usually ends up being a competition for who can create the most realistic world. To me, that's not really art.

If being 'for-profit' is a disqualification from being art, then our art galleries, art history books, and music libraries would be empty. Be careful when attempting to condemn the whole of commercial art for doing it for the money.

How on earth do people believe artists are able to not starve to death with this sort of thinking?

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When I say cautious, I merely want people to enter the debate without fishing for concepts. Think of a game that is mostly cinematics, like the first cut scenes that were pre-rendered and looked nothing like the in-game graphics. There's a jolt ther that really isn't in other medium. Imagine this new Batman movie with excellent raves, what if Heath Ledger's scenes as Joker (which everyone is raving about seemingly) were only done by him half the time, and during slower moments they filled in with the old Joker from the old Batman movie. The later Batman movies even had that whole nipples on the suit. People whined about the new Dumbledore in a Harry Potter movie. We simply write things off like this in games. Like its somehow okay to not maintain how thigns are going. An artist can fight the mold, but there are still plenty of cases where gamers point to their genre and see only how its good.

I don't think that kind of analogy really works since you don't get the same kind of effect in most medium by default. Also, it's the business sense and that of the aesthetic of a particular game itself to put in impressive cutscenes and then have gameplay on the side. But nowadays, is that even worth something to argue about, when many games simply use their in-game engine to show cutscenes? Maybe for companies that still cling onto the idea of oldschool CG cutscenes, maybe. But I don't think that in itself is a total detriment of the art of gaming. That is just the way it works. Or at least it used to.

Speaking of cutscenes, those are just movies inserted into games. If we accept that videogames are merely a hybrid movie with playable elements I think I'm very right to caution against it. There are several games that are beggining to fight against having non-interactive cutscenes, though it typically takes the form in button mashing (RE4, God of War). Every year or two we seem to make another step towards a better experience.

I have very little doubt we'll be seeing further improvements.

Infusing cutscenes with gameplay is nice, but I don't really think it's necessarily essential. That's the strange and wonderful thing with videogames; it comes in all types and sizes. The game classics such as the Myst series heavily relied on detached cutscenes whenever you solve a puzzle (especially the crucial ones that goes off into a small movie) but that was the whole draw of it.

A note on gameplay; We're all kinda used to it, but look at the NES controller and the last/current gen of contorllers. The sheer number of buttons and sticks surely confounds the experience, but holding the shoulder button for major actions in Metroid Prime or SotC enhanced the experience I feel. Controls are for the most part technical and tend to be void of experience enhancing elements. Also noteworthy off the top of my mind, R1 to hold Yorda's hand. Simplicty in controls, one attack, ICO was modern simplicity.

We're far too forgiving of the medium's current flaws. They're being worked on, though its not usually a priority. I still say give 'em time.

Here we go again. The whole 'modern controllers are too complex' idea. I keep saying this, but that only seems to be the case for the truly complex games and for those who may not want to learn the controls or are casual gamers. I honestly don't see the problem in it since most games only use shoulder buttons for the bare-bones aspect such as inventory switching, camera-manipulation or gun/action commands. And compared to some kind of keyboard-monstrisity like a Commodore system's controller, I don't think the complexity is even there. Millions of gamers in the vast majority makes well with it, so how exactly is it about 'too forgiving' of the medium's "flaws"? That's simply a common complaint by casual/non-gamers. Like the Wii and 360/PS3 has shown, you can have both types of controller technicalities and one type of control scheme won't edge out the other. That said, the Wii is still a pretty complex controller if you're taking the button inputs into account. But not all games do use all buttons, do they? Same for the current controllers.

And really, what's the point of dragging along the way gamers have played games all along in peace, only to try to appease to the casual and non-gamers? I find that kind of logic mystifying and stupefying.

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only nerds that wanna make themselves feel classy fight for the whole games are art thing

True enough. I'm an art lead for a game studio, but I'm also a nerd... so I guess my fight for games-as-art falls into that category.

