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Games Entertainment

But Is It Art? 56

Posted by Zonk
from the preach-on-brother dept.
Once again the ever popular topic of 'Games as Art' rears its head in a Gamespot editorial. Matthew Rorie talks the artistic and social value of games, and touches on comics and film to boot. From the article: "As of now, innovation in games is driven more by commerce than by any kind of noble artistic ideal. For that to change, and for games to be taken more seriously by people who don't play them, games need to become cheaper to make, they need to be made by more- diverse groups of people, and they need to be more accessible to nongamers. You could argue about the accessibility point, but the other two factors aren't improving, and they probably won't improve anytime soon. Most game companies seem to be preaching to the choir by developing games that will mostly appeal to people who are already interested in them."
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But Is It Art?

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  • Is It Art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrCopilot (871878) on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:16PM (#14029404) Homepage Journal
    No

    Games can be artistic in style.

    Art is art for the sake of art. Games are games for the sake of entertainment.

    Next rehashed question please.

    • Re:Is It Art (Score:5, Insightful)

      by snuf23 (182335) on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:19PM (#14029426)
      Then how come some films are considered "works of art" when they are also created to entertain?
      And a lot of conventional art is created to feed the artist.
      • Then how come some films are considered "works of art" when they are also created to entertain? And a lot of conventional art is created to feed the artist.

        "some films"?, gotta be more specific. Conventional Art?
        Art can be sold to sustain the artist, but that does not mean it was created for that purpose. It was created to exist and be appreciated if it also feeds the artist that is secondary.

        • So all 'Art' is only coming from so-called Starving Artists?

          I don't buy that. Take music. Music is produced for entertainment purposes and is considered to be works of art (or torture, depending on the piece :P)
        • This is the common "art for art's sake" view which really doesn't hold much water in the real world. Was H.R. Geiger's work in Alien done for "art's sake"? It was done to create a work of entertainment which made a lot of money for a lot of people including Geiger. Yet Geiger is considered an artist and his works are considered art.
          A lot of art is created to express the beliefs, opinions or feelings of the artist. It doesn't exist in some mystical void solely to be appreciated. Art is made to inform and exp
    • Re:Is It Art (Score:4, Insightful)

      by _xeno_ (155264) on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:34PM (#14029539) Homepage Journal

      Try playing Shadow of the Collossus. That game is art of art's sake, at the expense of gameplay in some ways. (Freaking camera.)

      In the exact same way that TV shows are art and movies are art and plays are art, games are art. I think most people would agree that board games are a form of art, so it would follow that video games are art as well.

      Besides, I'd have to question your statement that "art is for the sake of art." I'd say all art is for the sake of entertainment, at the core. The entire point of art is some form of entertainment, even if it is a more intellectual form of entertainment.

    • No no no...you have to label just about anything as "art" nowadays. The "art" of chess...the "art" of programming...the "art" of mechanics...the "art" of football.

      This way no one feels bad about themselves as anyone can be considered an artist now. Spend years with a master at an Atelier learning how to draw and paint? Pfft...no need today! All you have to do is find something you're kinda-sorta good at and say you're an "artist".

      Good at surfing the net? Just tell people you're perfecting the "art of surfin
    • Re:Is It Art (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheDisgrace (900282)
      Literature is also for entertainment. Is literature not art?

      Theater, film, music, and dance are also primarily for entertainment. And yet we consider all of them artforms.

      There was a time when paintings actually were considered a form of entertainment(going back to the rennaissance and its prior days), believe it or not, basically before movies came along. Paintings and sculpture came to be considered dull by comparison, but that doesn't mean that art has to be unentertaining. And of course, then games

    • Art is art for the sake of art. Games are games for the sake of entertainment.

      So, are you saying that if it is art, it should not have a purpose?

      Now I understand why a turd in a jar can be considered art!

    • Art is craftsmanship used to produce things beyond the bonds of utility. Virtually all entertainment media are art. This is why architecture is considered art, but so are TV, comics, rap music, poetry, and finger painting.

      "Art for art's sake"? What's that supposed to mean? Artists are doing their stuff to worship God, to make money, to get laid, just because they can, or some other reason.

