Discussion: Are Videogames Art?

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Jorichi
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Post » 12 Mar 2013, 13:45

Can Videogames be considered art?
The opinions on this are quite diverse it seems, and I wonder how you guys feel about this.
What is art and how does it apply to present and/or future day games?
How do we see present day games and what caused this question to be asked?
Is it possible that something that started as a commercial product could turn into something that can be tagged as 'art'?


Let me start by sharing my opinion on this:
To me the definition of 'Art' is changing. The word 'Art' doesn't really seem to have a solid definition anymore, it seems to be more abstract and open for discussion.
Encyclopaedia Britannica wrote:"A visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination."
This is a rough definition I can get behind. What is a greater medium of expressing an experience than a game? It gives the player the full experience after all.
Both sight and sound enhance the experience, but it also gives you full control over it. If you ask me, games would be the biggest medium of expressing an experience.

Ofcourse, not every game is art. Just like not every drawing is art. Sure, one can see it as art and the other can't... As each viewer perceives it differently.
Games like Journey and Proteus can in my opinion be easily labeled as works of art. I personally think that Dark Souls is a work of art too, but in a different way: The story behind it. It is perceived differently by every player, but doesn't come through if they don't look for it. But that is my opinion.
But it does bring me to my next point. Games have different ways of expressing their art. May it be through visuals, gameplay, experience, atmosphere or just the story... Or better yet; everything.

Games can be somewhat compared to movies in this genre. Not all movies are art, some are just made to get money out of it. And it's exactly the same with games.
Quite some companies out there make games just to make money. That is why mostly indie games can be the ones you could call art.
Games were made for entertainment, but present day technology easily allows us to create an experience for another.
Games can change your mood through visuals and sound, an experience. Isn't that what the rough definition of art is? An experience consciously created through and expression of skill or imagination?

Yes, I do think games can be art. But which games are considered art differs from person to person. Like not every person understands the same painting in a museum. Which brings me to my last point: I don't think that games could be displayed in a museum as art. They are an experience on their own
They aren't meant to be viewed from a distance, they are meant to be experienced.


So, what is your opinion on this statement? What games do you or could you see as art?
But please, keep the discussions neat. Thank you.

Camewel
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Post » 12 Mar 2013, 14:50

I don't think it's worth discussing what is in a category so vague it's nearly impossible to describe. Your definition would make every game art, and it would also make all of Turret's posts art.
Last edited by Camewel on 12 Mar 2013, 19:30, edited 1 time in total.

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Sašo
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Post » 12 Mar 2013, 17:10

Before we get to games being art, I have a more relevant question, and I'll present it as an example.

Imagine a view of a city or a village or some mountains, doesn't really matter. Now let's say you take a photograph to capture things as closely to how they actually are. Is that art? You might say no, it's just a photograph, it has no artistic value. How about a painting which is extremely detailed (but of course, not an exact copy of the photograph) that shows the exact same view, is that art? An artist made it, and it's an artwork, which is a work of art, making it art. One of them involved a lot less time (but perhaps equal skill for good color reproduction and whatnot). Does that make it not art?


Now, the Encyclopaedia Britannica definition seems pretty fine to me. I'd consider art something which is either:
-Technically impressive, requiring skill: perhaps accurate reproduction paintings, a complex music piece (no idea what that would actually be though) or a very complex movie (for example that movie with a single cut 10 or so minutes action sequence), basically things that are hard to do even for the best of the best
- Innovatively (for lack of a better word) impressive, requiring imagination: Basically not something that would require technical skill to create, but is mostly related to talent/imagination/something. Perhaps paintings of impossible shapes/rooms, pictures that people interpret differently (though most of those "fling shit at canvas randomly and it's art" I find to be just garbage), or a completely new experience in a movie (can't really give an example).


Basically examples for those could be Leonardo da Vinci for technically impressive and Picasso for innovatively impressive.


Now, games can fit into both of those, but that doesn't mean they must. If someone makes a shitty drawing, I don't consider it art, I consider it furnace fuel. It's the same with music, and movies, and games.

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TheSeek
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Post » 12 Mar 2013, 21:54

Sašo wrote: Imagine a view of a city or a village or some mountains, doesn't really matter. Now let's say you take a photograph to capture things as closely to how they actually are. Is that art? You might say no, it's just a photograph, it has no artistic value. How about a painting which is extremely detailed (but of course, not an exact copy of the photograph) that shows the exact same view, is that art? An artist made it, and it's an artwork, which is a work of art, making it art. One of them involved a lot less time (but perhaps equal skill for good color reproduction and whatnot). Does that make it not art?
In this example, while at first it might seem valid, there is, im my opinion, a fallacy: art is not how you make it, or the way you choose to make it, art is what you choose to represent and how you are capable to represent it in your view.
A view of a city or a village or some mountains is what it is regardless of the way the artist decided to represent it, a photograph or a paintng. A well made photograph made in a few seconds of, as example, a sad lonely old man sitting on a bench in a park watching children playing in the field, might be art much more than a painting made in weeks of some mountains.
In photography the ability to make art resides in being able to choose the right angles, lights, exposure, focus, not just so that the resulting photograph is techically excellent, but so that the exact feelings the artist felt in seeing that scene is represent in the phootograph, so that whoever sees it can "see" those feelings.
A good piece of art is art regardless of the way the artist made it.

Moving on to videogames...
A few games are made more to tell a story than to be games in a narrow sense(an example would be Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy, and maybe, in some way, even the MGS series), and those games must be considered, in my opinion, exactly like movies/books, except being interactive. Mind that im not saying that all those type of games(or the game i mentioned) are art, but that those games might or might not be art as much as movies/books might ot might not be art.
On the other hand, most videogames are not like that: they do tell a story, but most of the time it is just an "excuse" to make the videogame, in which cases the difference between them being able to be considered art or not relies in how much complex, well made or engaging the story is. In this cases it all comes to another point: is the ability to engage the player/reader/viewer in the story a true indicator of the game/book/movie being art? Very much opinable.
But what about those games which have little to no story at all? Racing games(and similar simulation games) can be art?
In this case i tend to consider just the "tecnichal" part of art, which is how much well the game reproduces the feeling of what you're doing, but even if it reproduces the feeling at best, it would still be a mere techical thing to me...a mere show of skills by the developer, nothing more, the "art" of being able to tecnically replicate something.
What about arcade games? Here the thing is a bit different to me, here's the art resides in being able to create a gameplay(or to improve a previouis made gameplay) which is fun, entertaining, challenging, durable, and in this terms the available technologies(both being limitating in the old times, and much more free nowadays) have a considerable role in this.

The visual aspect of videogames deserves a different approach to me, but i'll leave that aside for now.

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Shank
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Post » 13 Mar 2013, 03:05

Yes, depending on what it is about. Journey is what I would call "interactive art". It's visually stunning, musically stunning and mentally stunning. Interactive art. I would also take a game like Portal art. The story amazes, the art is compelling and the music puts you on edge. I would define interactive art as something that puts all genres of art and gives you the ability to do anything, whether it be a LEGO game or a CBG.