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Games Entertainment

Are Videogames Art? 376

Posted by Cliff
from the questions-revisited-...-with-a-twist dept.
Angry Black Man asks: "The San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art is currently debating whether or not videogames can be considered a type of art. They are currently holding a symposium entitled "ArtCade: Exploring the Relationship Between Video Games and Art." What do you guys think about this? Also, if videogames are considered art than what stops other computer programs from also being considered art? Censoring videogames because of violence or even programs because of DMCA-type laws may be considered censoring art - something that many Americans have traditionally been very opposed to?" When Slashdot covered computer graphics as fine art, many of you agreed that it was. When asked about beautiful code, many thought so and gave their reasons as to why. Now comes a question about the combination of the two. Are computer games not considered art simply because of its nature as an entertainment medium, or can video games be considered art precisely because they can be thought of as combinations of graphics and code?
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Are Videogames Art?

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  • by Buran (150348) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:29PM (#2551321)
    ... if their creators believe that it is. Whether or not someone thinks my drawings are art, I think they are -- and that makes them art. They take skill to create, and I take joy in making them. That, I think, is art.
    • by Fly (18255) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:47PM (#2551398) Homepage
      I agree. I think that different types of video games would be considered art by various people. RPGs and some of the progression-scenario RTS games (e.g. Warcraft, Age Of Empires, and Rogue Spear) are similar to more traditional types of storytelling such as novels and movies.


      Other types of computer games, such as platform and first-person shooters might be considered art by a different group of people. I don't see quite as much of what I consider art in Quake III as I do in Baldur's Gate.


      Do we consider Magic (the card game) to be art? The cards certainly have as much artwork as many computer games. Do we consider baseball art? Why would a computer simulation of baseball be considered different from real-life baseball? Both are entertainment for sure, but are hitting and pitching Art any more than The Art of Computer Programming?


      Shoemaking is an art, though it's aesthetic is not the same as Impressionist painting, and thus I wouldn't put some Johnston & Murphy wingtips on display in the same place as a painting by Monet.


      I think the SFMoMA should consider them art since computer games do require some artistic aesthetic in order to be more appealing than their competitors in much the same way movies, paintings, novels, and sculptures do.

      • by SuzanneA (526699) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @04:19PM (#2551489)
        First, let me say that I'm a games developer, so perhaps I'm a little biased here..

        Now, the way I see it is this, SOME games are art, some are simply entertainment. Ok, 'thats obvious' you might be thinking, however, WHERE the line is may not be.

        The way I see it, a baseball/other-sport simulations is simply entertainment. It might have artistic elements (presentation issues usually), but overall it is entertainment.

        Games such as RPGs, RTS, etc are obviously art, since a storyline is often involved, and I'm pretty sure that most people will agree that story telling is an artform.

        As for games such as Quake, UT, etc. Yes, they are art, IMO, and heres why... These games are not based around existing concepts from real life, oh sure combat exists, but the environments, the character/monster design and other such issues all require a form of story telling. The story may not be a linear form of plotline, but there is still some story telling involved in designing 'scary monsters', or an alien landscape.

        These elements require someone to put thought into telling the story, whether its via a plotline, or through the environment and creatures inhabiting it.

        Anyway, thats the way I see things on this topic :)
        • by nehril (115874) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @07:37PM (#2552032)
          indeed. Are movies art? are photographs art? Well, it's too broad a question. Films, photography, and videogames are a *medium*, and as such they can be many different things. "movies" and "photographs" encompass things like documentaries, security camera videos, medical images, astronomical images, etc. Whether any particular product is "art" depends on what you define art to be.

          In the same vein, it's ridiculous to ask whether "video games" are art. Video games can be anything from educational, to part of scientific experiments, to, well, anything.

          The field of photography initially went through a stage where people doubted and debated whether photographs were art or mere transcription. As the field evolved the question became more refined: is *this particular* photograph art? That the technology of photography can produce art is no longer in question. Digital Interactive Entertainment or Video Games or whatever you want to call it will eventually go through the same cycle and come to the same conclusion.

          Is Final Fantasy VII "art"? Is Mavis Beacon Typing Teacher? Is this even a valid comparison?
      • by BrynM (217883)
        As a level designer for Quake III, I would assert that it is art. Why do I create levels for QIII? Because it currently gives me the widest and most extensible 3D palette. In fact, I'm currently working on a level that is a tribute to a paint/scultpure artist.

        Given the number of hours involved in creating any game and that the components of most games are called "art assets", the subject becomes moot.

        The hard part is convincing the un-initiated. Rock 'n' Roll was questioned as to it's being music.
    • by het3 (68871) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:53PM (#2551420) Homepage
      I would say that anything can be Art if the *audience* thinks it's Art. Just as you can think you're funny, you might not be. Your audience gets to say if you're funny or not.

      Anything is Art if it produces an aesthetic reaction in the viewer. Intent on the part of the artist can't be part of the definition: it would exclude much that is in fact Art, and include much that isn't, so it's a bad cut to make with your logical scalpel.
      • by karnal (22275) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @05:36PM (#2551707)
        But even if the "audience" doesn't think it is art, it could be to me. I could put together 21 tracks of the most disgusting music man has ever heard on a cd, and have people listen to it. It is art to me. What you're referencing is someone's opinion.

        I may hate your paintings, but it's still art to you. Big difference.
      • NO NO NO ! (Score:2, Informative)

        by thopo (315128)
        you completely misunderstood the concept of art! the act of creation is art. what the audience thinks means shit.
    • by MikeFM (12491)
      I totally agree. Just because you draw a picture doesn't make it art and just because something is numbers and strange symbols doesn't make it not art. When I write a program it is art to me. I am concerned in function, interface, and all the usual programming issues but am also concerned with the internal structures beauty and making the user understand what I was thinking as I designed the program and connecting with them. At the same time I'm trying to connect with any future programmers who may work on the program. IMO it's a very complex and artistic process and in ways much more difficult than any other form of art because the entire process is interactive and in general lacking of direct emotional cues such as background music, pretty pictures, etc. You have to express emotion through logic.
    • http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2000-03 -01&res=l

      Please tell me I'm not the only one who instantly thought of the reference.

      Seriously, I think this hits the oft asked question right on. (Why) Should I care how my art is interpreted by others?
  • Movie analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by keath_milligan (521186) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:29PM (#2551324) Homepage

    Video games are as much art as movies are. In fact, one of my hopes for the gaming industry is to see it mature - at least in some ways - into something similar to the movie industry, where there is room not only for the heavily-produced blockbusters, but also for more artisticly-inclined "indy" titles.