To respond to the original post:

Yes, I totally believe games are art. There are a few ... double standards that it naturally has to overcome before this is the mainstream opinion. First off, I think it's important to define art. I'd suggest that anything which takes great skill and practice to create, yet serves no practical purpose (something that doesn't result in eat / sleep / sex / shelter), is technically art. It is creation for creation's sake. That's not to say that Art can't serve a purpose... it just isn't... a practical one!

The OP addressed this somewhat. I firmly agree that a game should, first and foremost, be fun. Fun, long before it attempts to be beautiful, or to tell a story, or to send a message. If it's not fun... well, it might as well not be a game.

Is it fair to hold "art" to this kind of standard? I think most people would knee-jerk, "No". However, as an artist, I'm a little picky and I would say "Yes". Allow me to explain.

Movies.

What's the purpose of Movies? Movies are often entertaining to watch. Paintings.

Paintings are often visually appealing. Sculptures. What's the purpose of Scultpures, or Ballets, or ... or Music...

A lot of Artists like to think that they're very important, and that their personal story, or struggle, or opinion is what is important about their art. And if people just "get it", then that means it's good art. I say "Pooh pooh" to that. YOU are not what's important to art. What you are able to create as a result of your personal struggle, etc, is what's important.

I might suggest that Art is humanity's way of enjoying itself. To indulge in its own ability and freedom to create. People like art because it is indulgent. It proves that we have all of our basic needs met and we have the time to not only create, but create with great and determined skill.

Thusly, I find that it's only natural that art emerges as forms of entertainment. Video games, not excluded.

Also I must make a disclaimer. I believe a good painting is enjoyable to look upon, that a good movie is entertaining to watch and that a good video game is fun to play. While I think all art is (and should be) held to a standard by its audience, that doesn't mean it is NOT art if it fails by its audience. It's just BAD art. ;-) Gigli and Limbo of the Lost not excluded.

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As to the control issues with more buttons, there's a lot of old crusty famous authors who will mention using simpler language should be a priority in terms of good literature. I won't know the exact quotes, but I'm going to suggest the same thing applies in a video game. The input method is pretty important for an art peice. Saying game controlers are currently the best way to experience video game art also seems premature. Literature chiseled into rock or stone may have been the best method at one point, but given time the medium corrects itself and will make itself availible to more people.

About infusing cutscenes with gameplay, a cutscene is a movie. It is a scene cut from the gameplay and delivered as a movie. We're talking about whether video games are art. Sometimes cutscenes are used as a reward mechanic and a time for a player to rest/save. Sometimes they're overblown and pointless and add a movie in the middle of your game.

I'm gonna poke at the JRPG genre as a broad sweep, sometimes hailed for its good story/character development, yet many then sharply hate the genre for 40hr+ playtimes, grind, dungeon crawling, cookie cutter characters, whatever their laundry list of hate is. I know we're too forgiving, because if you buy a book and between each chapter you then have to pop in a DVD to watch the cut scenes, it would seem awkward. Obviously, thats a bigger stretch. Video games, the great interative medium where you are along the ride for the experience.

Just saying the medium's input method is fine because it sells well doesn't really work, because plenty of non-art things sell well. Sales and art do not equal one another.

To say the input method has no relation to the artistic merit of a title seems weird, because the whole thing that makes a video game a video game and an interactive experience (experiences from the minute to the grand/epic scale) is the input the player gives. I don't see how the question of how the game is played can be avoided. Its the core of the arguement.

The input method for music (when it is created) are the instruments, also being voices, or objects, won't be argued. To consume musical art, I'm sure some attention to the way a person experiences the music is important. Visual arts only need to be seen. Video game art needs active participation via the contorller. I'm not saying a one button method of controlling a game is favorable at all, but some of the art design has to be in the input. The designer may just pick lucky buttons that enhance his core game, or may make controls so poor no one can enjoy is game.

Using an in-game engine for cut scenes may preserve the look, but its then safe to say that the medium is still developing. I'm not even saying zero cut scenes, but if half your game is a cut scene collection, where's the game? You know that a line there can be crossed with cutscenes that then make it more movie than game.

