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But Is It Art?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the preach-on-brother dept.

Games 56

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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Is It Art (4, Insightful)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029404)

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 (4, Insightful)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Is It Art (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029490)

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.

Re:Is It Art (1)

aetherspoon (72997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14030830)

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)

Re:Is It Art (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14031137)

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 express or sometimes to just look pretty. It is created to make money, it is created to "itch a scratch" the artist has, it is created for fun or it is created to express rage, pain, love, humor and any other human emotion.

Re:Is It Art (3, Insightful)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029539)

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.

Re:Is It Art (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029623)

I don't think "Friends" is art.

Re:Is It Art (1)

bVork (772426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14032769)

All art is entertainment, but not all entertainment is art.

Re:Is It Art (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029608)

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 surfing". Playing video games is an art also! Hey all you couch rats playing your Xboxes...you're all fricken Bouguereaus!

Re:Is It Art (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14031785)

Hey all you couch rats playing your Xboxes...you're all fricken Bouguereaus!

I think you misspelled "boogers."

Re:Is It Art (1)

illumina+us (615188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14033124)

Odlly enough... I can get a Bachelors of Arts in Computer Science. Something about that just seems weird to me.

Re:Is It Art (2, Interesting)

TheDisgrace (900282) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029844)

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 came along, adding another level of interactivity to entertainment media.

Essentially, art has become more and more interactive, but art has always been 'entertaining' in one form or another. Games are no different. There's no reason that art can't be interactive or entertaining. Now, not all games are art, just the same as not all literature, theater, film, music, or dance is purely art.

Sometimes these things are purely marketing. Which games are just full of presently, but there have been plenty of games that I would consider works of art. Deus Ex. The Longest Journey. Thief. The majority of the Final Fantasy games. Grim Fandango. Farenheit. The Master of Orion series. Civilization. Dozens of others I can't remember off the top of my head.

Every 'genre' of art is defined a little differently. But ultimately, what makes for truly great art among all genres is one element... creativity. Some games, music, films, books, paintings, are truly inspired works of creativity, while others are highly derivitive or unimaginative.

So yes, games can be art. Some people have difficulty seperating classical artforms from modern ones. Film wasn't considered art for a long time, if I remember correctly, and yet now they are. Games are a modern storytelling artform, with elements of literature, painting, and music.

Re:Is It Art (1)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 8 years ago | (#14030201)

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!

Stupid stupid stupid (1)

jjlilj (634861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14030964)

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 through the Sistine chapel before the camera was invented? (A: very small number) How many great works of art have spent their existence on the wall of a private collector? (A: very big number) What a clueless idea!

Or the idea that a large number of people need to contribute to make something an Art. Yeah, the majority of Roman citizens had time to carve statues. Along with the majority of middle ages serfs painting icons. Stained glass workers, architects, novelists, movie producers, etc. etc. etc.

Then there is the notion that something is horribly wrong with games because a great number of them are similar in story and play. Guess what, literature has had genre's and has had them for decades if not centuries. And there are still people writing romance, western, spy, mystery, etc. and getting published. Just because the history of computer games has always had "its never been done before" as a selling point does not mean that its an industry requirement.

Re:Is It Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14032604)

Then paintings aren't art. Books aren't art. Movies aren't art. Music isn't art. Every creation has alternative motives behind it. That doesn't mean it's not art.

Yes. (3, Interesting)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029408)

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.

Re:Yes. (1)

woohoodonuts (734070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14031073)

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 scale... "if i believe it's art, it's art." The problem with this argument is the global definition of art is created almost entirely by the opinions of other artists, a process very similar to how words are added to a language. Britney spears is sometimes referred to as an artist, but you can be assured an extremely limited amount of self-respecting poets or musicians guage her work as falling more on the artistic side of the art / entertainment divide, which brings me to another point. Art can be entertaining, and entertainment can sometimes have artistic facets, but this gray area should in no way be considered the defining argument that renders the definition of art entirely abstract.