    • Not just that... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chasing Amy (450778) <asdfijoaisdf@askdfjpasodf.com> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @05:31PM (#2551693) Homepage
      Video games are also art in other, more subtle ways. Just as artists celebrated "pop art" by enshrining elements from everyday life in their works--such as the famous painting of Campbell's Soup cans, or the countless works which used the pixellated dots of the print medium--so are videogames a celebration of their times and the aesthetics of the time.

      Take the vector graphics of many early arcade games--they reflect their times, and have their counterparts in films of the day such as *WarGames* where the computer Joshua plays through scenarios on giant vector screens at Norad; they are an enashrinement of the technology of the period, and embody it. Take the vector game Star Wars, and show it beside clips of the same actions that occur in the Star Wars movie, and you have a pop art statement as interesting as any made by the great pop artists.

      How about Dragon's Lair as an attempt to express something in a medium that wasn't entirely adequate, resulting in a quirky experience that transcends the limits of the medium even for its shortcomings?

      The very design of arcade game machines and game consoles is art, much as authentic furniture from the fifties and sixties is prized today for its aesthetic qualities. Such furniture was designed to be entirely functional, not as art--yet it embodies a style and spirit which is today viewed as a certain artistic style, just as the art nouveau reflected in turn-of-the-century Continental signs and gates and baubles, or the art deco reflected in common household decorations of the twenties and early thirties.

      The same sort of art can be seen in these functional bits. Look at the extreme angles in a Defender cab, the sweeping design of a Star Wars cockpit--as worthy of being called art as any art deco figurine. Or, how about setting up an exhibit to contrast the design of home consoles, from the 70s inlaid fake woodgrain and brushed metal of an Atari 2600 to the functional boxiness of a NES to the sleek black of a Genesis to the colorful GameCube.

      The games themselves can be displayed in a similar manner, with demos running to show the simplicity of Pong's attempt to represent tennis in a 2d world on through Star Wars' attempt to represent the cutting-edge 3d technology of the film through simple vector displays on to the ever more complex and imaginative titles which left simply trying to recreate reality in the 80s and went on to create whole new worlds and fantasies--the Mario of Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers as a simplified representation of the hero saving the princess; Pac Man best expressed by the hunger which his Japanese creator in interviews says is the driving (pizza-inspired) idea behind him; Doom's attempt to put the player in a post-apocalyptic world as the protagonist, whereas films have always kept the viewer as a third party to the action; Quake 3 or UT's realism, while portraying the same post-apocalyptic sort of dystopia; the dizzying multi-axis world of the Descent games; Tomb Raider's attempt to make everyone an Indiana Jones; House of the Dead, in the words of the judge who recently struck down a local ban on violent arcade games, who noted it has creativity and even instills a positive message of protecting the innocent by attacking the evil; Duke Nukem and his countless fan levels as the epitome of masculine stereotypes; Discworld the videogames as concrete visual implementations of the world created by the Discworld novels; etc. etc.

      To distill my longwinded claptrap: yes, videogames are obviously art.
  • by IdocsMiko (534405) <idocsmiko.idocs@com> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:31PM (#2551332) Homepage
    Of course video games are art! Designing a video game is designing an experience for an audience. You balance a variety of elements such as sound, color, pace, all of which come together to form a unique whole. Different people have different tastes and will come away from the art piece with different impressions.

    Art forms like video games tend to get mired in these sort of debates because they lack snob appeal. People figure that if it doesn't need an endowment, it's not art. People don't sit in high-rent apartments in an artsy-fartsy section of town in fancy clothes sipping spritzers and discussing the finer points of Q3, so it must not be art.

    Science fiction has gotten mired down in this debate, as has commerical art of all forms, as did theater at one time. Good grief.

    • Agreed (and I wanted to be the first to say duh, dammit!). Simply because computer games are subject to strong commercial pressure and have a young audience relative to other art forms doesn't mean they aren't art.

      Certainly, Q3 is more focused on providing entertainment than investigating the human condition. But the existence of action films or comedic plays (which I'd argue are art as well-- ask any John Woo aficionado, or Shakespeare fan) doesn't preclude the entire medium from more "purely artistic" expression, whatever that is. And as gaming systems are becoming more advanced, and the audience is maturing (both as a result of age as well as a broadening library of past works), we're seeing more innovative and daring works all the time. For example, ICO would qualify as innovative new art for anyone who wasn't already dead-set against the medium. I hope to see more entries in the category of "new and different"-- but I will also continue to enjoy refinements of old, entertaining standbys such as one of the latest fabulous gothic actioners, Devil May Cry.

      P.S. I don't mean this to come off as an add for the PS2; it's just been a dry spell for PC's and other consoles recently. Here's to hoping for a great holiday gaming season.
  • Art or craft? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Webmonger (24302) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:32PM (#2551337) Homepage
    To me, it seems that computer graphics can definitely be art. But programming is more of a craft. It's about making something well. And just like a well-executed piece of furniture, a program's internal beauty is irrelevant to the users-- it's how it looks and how it works that matters to the people who use it.

    Sure, computer games contain art. Their music and images often have artistic worth. But we want computer games that are well designed and skillfully executed, not artistic statements.

    I'm a programmer, and I've got a lot of respect for the creativity and hard work that goes into computer games. But I see them as a craft, not an art.

    Anyone know why this is a story instead of a poll?
    • by UberQwerty (86791) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @04:52PM (#2551596) Homepage Journal
      The difference between art and craft, as defined by my college English department, is as follows:

      -Art forges new ground and manifests new ideas
      Pros: Can be the most interesting creations
      Cons: Often misunderstood, too strange, or
      just meaningless

      -Craft repeats what has been done before in new combinations and perhaps with a new twist
      Pros: Gauranteed to be decent; based on a
      previous success
      Cons: Gauranteed not to raise eyebrows; based
      on a previous success

      Obviously this is not a clear-cut distinction - one could easily find border cases in any medium which is somehow considered art. However, it seems obvious that craft cannot exist without art of some degree; in order to copy an idea, the idea must have been created new by someone once.

      We can easily find computer and video games that seem to fall well into either catagory. Art would be a game that broke new ground and was unlike anything that came before it, like Wolfenstein 3D, or Lemmings. Craft would be a game that did what has been done before, with little creativity (Spear of Destiny, or an add-on of new Lemmings levels) or a lot (Half-Life). Once again, it's easy to find border cases, like each new iteration of the ID 3D engine, which were full of new ideas but based on the same old one.

      We can see, though, that even if most or almost all computer games fall into the Craft category, and even if some are border cases (they eventually fall into one of the two categories), that the medium as a whole is an artistic one. Craft is simply a word that means uncreative art. Just because it lacks snob appeal doesn't mean it isn't aesthetically pleasing.