I mean historically we'll be able to point back to the medium through its growing pains and point and laugh as early artists tried to create something, but no medium was born and made into a churn-factory of good art without having flaws, and we still ppint flaws at the old genre. Its a pretty fluid thing. If this gen of systems works as we think it does, we'll see far more attempts given the broadesing scope of the consoles. The results we'll get will be very fun to experience.

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I guess when you think about it, trying to argue the status of games as an artform is the same as arguing that anything is an artform; it will all come down to opinion. I think there are some games which could pass as art, and some that, although sometimes graphically impressive, are not actually art.

It all comes down to your own perceptions of art, which is possibly where this misconception of "art" as being something "classy" comes from. However, the fact that it is such a personal thing (as far as one's opinions go, and one's own perceptions) is what makes it an interesting question.

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As to the control issues with more buttons, there's a lot of old crusty famous authors who will mention using simpler language should be a priority in terms of good literature. I won't know the exact quotes, but I'm going to suggest the same thing applies in a video game. The input method is pretty important for an art peice. Saying game controlers are currently the best way to experience video game art also seems premature. Literature chiseled into rock or stone may have been the best method at one point, but given time the medium corrects itself and will make itself availible to more people.

You see, I'm not saying that the way we controlled games were the ultimate. But it's not faulty or inherently flawed. You don't fault people in the past for using animal hides or using inferior paint for their art. You don't fault people in the past for using old language in their plays/books, nor should you necessarily fault the old ways of thought for their aesthetics of their time. Why do you need to single out games when it's PERFECTLY FINE for their purpose as of now? I don't get the reasoning that 'simple is best' as being the only epitome of something. What about complexity and something being involving? That's another avenue too. It just happens that games can encompass both simplicity and complexity and I fail to see how one is supposed to be better than the other in aesthetics of gaming. I think to lean one way or the other really lends itself to personal bias regarding such types of games and what they are supposed to represent as an artform. People keep mentioning Ico and Shadow of the Colossus in their simplistic nature, but that's only one thing. Bigger, complex pieces like Final Fantasy in all their mass market appeal and popularity doesn't automatically discount it from being another example of creativity being infused in a videogame.

About infusing cutscenes with gameplay, a cutscene is a movie. It is a scene cut from the gameplay and delivered as a movie. We're talking about whether video games are art. Sometimes cutscenes are used as a reward mechanic and a time for a player to rest/save. Sometimes they're overblown and pointless and add a movie in the middle of your game.

"sometimes they're overblown and pointless". Are you kidding me? That's only the most cynical view of it since most of the time it tends to serve the games they're on. Also, why should cutscenes be excluded from the entire gaming aspect? That's ridiculous. It's like saying you should take one small piece of development artwork or a screenshot or only the music of a game in order to call it an artform. But it clearly is a sum of their parts. For better or for worse.

I'm gonna poke at the JRPG genre as a broad sweep, sometimes hailed for its good story/character development, yet many then sharply hate the genre for 40hr+ playtimes, grind, dungeon crawling, cookie cutter characters, whatever their laundry list of hate is. I know we're too forgiving, because if you buy a book and between each chapter you then have to pop in a DVD to watch the cut scenes, it would seem awkward. Obviously, thats a bigger stretch. Video games, the great interative medium where you are along the ride for the experience.

Forgiving of what? Why put such a ridiculously bad spin on simple mechanisms of games? And you may find them awkward, but I don't. Also, what about the fact that cutscenes typically are a smaller, storytelling segments and generally aren't simply made to be 'awkward'? What about the fact that you can skip it in successive playthroughs?

Just saying the medium's input method is fine because it sells well doesn't really work, because plenty of non-art things sell well. Sales and art do not equal one another.

Why the hell not? The input methods work not simply because it sells that way, but because *it works*. Gaming as a technology is still new and everything came out of the simple joysticks to the Nintendo digital-pads and it has been evolving as the games themselves. So you're saying that we should be hitting the epitome of interaction RIGHT out of the bat? I think you're off your knockers. Or just way too idealistic.