Also, realize that this distinction isn't a new phenomena; even the classical era of greek pottery / sculpture has many more examples of crap than masterpieces, it's just the masterpieces are all we deem worthy our time, as artists, to study. The concrete styles and details that create the distinction between masterpiece and crap is defined by each individual artistic labor, thus the very reason "art" does not have one simple phrase that can aptly describe it, and also the likely reason uninformed people consider "art" to be anything.

There are some who believe science or biology simply means anything at all outside because science class in school was about things outside. If I pick up a clump of dirt, I would be wrong to blandly describe it as science. Yes, science could describe specific details of it, and so on, but so could art. Likewise, just because some random hack calls some piece of burnt toast or random stack of boxes art doesn't make it so... time, study, opinions, and arduous labor by artists attempting to recreate, rectify, and re-render the style will make that decision.

The masses are generally ignorant when it comes to science; it is the same in art.

Re:Yes. (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14032899)

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.)

Re:Yes. (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#14038442)

I quite look forward to do that.

What's wrong with games just they way they are... (2, Interesting)

GrpA (691294) | more than 8 years ago | (#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

Re:What's wrong with games just they way they are. (0, Troll)

Atlantic Wall (847508) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029481)

So it must be sooooo easy to right a game then. Just get off your back and right one. HA. you know how much work and thought and time and money go into games. You insult the entire gaming community with that post.

If the games stink just dont but them, you are not going to be writing a game.

Re:What's wrong with games just they way they are. (1)

GrpA (691294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029671)

Yes, I know how much work and time and money goes into games. I was developing them commercially over 20 years ago... Back when you started game development with a soldering iron and not a keyboard. (Well, maybe with a cassette deck, if you were using a Spectrum or similar PC of the era).

And yes, I wrote and made things I liked, although my job was also to write/make/build games that appealed to others, and I enjoyed that too.

I guess that would have been when I was writing the sermon. And you better believe I made stuff to be as popular as possible with the target audience. And yes, it was a niche audience.

But Im not so arrogant to beleive that you need to be a high-value game developer to make a great game you (and others) enjoy. That would be insulting to people who have single-handedly written classics, or the smaller companies.

I don't need to write games, because I can find what I like already made, but there are many people all over the world who have a great idea that they'd like to play, but can't find it so they write it - The world knows them as "Independant Games Designers". My eldest son, at 13, is one of them.

The greatness of a game is in the gameplay to those who enjoy it...

GrpA

Re:What's wrong with games just they way they are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14030062)

It is not hard to write a game. I just wrote a random number guessing game, took about 8 lines of code.

The latest and greatest games from big budget companies are harder, sure. But still, the foundation is there.

PS, use the preview button next time.

Re:What's wrong with games just they way they are. (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14031271)

That is the most idiotic comment I have read in a while. That is like saying "hey, I can use a hammer, I must know everything that an architect knows." If all you know is how to make a random number guessing game then you know nothing about how to make games yet.

Do you know what polymorphism is? Do you know how to use Huffman compression on your files? Do you know how many polys is acceptable for a character model that is used in the background of a level? Do you know how to use recursive functions to do A* path finding thought a level? How about even displaying a circle to the screen, do you know that?

There is a lot of work that go into making games and it is a very challenging field to be in and your comment is very insulting.

Why hasn't this been marked troll yet?

Re:What's wrong with games just they way they are. (2, Interesting)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14031913)

I am in awe at your amazing ability to miss the point.

You say that he cannot know how to make games if all he knows is how to make a random number guessing game. To be pedantic, you admit that it's a game, he wrote it, and therefore you must admit that he knows how to make games. Maybe it's not going to be a great hit with your type of crowd, but he might find hours of fun with it.

Now to pull apart your fantasy of how to make "games."

Polymorphism is method of programming. Not every language uses it. But not every game is even a computer game that needs a computer language. This particular argument I will not repeat, though it is valid everywhere.

Huffman compression is a method of lossless compression. Not every file needs to be compressed. You could use bitmap sprites and other uncompressed files. Or even use an off-the-shelf system that does not require you to know anything about it, neither in the creation of the file, nor the use of it.