      Since all computer and video games have no purpose other than to entertain, the medium must be considered an artistic one. Craft does not exist in a medium without the potential for art. The quality of the art, and whether or not it is ideal enough to escape the title "craft," does not, even in the cruelest cynic's video-game-hating eyes allow its dismissal as anything less than poor art. We may notice that the assertion that the art is poor is a qualitative statement, which is in the eye of the beholder, but that the asswertion that it is art at all is a quantitative one and bears no argument. Cogito ergo sum - if someone thinks it's art, the harshest blow one can deal it is say it isn't very good.
    • da Vinci, Botticelli, Giotto. All these guys were closer to the graphics artists and designers of today. Most of their great works were commissioned by kings and millionaires. None of them were starving artists living for their artistic principles alone.

      Xix.
    • The point you seem to be missing is that computer games are (or aren't) art as completed products, on which programmers, designers and what have you collaborated to achieve a final result. Sure, there may be some clever programming or some cute backdrops, but these elements alone do not make a worthwile game. Compare it to a movie, which depends on actors, directors, set designers, camera people, what have you, working together to create a finished product that, I believe, we've accepted by now to be, possibly, "a work of art". The programming alone isn't "art", just like skillful lighting of a set alone isn't. It's the craftsmanship and skill required to get a finished product out in the first place, just as renaissance painters needed to be skilled at mixing dyes (or find someone to do it for them).
  • by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x AT snkmail DOT com> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:34PM (#2551342) Homepage Journal
    It takes both talent and skill to create the very best of works of graphic art. Such pieces inspire emotion and awe.

    The same is true with video games. System Shock 2 *IS* scary and only a skilled team of artists could craft such a thing. Does anyone remember playing DOOM at night and being in an area with strobe lights, those invisible demons growling and the like? Did that stir any emotions in you? Probably yes. Such a feat is a work of art.

    Creating such things is an artform that is developed and perfected by people who like to do it.

  • by xxxtac2 (248028)
    They may not be considered art by the moajority of people right now, but given a few years I expect that they will be. With the amount of work by ARTISTS that goes into the design of these games and the skill of some of the best coders around, its hard to believe that they arent considered art already. Even now there are thousands of people who obsess over classic video games, emulating old systems and collecting thousands of game roms. Its only a matter of time before people begin to view these games as probably the most innovative and original art form of this century. In the age of multimedia and computer graphics, video games are the epitome of these arts.
  • by ChristianBaekkelund (99069) <draco@mitLISP.edu minus language> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:35PM (#2551349) Homepage
    I mean seriously, did you SEE the Pauly Shore movies?

    IMHO, there's art and there's entertainment...and both movies and videogames can fall into either category...

    My $5.95.
  • If either of these are considered art, then video games have to be also. So what if it's primarily an entertainment medium, so are TV and Movies. All art has an entertainment aspect.

    And yes, I am an artist (mostly music, but I dabble in just about everything).

  • I dunno, consider when Unreal came out.

    Absolutely stunning even in low res.

    Remember the userfriendly cartoon:
    "That is the prettiest slide show I've ever seen.
    What is it called?"
    Answer: "It's 'Unreal'".

    Now, the code being beautiful, by extension.
    Humm...code is the tool of the trade, the brush, if you will, the screen the canvas and the results can be artistic.

    But then again, coding has been called "an art form".

    Form is the active word. Not art, per se, but a way to create art, or express yourself via code.

    Any other thoughts out there?
  • by melatonin (443194) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:38PM (#2551360)
    they just mean that someone somewhere is ignorant and/or snobby.

    If I throw a urinal into a museum, or yell "DADA!" out in the streets, everyone agrees that it's art (because it's been established as so).

    But if I band together some talented artists, animators, and ingenious programmers, and create something truly remarkable like Deus Ex or Halo, people question it.

    Such things (vidgames) would not exist without human creativity. They're physical manifestation of human creativity. If that's not art, what is?

  • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:39PM (#2551364)
    Personally, I've always thought of computer games as art, no matter what the "officials" may say. The defining factor, I think, is the fact that it has a story. A computer game tells a story with a protagonist, an antagonist, a setting, theme, plot, climax...everything you need for a decent novel. Sure, many computer games are very shallow, which would make them bad art...but still art.

    As for programming in general...it depends. It can be art, or not. Generic programming is much like technical writing. It is utilitarian, not artistic. It is a task assigned to someone, that any old monkey could do - not an artistic expression of one person's vision. However, this is not always true. Just as there are generic chairs that sell for $10.99 at K-Mart and then bizzarre sculptures of chair-like things on display at galleries, there can also be artistic programs. Someone can write artistic code...but code doesn't have to be artistic.

    I think it's just a little early yet for most of the world to accept code as art. I'm sure it took a while for people to recognize the artistry that can go into photography as well.

    yrs,
    Ephemeriis
  • Art, Schmart (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timothy (36799) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:40PM (#2551369) Homepage Journal
    Why do people agonize about whether particular things can be "considered" art?

    If you consider something to be art, who the heck is going to stop you? Other people might disagree (hey, my thoughts on art may vary from yours -- so what?) but that's about the extent of it.

    Now given that, I don't particularly agree that video games are art, *unless that's what the creator intended*, in which case I have no objection -- then it's art. IMO (which one one else has to buy), Art is *intentional* - accidental doodles, sunsets, plants, shadows, streams or functional objects might be artful, or beautiful, or even artistic, but things get too floppy for me if anything that happens to look nice, or that makes you think, is automatically "art." Not everything sculptural (Zhang Ziyi, for instance, or a Nagra tape recorder) is actually sculpture.

    Having groused that practical objects which happen to be pretty aren't, I would say that the other direction is not quite the same, though. An artwork could have a hands-on function which rendered it a useful object ... again, a matter of intention. If I make an object with a long metal prong flattened into a small, blunted, flat-edge blade that happens to fit into the slot at the end of a woodscrew, and declare that the primary purpose and my artistic intent is for it to be manipulated by human hands to express the beauty of simple machines by inserting or removing screws from objects, Fine -- it's art that happens to serve as a screwdriver. That doesn't make every screwdriver art.

    Maybe this helps to explain why I think the money given to the NEA would be much better given to model rocket clubs around the country, or never taken from taxpayers in the first place.

    timothy
  • Let's see... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wire Tap (61370)
    I'm an avid video game player, and have been for several years. At first, I read this story and said to myself "HELL NO", as I really don't buy into much of the modern art out there today. A lot of it does not seem to be the result of talent, thought, meaning, or artform. The same thing can be said about MANY video games. This is why I originally said "HELL NO". However, there are exceptions. Final Fantasy is perhaps one of the most moving video game series every produced on this planet. It has story, it has beauty, depth, and meaning. It is art. Just as there exists art with little or no apparant worth to me, there exist video games with little or no apparant worth. Yet, there are the few that truly qualify as art. So, in conclusion: some video games should be considered art, just as some "art" should really not be considered art.

