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January 29th, 2008, 09:24
Our friend Prime Junta would say this is about games being "about" something. Next Gen has an editorial titled Gaming's New Frontier that discusses games as art and moving on to affecting emotional states, rather than simply being pieces of entertainment:
So, first, in answer to the question…

Yes. Games are art.

There. It’s settled. Let’s move on. Let’s figure out what this actually means.

If you make games, you are an artist. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Your job title might say ‘designer’ or &lsquorogrammer’ but you create art with just as much artness as the novelist, musician or painter. (Whether you are a good artist is a different matter, but that qualification goes for everyone.)
More information.
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January 29th, 2008, 09:24
I can't say this article resonates with me at all. I think there is a very big difference between something containing art, and something being art. The experiences crafted by games like Gears of War, Gothic, Starcraft etc are not art in my mind, any more than a tabletop game of Warhammer 40k is art because of the art/craft of miniature sculpting and painting etc.

If game makers want to make art, then they should stop making games and make art with some loftier goals than making teens feel like badasses or being a fun electronic board game.

That's how I tend to think currently anyway.
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January 29th, 2008, 11:12
I don't get it. Why have some people a problem in games being just that: Games.

I think it's a kind self esteem issue, people just can't accept that they spend their free time (or job time) on just that: Playing Games, writing about games. Games which are supposed to be fun playing, no matter if the game is a RPG or RTS oder FPS or sports games or anything else.

And really, all those comparison with movies…really, who thinks that Rambo is piece of art? The movie is fun to watch, but art? On the same level as maybe Blade Runner (which I would consider a piece of art)? Sorry, that's just bull.

Btw, I do think that there are games that can be considered art. I consider Beyond Good & Evil art. Or Psychonauts. That's art, there is a deeper meaning behind the really fun game facade.
But on the other hand I would never ever consider Supreme Commander (on of my all-time favorites) a piece of art. This game is plain and simple fun. Nothing more and nothing less. And that's good.
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January 29th, 2008, 11:20
I hate this debate. No, hate isn't strong enough of a word.

Seriously, why are so many gamers trying to push games as art? So it can be another status symbol you brag about to your "normal" friends and now calling it art you don't feel so "weird"?

Games, like Roi above me said, are just games. Games have always affected me emotionally. Whether it was the utter fear of seeing my vault wiped out in Fallout 1, witnessing Paul's last moments in Deus Ex 1, or finding out Khalid died in Baldur's Gate 2, games have always been touching my emotions. I don't get where these guys have been all this time that they just suddenly picked up Bioshock and went "OMG…I feel bad about killing little girls…this is ART!".

Hopefully this will all fade soon and we can go back to, you know, playing games.
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January 29th, 2008, 11:30
Well, Roi, if some games can be art to you, it means that the genre can produce art, that it is a medium that can transport art. And therefore it is art. What most people, including the two of you, confuse is that they take art to mean "high art"; the intellectual (or sometimes pseudo-intellectual) stuff you tend to see in museums, discussed in classrooms, and subject of scientific study. However, art is not easily defined or distinguished from not-art. Ultimately art is what somebody considers as art. Therefore it is entirely safe to say "games are art" - if you say so, it is so. And it's usually not good art if not at least 70% of the populace says its not art.

In my opinion, as an interactive medium combining visual and audio, and capable of transporting stories, emotions, video games have enormous potential as an art medium, from the mundane (which we all know) to high art (which we haven't really seen much, if at all). In that sense I would like to see more games who take their storytelling serious, or their art direction, or their "about", their message. That does not mean they have to stop being fun. The best books and movies are both: fun and stimulating. Games can be too.
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January 29th, 2008, 12:04
When I think of art in games I think of somthing like well designed UI + items that fit the games atmosphere really nice (betrayal at krondor) or certain scenes that somhow gets inprinted into memory (gothic watching the old camp cross the river).

Thats just imho of course. Som things in games that first feel like art (i.e baldurs gate) cease to feel like so after a while.
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January 29th, 2008, 12:39
GhanBuriGhan,

Oh I agree, it's capable and has potential. I believe that games can be art. I've played games I believe to be art. I also think there is a whole other area of 'interactive art' that has nothing to do with 'games' (as we traditionally know them) that not many are doing much with that I've been able to find.

I just don't think 'games are art', nor do they need to be.
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January 29th, 2008, 13:12
Thats not really the question in the article though (as I understand it) the question is, would it lead to better, different, or more interesting games (and better games-as-art) if you actually think about them as art when you make them. At least for RPG's, Adventures, and other story driven games, I think the answer is yes.
Nothing wrong with making games for gaming's sake either, especially for games focusing on gameplay - casual games, puzzle games, shooters… There is room enough for both. I think the author simply argues there is too little of the former and too much of the latter, and I agree.
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January 29th, 2008, 13:43
There are luxury editions of some board games out there, and some board games are mass-produced.