And the whole bit about 'non art things sell well' has me confused. You're going around in circles there. Non-artful things are basically utilitarian/practical items. Games being playable is in the practical realm, but that has nothing to do with the overall creative input in it. Again, why is it some sort of a mortal sin for games to utilize what works best in our day and age? Because it isn't. It's perfectly fine. It can get better, but it doesn't mean it's so flawed that we should be looking at the most cynical view of it. Look at games like Virtua Fighter and all the inputs you have to memorize. And yet it works. You can't seriously expect Sega to come right up and give us total game control that'll most likely mangle the game due to the lack of control in the design department?

As for the whole 'art isn't sales', that's another strange idea, because art, especially the more appreciated ones are all about selling its own image whether by its own greatness or with the way it impacts society either by being popular culturally or simply being perceived as important. If that wasn't true, then why are so many high-profile art costing in the millions? Even if that was not to be the original intention, you can't simply detach all the market forces that underlies the art world just as it does with anything else.

To say the input method has no relation to the artistic merit of a title seems weird, because the whole thing that makes a video game a video game and an interactive experience (experiences from the minute to the grand/epic scale) is the input the player gives. I don't see how the question of how the game is played can be avoided. Its the core of the arguement.

The input method for music (when it is created) are the instruments, also being voices, or objects, won't be argued. To consume musical art, I'm sure some attention to the way a person experiences the music is important. Visual arts only need to be seen. Video game art needs active participation via the contorller. I'm not saying a one button method of controlling a game is favorable at all, but some of the art design has to be in the input. The designer may just pick lucky buttons that enhance his core game, or may make controls so poor no one can enjoy is game.

Again, way, way too cynical and onesided. So there are some games that doesn't make use of good controls. But there are lots of them that do. And even with something like the Wiimote and the DS stylus and keyboard and mouse, they are always constricted by the ultimate need for a game to be fun foremost (again, casual gamers be damned, because gaming in the end, is for gamers. Let the casual games attract the casual gamers).

Using an in-game engine for cut scenes may preserve the look, but its then safe to say that the medium is still developing. I'm not even saying zero cut scenes, but if half your game is a cut scene collection, where's the game? You know that a line there can be crossed with cutscenes that then make it more movie than game.

I mean historically we'll be able to point back to the medium through its growing pains and point and laugh as early artists tried to create something, but no medium was born and made into a churn-factory of good art without having flaws, and we still ppint flaws at the old genre. Its a pretty fluid thing. If this gen of systems works as we think it does, we'll see far more attempts given the broadesing scope of the consoles. The results we'll get will be very fun to experience.

Are you fucking kidding me? "laugh" at how things used to be? But that's simply how games have grown up. So we "laugh" at how Super Mario Bros didn't have battery/memorycard saves because they didn't have the technology? Or that Myst should be bashed because it's not as interactive as some of the newer successors of Myst itself? Okay, so why don't we laugh at the cavemen who painted on walls who didn't have color palettes to work with or a WACOM to scribble upon? How funny, right?

Oh, and btw:

This thread reminds me of when Roger Ebert voiced his opinion about games, and suddenly the word "art" started to appear everywhere in gaming magazines. Sentences like "the developer hopes to incorporate elements that may revive the art form" just didn't happen before.

Let me just say that's simply the most offensive thing I've heard in a while. Ebert wasn't even legitimately arguing about the art aspect in games, but basically stomping it down. Typical of older generation who never felt the impact of video games nor its relevance in his generation. It's almost like ancient boxing analysts bashing MMA for being the up and coming discipline. Honestly, I don't see a reason to draw the battlelines that way. Just because I feel that games are art in no way degenerates the integrity of the older/traditional artforms. Hell, I'm an artist myself, so I have a bit of a stake in older artforms too. I honestly don't see the inclusion as some sort of a 'saturation' of art. To me, it's enrichment. Much like graffiti became such. Remember when in decades past, where graffiti was thought to be the encroachment to traditional art? Yeah, that argument went far didn't it? As in that it died like a dog?