      The article implies that art necessitates wide viewership. What percentage of the earth's population walked throu

  • Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by generic-man (33649) * on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:17PM (#14029408) Homepage Journal
    Yes, good games are art.

    Likewise, a nice-looking car is a work of art. An iPod is a work of art. A thoughtfully-designed building is a work of art. The math test in which I expertly demonstrated that 0 = 1 is a work of art. The arrangement of boxes in my basement is a work of art. My mash-ups of Google Maps with Britney Spears songs are all works of art.

    Lastly, this entire post is a work of art. Treasure it as if it were your own, but it's not; comments are owned by the poster, and you may not reproduce mine unless it is within the rights accorded you under the Creative Commons CC-NA-lk-OI-MM-5L-Z| license.
    • Your post screams sarcasm to me, but I'm honestly not certain if that was your intent due to the fact some artistically ignorant people genuinely recognize your point as valid. If you were sarcastic, I apologize if this reply feels berating.

      The idea of everything being art is a grotesque abstraction of an otherwise clean concept. Many people bring up new age artists such as Andy Warhol (soup can) or minimalists such as william carlos williams (the red wheelbarrow) and argue artistic merit on a relative
    • The math test in which I expertly demonstrated that 0 = 1 is a work of art.

      If you think that's art, sometime I'll have to show you my clever proof that infinity equals 1.

      Matter of fact, if we team it up with your proof that Zero equals One, I think we will have a mathematical proof of Zen! ( Everything is One, One is Nothing, Nothing is Everything.)

  • by GrpA (691294) on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:18PM (#14029417)
    I'm getting tired of hearing how games need to change to meet some social ideal of the people pushing them.

    I pretty much like games just the way they are, and seriously, if I didn't like them, and I really felt that something was missing from games, I'd just get off my backside and write a game I liked...

    Why is it that when a niche happens to like something, someone always feels it's time to change the status quo to increase the appeal to people outside of that niche, at the expense of the people within it.

    Sure, I don't like all games. But there are plenty to go around, and I find there are still lots of games that I do like... Even the commercial ones.

    I'm in the choir and I like the sermon... Please leave it that way.

    GrpA
  • Nintendo (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    For that to change, and for games to be taken more seriously by people who don't play them, games need to become cheaper to make , they need to be made by more- diverse groups of people, and they need to be more accessible to nongamers.

    Isn't that what Nintendo has been saying for years?
    In 5 years expect dozens of articles on mainstream websites mentioning that controllers are too intimidating to the average consumer.
    • That may be true but honestly thats more of a generation thing....the microwave and the remote control is still too intimidating for my mom...Heck the push button phone was intimidating to my grandfather when he was still alive...He was so used to the old rotary phone he never bothered to learn the touch tone...Looking at kids these days I'm amazed at how fast they can "thumb-type" on their blackberrys, cellphones, and mobile devices.

      The real question is who is your average consumer? Your average gamer type
  • Who Cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yotto (590067) on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:25PM (#14029467) Homepage
    Seriously, who cares? Is a car art? Is the ocean art? Is this post art? Just make me a fun game and I'll play it.
  • Accessible? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sierpinski (266120) on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:44PM (#14029636)
    and they need to be more accessible to nongamers

    Shouldn't that mean that paintings, sculptures, and other forms of traditional "art" need to become more accessible to non-museum-going people? This is becoming less of a problem with the internet (and specifically sites like Google Image) but the full effect of traditional art doesn't get expressed to those who are not active in the artistic community (ie those who don't go to art museums and such.)

    I'd say that games contain art. Some people would argue that code writing (at least the good kind) is an art. Surely some of the music scores and sound effects are art. The levels, characters, weapons, backgrounds, textures, etc. are art.