But still they are games, no matter whether luxury or not.

However, at one point a board for a board game imho can become art - if it is made in a certain way that it just appeals to us so that it is simply "art". This is independent of the question whether it is an "luxury" version of a board or not (you can glue in a few diamonds into a board and still it ain't "art").

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 29th, 2008, 13:50
You know what's really funny?

(1) The author of the article specifically said that he doesn't want to discuss whether games are art.
(2) He then spends 1/3 of the article discussing exactly that.
(3) Subsequently, the discussion he sparked off here was about whether games are art.

I agree with his first point — that it's pretty pointless to build orreries in the sky on this topic. So I won't.

However, I very strongly agree with the rest of his discussion — that emotions are if not the next frontier in gaming, at least a hugely underdeveloped one. I play computer games for lots of reasons, but emotions are pretty high up there, right with "challenge" and "adrenalin." Technology is clearly not the problem, since games that have produced complex emotions have been made since PS:T at least.

I would very much like to see more of that, and am thrilled to pieces about the small indications of movement in this direction lately.
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January 29th, 2008, 14:38
Well crap. I just went back to the article and discovered I'd managed to not read a good chunk of it the first time around. Sorry about that.
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January 29th, 2008, 14:54
As far as I'm concerned, most music is not art, nor are most games. Can some games contain real art? Certainly, but they also contain pure logic, such as programming code, which is never a piece of art. A piece of art, to me, must be created with passion - if the motivation is money, it's just a product, whether it's a painting, a song or a game.
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January 29th, 2008, 15:10
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
As far as I'm concerned, most music is not art, nor are most games. Can some games contain real art? Certainly, but they also contain pure logic, such as programming code, which is never a piece of art. A piece of art, to me, must be created with passion - if the motivation is money, it's just a product, whether it's a painting, a song or a game.
That's a pretty narrow definition, since it would exclude most of the work from craftsmen like Michelangelo, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Johann Sebastian Bach. They usually worked on commission, you know.

I like the author's definition more — anything that is used as art, is art. A bicycle saddle and handlebars are just a bicycle saddle and handlebars, but if Picasso hangs them on the wall in a certain configuration, well, it becomes art.

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January 29th, 2008, 15:28
I don't think this guy knows what he's talking about. Look at his examples. He says Beethoven inherited centuries of evolution in music and that the Greek dramatists are admired for doing what simply hadn't been done before. His points miss the point about Beethoven and Greek tragedies.

This guy just doesn't get it.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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January 29th, 2008, 15:52
I do indeed have a very narrow definition of art. Not everything done by every artist is real art. Example: Some songs/poems/books/etc are written because of a desire to write, a drive and motivation almost impossible to explain. That's when true art is created, when the artist "pours his soul into the work of art". It sounds silly, I know, but that's how I feel about - a beltbuckle displayed from a certain angle is not a piece of art just because the artist made some art ten years ago, it might just be a beltbuckle. And a computer game might just be exactly that - a computer game.

Art, to me, is not simply entertainment - we have a word for that already: Entertainment. Britney Spears is not an artist; she's a musician/singer/dancer, very big difference to me.
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January 29th, 2008, 16:19
So, in order to know whether something is art or not, you have to know the artist's internal motivation for creating it? Wouldn't that mean that only the artist can know whether what s/he creates is art? After all, s/he could lie about it. Perversely, she could even lie about it "the other way" — go "Oh, it's just a potboiler" when, in fact, s/he *did* pour her heart and soul into it, but is just afraid to say so.

That sounds pretty nonsensical to me.
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January 29th, 2008, 16:24
That's why art is enjoyed by appreciating it, not by merely analyzing it.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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January 29th, 2008, 16:36
Well, someone seems to have decided games are art, and to be putting their francs where their mouth is:

Video Games: Officially Art in Europe
Excerpt:
What really matters for everybody related to video games is that, in Europe, starting now, video game has the official stature of a "cultural activity" — a cultural expression where art and artists are attached to video games as they are to music and movies.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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January 29th, 2008, 17:04
"True art" is a very dangerous term. Who decides that? Where is the boudary? I don't like Spears at all, but does that give me the right to call her work not art? There is clearly some sort of creative process there, so she has every right to say it is art. everybody has a right to decide for himself what he thinks is good art or bad art, but one should be very carreful in claiming something is not art.

And squeek, are you sure it's not you who is missing the point?
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January 29th, 2008, 18:27
I'm pretty sure, yeah. Don't get me wrong, I think video games have the potential to be art. But that's based on my understanding of video games and art.

The artist tries his best to share something he appreciates, maybe even loves. What you have to decide is whether or not that's what the artist's work was about, what effort was made and achieved and if you think it was all worthwhile.

Some people have a limited ability to think in those terms, and they have a very difficult time appreciating art.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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