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Are Videogames Art? 242

Game Politics, as always, has some meaty thoughts on offer. Today they're revisiting the perpetual question, 'Can videogames be considered art?'. They touch on the words of Roger Ebert, and discuss a recent piece on the subject in the Sydney Herald. From the article: "Brendan McNamara, game director for Team Bondi, makers of the upcoming film noir PS3 game L.A. Noire, has no doubt his team is creating art. With a project plan that includes 170 pages describing cinematic moments, and 1,200 pages detailing interactive events, the game has a Hollywood-like budget of more than $30 million. 'We control the delivery of the information ... We give players a setting and a framework, we control what they see and do. So how are we not authors?' McNamara wonders if video games are stigmatized because they are a mostly commercial venture. At the same time, he believes that being driven by sales is a good thing." What is the Slashdot opinion? Are games too different from other form of expression to be considered art? Is Shadow of the Colossus comparable to Leaves of Grass or Citizen Kane?
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Are Videogames Art?

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  • Little boys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cybert4 ( 994278 ) * on Saturday September 09, 2006 @04:59PM (#16072588)
    Sorry, but the number one reason that games are not considered art is that they are thought to be for young people only--in particularly, only boys. It has nothing to do with "commercialism". I'm not saying it is good or bad. Go to your local game store--see how many little boys you see. Chances are, it's a lot more than 50%. Yes, you have some (still male) people in their 20's and 30's who grew up with them.

    I remember, just on the radio, how a professional personal ad writer said that an example of an unworthy person is "living in his mom's basement, playing Nintendo". Sorry, but that's the public's view.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TomHandy ( 578620 )
      So does that mean that the work of Dr. Seuss isn't art?
      • Some of the films for older boys would be hard to classify as art, particularly some of Roger Ebert's work. He was co-writer with Russ Meyers of the infamous "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" [imdb.com] (1970).

        From a user review on IMDB: "A 60s all-girl rock band decides to get in the van and head to Los Angeles to try to make it big. And they find it is super easy, and they make connections fast, but fame and fortune comes at an expense.... Yes, this is the movie that is infamous for being written by Roger Ebert. Yes,
    • by FhnuZoag ( 875558 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @05:07PM (#16072612)
      Let's be controversial here.

      I think the deeper message that we can draw out here is that there is no such thing as art. In other words, there is no unbreachable division between what is art and what is not, and there is no magical quintessence that makes something automatically artistic. Art, I propose, is just a label applied by self-appointed judges regarding their own arbitary tastes. The proper response is not to endlessly try to justify electronic entertainment as 'art' in the eyes of pretentious old men, but to note that their opinion does not actually matter. The next generation, no doubt, will have their own idea of art, and their own view of what will be culturally significant, and the scorn of today's judges have no meaning in this respect.
      • by oggiejnr ( 999258 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @05:19PM (#16072654)
        Given the current crop of so-called "modern art", I think is safe to say that the only definition of art that can be uniformly applied is that it is art if someone is willing to pay money for it on the basis of it being art.
        • by Al Dimond ( 792444 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @05:36PM (#16072731) Journal
          Y'ever study John Cage? You've hit the nail precisely on the head! John Cage wrote a piece of music called 4'33", consisting of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence divided into 3 movements. Because it was performed as a work of music and accepted by its audience as a work of music, it was music. It has also been discussed ever since by musicians and by people that study music, adding weight to its status as a musical composition (it becomes music itself when it is performed and listened to). Meanwhile, consider the music that's pumped through speakers into stores. There is no performance, there is no attentive and active audience, and nobody cares about it. It's being played to present an atmosphere that will subtly convince consumers to buy more things. Even if what's being played is one of Beethoven's great symphonies, something with sound, with notes, with all kinds of recognizable musical elements, it's not being used as music (there is a composition, but only questionably a performance or audience); therefore its status as "music" is in question.

          So your definition, as cynically as you offered it, is pretty much right on. Art requires artist and audience (these roles may overlap, or, as in much music, be separated further by tradition). That is all.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Twinbee ( 767046 )
            A great piece of music is still a great piece of music, even if it's only a dog that ever listens to it. The situation and atmosphere (e.g. supermarket enviroment) are external variables which affect the enjoyment of said music.