So Ebert brought about the 'art in games'? I think it's safe to say that is hardcore, factually false. Though I'm sure the shitstorm Ebert brewed had a hand in creating the controversy, I refuse to see a heavy critic as the source of the discussion. Not to mention it's false since the 80's video game aesthetic of artistic expression has been there a full decade before the Ebert debacle. And of course, the laughable idea that automatically; Commercialism = BIG, BAD, EVIL and ANTI-ART. Yes, because anything Pixar makes is a laughable commercialism garbage, right? Any musical achievement really mean nothing because so many musicians do it for the money on top of the entertainment factor? So are all Broadway plays all an artistic sham because they charge high ticket fees? I mean, come on. Entertainment media do not excuse themselves out of being an artform simply because there's a pricetag and livelihoods involved. I can't help but feel that is something very offensive to anyone involved in such media.

Oh, and another idea popped in my mind as well: What is an art if it isn't entertaining to the audience? If people don't gasp at their beauty, their controversy and very existence? Isn't that entertainment? Tell me how that isn't entertainment. I know a lot of art is very personal and often are entertainment for the artists themselves (as an artist, I can attest to that). But it's still a form of entertainment. Don't tell me it's a bad thing to do to go to museums to have fun watching the displays, heaven forbid.

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Actually, not to add any fuel to any flameware here, but I've read quite a few game development books in which the developers refer to themselves as "craftman" and not "artists"... I think their distinction being that it is a combination of "construction" and "art", not just totally one sided - you must have free form and free expression, but it must be molded and constructed into a valid working basis to make profit. I think they draw as art being too free formed, too open to interpretation, and construction being completely laid out ahead of time, and not open to interpretation. Without both, in the right amount, you can't expect to really build much of anything, less finish on deadline.

Just my $0.02.

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Yeah, I think that is a really good point. You always hear about the fact that programmers are like construction workers of their craft while the designers are the artists. Maybe add in a top of the line music composer or even a novelist/writer and you have a real mix in your hands. Even if I'm firmly in the belief that games are art (again, not a traditional one), it's a paradoxical medium.

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Games are a compound of arts, as the MOVIES are.

As a compound, they are another, superior (in complexity) form of art.

  • Visual art --> From the first pixellated sprites used in the games to the 3d models of nowadays, it's ART.

(Haven't you ever seen a pac-man or an invaders sprite painted on a wall? If that's art... why wouldn't be the sprites of the game itself?)

  • MUSIC --> Am i REALLY going to defend that the music of videogames are art here?

No comment

  • Sound FX --> Those are a really hard job for the guys working on the game. it's an art making you believe that you really are in a car, or in a mech, or that you're just being attacked by an alien horde,or that you're firing a machine gun or an ultra-advanced futuristic weapon.

But there's an unique element about videogames that other arts dont have on the same level as games have: INTERACTIVITY

Those ones who say that games are NOT an art are just saying that the interactive component is weak enough to nullify the other components

Which is, of course, an absurd. If movies are an art, why wouldn't be games?

All those who say that games are not art are underestimating the job of so many ..."artists?" in the game industry. Stating that games are not art,consequently you are you just saying that Jeremy Soule's or Yasunori Mitsuda's music is not art Or that Tetsuya Nomura or Akira Toriyama's designs are not art.

(and if you're stupid enough to say.. "the music.. or the concept artwork are art but the game itself its not..." go and read back this whole thing)

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I honestly don't believe games are art. Art is the work of an artist, so when a game gives you freedom, you are basically taking the control from the creators. My point is that you are puting some input into that work, so it's not just the work of the "artist" anymore.