    Games contain art. Games are entertainment.
    Art museums contain art. Art museums are entertainment.
    • So... EB and Gamestop are like museums, and the obnixious guy behind the counter is... ??? Since Humankind has yet to define art, defining games as something not defined is, ummm.... UNDEF(?) Here's an old chestnut for techies that ignored liberal arts in college: Is Art: a) A product of the artist, through skill and creative power, manifested in works? OR b) Experiential, in that the "beholder" of a work defines for him/herself what art is? I'll save you some time... THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER.
      • So... EB and Gamestop are like museums

        No, RTF comment again. The store you buy the game in isn't the museum. The GAME is the museum. Its an entertaining "time" where you get to see art, walk around, etc.

        THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER.

        If you can give me any decent logical evidence supporting the fact that:
        1. Games do not contain art.
        2. Games are not entertainment.
        3. Art museums do not contain art.
        4. Art museums are not entertainment.

        Then I would be inclined to believe you. I, however, sincerely doubt you can prov
  • Very good summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Proc6 (518858) on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:49PM (#14029677)
    For that to change, and for games to be taken more seriously by people who don't play them, games need to become cheaper to make, they need to be made by more- diverse groups of people, and they need to be more accessible to nongamers.

    So true. Games have fallen victim to the "too many Crayons" problem that is now plaguing movies. Constraint forces creativity. An artist with a single sheet of paper and some charcoal can soar to new heights of creativity because the limitations of medium force the message to be spoken through the art not the tools. Movies can now just use 3D Animation and green-screening and post to create nearly any effect imaginable. Sadly, it cannibalizes the director's ability to convey artistic message. (see Star Wars: A New Hope vs Phantom Menace).

    For whatever reason this seems to happen every time constraints are lifted on art. Back when it was damn difficult and the tools we're very primitave we were given radically different and ground-breaking games like Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, Toobin, Galaga, Joust. Short of the fact they all use a joystick and buttons, they're about as completely different as you can get. Now we have Quake 4, Doom 12, Unreal Tournament 60. There's about 3 types of games, and 500 knockoffs of those. The drive to create totally new paradigms in gaming is almost gone. DDR is probably the most recent thing I would classify as truly new.

    Of course the second big problem is that game authors (rightly or wrongly) simply want bigger final dollars for their creations as opposed to higher profits. This is capitalism, and that's okay, is just means that a highly succesful niche game is less desired than a watered down whack-a-mole that sells to the unwashed masses. The concepts, themes and functions of a video game or movie will continue to be steered by whether or not it can make it onto Burger King cups and Dell Holiday catalogs.

    So as much as the summary is very correct, we need specific, niche games. And while I do think there's some real "new money" to be generated in a lot of untapped small fields, I don't see how it can happen in the current environment. Braindead WoW makes money, and money is what everyone wants above all else.

  • For that to change, and for games to be taken more seriously by people who don't play them, games need to become cheaper to make, they need to be made by more- diverse groups of people, and they need to be more accessible to nongamers. You could argue about the accessibility point, but the other two factors aren't improving, and they probably won't improve anytime soon.

    All three of these problems are being specifically addressed by Nintendo with the Revolution.

  • The problems that the writer of this article is fumbling around are the same problems with all of mainstream culture. The companies, investing so much into the product, cut out all the art for as much marketability/functionality/sales as they possibly can. The games are too expensive to make well, so there isn't a corresponding indie genre for the people that really love games.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday November 14, 2005 @06:02PM (#14029772) Homepage
    As of now, innovation in games is driven more by commerce than by any kind of noble artistic ideal...

    Yes, because movie studios and art galleries don't want to make money. Painters and directors have absolutely no commercial hopes for their creations. I know all the professional painters I know aren't trying to sell their paintings.

    ...games need to become cheaper to make...

    Like movies are cheap to make? Yeah, I mean, I can scrounge up a couple hundred million in a weekend. Paint, canvas, they cost money too. More than you'd think.

    ...and they need to be more accessible to nongamers.

    ...and paintings need to be made to be more accessible to people who don't look at paintings, movies to people who don't watch movies....

    Look, I'm not saying that it isn't possible to improve the game creating/playing community or something, but are they art? Yes. That it can be expensive, commercial, and that it has a limited audience has nothing to do with the question whatsoever. Art can be all of those things. Good art can be all of those things.

    • >>>...and they need to be more accessible to nongamers.
      ...and paintings need to be made to be more accessible to people who don't look at paintings, movies to people who don't watch movies....

