Are videogames art?

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Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 01:00 pm
Or is art by committee, any sort of committee, not art at all?

I open the floor.
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 01:58 pm
There is plenty of art involved as art has been traditionally conceived...Even more so if they could figure out gravity...
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 02:21 pm
I would not go about saying that options and their uptake within a structure constitutes work, so playing a video-game I would say is not a valid 'work of art'. However, once an individual begins to create options or manifest new manifestations of existence then that constitutes 'work' - so maybe a video-gamer is a generic 'Static Electrician'.
Reply Mon 2 Feb, 2009 04:07 pm
Playing the video-game would not be considered an art. Creating it however might be.
"It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident."
Didymos Thomas
Reply Mon 2 Feb, 2009 08:01 pm
Creating a video game involves art-like activities, and some video games make use of art (music, ect), but I've never seen a video game that struck me as art.

If a two year old smears paint on a page, that probably is not art, but the activity is art-like. Video games are similar, except instead of a two year old smearing paint we have programmers and ad men trying to make as much money as possible.

Of course, there might very well be a video game out there that is art. I sure haven't played it.
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 06:56 am
Of course, most of the video games made are absolute crap (like 99.9%) but I have played a few good ones. Usually in the Zelda series. You know, Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess?

I agree that playing video games is as much art as watching television or listening to music. The act of producing art involves a creative process, so what we're interested in is the act of programming video games, which, like making a TV show or a movie, is a multiperson endeavor. That is, it is "art by committee".

Or is it? Is not a band, by that definition, "art by committee"? Of course not: each member of the band has specific aptitudes that allow the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts. The same goes into the production of a TV show or movie: the scriptwriters are not actors are not producers are not special-effects guys and so on...

In order to extend this enquiry further, we need to know the precise nature of video-game programming: the reason why art by committee sucks is because it consists of a piece done by a number of the same kinds of people, as if a film's crew consisted entirely of producers or a band entirely of frontmen. Is video-game programming inherently similar enough that a x number of programmers would inevitably clash and cancel out any artistic quality in the final product, or is it that programmers, like film crews and band members, each know their precise role and so allows the sum to be greater than the sum of its parts?
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 10:34 am
Halo 3 or Gears of War for example is where I would draw the line on that note. I really like video games that have an undeniable artistic flair to it, like Castle Crashers
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 01:03 am
Tetris is not art.

Final Fantasy is. There are Final Fantasy movies. Imagine a Tetris movie. Boy, would that be spiritually moving.

RPGs like Final Fantasy can be described as interactive comic books. Its a marriage between illustrated storytelling and interactive technology. I guess.

I have a harder time saying Halo is art. It has a strong storyline, but it seems to me there is a heavier emphasis on the "game" in any FPS than any RPG. There is much more reading in Final Fantasy and the gaming is less intense. I'd easily say there is beautiful artwork "in" Halo, but as a whole, the game is more game than other games.

I'd say Street Fighter is not art. They made a movie about that too, but it had Jean-Claude Van Damme in it, so can actually count that?

Tetris is certainly a video game and is not art though.
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 07:45 pm
Tetris is art. Think about it in terms of other forms of recognized art, like cubism and constructivism. In cubism for example, you have a demise of perspective , dislocation and dismemberment, a full mix of synthetic and analytic forms (different shapes and colors amalgamating together). In constructivism, you can see in tetris abstract forms (the shapes) forming simplistic utilitarian formations. It's art, but it is highly subjective whether or not you choose to see it like that.
Is Final Fantasy art? That's a subjective opinion. I personally find it a very well done video game and very artistic as well. Is the story line art? I don't really think it is as much art as it is creative on other aspects. In Halo, I think the main thing to keep in mind is the potential for something to be artistic rather than it being a dedicated form of art. Think about modern photography and how people take still shots of nature, urban environments, etc. That is indeed art but it is not meant to be art in itself. The photographer in a sense interprets some natural occurrence which is translated into art. I guess its all in the way we interpret it.
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 08:21 pm
I have to agree, Tetris is an art. If puzzles are considered art, then so must be Tetris. As someone that used to be a self-described master at Tetris, I know how much playing Tetris is an art. Trust me, you can beat almost everybody at the game, just by artfully placing your pieces to acheive the highest possible amout of point, even if you game seems threatened. Playing chance at its fullest is truly an art, and Tetris often epitomizes that effect.
Reply Mon 18 May, 2009 11:49 am
Puzzles are art? Who says? Puzzle games like Tetris may be games of skill, but that is not art. Tetris consists of puzzle pieces moving across the screen and it is up to the player to supply whatever skill he has to maniupulate them efficiently. He may even play a beautiful game of Tetris which may be admired. If he stretches before the game, I may even call it a sport. On the other hand, the script of Final Fantasy alone could be read apart from the game and would amount to many pages. There is a lot of dialogue, plot, and theme. Final Fantasy demands skill too, but as much as Tetris? I don't think so. RPGs and puzzle games are different animals just like art and sport.

---------- Post added at 01:02 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:49 PM ----------

VideCorSpoon: Subjectivity? I never touch the stuff, but if I did, I would agree.
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 12:20 am
I am wondering why this discussion is so popular? This is by no means an attack on those who have responded here, but a question as to why "this" topic continues to be discussed? Do those who get pleasure in video games, or are inspired to contemplation by them, wish to make games "art" because they feel guilty for their enjoyment? So that they might spare their "intellectualist" reputation from those who will immediately judge them fools for such a "worthless" interest? If they are pleasurable to you, they are meaningful. But why ask "art"? Those who do not enjoy them, or are not impressed by them, will shoot this move down to assert their own "higher taste".
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 01:05 am
One reason why this discussion is so popular is because it is a philosophy forum. Stuff like that tends to happen. No offense, but ironic how you have contributed to the very thing you criticize.