I'm not saying games can't feel artistic. Music is art, movies are art, designs are art. Games like Metal Gear are often cited as art, because they have a strong cinematic feel. But, I think the reason why films are art and games not, even if they both incorporate work from different forms of art, is because films have a native language that is art in itself. Games, or the element that makes them games and not just CG movies, just provide a ground to create an experience. It can feel artistic, but since it's created to give you the control, it can't be considered as a native form of art, even though you can go through different instances of art (music, design, photography, illustration...) that are part of the whole experience, but you can't consider everything art just because you can use forms of art to enhance it (like practicing sports while listening to music).

That said, I don't think anyone should care since it doesn't make games any better or worse.

PS: sorry if something doesn't make sense, english is not my native language.

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Roger Ebert is old and fat.

Well done. :wink:

Seriously though, it was really awkward when journalists were subtly arguing their games-are-art views like that. EGM and GI were definitely doing that in their articles, and I'd been reading both for years.

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I honestly don't believe games are art. Art is the work of an artist, so when a game gives you freedom, you are basically taking the control from the creators. My point is that you are puting some input into that work, so it's not just the work of the "artist" anymore.

Try telling that to an installation artist. Audience interaction is the name of the game for many of them.

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Interactivity and art have gone hand in hand for a long time. Robert Rauschenberg was one of the best known artists in American history, and he experimented with all kinds of interactive art. Paintings that could produce sounds that the viewers controlled. Layered, painted discs that the viewer could rotate to change the composition. Here's an example:

Driven by the desire to create art that would be responsive to the people viewing it and in which no two people would have the same experience, Rauschenberg and a team of technicians from Bell Labs developed Soundings in 1968.

Soundings was made up of a series of nine smoked plexi-glass panels. Viewed in silence, the piece appeared to be nothing more than a large, smoked mirror. As the audience moved around the room and made noise, however, various portions of the piece were illuminated, revealing a series of silk screened images or straight-backed chairs. This piece responded differently depending on the timbre and tone of the individual's voice. As a result, Rauschenberg explained, Everybody sees his own art by speaking to it.

He's not the only artist to explore this sort of thing, but he's one of the most famous. It always seems funny to me when people insist that art can't be interactive. I'm not sure where they draw this conclusion.

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http://games.ign.com/articles/809/809655p1.html

Yes, FFVII and its RPG brethren involve countless hours of dungeon crawling in addition to striking cut-scenes and tear-jerking moments. But without all that time invested in hacking and slashing, would those moments mean nearly as much?

This is definitely something to consider. If you packed together all the story elements of Final Fantasy VII together, it'd be overwhelming. Part of the fun of playing the game is traveling to your next destination, maybe not entirely sure what you're doing, and fighting enemies along the way.

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Yeah, I think that is a really good point. You always hear about the fact that programmers are like construction workers of their craft while the designers are the artists. Maybe add in a top of the line music composer or even a novelist/writer and you have a real mix in your hands. Even if I'm firmly in the belief that games are art (again, not a traditional one), it's a paradoxical medium.

It really is a paradoxical medium... Even me, as a programmer, thinks of programming as a sort of art form (especially some of the more advanced 3D math and how it comes together)... But I also think of it as a construction process...

There is a lot of different personalities that come together to really pull it all off. A game designer (or director, whichever one perfers) that creates the game and its mechanics, programmers that write the game code, 2d/3d artists who create the models and textures, sound and music artists who create the game sound and music, and then you have subgroups and combinations of each. You have screen writers, dialogue writers, game mechanics design, AI coders, sound/graphic coders, network coders, tools coders, game mechanics coders, texture artists, modeler artists, animation artitst, sound FX artists, VO talents, music artists, and then some more...

I know people probably have biasisms as to which is more important (I'm sure on OCRemix, it's more concenered with the sound/music, on GameDev.net more concerned with the programming, etc.), but I honestly see everybody as equals who chip in their talent to create something new and different - an impossibility without artistic and creative minds.

I think we can all agree - without art, games would become stale, the same thing over and over again, but without concentrated construction and hard work, games will never make the finish line. I think it's more about finely tuning the talent you have available to work in a collaborative way - no one person is able to do it all, but together we can do anything. That is almost an artform in and of itself as well.

It's all just a healthy balancing act.

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