            Oh and John Cage's music 4'33" in my opinion is completely neutral, offering nothing or bad. If you could put every theoretical piece of music on a multi-dimensional tree, then the 4'33 would certainly occupy an important place in that tree. However, it lacks any of the enjoyment
          • by Triv ( 181010 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @06:44PM (#16072963) Journal

            Did YOU ever study cage? Because you entirely missed the point.

            Cage believed that there are elements of a musical performance that are entirely out of the composer's control, things that are random and spontaneous that nevertheless inflect what's going on on the stage. Every sneeze by the audience, every cough, every whispered conversation, every squeaking chair as an audience member gets up and leaves in disgust, ALL of it is in some way a part of the music you're listening to.

            What Cage did was, to bring this passed-over element of musical performance to light, he wrote a piece of music that entirely accentuated the random sub-elements of performance by eliminating the music entirely, thereby making people more conscious of their immediate surroundings. THAT'S why 4'33" is important; it has nothing to do with this bullshit 'what is art?' argument.

            Triv

            • by monoqlith ( 610041 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @07:23PM (#16073110)
              I think it has everything to do with the "what is art?" question - that's exactly the question begged by your interpretation of the piece.

              This is called reflexivity - the art work interrogating itself or its medium or its exhibition, precisely to ask the question "why is this art?" You can't answer that question without first answering the question "what is art?"

              Are these coughs art? Are the conversations art? If so, why? Where does the art stop and everything else begin?

              Personally I don't think that's good art. I find it pretentious. It doesn't do anything for me. It doesn't require any technical skill. It asks obvious questions. But anything that is interpreted as a piece of art work can be considered art even if it isn't good art.

              As soon as you say something is art it becomes art. The question is then "why do we say that this is art?" since there is no objective definition of "art."

              The art crowd has fooled us into thinking that there is something that is objectively art or objectively "good" art. That is absurd. Art is based entirely on how its interpreted and perceived - how can it be anything before it touches your eyes or mouth? There are no concepts communicated by the art piece as an object *in itself*, just like there is nothing communicated by regular objects just in virtue of themselves. Everything we say it communicates is actually an imposition of our minds. Things outside of us have no semantic meaning by themselves, without observers.

              When it encounters an audience - be it the artist him/herself or people in a crowd - it becomes art. This is radically subjective definition of art, that some people find offensive. I don't. I think it is everything art is supposed to be - human. It depends on the humans participating in the viewing and the making of it.
              • It doesn't require any technical skill.

                This is the biggest myth of all - that technical skill is a requirement of good art. Technical skill may be required to execute some works of art, but only for secondary reasons. For example, a composer has a vast abstract space to explore when trying to generate music. By exploring the space of music playable by virtuosos they have vastly more options to discover good music than by exploring the smaller space of music playable by mediocre musicians. But the final re

            • Yeah, indeterminacy and chance techniques were very important to Cage. More important than the bullshit "what is art" question, for sure. But GGP wasn't talking about indeterminacy, he was talking about the bullshit question, so indeterminacy wasn't really relavent. Whether Cage thought it was important or not, people asking the bullshit question have asked it in the context of 4'33" for years because 4'33" is the perfect pad from which to launch into bullshit arguments like mine. Furthermore, IIRC Cage
            • by 7Prime ( 871679 )
              You are SOMEWHAT correct, you hit on one of the aspects of "Silence" (4'33" is not the piece's name) that many people miss: the aesthetic side of what Cage was wanting to express. But at the same time, Cage wasn't dumb, he knew that what he was doing would stir some controversy into the question of "what is art?" and he welcomed it. The piece has many different levels, philosophically, and is not limitted to just it's purely aesthetic sense. Furthermore, as a post-modernist, one of Cage's reasonings is that
            • I understand what he was "trying to do"... but I don't buy it. I think that with a lot of art, the artist is first and foremost trying to shock people, cause controversy, or get attention. Then they try to create an intellectual justification for why they are cutting a cow in half, sticking a crusifix up their anus, or playing 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence.