How many poly's are acceptable is totally dependent on your graphics engine and machine you are running it on. This might be something you would have to be aware of if you used someone elses software, but if you wrote your own, it would be totally up to you. But this also assumes that you are making a graphical game. Lots of people like the old text based games.

Path finding is only necessary for certain games where there is some AI that needs it. Not all AI needs it and not all path finding even needs to be recursive.

A circle to the screen would be a basic function of a graphics engine, yes. But again, if you're not making a graphical game, it is totally unnecessary. Again, you could also use third-party software. In which case, the method of getting a circle to the screen is very different. How to do that in the engines made by Epic, Valve, id, Blizzard, etc. is very different, though usually it is fairly simple, and could be easily learned, even if you wanted to go make your own engine.

There is a lot of work that goes into making all games, correct. But then he never said he would get up and write it in a few minutes, hours, days, or even weeks. And he didn't say which types of games he liked. Maybe he likes the old text-based MUDs. In which case, it would take a while to write a simple game, but would require none of the elements you have mentioned.

Nintendo (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14029418)

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.

Re:Nintendo (1)

databank (165049) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029553)

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 will always choose quality over cost (ie - Final Fantasy or any quake style game vs a cheapo lame game like "Rugrats go Wild"). Alternatively, the grandparents or the uncle/aunt buying a game for the average gamer will buy the bargain bin "RugRats go Wild" for $10.00 over the next Warcraft or Quake clone for $50.00.

Who Cares? (3, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029467)

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? (3, Interesting)

Sierpinski (266120) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Accessible? (1)

fujiman (912957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14037525)

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.

Re:Accessible? (1)

Sierpinski (266120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14044545)

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 prove any of the four. Even the original 'Wolfenstein 3D' had art. As you walked through the castle, there were pictures of Hitler on the CGA walls.

Very good summary (2, Interesting)

Proc6 (518858) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Very good summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14030738)

Wow, insightful post + slight diss on WoW = troll. Delightful.

Re:Very good summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14034043)

DDR is probably the most recent thing I would classify as truly new.

DDR isn't actually new. There were games like that for the NES using the Power Pad [gamersgraveyard.com] , which is very much like the modern DDR dance pad, except that it was a 4x4 grid instead of the modern DDR 3x3 grid.

Now, obviously, they weren't quite as good as DDR and the music was NES music and there were no videos, but there WERE dancing games for the NES.

The most recent new game style I can think of is the first person shooter. Everything else has been done before, even everyone's favorite Katamari Damancy if you think of it as just a ball-rolling game.

Re:Very good summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14034142)

Pac Man was a standard maze runner game, with nicer graphics and sound, and better AI. Its "innovation" was the unskippable cutscene. Thanks, Namco.
Galaga was just an upgraded space invaders.

3 types of game? Buy a DS or an eyetoy, and hit yourself on the head with it till you have a clue or die.

Nintendo is on this already (1)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029688)

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.

Good article, wrong focus. (1)

lythandesi (924421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029699)

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.

Under these requirements, what is art? (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029772)

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.

Re:Under these requirements, what is art? (1)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14035190)

>>>...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 probably enjoy it. There's not really people who have never seen a movie or a painting, however, there are people who have never played a video game, and more who have never played one with any clue of what they are doing. You tell a non-gamer that there's a great new game out, and they will not be able to enjoy it. You tell a person who doesn't like movies or paintings that there's a great new one out, and they can go see it and possibly enjoy it.

Games are a form of art. (2, Interesting)

Xerxus (899945) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029814)

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)

Disagree (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029821)

Mr. Rorie seems to have rehashed one or two valid, but overplayed notions, and spun a whole pile of fluff around it.

Yes, game content, gameplay and themes have stagnated a fair bit over the past few years. We all know this and it's been said before, but say it again, gotta demonstrate you're worth whatever they pay you.

The notion that games are too hard to make is idiotic.

Parallel to movies: one can make a movie, by oneself in one's basement, but it will most likely look like you made it in your basement.

Movies made by small teams on small budgets, while maybe lacking the "polish" of the Hollywood blockbusters, can still be charming, engaging, and tend to be more likely to "break new ground".

