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I guess art is associated with legitimacy. By denying that something is art, critics pass it off as for the uncouth, unimportant, essentially empty. Calling something art gives it legitimacy, but also a phoney air of 'worth'.

I find it interesting that people debate whether games are art, but I've never heard anyone ask 'Is TV art?'

T. Holbrook Walker

I can't really straddle the fence on whether video games are art because I truly want them to be. It is the artistic quality of gaming (along with the constant problem-solving mental stimulation) that makes me feel that gaming is anything but a waste of time.

Perhaps because a good game is such an explosion of art on many levels that it's hard to consider the game itself as art. The problem then is perception; in order to appreciate art, there seems to be an unspoken requirement for a degree of frozen-ness so that the art can be examined.

Let's a take a movie for example, say The Shawshank Redemption. As a movie, there is simply too much going on to ever be able to appreciate every single detail. In fact, there are by necessity lots of details that add little to the enjoyment of the movie. Any object in line of sight can crawl its way onto film, and the director is responsible for de-emphasizing those parts so that you focus on the intended action and dialog. So, is this movie art? On the whole, it's hard to appreciate as art. It's simply too much to take in and critique as art. However, there are scenes where everything is so deliberate that if you capture a series of freeze frames, all of them easily qualify as art.

Take for example the scene where Andy and Red are having a conversation through a book shelf over pie. Now, frozen, our movie has become art. A single clear frame of a movie can be scrutinized and appreciated fully. It can be purchased and framed and discussed to fine detail. Yet, as you watch the movie, that frame comes and goes in an instant. You can't discuss it because it was impossible to absorb so quickly. Quite frankly, you may have been blinking when it passed.

Games are the same way (peeling the soundtrack aside, which is a different form of art). When we say that games are artistic, we are really talking about having a highly stylized design that lends itself to these frozen moments that we can call art. Is Wander's battle versus the condor colossus art? We can sit on the fence about that. Is a freeze frame of him jumping to grab a furry wing patch art? Absolutely! Even a video of that moment could be considered art provided it were short enough to be digestible. Like a movie, a game generally provides too much stimulation of the senses to be fully appreciated as we experience it.

But think, how many times during a classic game have you tried to get that perfect jump pose before the game froze for the "stage clear" fanfare? You were taking the game's potential for art and making actual art, even for only a brief moment.

The potential of a game to do this should be recognized and treated with high regard. I wouldn't put a Mega Man freeze frame next to a Dali painting in a museum, but a Mega Man freeze frame would look more right on my wall than most Dali paintings ever would.


I've given a lot of thought to this argument and though most games are not art, really, unless you're being technical, some certainly can be.

Go play Ico (PS2) from beginning to end. I will defend that game as being art to the death.


My problem with the whole "Are games art?" debate is that really, the wrong question is being asked.

People don't ask whether Movies are art. They ask, is Citizen Kane art? Undoubtedly. Is Saw II art? That's up for debate. In the world of painting, is Van Gogh art? Yup. Is the drawing I made in third grade that was proudly displayed on the refrigerator art? Odds are, no.

To draw a parallel, you can't say whether or not Games are art. That would be like saying oil paint on canvas is art. You can ask whether games as a medium are capable of producing art, to which I'd answer a resounding YES!, but to discount games as a medium just because someone made {insert crappy tasteless game here} is just faulty logic. I'm not saying all games are art, just that you can't throw out the whole medium with a blanket statement.


Jane, Jane, Jane...

The video game industry bent on one thing and one thing only. Making money. The games that are being produced are not art forms. Innovations are replaced by gimmick and sales are driving game developement and content. Very few if any games are made with an artistic statement in mind.

The key word is few. If I was to design a game I would be sure to craft an art form. Stack detail upon detail upon detail and deliver a moral lesson as well. Currently I am devising a a plot along the lines with humanities obsession of control. An obsession so great it leads to the destruction of the human race. A somewhat philosophical idea coupled with a bizarre story affected by a great big time loop. A time loop that leaves the characters with some really big moral choices. Do you forgo the human good to survive or sacrifice your own comforts and safety to save humanity?

Does a son destroy his father knowing that will end his existance in order to save humanity? Oh sure it's easy to say I would save the word. When it comes down to that key moment what will the choice be? Especially when you know you can live your 80-100 years knowing the real evil won't affect you but those after you. The generations to come.

Well anyway all this is really just passing thoughts as my little idea will never come to fruition. In essance it doesn't exist.

Some games are works of art but they are very few and far between.


"They don't write em like that anymore, oh, oh; oh, oh, oh, oh."


Nice to see someone else finally see the light about Roger Ebert and "Art."

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