  • and for reasons even "Average Joe/Jane" can easily appreciate.

    To begin with, (as a programmer) I consider most code art in and of itself. When you consider that video games are composed of creative code, graphics, and sound, you have to classify it as an art form.

    The very fact that the people who create the visual environment for video games are most commonly described as "graphic artists" is compelling evidence that our society considers their work a form of art in a very tangible sense.

    I for one would love to see an exhibit that's based on various interpretations/muses on video games, both in part and as "complete packages".

  • As many of my compatriots have already stated, there is no doubt that Games are art, or have the potential to be. The question for me is: What can Games do as an art, which is different from Movies and Books? The answer is simple, if not a little obvious: The if statement. Although it has been tried with interactive movies and Choose-your-own-adventure books, only in games have truly interactive stories come to some sort of life. The basic difference is the role of the viewer/reader/player in the story world. For both Movies and Books, the user is just a passive observer, seeing exactly what the artist wanted them to see. With games however, leeway is given; they become an active character in the story, which opens up whole new avenues of experience. Very few if any games have taken real advantage of these differences as of now. But I think (or hope perhaps) that as games become a little easier to develop (via more generalized code components) it will become a much more rich medium. For a first glimpse at this sort of thing, check out the 2001 Interactive Fiction Competition [ifcompetition.org]
  • Art... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by powerlinekid (442532)
    Ok, movies are considered art. Music is considered art. These are both entertainment mediums so I would highly doubt that if it is infact because it is an "entertainment medium" that video games would not be considered art. I think the biggest deal lies in the interactive nature of it. A sculpture, painting, etc are not interactive besides looking and maybe touching. Video games take in all your senses except smelling and I'm sure the ps7 will even do that. But think about it, how many of you have put a game on and just been blown away by it to the point where you sit there like an idiot just watching? I can humbly say that there have been a few ocasions I have done that... the biggest being the Lunar series for Sega CD which blew away anything else at the time. Lets see what else... maybe Myst the first time I saw it (even if it is a stupid game), Ecco the Dolphin on Sega CD, etc. I guess it all comes down to the definition of the word art, which dictonary.com [dictonary.com] says is:

    art1 (ärt)
    n.

    1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.
    2.
    1. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
    2. The study of these activities.
    3. The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group.
    3. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
    4. A field or category of art, such as music, ballet, or literature.
    5. A nonscientific branch of learning; one of the liberal arts.
    6.
    1. A system of principles and methods employed in the performance of a set of activities: the art of building.
    2. A trade or craft that applies such a system of principles and methods: the art of the lexicographer.
    7.
    1. Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.
    2. Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: ?Self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice? (Joyce Carol Oates).
    8.
    1. arts Artful devices, stratagems, and tricks.
    2. Artful contrivance; cunning.
    9. Printing. Illustrative material.

    I would say that just based on the first two definitions that video games are not only art but infact are more art than anything else. Just read them again and think about them in regards to video games.
  • Civilization 3 (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Apreche (239272)
    Have you played Civilization 3? If you don't consider that one of the great masterpieces of all time, then I don't know what is.
  • ...start a silly flamewar.

    No two people agree on what "art" means. I would suggest these are the most popular definitions:
    1) image created by human skill and effort using general marking tools (not photography), or field of creating such images, or collective product of this field
    2) any field of human endeavor, or products of same (formal, somewhat archaic)
    3) any admirable human effort or product of human effort
    4) anything with no practical value other than aesthetic appeal
    5) anything displayed behind a velvet rope in an art gallery

    The word is so muddled that there's no point in using it without further clarification, except perhaps with the first or second definition, when the context makes it clear. It just provokes pointless arguments where nothing gets resolved.
  • Musings (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Murdock037 (469526) <{moc.liamtoh} {ta} {nrohtnartsirt}> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:53PM (#2551419)
    Forgive me if this doesn't seem to have much direction, but this is something I've thought a bit about. I'm a student at a private fine arts college, and I'm one of the few there with interests in video games, programming, etc.

    Scott McCloud of "Understanding Comics" fame once wrote that art is anything not springing directly from man's need to survive or procreate. In that sense, well, playing video games could be considered an art, but making them stems from a creator's need to earn money, so he can eat, so he can survive-- not art. But there are other, easier ways to make money; the video game creator chooses to make games because he or she is good at it and (hopefully) has an interest in the field. He or she puts personal touches into their work and it's different from what anybody else could do-- art.

    It's a tough call, this. Because since Marcel Duchamp put a bicycle wheel upside down on a pedestal almost a hundred years ago and declared that it was art because he said it was, a sort of Pandora's Box has been open: we've got the most liberated sense of art there ever has been (an artist can do anything he wants and try to sell it, really) but we've also got cretins that feel art is simplistic and easy, because they don't understand the thought behind found objects or abstract expressionism or anything else to come along in the twentieth century.

    I tried telling a friend while we were in a Renaissance history class about how it seemed to me that the development of 3D engines like Carmack's Quake and Sweeney's Unreal had some interesting parallels to the development of rendering techniques in Italian painting of the 15th century onward. The Italian painters started off with flat images, little depth, and distance was conveyed by placing objects higher on a picture plane-- it was the Wolfenstein era, you could say. But then artists like Giotto (if memory serves) came along, and started figuring out better ways to shade, to manipulate color, and to make objects seem rounded-- to actually occupy a space. The Renaissance of painting started, and it was like the first Quake. And so on and so forth.

    Where are we now? Well, the technical craft has all but been mastered in video games; it's not photoreal, so games are somewhere around the middle-18th century, I'd wager. I can't wait until the technical aspect becomes so perfected that it becomes boring to the artists making video games; then the modernist era of videogames begins, and we can see just what kind of creativity these guys really have.

    (A note on the above: I'm no expert in the history of painting or the history of games, so the paragraphs above are mostly meant to illustrate the similarities in the goals of the painters and the programmers. Anybody's free to correct me if I'm wrong.)

    But then there's the commercial aspects of the video game industry. A lot of games are made for money. It's much like the film industry, I think, where you've got some works that are obviously done to make a buck (the latest Schwarzenegger flick) and then some that are done for the passion of the craft (Wes Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, to name a few of the better of the younger generation, and so on). But it'd be impossible to say that there is no art in the film industry, just because it's driven by money. It applies the same way to video games: Miyamoto's "Pikmin" is art, the new "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" probably is not.