      I think the concept is that there aren't really people who don't look at paintings or go to movies. I'm not much for movies, but I've seen movies, and if you tell me there's this really great movie out, I can go see it. I'm not really into art, but I could spend the day at the art museum with family and
  • by Xerxus (899945)
    Novels are art, right?
    Some RPGs have novel-sized plots.

    This is what Dictionary.com has to say about art:
    "High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value."
    Games seem to fit this description as well. Half Life and Doom are wonderful aesthetically.

    Other games even have literary merits.
    Case in point: Earthbound/Mother2 [largeprimenumbers.com] (warning, tsunami of text)
  • I just came back from a trip to my local Wal-Mart where I watched, for the first time, some guy play the new Xbox 360 on a demo machine. Despite the fact that (oddly enough) there was no one else but me and the player to admire this machine, I was totally impressed by the vivid graphics of the "Call of Duty" demo I saw, and can therefore conclude that it is possible for video game design to reach the level of "art".

    I was playing an old "Battlefield 1942" game only yesterday on my laptop, and to see the
    • I just came back from a trip to my local Wal-Mart where I watched, for the first time, some guy play the new Xbox 360 on a demo machine. Despite the fact that (oddly enough) there was no one else but me and the player to admire this machine, I was totally impressed by the vivid graphics of the "Call of Duty" demo I saw, and can therefore conclude that it is possible for video game design to reach the level of "art".

      I'm curious why it has to be visually realistic to be considered art? Are impressionist

  • Games are art on various levels. Some are white trash scribbles, others works of the masters. Look at the scenery in a lot of your RPG style games, those are artistic works. Do not forget the in game movies either. And we can never forget the musical scores, which sometimes sell even better than the games. Games can tell a story much like a novel or movie, they can show us new worlds like a painting, and we can hear songs that move us like a recital. The only thing seperating them from "art" may be the
    • But interaction's what makes games games, surely? Music, graphics, movies, storytelling are art already; whether they exist in a game or not doesn't really change a thing unless you're also reluctant to grant synthesizers musical instrument status.

      To declare games art because they can contain some or all of these elements seems to me to be like declaring some work of literature art because of the picture on the cover. It doesn't actually respect literature as art but merely concedes that a medium used to
      • Exactly. We're judging art in games on the terms of other artforms instead of on it's own terms. (And this is totally natural for any new artform. Film used to be judged against stage performance for a long time before it finally broke free)
      • Taking The Sims as an example, the houses, the people, their possessions and the music are all art, but subservient to the whole. The real artistry was coming up with the concept of simulated families (dollhouses on computers maybe) and implementing it well. This brought the gaming genre to many, many people that would otherwise never have considered gaming, especially women.

      • Right, the game itself is art and at the same time it can contain individual works of art. The same can be said of movies in that respect. The dynamics of it is interesting but I guess thats true of all information mediums.

        I think if people want to argue over what is or is not art and at the same time defend games as a form of art, then some attention should be paid to your literature example. The term game is being applied to things ranging from training programs to educational tools to general object/sett
  • Games are just like any other type of media. Some of it is art, some of it is craft, and others are just there for entertainment.

    I don't think all game should be considered art. I don't think there is a way that would be possible. You're not going to play a game of Madden and have it challenge you're beliefs. Some games are just be made for the sake of entertainment and the creators of those games are not trying to create art. There is always going to be an audience for those types of games and the industry
  • Why is it that articles like this always seem to come out of gaming industry media outlets? This one in particular annoys me for a whole host of reasons, beyond just spending way too much time discussing the lack of cultural acceptance for comic books (or graphic novels).

    First off (not counting the comic books), video games or rather interactive multimedia computer simulations are just a content medium, a channel for presenting information to a viewer. This channel includes anything that passes through it j
  • Easy answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @11:46AM (#14034997)
    "But Is It Art?"

    Nine times out of ten, if you find yourself asking that question, the answer is "yes." There is often doubt about what is art, but there is rarely any doubt about what is not art.

    It's up there with questions like "Is this a dumb idea?"

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