Big Hollywood blockbusters generally rehash existing plot structures, character archetypes, etc... and generally "play it safe".

Same thing with games. It's driven in large part by executives fear of risking huge budgets on "unknowns". This companies are generally risk-averse, and it shows in the games they make.

"[games] need to be more accessible to nongamers. You could argue about the accessibility point..." Actually, this is the only point he gets even close to right, but I'd say it's more of a content issue, and should be "[games] need to explore new subject matter and themes to appeal more to current nongamers".

Finally, given gamespot's propensity to overrate big-name games (8.5 for Doom 3???) I'd considered them to be contributors to the problem. They contribute to the overhyping of big-launch games without much innovation, and barely mention the launches of smaller more fringe games.

Ho Hum (1)

cmotd (811874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029833)

Gee another 'insightful' and 'revealing' article about the games biz. Pity it's all obvious, banal and tedious drivel...

The Art of Gaming (1)

Sundroid (777083) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029866)

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 dramatic changes in the graphical details, the lighting, the virtual human movements, the AI, etc., in Xbox 360 is a mesmerising experience. As the saying goes in the movie industry that "great special effects do not necessarily make good movies, great stories do," the same is perhaps true in PC/Video gaming. When playing games or watching movies, people want to be surprised, pleasantly, by dramatic twists and turns, and be immersed in the story, and in the case of video gaming, the advancement in technology does help, because as the CPU power increases and memory chips are cheaper to manufacture, the games will become more life-like, and it definitely requires artistic temperament to code and render the facial expressions and body movements of those virtual players that are the gamers' alter egos.

Re:The Art of Gaming (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 8 years ago | (#14030805)

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 paintings not art because they aren't photorealistic? Personally, I'm kind of tired of games trying to emulate other art forms. We're so focused on cinematic quality visuals and deep literary plots, that we're forgetting that these are supposed to be GAMES. Gameplay is what makes games unique from other artforms. Gameplay is where we should look to find the art in games.

Now, I'm not saying that I don't like good graphics or a deep story in a game. I love them. But if the gameplay sucks, no amount of art assets will make up for it. No matter how much you polish a turd, it's still a turd.

Yes games are art (1)

MortVent (931047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14029986)

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 interactivity, but there are other artistic mediums that allow one to interact as well (But may the person or persons that invented kar.. kara.. you know what be beat witha microphone)

Re:Yes games are art (1)

Bambi Dee (611786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14030271)

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 contain literature is furthermore capable of containing art.

Music that responds to, enhances, adapts to the gameplay - now that's a quality of games, and one that can't be "exported" to CD. That would therefore be an aspect of games as art. Not the "static" soundtrack CD, not even the music itself, but the way music and sound effects are integrated with the game and respond to the player's interaction with the game.

In other words, shouldn't games, if/when they're examined as art, be given a chance to be artistic on their own terms rather than as a new medium for already-established art forms?

IMHO, and so on...

Re:Yes games are art (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 8 years ago | (#14030860)

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)

Re:Yes games are art (1)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 8 years ago | (#14031203)

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.

Re:Yes games are art (1)

MegaBurn (518311) | more than 8 years ago | (#14032270)

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/setting simulation. All things that are not really intended to entertain viewers but certainly can contain individual works of art. As a form of art in of itself games must actually contain a game, with a defined (or at least definable) design.

By viewer I mean player in the context of games within this medium but viewer also applies to anything else within the medium too. It's probably a carry over from video/movies and also goes to show the game design books I've read are probably too heavily rooted in other art mediums. Since all video games are programs they could also be called users. Yet another oddity.

-Burn

Spot the logical flaw!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14030003)

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.

Yeah, well, games made by games companies aren't games made by more diverse groups of people, are they?

Dude. Stop looking for innovation amongst the corporate whores. There ARE plenty of people out there making wacky freeware things. Some of them use flash. Some of them use game maker. Some of them make atari roms.

You can't on one hand complain that more different kinds of people need to make games, and then claim that only the one kind of game-makers count!

Re:Spot the logical flaw!!! (1)

cosmodrome (606198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14035538)

Diversity is inherently good.