    So where am I ending up with all of this? I don't know, I suppose it's all just food for thought. My personal feeling is that video games certainly are art, and it's nothing but snobbery from the elitist old guard that says they're not. You've gotta get with the times.

    Code is the paint. Video games are the art.
  • Video games are the greatest form of art to come along in human history. Both visual and aural stimulation combine to envelop the player in an experience forged by the game's creator. Expression is taken to levels never seen before in video games. As video games progress, we will see video games that become more and more expressive of a single person's concepts and ideas, because the tools to make the games will eventually become simple and fast enough for a single person to use to create a game. Neverwinter Nights, an upcoming role-playing game with the capability for users to design their own games with it, is a great example of just how this will all work out.
  • Much like television, pictures, photography, movies, and music, I only consider the top echelon of video and computer games to be "art."


    For example, I would consider a game like Black & White to be Art, but not a game like Daikatana. Naturally, to make this distinction requires some personal judgement. I'm sure John Romero thinks that Daikatana is a piece of art.

  • by mcarbone (78119) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @04:19PM (#2551490) Homepage
    Any time a new art form comes along it takes awhile for the public to accept it as legitimate. Take film for example. In the first 30 years of the century, film was a medium for popular entertainment mostly but had yet been embraced by the intelligentsia. The medium was mostly used for entertainment, but here and there were glimpses of art or social messages or what have you.

    When Citizen Kane came along, here was a movie that used all of the unique elements that make up film for artistic purposes. It was groundbreaking in that the lighting, photography, music, camera angles, editing and so on all came together to form this wonderful work of art.

    I don't think videogames have come this far yet. Now, there are many games that give us glimpses of art and beauty (Zelda games, SNES Final Fantasy games, a glimmer in Black and White, etc.) but no one has yet made the Citizen Kane.

    And why not? Well, in the film industry, it took the genius of one man (Orson Welles) and the amazing backing of a studio system (which later destroyed Welles). But the videogame industry is so much harder to work with when art is concerned. Not only are videogames really expensive, but they are looked down upon by those people who could afford to fund game art. The problem here is that a game has to be aesthetically pleasing and interactive, which, if you think about it, is really hard to do. Most people just want to run around and shoot people in realistic environments.

    So I put out a challenge to all of you videogame makers out there: try to make the Citizen Kane of video games - it doesn't have to be popular among teens or particularly well-liked by the public, it just has to be good. I've tried thinking of ideas myself, but I've failed so I leave it to the geniuses that I know are out there but who probably don't have financial backing. If you are someone like this, I wish you the best of luck!

  • Having recently finished ICO on the PS2, I'd have to insist that anyone considering this question play this game to completion. As pure visual and emotional art, it is more complete than more works I've ever experienced.

    On the literary side, I'd also have to insist anyone considering this subject thoroughly explore the game Planescape: Torment. The way this game reacts to actions, expectations, and self-reflection is quite amazing. If you read any review of this game, you can appreciate how difficult it is to put in a few words how ... jarringly profound this game can be.

    Both of these games tell a story that would be _Impossible_ to tell without the freedom to explore the story, and the strength of the choices given to one exploring it. These games fundamentally connect to many core aspects of the human state in both the same ways 'traditional' art does, and in many ways impossible to do so before - they are fundamentally art in my eyes.

    Ryan Fenton
  • Art vs. Product (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Space Coyote (413320)
    Most modern videogames (and the same is true for movies) are far too complex for any one person to do by him- or herself. What you end up with is large teams working by committee towards a similar objective. However, quite often the artistic vision of the creator can be limitted by the skills and distinct visions of those other members of the team, and also by those marketing types who just want something that will sell.

    The effort to combine storytelling, visuals, music and game mechanics requires an enourmous amount of talent on the part of a director / producer for his vision to shine through. The same is true for movies.

    This is why it is much easier to look at a painting or a poem and see that it is a reflection of the artistic and creative vision of the creator, as he or she had full control over the creative process.

    As far as coding itself is concerned, IMO the idea of it being a craft seems for the most part a little more fitting. Squeezing performance out of a limitted hardware platform is more a result of skill and intelligence, much like an innovative design for a bridge.

    ___
    Cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum.

  • From http://www.dictionary.com/cgi-bin/dict.pl?term=art :

    1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.
    2.
    a. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
    b. The study of these activities.
    c. The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group.

    3. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
    4. A field or category of art, such as music, ballet, or literature.
    5. A nonscientific branch of learning; one of the liberal arts.
    6.
    a. A system of principles and methods employed in the performance of a set of activities: the art of building.
    b. A trade or craft that applies such a system of principles and methods: the art of the lexicographer.

    7.
    a. Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.
    b. Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: ÒSelf-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practiceÓ (Joyce Carol Oates).

    8.
    a. arts Artful devices, stratagems, and tricks.
    b. Artful contrivance; cunning.

    Dictionary.com thinks video games are art.
  • I went there with my girlfriend a couple of months ago and we were amazed at what they called art. I mean, there is a friggin' electronic marquee that has fortune-like sayings scrolling by on it -- and that passes for art. There is a discombobulated urinal laying on its side. There are canvases painted completely in some arbitrary color. And that's just scratching the surface. I'm not usually one to blame the results of somebody's work on drugs, but it seriously looks like some of these people sat down, took a lot of hallucinogens, and did the first thing that came to mind. I don't know, maybe you have to be in the same state of mind to appreciate that. IMHO, if you can say those things are art, of course you can say thatvideo games are art. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but think of the amazing amount of detail that goes into games... the examples of the Quake and Diablo series come to mind... I mean... somebody had to sit down and animate/draw/model each of those characters, textures, etc... it's a massive amount of work. Video games are a beautiful mixture of creative artwork and carefully thought out elements.

    Anyway, my point is, if they come out and say that video games are not art, they're massive hypocrites, because damnit, if a canvas painted completely in blue is art, then just about any video game is going above and beyond art.

  • If you want to know whether video games are art or not, just take a look at the credits... artists/audio engineers typically outnumber programmers 1.5:1 - 2:1
  • If.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SuSEMann (107265)
    If putting a Cricifix in P!$$ can be called art, and not to mention some of the sculptures at the Carnegie Museum, then sure as heck computer programs and games can be art.
  • Most aren't. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chardish (529780)

    Videogames are art. I define "art" as anything that requires creativity. However, most videogames aren't fine art. This is because the medium of video game is inherently a form of entertainment, and was created as a way to make money. Yes, video games have come a long way since SpaceWar!, but most still aren't fine art.

