By MannyMAR 52 Comments
*Be forewarned this is just some artist duder's (hack) who also loves games trying to piece together some neo-profound (Yes I believe I just made that term up) dilemma on whether something you may also love should validated as art. Take my point of view as an artist pondering the philosophy of what art is and what art is supposed to do in day and age where terms like new media exist.
YO I EDITED THIS THANG A BIT: So when I say art I mean it in the sense of Fine Art rather than Applied Art. Which means fine art which is intended to evoke an emotion, where as applied art serves a purpose or function like an ad or that Nike check.
So some co-workers and I finally had a conversation on this subject, and it turns out we are on somewhat opposite ends on the debate. They like many others in the gaming community believe games are in fact art, but I tend lean more toward's Roger Ebert's point of view. Well, sort of. I believe video games can elevate to a new art form, but it will also require a lot of reinvention of what we consider video games to be.
While I agree video games do use art such as illustration, music, storytelling, and etc. It doesn't mean the game itself is art. That would be like someone saying Apple's 1984 ad was art. Yeah it's an inspired piece of imagery, but at the end of the day, it's sole purpose is inform you about a product. The same is true for games of today and yesteryear: their purpose is to have fun and entertain. I mean a toilet is a toilet, no matter how nice it looks you still use that mofo to shit in.
Now, I'm not going to hit you upside the head with all that "art is supposed to make feel" crap. Well maybe just a little. I will say art subjectively pulls emotions from the people who experience it. Games can most certainly do this, and that's where I agree with the potential of video games becoming art. For this to happen you might have to sacrifice something. I mean is the purpose of every movie, painting, or song in existence to be entertaining and fun? I think not, actually this is where my opinion of art may clash with what you think art is.
Art to me is something that doesn't have to have a purpose or use to communicate to the senses of the beholders. It doesn't have to be a feeling of witnessing pure beauty or horror exclusively, it just brings out emotions. For example Picasso's Guernica is a massive ugly piece art that effectively conveys the tragedies of war. It's hideously beautiful in my eyes. Yet it just sits on wall not doing jack shit but be ugly as hell and is for myself, Picasso's finest work because it brings me all these weird feelings. It's not something I think is fun to look at or entertaining to behold, but I appreciate it. See all that craziness I just wrote about some dumb painting, only art can make you do that.
Now video games are getting there slowly but surely. I think games like Braid, Journey and Hotline Miami are good candidates for being considered art. But alas, they aren't because there isn't a game that is intentionally designed to draw emotions without caring about its game-play being entertaining or fun to counterbalance these games. You can say in some respects gameplay is subjective as well, Dark Souls and Killer7 are the two examples of non-indie games that are close to art in my book. There's just something lost with all the titles i mentioned that makes it fall short of being art.
Maybe the actual term Video is what's holding back our favorite hobby. Maybe it's the idea that all this interactive media we consume has to be a game and not anything else. Anybody can experience art, but not everyone can or will complete a game for better or worse. This is the point I brought forth to my co-workers, and they just stopped and actually pondered that idea. That's where that conversation ended. I think that when developers make eschew the game part and focus on creating an interactive pieces of art, then our hobby we love can be validated as art. But until then forget trying to apply art to video games, and just enjoy playing these FUCKING AWESOME VIDEO GAMES!!!!
So there you have it from a 29 year old illustrator/ animator and someone who's been playing video games since 1986. There are other things that prevent games from being art such as corporate meddling, creative stifling from the gaming community, and other minor issues that will hopefully work themselves out in light of a ever burgeoning indie scene. Until next time I bid you all adieu.