Artistic Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14031245)

There's always the cry "art for art's sake" and since there's the analog in game form, I think that the games-as-art question was answered a long time ago with titles such as Rez and Katamari Damacy. The later of the two titles I thought was even more interesting when the creator admited in recent interviews as someone who doesn't play games outside of the office.

Although it's obviously a better product when gameplay triumphs, I really liked the "style" that the Katamari titles brought to the table. The scripts might have been obtuse to the extreeme, but I really liked the oject and world designs. You could spot them on a screen across any room.

If you can create a visual identiry - then you've essentially got art (amongst other criteria)

Some games are art, not all of them. (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14031305)

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 needs them.

The closest relation to games would probably be the movie industry. Many movies come out every year but very few of them could truly be considered art. Most movies are just meant to bring people into the theater, engage them for 2 hours, and let them go. The viewer was entertained but nothing really happened. The movie didn't change them in any way. It didn't challenge them, it simply entertained them. But every now and then, there are movies that really standout and leave you thinking afterwards and still entertain you in the process.

This is what I want to happen with some games. I want there to be more games that when the player finishes they are left thinking afterwards (in a good way). There are a few games out there that I do really believe are on the edge of becoming art (some of the Final Fantasy series, Eternal Darkness, the Metal Gear series, the Longest Journey), however there is still a long way to go before games can be accepted by the general public as art.

Different view on the article's main 'points' (2, Insightful)

MegaBurn (518311) | more than 8 years ago | (#14031530)

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 just like any other medium. How people categorize this content varies but I think its safe to say anything intended specifically to entertain the viewer can safely be called art. Again, the same goes for entertainment on any other content medium, like movies, music, and yes, even comic books.

Anyone who argues otherwise siting specific titles as being "NOT ART" is expressing a personal preference generally based on whether or not they are entertained by a particular title. Those same people then usually try to force this personal preference on everyone else as some form of fact. From there is gets complicated and increasingly more annoying. For example an extreme but sadly common example is pornography, some may say a picture of a simple nude statue is art while at the same time a PlayBoy centerfold poster is not art (personally I would even argue the human body is a work of art and should freely be displayed as such, and indeed I would include everything from flashing breasts to modeling). Same is true of violence, if a character in a movie kills in the heat of passion (and its moves the viewer) its art while some would say a movie that depicts people killing for fun to be "NOT ART".

So yes, it is art.

Second, cost is a minor factor. The movie theater analogy was extremely poor. People seeking to pay per play in a theater type arrangement go to an arcade, they don't run out an dump $500 on a gaming system and a few games. Games are reasonably priced for the volume of content you pay for (that says nothing of quality) and at least for consoles you can get more functionality out of the few $100 you had to drop on equipment to watch movies at home.

Third, play time in context to introducing people to video games is a problem for most titles. This says nothing of game demos, independent games (including "interactive fiction"), and the huge range of non-3D games (most of which are short). Web based games on portal sites are also becoming more popular.

Finally (before I get replies just telling me to shutup), the game industry is broken but I think 'natural' industry changes and market pressure will slowly resolve most of the problems. This will also result in an ever widening range of game content becoming available. The main problem with content today is only small independent developers and hobbyists are willing to risk their time and resources on anything but a sure bet product. A large part of the solution will be advances in development technologies such as new versions of 3D Game Studio for small developers, open sources development resources for hobbyists, and procedurally created content generation for the big developers. It goes well beyond just engines, development tools, and the range of content but thats a subject for another article (by someone who can describe it far better than I can).

I'd also like to note that I'm back, I have posted a comment on here in years but now I'll be contributing my two cents a little more often, at least for a while.

Note: Sorry if this is redundent with any other replies, took me a while to write this.

-MegaBurn

Tim Schafer, gaming auteur. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14032626)

Play Psychonauts, and then try to tell me that games aren't art. Sasha Nein's level alone should qualify.

The fact that I know the name of the person who made it should prove that, art or not, we're treating games as though they are art, with artists gaining acclaim for their work.

Easy answer (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#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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