    For a videogame to be considered fine art, in my opinion, it must have an emotional impact upon the player. Therefore, most engaging RPGs could be considered fine art, in the same way that an engaging story would be. What about those "survival horror" games? Fine art, they (most of them *cough cough Clock Tower*) cause fear, even though most of them don't tell stories.

    Or, fine art videogames must be original. You can't just put an artsy spin on a cliched genre and succeed. When I think of videogames as art, several titles come to mind: Diablo I, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Super Mario 64, Zelda: OOT, Ultima IX, Baldur's Gate. All of these introduced new things to their genres, all of these were original. Sequels are rarely fine art because they're not original. Example: Resident Evil = Fine art. Its sequels, however, were mainly rehashings of the original with new puzzles and enemies.

    Or, a fine art videogame can be innovative. Game developers, add something new to games! All platformers were mostly the same, then Abe's Odyssee came along. All 3rd person shooters were mostly the same, then MGS came along. All PC RPGs were mostly the same, then Baldur's Gate came along. Did anyone realize that these games actually added something new to the genre? That they weren't clones of old games? Cold that be why they were so fun? Innovate! Arguably one of the most underrated titles in the PSX's history was Ape Escape. Why? It actually used the 2nd analog stick as control for weapons! It was a work of art - it forced us to think about controlling differently.

    My two cents.

    -Chardish
    • Why? It actually used the 2nd analog stick as control for weapons! It was a work of art - it forced us to think about controlling differently.
      Really? And all the other games that did that (Smash TV and Virtual On immediately come to mind) didn't force us to think about controlling differently?
      • AFAIK, the first game to do that was Berzerk, which came out long before Smash TV
        • Exactly. Those are just two that I remember off hand. The point, however, is that it wasn't done first by a bloody playstation game. :-) Hell, Indiana Jones for the atari 2600, if I recall correctly, used the second joystick for inventory.
    • Videogames are art. I define "art" as anything that requires creativity. However, most videogames aren't fine art. This is because the medium of video game is inherently a form of entertainment, and was created as a way to make money. Yes, video games have come a long way since SpaceWar!, but most still aren't fine art.

      I'd generally agree with your definition of art, but technically, pornography falls under the catagory of "art" as well. (Note the distinction between "nude art" and "porn" which does exist.)

      Or, fine art videogames must be original. You can't just put an artsy spin on a cliched genre and succeed. When I think of videogames as art, several titles come to mind: Diablo I, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Super Mario 64, Zelda: OOT, Ultima IX, Baldur's Gate. All of these introduced new things to their genres, all of these were original. Sequels are rarely fine art because they're not original. Example: Resident Evil = Fine art. Its sequels, however, were mainly rehashings of the original with new puzzles and enemies.

      You forgot Final Fantasy. The games technically aren't sequels because I have yet to see a single character copied from one game to the other. Sure, some stock characters exist (Cid is the only major one; Biggs and Wedge, Jesse in FF7 come to mind), but even Shakespere used "stock characters" to get the plot along without having to spend much time on it. Each FF game is origanal - Final Fantasy is more of a "series" name than a "game" name. Just because they belong to the same family doesn't mean they're the same thing.

      Or, a fine art videogame can be innovative. Game developers, add something new to games! All platformers were mostly the same, then Abe's Odyssee came along. All 3rd person shooters were mostly the same, then MGS came along. All PC RPGs were mostly the same, then Baldur's Gate came along. Did anyone realize that these games actually added something new to the genre? That they weren't clones of old games? Cold that be why they were so fun? Innovate! Arguably one of the most underrated titles in the PSX's history was Ape Escape. Why? It actually used the 2nd analog stick as control for weapons! It was a work of art - it forced us to think about controlling differently.

      I disagree here. Sure, anything can make you think differently. The "dada" movement (which is only art because some old stuffies declared it was) makes you think differently about things - but what is artistic in a door with a sign on it half-opened in a free standing display? It doesn't add anything to culture.

      Video games are art, but defining it is very hard.
  • Play Ico on PS2. Play Shenmue II on Dreamcast/XBox. Play Luigi's Mansion on Gamecube.

    If you can then say with a straight face that videogames aren't as much art as, say, the winners of the Turner prize, then there's no hope for you.
  • by Vegan Pagan (251984) <deanas@earthlin[ ]et ['k.n' in gap]> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @04:43PM (#2551577)
    Video games aren't art in the traditional sense that the patron/consumer can alter it. Most art - paintings, sculpture, music, drama - is alterable by its creator, but not by the patron. However, we could consider video games to be a play where the players are the actors and the developers are the playwrights. And the value of the video game could be the degree to which the developers can excite the players to perform. An unplayed game would be an incomplete composition; a complete composition of a video game would have to include players.

    Thus, in the classical definition of art, the value and quality of video games would be defined by their popularity. They would be most valuable while popular, and worthless once pasee. They would not accumulate value over time.
  • Depends on the game. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Recovery1 (217499)
    It really has to depend on the game. Some games were just garbage, and then there was games that made a person wonder just how on earth the machine could do all that. Some of the early games like Super Mario Bros 2 and 3, Blaster Master, Sonic the hedgehog, etc. are sure worthy of being called art. They knew the machine so well in and out that using various tricks they made it appear to do more then it was capable of. I consider these type of games more then just programming of another cartridge to sell to make a quick buck.
    • On the contrary, I don't think that Super Mario Bros. 2, or 3 (decidedly the best Mario game ever) qualify as any form of art. Take this from a person who grew up with them - a HS student. They are closer to board games than art forms. If you consider their code art (Which I believe it can be) then they might be art, for their design - not their display.

      Truely artistic games are the masterpieces that Squaresoft produces. I doubt anyone will contest me on this one. Even the 8-bit NES version of Final Fantasy had a very detailed story, complete with character development, plot twists, etc...You could study an FF game in an english class and probably not have it be totally useless. Sure, its not Shakespere, but it isn't some random beach novel work either.
  • Are WE old farts? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Vegan Pagan (251984) <deanas@earthlin[ ]et ['k.n' in gap]> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @05:07PM (#2551634)
    Most of us Slashdot "youngsters" consider video games to be art because...

    1: ...they are art.
    2: ...we grew up with them, and thus like them and will defend them.

    But once we are old, will we consider that days art forms to be new? Once all of us are 60 there will be many new art forms, like genetically engineered pets (buy Pokemon-like creatures at a pet store), genetically engineered national forests, sky movies (raster scanning lasers aimed at clouds at night), moon carvings (ads visible to the earth could be cut into the moon), talking roads (asphault could be cut like an analog record to make your car buzz spoken words when driven over) and many other things. All of these things I mentioned will surely be art, but, 15 to 45 years from now, when we are 60 and crotchety, will our minds still be open enough to accept these new art forms as art?