              Don't get me wrong... I have no problem with artists doing weird things to get attention. Good for them. I just don't like that I am expected to bl
        • by eonlabs ( 921625 )
          In the same breath, the main reason I bought Metroid Prime was because the game graphics were extrordinary. Anyone who's tried to design a game understands the artistic endeavor involved in creating it. I'm certain that most modern games (not so much pong or tetris) are works of art. Games like REZ and rRootage are designed to catch your eye.
      • by naoursla ( 99850 )
        Art is an expression of the artists viewpoint of the world. Art allows us to glimse the way another human experiences the world. In this way, art brings people together and build culture. Nearly anything can fit this description, but if the creator is not putting some personal viewpoint into the creation then it is not art, it is simply a craft.

        Of course video games can be art. Movies can be art too, but many aren't. Both of these forms of media are so often filtered through corporate guidelines and commite
      • by Kunta Kinte ( 323399 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @06:18PM (#16072876) Journal

        I think the deeper message that we can draw out here is that there is no such thing as art. In other words, there is no unbreachable division between what is art and what is not, and there is no magical quintessence that makes something automatically artistic.

        Maybe "everything is art" is closer to what you are getting at?

        Wikipedia, as usual, as a good writeup on Defining art [wikipedia.org] ( Why the editors don't routinely include WP links on core concepts, is beyond me ).

        My personal definition of art is anything that inspires without obvious utility.

        • by xant ( 99438 )
          Inspiring, useless, YET not art: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half_Dome [wikipedia.org]

          Inspiring, useFUL, YET clearly art: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallingwater [wikipedia.org]

          Please try again. Your definition of art needs revision. Everybody thinks they can do better than philosophers who've been debating this since the dawn of civilization (and, likely, before).
        • by Gulthek ( 12570 )
          So something useful isn't (and can't be) art?

          What about the Chrysler Building? Or houses by Frank Lloyd Wright? Or the Apple G5 [billnoll.com]?
      • What you say would have been controversial 100 years ago. This was explored by the Dada movement. (Is a urinal with writing on it art? How about a defaced postcard of the Mona Lisa?)

        What's happened in the intervening time is that fine art has been distinguished from commercial art. Most of the people who can draw and paint "realistically" (i.e. those who are able to faithfully draw what they see; there are notable exceptions) are not part of the fine art community. They're doing advertising, architect

    • Sorry, but the number one reason that games are not considered art is that they are thought to be for young people only--in particularly, only boys. It has nothing to do with "commercialism". I'm not saying it is good or bad. Go to your local game store--see how many little boys you see. Chances are, it's a lot more than 50%. Yes, you have some (still male) people in their 20's and 30's who grew up with them. Change the word "game" to "comic book" and that statement applies directly to a totally different
    • by xQx ( 5744 )
      Noo, it's got nothing to do with age. Take Pornography for example.... I've got films that are more artistic than anything you'll see hanging on a wall in a dreary building but do they call that art? No. Because the only people who like it are straight men of all ages.

      from dictionary.com:
      The fine arts are those which have primarily to do with
      imagination and taste, and are applied to the production
    • Sorry, but the number one reason that games are not considered art is that they are thought to be for young people only--in particularly, only boys.

      Why do you mention boys in particularly?
  • Stigmatized, yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @05:02PM (#16072593)
    McNamara wonders if video games are stigmatized because they are a mostly commercial venture.
    The stigma doesn't come from being mostly a commercial venture. Look at movies. They're mostly commercial ventures too. However some are considered more artistic than others. I think one aspect is that games are interactive. Most art is, for the most part, passive in that the viewer sits there and looks. That's not to say that games aren't art. I would argue that they are. We just need to better encompass our definition of art to include such things. 100 years ago, would a crowd of nude people be considered art?
    • I think this actually comes with every new medium. I'm sure when film first came into mainstream, there were people asking "But is it art?" But the question is inane anyway, as far a I am concerned. The summary asks "Is Shadow of the Colossus comparable to Leaves of Grass or Citizen Kane?" Why do they always trot out the most highly esteemed movies as representative of that medium?

      They never ask if something is as/more worthy of art status than, say, Battlefield Earth? The reply may be that it's not a
      • A better comparison would be "Is the Metal Gear series comparable to the James Bond series?" or, "Is the Zelda series comparable to Lord of the Rings?"
        Keeping genres tied together helps a little. There has never been a video game number one - one game that all gamers absolutely praise above all others... ...although Final Fantasy VII to Citizen Kane is a pretty even match, if you ask my heavily biased opinion...
        • You know, I was actually going to mention FF7 but believed my biases were too much in play to mention it (last FF that I played).