But why assume that video games are something to be ashamed of? Issues of "guilt" and a fear of a tarnished "intellectualist" ego have little to do with fundamental analyses of the doctrine of aesthetics more than some vulnerable inadequacy. But it is a practice no different then reading, running, whatever... it is stimulation in many sense of the term. The only difference now is that you are applying some sort of hierarchy of importance to a unilateral issue which in philosophy is just as important as anything else.
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 04:33 am
I agree, VideCorSpoon.

I take your point, Mr. Jones. We should presumably not feel guilty about our recreation, but sometimes we do. Many chess players will say that chess is art. It is not. I understand them to mean that playing chess is spiritually involving and beautiful. Art is something specific. Art is not a sunset, it is an artist's representation of a sunset. Basketball isn't art, but a story about a game might be. Tetris isn't either, but a story about people playing the game might be.
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 09:20 am
Ultra, I am still not quite clear why you don't see things like chess and tetris and most other things art. Look at the root, etymological definitions of the word;

"skill as a result of learning or practice"
"art, skill, craft"
"skill in scholarship and learning"
"human workmanship"
"skill in creative arts" (recorded 1620; esp. of painting, sculpture, etc.)
"produced with conscious artistry"

[definitions taken from Online etymology Online Etymology Dictionary ]

Isn't chess a skill which is the result of learning and patience? Isn't the way we play chess an art, skill, and a craft. But isn't it also the case that the chess board is a medium for that? All the definition above are applicable to the case here.

Chess is not only the board and the pieces themselves, which can be aestheticly beautiful and subject to either subjective or objective criticism, but the way in which it is played provides meaning to the board, the pieces and the game. The way it is played is just as valuable as the intrinsic pieces. If you were a doctor, you have knowledge of a medical art. If you are a lawyer, you have a knowledge of a legal art. If you go to a college or a university, you have to take part in a liberal arts program, and learn science, language, arithmetic, etc. Ironically, if intangible things like "professions" and "practices" are regarded as art, things like videogames seem like a no brainer. They are the product of that art.

You said it yourself that, "Many chess players will say that chess is art. It is not. I understand them to mean that playing chess is spiritually involving and beautiful. Art is something specific. Art is not a sunset, it is an artist's representation of a sunset
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 02:54 pm
If art is skill or the product of skill, then Tetris is art.

Tetris is not a representation of a virtual world. A presentation of a virtual world? Maybe. A presentation of a digital game board? Certainly. Semantics? Probably.

---------- Post added at 03:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:54 PM ----------

A novel is art. A novel is a representation of "the" world. A jigsaw puzzle is a far cry from this.
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 12:15 pm
Hey, first real post! Well, have to start somewhere.

That really depends on whether you want to define any sort of thing specifically produced for entertainment purposes as "art." The best I can say is that it probably depends somewhat on the creator's purpose and the unique style of the visuals. For example, Ico, a game made for the PlayStation 2, was lauded critically as a work of art, not the least because of the visuals and the storyline. I don't know much about it, but all the press around it made it seem like the sort of game which could be genuely considered "art."

A lot of people say that complex storylines make games art, but is that always the case? If you've ever played any of the Metal Gear games, you'll know they're about as chock-filled with cutscenes as any Final Fantasy game. And Kojima has stated a number of times that there are philosophical overtones in the games. But as the primary purpose in the end is to make a product that entertains....actually I suppose it is art if certain great works of literature that are primarily intended as stories are considered "art."

Half-Life 2 however....NOT "art" since I'm not aware of Gabe Newell and crew expressing any philosophical pretensions of any sort despite having a storyline remisniscent of JJ Abrams in that you're always left hanging.
dharma bum
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 01:01 pm
I don't believe that playing games is an art, but I hopefully believe that video games do have the potential to be works of art in the same way as music and movies.

Video games have the potential to make remarks on society, to express the beauty of something, or to use symbolism in metaphors. Unfortunately, very few (if any) games realize this potential.
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 09:58 pm
@dharma bum,
dharma_bum;82819 wrote:
I don't believe that playing games is an art, but I hopefully believe that video games do have the potential to be works of art in the same way as music and movies.

Video games have the potential to make remarks on society, to express the beauty of something, or to use symbolism in metaphors. Unfortunately, very few (if any) games realize this potential.

Art is still subject, and they very often portray an existence where living is an art...It is too bad that all those killed in Vgames don't stay dead...If they did they might have more respect...
Reply Sun 16 Aug, 2009 08:15 pm
I think a thought I thunk.

Okay, so the jist of Aristotle's argument in the Poetics is that there is a right way and a wrong way to write a play, right? And that since this is so, playwriting is a masterable discipline and therefore a craft, right? And by the Platonic definition of the term craftwork is the highest art, right? So it strikes me that the same is true when dealing with video games...if there's a right way and a wrong way to make a video game, and the difference between these two ways is apparent in the final product, then the techniques involved in video-game writing are something of a craft and therefore a type of art, which makes their product an artwork (albeit in much the same way that horseshoes are works of art). But wait, there's more! In the Platonic scheme of things, art is that which is beautiful and useful: in his Poetics Aristotle was dedicated to showing that catharsis is a useful emotive means to calm and discipline the viewer: that is, that catharsis allows us to substitute the highly unreal characters of a play (or in this case, a videogame) for the very real characters of the real world when we need to vent, more or less. That catharsis is a sort of bracing feeling. ...This is a use, Aristotle tells us, and therefore, aha, plays are both beautiful and useful and therefore a quite legit work of art. And since the arguments Aristotle applied to plays, which in his day were a quite novel art form look like they can be equally well applied to videogames, one wonders if there's any reason not to think that videogames are art.

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