    That's the question to help you understand why art establishments, run by 60 year olds themselves, would consider rejecting video games as art. Their opinion would be wrong, but it would be popular.
  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @05:11PM (#2551642) Homepage Journal
    Demoscene - Music, Gfx, DEMOS!

    The largest computer artforms is the demo. These demos are music and gfx wrapped into a small package.

    There are contests around the world called "Demo Partys" which give awards on best gfx, best music, best demos in sizes (64K,etc), 1 hour to compose tunes with a set of samples, best mp3, best Gfx, most genuine.

    Many of these artists and musicians are working in the game industry or entertainment industry. Many of the older 64/apple/amiga game musicians are working for the largest game companies, creating tunes for your games you play today.

    Assembly [assembly.org] - The largest Demo party in the world
    OrangeJuice [ojuice.net] - Demoscene information center
    Google [google.com] demo directory.
    Nectarine [scenemusic.net] - 100% scene music radio!
    Crystal Melon [pir8.com] - Famous cracktros (minidemos) many converted to Shockwave so people can view them. (They were on a c64 and Amiga!)

    If you interested in video game, demo music, mods (4 channel) music, is like a midi with the wave files included.
    Check out
    Nectarine [scenemusic.net] - 100% scene music radio!
    Mod Archive [modarchive.com]
    Google [google.com] Mod directory
    Aminet [aminet.net] AmiNet mod archive.
    C64: Back in Time CD [lynnemusic.com] Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Ben Daglish, Chris Hülsbeck, Peter Clarke - Music Game Gods.
  • Music is a bunch of predefined units (notes), defined as pitch and duration, which are arranged in such a way as to produce a certain output. Programming is a bunch of predefined units (instructions) defined as action and argument, which are arranged in such a way as to produce a certain output. Interestingly, the two have merged. There was a certain monastic order which was taught to sing based on what the people beside and behind you were singing. In other words, if you're in the middle, and the guy behind you is singing a C, maybe you're supposed to sing a D. Then, notes would be given to one row, the 'song' would run through the ranks, and you'd get output in the last row.
  • Arit is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by webprogrammer (518832)
    Dictionary.com's Definition of Art: [dictionary.com]
    Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium. The study of these activities. The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
    According to this, videogames are art:
    The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements
    In fact, videogames could be considered more art than what is traditionally considered art (i.e. painting, etc.) because they attempt to reproduce multiple aspects of nature, not just one. They have all the art of a painting (the graphics), music (music/sound effects), a novel (the plotline), plus the interaction that makes them unique. They are idealized reality.
    High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty
    Games are some of the best written programs out there. This is by necessity; a two second delay in Photoshop as it renders a picture is acceptable, but completely unacceptable in Quake III. Not only are games art, they're more art than other forms.
  • Some web sites and most video games are art.

    Few people deny that web sites can be art, not because they are art, but because there's a web site for everybody, and thus everybody likes the web, so they'll defend it just because they like it.

    Many people deny that video games are art, not because video games aren't artistic, but because they mainly appeal only to 15 to 30 year old males who are in the mood for violence (and more recently, sex). Thus, video games exclude, confuse, intimidate, bore and offend most of the population.

    I have never doubted that video games are art, but I have always doubted that anybody else believed they were art. And it's a shame that the web got there first because video games had a 25 year head start. Just like any other art form, technology and sport, video games have potential to appeal to every demographic.

    They just have chosen not to.
  • Let's compare some of the well-known art movements to some well-known computer games. Note that they appear in the same chronological order.

    Cave Drawings - Pong
    Simplistic linear representation of real objects.

    Medieval - Frogger, 80's games
    flat drawings, non-proportional

    Rennaisance - Street Fighter and the like
    proportional (for god-like proportions), realistic drawings, 3-dimensional, but not baroque

    Baroque - Doom & other fps
    all the qualities of Rennaisance but also immersive. as baroque sought to surround the viewer in the work, so does the fps.

    What would an impressionist game look like? how about a cubist? dada computer game? abstract?


  • The fact is that much of the worlds' art was commissioned, or created for
    profit, under direction, or deadline, or was constrained by the technology of
    the time. And although most games don't conceal a deep political or
    psychological meaning, neither do most paintings adorning the walls of most of
    the world's greatest galleries. The best games today evoke emotion, convey
    a story or excite the imagination. What more can be expected from Art?
    -- Kevin Cloud

    -jfedor
  • Demos such as GLExcess (non-interactive program with graphics and sound) are no less art than movies - they are movies, except they're made by realtime rendering instead of being a sequence of stored images. I don't associate them with the kind of art you find in galleries, but they probably are art.
  • What about computers as artist? There's an interesting article [bbc.co.uk] here about a computer that seems to be able to make creative paintings.
  • Well, first of all, 'Art' is completely subjective. One person's junk is another person's art, whether the medium be video games, movies, paintings, sculpture, performance art, whatever.

    However, in my specific _opinion_, videogames are much like modern movies -- very many of them are created solely for economic reasons and driven by "suits" that just want more of the same. However, once in a while, a game comes along that is clearly art: the product of one person's (or a very small number of like-minded individuals) vision that both looks fantastic (and by fantastic I don't mean it uses the latest and greatest technology, just that the artwork is clearly inspired and consistent) and plays like a dream. Usually such games are the product of small-time garage developers before hitting it big and getting sucked up into the 'studio' system. Once in a while, someone within the system can sneak something really good by the suits, but as with Hollywood, its pretty rare these days.

    And to clarify above, don't get me wrong, I know that modern games are often worked on by many people putting in tons of effort, but even in such situations to reach the level of art you generally need one person with a strong vision making the ultimate decisions.
  • This discussion isn't really about whether computer games are art, it's about whether the concept of computer games as art could be the basis for legal tactics against other people's equally bogus legal tactics. The concept of art has been applied to so many things that it really doesn't mean anything any more. Art is like religion in that it can be attached to almost anything and nobody is supposed to question the sincerity. Garbage, shit and rotting meat have all been exhibited as art in actual art galleries.
    So sure, computer games are art. Campaign spin doctoring is art. Closing a real estate deal is art. Drunk driving is performance art. Suing Napster is art, censorship is art, and this post is art. Why not.
  • Art is anything someone makes or does to elicit an emotional response. The real question, for video games, for Cadillacs half-buried in the desert sand imitating Stonehenge or for pictures of Jesus Christ immersed in urine, is "Is it good art?"

    -jcr
  • What cannot be art? I mean, if the Cadillac Ranch [libertysoftware.be] (near Amarillo, TX) is considered art...
  • by PhilHibbs (4537)
    I can't wait to see a PC in an art gallery running Quake Done Quick [planetquake.com] in a loop.
  • How could anyone possibly say video games aren't art?