          It's following still astounds me today, as I figured years ago that it's popularity would have waned with the new games/systems.
  • Art vs commerce (Score:5, Insightful)

    by payndz ( 589033 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @05:02PM (#16072595)
    McNamara wonders if video games are stigmatized because they are a mostly commercial venture.

    Because movies, of course, are made for no more reason than pure artistic expression...
    • Heck, look at Shakespeare! He was writing to make a living too - in no way was he writing for posterity. This is evidenced by the fact that he didn't even release printed copies of his work (only until after his death were such copies made, which is why we've lost several of his plays), because that wasn't profitable.
  • Games probably haven't been very good at pulling together into a cohesive art form so far; however, film also had a terrible time getting its act together, wasting years copying stage plays before discovering its own language. Personally, I think that games actually have far more potential than any of the other artistic mediums, especially as they encompass most of the other forms of art within each game. Read more of my ideas on this subject below.

    http://www.thegamechair.com/2006/02/03/games-as-li tera [thegamechair.com]
  • Of course video games are art. An interactive visual narrative is still a narrative. Simple games, like Tetris and other plotless games, are simply "games" but almost all video games incorporate some kind of plot or story. "Are video games art"? The answer is 'yes'. Video games are art, just like novels, comic books, films, paintings, and a guy hitting a watermelon with a sledgehammer.

    "Good art" is another question entirely.
    • I would venture to say that video games are, or at least have the potential to be, more "art" than a lot of the things we call art nowadays. I think an important aspect of art really lies in the interactivity between the artist and the viewers. Art, at its core, is a communication medium. Artists use symbols and approximations and facsimilies to communicate ideas, emotions, thoughts, intents and all the sorts of things people like to communicate to each other. But whereas a painting is akin to a letter, a o
    • by mrraven ( 129238 )
      I think you hit the nail on the head when you ask "are they GOOD art." Of course video games COULD be good art, but 99.999% are not. Is Myst perhaps good art? Perhaps, but I'd argue even Myst doesn't touch us at the level good art touches us which is in a region of the subconscious beyond words. I have never seen a video game with wabi sabi. Photographs and movies yes, video games not yet.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi_sabi [wikipedia.org]

      Most video games are good at adding more, as in higher resolution graphics, fas
      • by Omestes ( 471991 )
        I think there has been some attempt at art, though. Katamari (however its spelled), for example contained a surrealistic simplicity. A game like Killer 7 had potential of being very much art (narrative and style), but sadly it was limited by its format somewhat, if it was a move, though, it would have been a cult hit. Then we have a game like Wind Waker (Zelda) which tries very hard to be artistic.

        I think the problem is contextual, right now we can't see them as art, because we live in a time when art is
      • Of course video games COULD be good art, but 99.999% are not

        That's true for all forms of art.

        You can write me off as a pretentious old dude who "doesn't get it," but I still say video games could be art but aren't yet. Where is the Ingmar Bergman, the Picasso, the Public Enemey? Sorry I just don't see it yet.

        You hold the keys to open your eyes and unlock your mind. Nobody else can do that for you. Prejudice towards an entire artistic medium is not pretention, it's decrepitude.
        • by mrraven ( 129238 )
          Who said anything about prejudice? I didn't say video games aren't capable of being good art, I said they haven't reached that point, YET, big difference.
      • I think you hit the nail on the head when you ask "are they GOOD art." Of course video games COULD be good art, but 99.999% are not. Is Myst perhaps good art? Perhaps, but I'd argue even Myst doesn't touch us at the level good art touches us which is in a region of the subconscious beyond words.

        They aren't. Neither is anything else. "Art" isn't a property of an entity; no object has the power to touch us on the subconscious or any other level, it is us who reach out to touch it. "Art" is in the eye of t

        • Nice try at relativism but the world doesn't really work that way. There is a reason we still read Dostoevsky and not other dime store novels of the same era. Some art works for whatever reason have lasting value, and other don't. The best way to express why they have lasting value is that they move us in a non trivial way and give us deep insights into what it means to be human.

          Note lasting value does NOT equal boring, I predict that the Sex Pistols, Radiohead, Spike Lee movies, Public Enemy and the art
          • Nice try at relativism but the world doesn't really work that way.

