By lebkin 0 Comments
Shamus Young of Twenty Sided recently posted a video about video games as art. What follows are parts of comments from user Veylon:
I’d say that video games are not art. They contain art, but they are more of a tool. You watch a movie, look at a painting, read a book, or hear a concert. All these are passive activities. You don’t take a painting down and do stuff with it, nor are you required to edit a book to appreciate it, or have to yell and wave your arms in order to take in a movie. But you do have to take action in order to play a game.
Certainly, some games near the line between tool and art, but those are the games where the player does little more than watch what happens. Your input is not appreciated, except to push the button to cause the next art bit to pop up. Cutscenes are movies that interrupt the game; you put down your controller and watch. Why else are quicktime events so annoying than because you are busy experiencing the art and not expecting to have to play a game?
This is a new argument to me. Veylon is arguing that art MUST be passive, that by interacting with it, you remove its “artness." Not only do I disagree, I think it completely misses the point of art.
I think art is BEST when art demands something from the viewer. The best movies are ones like Memento, which requires the viewer to pay attention, analyze the action, and leaves enough unsaid that the viewer has to make the final conclusions hirself. A good painting requires you to consider what it means, why it was created. Great books are more than just the words on the pages; they are the intent, philosophy, and substance behind the pages. Video games can be all that in more, since they ask of the player to actually DO the things that were just passively watched in other mediums.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I believe in the broadest possible definition of art. All video games are art, just as all paintings are art, all movies are art, all music is art. Any creative process can create art.
I’m not claiming that video games are without art, only that they aren’t art.
To me, that is like saying it is the paint that is the art, but the canvas isn’t important. Or that the lyrics of a song are art, but the song itself is not. Or saying an actor’s performance is art, but the movie is not. The components themselves might be art, but to deny the whole as art seems cognitive dissonance to me.
Much like movies, video games are art in composition. Movies are made up of acting, pictures, music, plot, characterization, landscaping, and design. And each of these components are used as evidence to evaluate the “artsiness” of the piece. But even if only one of those is great, it does not stop the rest from being art as a whole.
Consider all the examples of artiness people have been posting in support of the “video games are art” assertion. They point out acting, pictures, music, plot, characterization, landscaping, design. What they don’t point out is the gameplay, what lies at the very core of a game being a game . . .
. . . My essential point is that art happens to you, with you as an observer.
Most people do not discuss gameplay as art because it is not in our standard “art language.” Mostly because it is unique to video games, and as such, we have not yet built up a level of critic for it (just as we had to do with movies, television, and even novels at their inception). But just because it is not discussed does not make it not art. The choice of HOW you interact with a game is vital to the experience, and can enhance or distract from that experience. Watching Indigo Prophesy is very different from causing those actions yourself. The choice of how the player interacts with the world (moving the sticks to simulate the real world action), is brilliant. It connects you to that action is way that watching never will. DOING is always more powerful than WATCHING.
And that’s the crux of it for me. Veylon is saying that art is something that happens TO you. I say art is something that happens IN me. The most important thing that art does is make me feel when I see it. What does it make ME think about. My reactions and experiences relating to art are its greatest strength. And the greater the interaction, the greater potential of that experience. Passively letting it happen to me seems to be weak by comparison
Use your keyboard!
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