    Especially after playing Seaman.

    http://www.gamenationtv.com/reviews/seaman.shtml [gamenationtv.com]

    Some games are high creative art (like Seaman), and most others are low trashy art (like Quake). But they're all art.

    Why do the eggheads bother asking such easy questions as "are video games art"? Mega-duh. How about asking more interesting questions like "how can we apply art to other computer applications like spreadsheets, word processors, web browsers and programming languages?"

    What happens when art meets a programming language? Check out the most amazing stuff I've ever seen done with Flash 5 -- and it's all open source:

    http://www.levitated.net/daily/index.html [levitated.net]

    Don't miss these elegant XML browsers for mapping web pages and reading poetry:

    http://www.levitated.net/daily/pondcoderotdaily.ht ml [levitated.net]
    http://www.levitated.net/daily/pcFinite.html [levitated.net]
    http://www.levitated.net/daily/may2.html [levitated.net]

    And here's the most elegant approach to a visual programming language I've ever seen. Click the right button and select "Zoom" a few times, then pan around with the left button to manipulate the icons close-up:

    http://www.levitated.net/daily/isoconstruct.html [levitated.net]

    -Don

  • Are computer games not considered art simply because of its nature as an entertainment medium...

    Hmmm...you mean like Music, Theatre, Movies, and Comics? No, that isn't why at all. In art, there is always a name behind something. When you listen to U2, you listen to 'Achtung Baby' by U2(eg Bono, the Edge), not 'Achtung Baby' by Island Records. The movies you like are often identifiable by the director, and more often the actors within. Jackson Pollack (whether one considers his paintings artistic or not) is most definitely Jackson Pollack, and not Sears. But how much name recognition is there in game programming, aside from a few standouts like Sid Meier and Yu Suzuki? And they're just directors. I think that your average game programmer is just as much of an artist as anyone in the Louvre, but most will never get any quantifiable credit for it in our society. Same goes for many other areas such as advertising (quite a number of graphic artists and conceptual geniuses around there).
  • ask the Slashdot crowd: it's art!

    ask a crowd on the street: are you kidding? it's computer thingamajig whatchamacallit neato trick, not art.

    i mean, play Planescape: Torment- if that is not art i don't know what is. visually, musically, and literature-wise. but it doesn't fit any preconceived category.

    i mean, when did photography become art? why is what Ansel Adams did art? i think the quick answer is when the technology ceases to be the interesting part of the equation.

    what i mean is, when Matthew Brady made his famous Gettysburg photographs in the Civil War, they were surely artisitic, but most people's reactions, like the New York Times editorials of the day, were like: "behold, this amazing new thing called the photograph, gee whiz! look what you can do with it! i feel like i'm there on the battlefield!" everyone was reacting mentally to what Brady was doing with the camera, not what he was doing irregardless. but by the time Ansel Adams was walking around Yosemite, who cared about what the camera was doing, it was like, "look at that awesome rock! this photo is art!" the technology ceased to be interesting, what you were doing with the technology was able to stand on its own two feet in the human mind.

    it was no doubt what Brady did at Gettysburg was art, but at the time, most people were not thinking about anything but the marvel of the new tech called the photograph. same with Planescape: Torment, or Doom, or Myst. Of course it's art, but the average person is like: "well spank my bottom! you can do that with a piece of silicon and a cathode ray tube? dang!"

    but in some decades, when computers are ubiquitous and unremarkable (yes, they still are new and weird and remarkable nowadays. we are still stretching the boundaries of what we can do with them and where to put them and what they look like), then an Ansel Adams of computer games will come along, when we're all grandpas and grandmas, and our greatgrandkids will be like, "that game Qwerty, where you have to use a keyboard to shoot things called Imps on a 2D screen? it's so retro! that's art!" ;-P

  • Before we ask whether something is art, perhaps we have to specify what we mean by art and, presumably, what we mean by entertainment.
    If that question remains unanswered, there could be no meaningful discussion of whether something is art or not.


    A simple (and simplistic) definition is that art aims at making one a better person while entertainment is just a pastime. By that definition computer games (most of them anyway)
    do not qualify as art.

  • I wouldn't call Minesweeper great art. But I can and do call Final Fantasy 4 (2 in the U.S.) a work of art. What is the difference?

    Some types of video games have as much plot, story, and character development as a novel. Some have as much original and beautiful music as a symphony. Though these traits are shown at their highest watermark in (IMHO) games like FF4, there are many, many other games which include what I'd call impressive art. Acid Tetris and Dune 2 contain great music, if you ask me. Adn I'm sure there are others who, like me, replay Unreal primarily for the sheer beauty of its fantastical world and compelling soundtrack. Other games might not be as "beautiful" per se, but are rendered with amazing craftsmanship and attention to detail, like Half-Life, and this craftsmanship makes them art in my eyes.

    Quite frankly, when people are busy arguing whether something is "art" or not, I have one criteria: is it a work of skill, created by a heartfelt dedication or effort on the part of a talented craftsman(woman)? To me, if this case is met, it is a small step to saying something is art. I see video game design, plot/script writing, image editing, graphic design, painting, and music composition all as art forms. Why should something that is a grand amalgamation of these, be considered less than art?

    -Kasreyn
    • by Kasreyn (233624)
      The other criteria I have as to whether something is art:

      Does it try to make you *feel* something?

      This should be considered part of the above post.

      -Kasreyn
  • Absolutely. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by soybased (257974)
    art1 (ärt)
    n.
    Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.

    The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
    The study of these activities.
    The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group.
    High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
    A field or category of art, such as music, ballet, or literature.
    A nonscientific branch of learning; one of the liberal arts.

    A system of principles and methods employed in the performance of a set of activities: the art of building.
    A trade or craft that applies such a system of principles and methods: the art of the lexicographer.

    Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.
    Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: "Self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice" (Joyce Carol Oates).

    arts Artful devices, stratagems, and tricks.
    Artful contrivance; cunning.
    Printing. Illustrative material.
  • #art=(#art#)
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @10:36PM (#2552383) Homepage
    The only reason that video games aren't considered "art" is because, so far, nobody has successfully marketed high-priced collectables based on them.

    Animated cartoons didn't used to be "art". Then came "collectable animation cels". Then came serial numbered copies of animation cels. Now, there are serially numbered copies of hand-painted imitations of frames from computer-generated movies [yahoo.com] offered for sale.

    Games are moving in that direction, as the visuals get better. "The Art of Myst" showed at SFMOMA last summer. There's a Myst coffee-table book. We're getting close.

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