            Look at this whole discussion. Everyone is offering their opinion about whether games are art or not. Seems to me that they are all referring to their personal understanding of what art is, and that those understandings do not neccessarily meet. In other words, this very discussion seems to point towards art being relative.

            Nice try at relativism but the world doesn't really work that way. There is a reason we still read Dostoevsky and

            • by mrraven ( 129238 )
              Why do think 3 D steroscope cards left nothing of lasting value? You have not addressed the idea of lasting value in your post despite how verbose it is, lame.
            • by mrraven ( 129238 )
              I have hunch (art dudes have hunches :)) that the people arguing art is completely relative are techies, and that you aren't relativists in your own field so let me give you some examples that may ring true in your field so you'll get it. Programming has certain canonical texts like "The Mythical Man Month," and "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," and "The Art of Computer Programming" by Knuth.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Mont h [wikipedia.org]
              http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar / [catb.org]
              http://en.wikip [wikipedia.org]
              • And this is not just genre snobbery. Comic books became graphic novels when Art Spiegleman wrote Maus about the holocaust. This was again almost instantly recognized as a true work of art and he is exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York along side Picasso, Warhol, etc. Call me when the Museum of Modern Art exhibits some video game screen shots.

                http://www.ithaca.edu/news/release.php?id=394 [ithaca.edu]

                There are such a thing as standards, until video games grow up and get some standards and move beyond sophomo
  • Well, I would not consider GTA as art, but some graphics really are art like projects for ImagineCup [microsoft.com] But those are more like demos, not games.
  • The question arises though is Vaporware art. When someone says Duke Nukem forever, your mind conjures up some imagery. I'd say Vaporware maybe more artistic than text adventures. You really have to imagine good to imagine a game that's never been made.
  • by niceone ( 992278 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @05:15PM (#16072633) Journal
    Well, I think they probably are, but bringing up the budget and number of pages they wrote is kind of missing the point.
  • As a game developer, I would say that games are not quite art. There are a great many aspects of a game that can be considered art. The games visuals, the music composition, and the story are all art. But simply because the medium can make great use of art, not all aspects quite qualify.

    The definition of art, for example, does not quite cover things like the gameplay design, the AI, and the game mechanics. Can anyone here actually consider the game Pong as art?

    The word 'art' is all about aesthetic prope
    • by Khuffie ( 818093 )
      Do you consider photography to be art? Do you consider every single photo out there art?

      Feel free to replace the word 'art' with paintings, movies, statues, sculptures, etc.

      Art is subjective. This whole question is pointless.

    • by Bodrius ( 191265 )
      I have to disagree with that as a categoric statement, because the same thing can be applied to any other artistic medium.

      Just because a movie can be art, doesn't mean that moving pictures => art. Is an infomercial art? Is a self-help book literature? What about a cooking book or a chemical catalogue?
      And yet we could create art in the shape of infomercials, and literature in the guise of recipe books.
      The definition of art does not quite cover film development, typography or grammar for that matter. But w
    • Pong is most certainly art (moreso than many other games).
      It is that achieves a satisfactory experience through the user's experience that is much more than one would expect when looking at all the pieces individually (sound, graphics, interface).

      You could have a massively hyped game with great individual assets (think Daikatana), yet the composition and feedback loop with the user is decidedly lacking. Some character models could be very artistic, but the whole combined product is forced; dead.

      Pong is the
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SheHeItThey ( 994345 )
      Just because Pong does not (necessarily) contain pretty pictures and music doesn't mean it's not art. The gameplay itself can be art.

      I consider games to be art because the design goals of them are to entertain, not to be useful. Pong is for having fun, not for demonstrating how balls bounce off surfaces.
  • Penny Arcade (Score:3, Informative)

    by ResidntGeek ( 772730 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @05:29PM (#16072695) Journal
    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2000/03/01 [penny-arcade.com] Penny Arcade settled this shit back in 2000.
    • by Jack9 ( 11421 )
      Of course, Gabe and Tycho are wrong again in this respect. While the paint and easel are not "Art" per se, the computer program that composes the video game is art. There is revelation and ultimately cartharsis in code.
      • That was the point of the comic. They were responding to a Newsweek article which contained the line in the final frame, by pointing out that art critics are always saying crap like that, even about things that obviously are art (like paintings).
  • Art is about expression of the self, about sharing an emotional experience with someone else. Movies, music, paintings and poems express a broad range of emotions and often in a profound manner. People cry in movies. People define their relationships with 'our song'. These forms can be about anything and can express any emotion. Many examples of these forms (hollywood blockbusters, bubblegum pop) may have little or no artistic merit but that does not invalidate the large body of important work. Good art is
    • Art is about expression of the self, about sharing an emotional experience with someone else. Movies, music, paintings and poems express a broad range of emotions and often in a profound manner.

      Considering that games usually always contain "movies", music, "paintings" (ie hand-drawn or modeled artwork), and sometimes even poetry, it's hard to understand your objection. Not only do I think that video games fit your own definition of art, but also that your definition of art is too limited to really defi

    • A very few games are perhaps sufficiently fluent and emotionally sophisticated to qualify as art but those are so few as for games not to be recognisable as an artform.

      That is true of every single artistic medium. With movies, music, painting, poems, etc., you are simply cherry-picking the ageless masterpieces and forgetting the massive flood of raw sewage they float on.
  • HL2 I think is the greatest example of art for games so far, though Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are certainly qualifiers as well. Why do we care what Roger Ebert thinks, though? He's the only movie critic whose opinion I even care about, but he's only a movie critic. He knows NOTHING about games. Even his friend "experts" know nothing. I remember them talking about Doom being the height of gaming. That's like saying a Bruckheimer movie is the height of cinema. He just doesn't know. We gamers do k
  • I think Richard Serra [pbs.org] (the noted sculptor) gave the best definition I've heard on Charlie Rose a few years ago. Charlie asked him if he would ever collaborate with Frank Ghery. Serra said no, that the difference between art and architecture is that art is necessarily useless and therefore architecture is out of his domain of expertise. Richard Stalman utilizes a similar definition with regards to what he considers can constitute intellectual property. He maintains that it is ethically valid to charge fo
    • by Omestes ( 471991 )
      art is necessarily useless

      Sounds like Jean Baudrillard's take to:

      Since a long time art pretends to be useless (it was not the case till the 19th century, where, in a world that was not yet objective nor real the question about useful- or uselessness was not even to be raised). It is therefore logical that it should have a predilection for trash and waste, which is also useless. To turn any object into a piece of art you just have to make it useless. What the ready-made achieves by taking away the function f

  • However, I like many people, have video game music on their iPods alongside "real" artists, and I'll replay FMV sequences or whole games because I enjoyed the story -- just as I would re-read a good book.

    Also, there is an aspect of timelessness to art. Quoting Ebert (and his main argument) :

    ...no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, film-makers, novelists and composers.

    The video game age is very young, and this perception


  • That's the problem: Games could be art. And games that would be art, would likely be good games (unless you screw up the gameplay/interface part). But unfortunately: 170 pages describing cinematic moments, and 1,200 pages detailing interactive events - this is not art. This is craft, and a low craft. Industry. Production. Manufacturing.

    Yeah, the "entertainment industry" is just that. Industry. Recent discussion about Episode 1 commentary [slashdot.org] was just about that - good plot well blending with the gameplay and th
  • Is $THING art? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <ckratsch&gmail,com> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @06:13PM (#16072864)
    Yes. No. Maybe. Depends.

    I've often considered that the thing which is most functional for its purpose is the best art. Think "chair." Four legs, seat, back. A perfect representation of "that upon which people sit," and you can actually sit on it.

    So let's think about videogames. Are they art? Is Monopoly (the board game) art? Is chess? Is a paper airplane? Is masturbation? All these things entertain us, in one form or another.

    Fact is, whether or not $THING is art is wholly subjective, depending on the person making the determination. Beyond that, there's whether or not $THING (which may or may not be art) is good art or bad art.

    That's a whole other discussion.
    • Fact is, whether or not $THING is art is wholly subjective, depending on the person making the determination

      Courts typically determine if something is "art" based on its cost. If $thing costs more than its utilitarian value, then its art. For instance, if $thing = Wal-mart chair, and if someone will pay me substantially more for the Wal-mart chair then it sells for at Wal-mart, $thing is art and I'm an artist.

      The best real-world example I have found is a woman in NYC who has sex with men on videotape f

      • TCourts typically determine if something is "art" based on its cost. If $thing costs more than its utilitarian value, then its art.

        I can see that as being a legal definition of "art." Following that, the question "Is $THING art?" is unanswerable, being that no context is stated. "Is $THING legally art?" is a question that can be far more easily debated, as would be "Is $THING relatively art?" (example: a sculpture is art, because there are a wide variety of similar historical examples which are almost uni

  • Define: art (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mr1337 ( 799579 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @06:13PM (#16072866)
    Let's define art.

    Art: The products of human creativity. (Source [princeton.edu])
    Art: The expression of creativity or imagination, or both. (Source [wikipedia.org])
    Art: The formal expression of a conceived image or imagined conception in terms of a given medium. (Source [k12.ca.us])

    With these definitions, I consider video games to be art. I always have considered them art. They are simply an expression of human creativity. Being on an interactive medium only adds to the art.
    • Re:Define: art (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cal Paterson ( 881180 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:49PM (#16073524)
      With these definitions, I consider video games to be art. I always have considered them art. They are simply an expression of human creativity. Being on an interactive medium only adds to the art.

      Mankind has been try to define art for thousands of years, and, you know, I'm not sure you quite solved it with three links and a few sentences.
  • More Sport than Art. (Former game designer/developer here.)
  • Frank Zappa had a great view of what constitutes art.

    Art is anything that somebody intentionally makes and then points at and says, "that's art."

    That's it.
  • Let's refine the question. Is 'Citizen Kane' art?

    Now how about 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective'?
  • Near as I can tell, by refusing to grant things like videogames entry to respected art, they are indirectly defining art as a medium that is static in nature. Any item that can be directly influenced and changed through human interaction is disqualified.

    So how does this apply to other outlets of human creation... like patents or copyrights?
    • except that a great deal of modern art is precisely concerned with human interaction and transformation of the art object. I feel very ill at ease speaking about art much as my S.O. is getting her master's in art history and always seems to show me how woefully inadequate my artistic knowledge is, nevertheless, I will try to supply an example. at a museum that I went to once (I don't recall which one, precisely-I'm fairly sure it was the Dallas Museum of Art) there was a piece consisting of a metal struct
      • except that a great deal of modern art is precisely concerned with human interaction and transformation of the art object. I feel very ill at ease speaking about art much as my S.O. is getting her master's in art history and always seems to show me how woefully inadequate my artistic knowledge is, nevertheless, I will try to supply an example. at a museum that I went to once (I don't recall which one, precisely-I'm fairly sure it was the Dallas Museum of Art) there was a piece consisting of a metal structur
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ith(4mor3) ( 989845 )
      When I play a game, it's a work of art. Seriously, I'm creating a dynamic, variable expereince for myself from a set of hardware and software tools. Why should the fact that I intereact with a video game disqualify it as art? I interact with all other forms of art: I adjust the angle and distance with which I view a painting, there is a variety of ways I can tweak and play around an mp3 while listening to it with Winamp, my DVD player has more buttons to control movies than my PS2 and GC combined have to
  • It's all subjective, but my personal working definition for art is "a creative work intended to inspire emotion". If you balk at the idea of intent being part of the definition, you might prefer "a creative work that inspires emotion", which puts classification into the hands of each audience member. In either case I think video games can qualify. There's a bunch of people who won't every accept it because it doesn't inspire emotion in them. There are people who don't believe any music has been recorded
  • being driven by sales is a good thing

    While I believe the creating process of a video games to be very close to what we'd call "art", and game design usually probably needs or involves a lot of creative thinking and production, I won't ever call any production process being driven by sales goals "art". It's just that, a production process, like factories do. Like parfume companies do, like cloth companies do. They produce products that are likely to be paid for by the masses in order to gain profit. Nothi
  • It's a waste of time to even think about this question. Every work has many aspects worth noting, and none of them appear or disappear based on whether the establishment is willing to call it art. A person interested in art for its own sake doesn't care whether the work in question is a bona fide work of art, because that person is busy experiencing and examining the work. The only people who really care about whether something is art are the ones whose egos stand to gain from it: artists and art critics. A
  • was done as an entirely commercial venture. I wonder very much how much thought went into that part of the commentary for this story.
  • I don't know if Shadow of the Colossus is comparable to Leaves of Grass or Citizen Kane, but I'd certainly put PacMan on the same level with a Warhol soup can.

In every hierarchy the cream rises until it sours. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter

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