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Are Videogames Art?

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Hi colleagues I'm building up a special site: GAMESAREART.COM. It's intended to have a community where we can specifically talk about games with a more artistic and cultural approach. I believe that all Game Designers that are tired of "Killing/Running/Eating games" and are wondering how to deeply explore the possibilities of sculpting interactivity, might find this a special place. I'll recommend this article from the site and hope to see everyone that's curious about the future of gaming, there :) Are Videogames Art? Kind regards

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All games are a form of art, even the "Killing/Running/Eating games".. especially when considered so. If an artist paints an ugly shoe, does that mean the painting is ugly?

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Original post by ferr
All games are a form of art, even the "Killing/Running/Eating games".. especially when considered so. If an artist paints an ugly shoe, does that mean the painting is ugly?


If we call the killing/running/eating games art, then we might as well just call everything art. The hot dog you buy on the street is art. Your receipt from Borders is art. This post is art.

I don't have a definition of "art", but I think it at least requires that the artist has the intention of making something that evokes a feeling greater than what it is. The artist painting an ugly shoe wants to evoke something beyond just the ugly shoe. Maybe he fails, but whether or not it succeeds doesn't matter.

Whereas it seems like the people making the killing/running/eating games don't intend for their games to be anything more than they are. All they are trying to do is make a game where you kill stuff.

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Original post by pinacolada
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Original post by ferr
All games are a form of art, even the "Killing/Running/Eating games".. especially when considered so. If an artist paints an ugly shoe, does that mean the painting is ugly?


If we call the killing/running/eating games art, then we might as well just call everything art. The hot dog you buy on the street is art. Your receipt from Borders is art. This post is art.


Why aren't those things art? Does something need to be on canvas or made out of clay to be art? Does art have to be something that can be placed in a museum so as to be viewed upon?

So you say it's OK for all games to not be considered art because the creators do not consider them anything more than a game when making them, but what about film? Many people consider film to be an art form, what are the differences between film and games? Interactivity, I'd say. Is it interactivity that makes them non-art? I wouldn't agree with that being the case, I remember seeing a painting of a vase, a few inches from the vase was a small drawing of what was to trick the viewer into thinking that a fly had landed on the painting.. the average viewer would wave their hand at the fly until they realized what the "art" was in this piece. Without the interaction this painting's true meaning would not be.

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Original post by ferr
Why aren't those things art? Does something need to be on canvas or made out of clay to be art? Does art have to be something that can be placed in a museum so as to be viewed upon?


Okay, so everything is art. That's a rational point of view. But suddenly the word "art" isn't very useful, since it describes everything!

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What about the level of creativity needed to make it? Could that define art?

If so, games development could be the top of the art chain.

Heh, some might find the first entry in the dictionary interesting:
1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature
Sounds familiar.

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Original post by pinacolada
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Original post by ferr
Why aren't those things art? Does something need to be on canvas or made out of clay to be art? Does art have to be something that can be placed in a museum so as to be viewed upon?


Okay, so everything is art. That's a rational point of view. But suddenly the word "art" isn't very useful, since it describes everything!


Well, not exactly. Art is not everything, it is art. Everything can be art, but most of the time it is not art until it is realized as being art. Semantics is a great art form, too.

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When movies began in the early XXth century, they where just considered an entertainment: People went to theatres to see those amazing moving pictures.

When movies technology matured: Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind.. They had achieved the status of Art but it took them 40 years to get a solid technology (color film, audio, long cuts).

Games are under the same process.. Our technology is maturing and a few game designers are just starting to realize the artistic potential of gaming.

I would like to invite you all who share my view on GAMES ARE ART where artistic games, articles about the subject and a community around this, is being built.

Cheers,

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So you say it's OK for all games to not be considered art because the creators do not consider them anything more than a game when making them, but what about film? Many people consider film to be an art form, what are the differences between film and games?


I think movies are subject to the same rule. If someone makes an entire movie to be nothing more than what it is (for example, a summer action blockbuster that's filled with lots of explosions and sex scenes), then I wouldn't call it "art".

But it's pretty hard to find any movie, even the blockbusters, that has absolutely no artistic considerations. Even John Woo has those goddamned doves that show up in every one of his movies. Obviously the doves are suppossed to represent something more than just doves, so they grudgingly pass the "art" test.

But in the shooting games, I don't see it. Maybe there are things there that are too subtle to notice. But frankly I don't think the game designers have conversations with the 3d modeller saying things like "Now, when you model this shotgun, I don't want it to be *just* a shotgun.. I want you to make a *statement* about all shotguns and their effect on modern culture!"

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Original post by pinacolada
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So you say it's OK for all games to not be considered art because the creators do not consider them anything more than a game when making them, but what about film? Many people consider film to be an art form, what are the differences between film and games?


I think movies are subject to the same rule. If someone makes an entire movie to be nothing more than what it is (for example, a summer action blockbuster that's filled with lots of explosions and sex scenes), then I wouldn't call it "art".

But it's pretty hard to find any movie, even the blockbusters, that has absolutely no artistic considerations. Even John Woo has those goddamned doves that show up in every one of his movies. Obviously the doves are suppossed to represent something more than just doves, so they grudgingly pass the "art" test.

But in the shooting games, I don't see it. Maybe there are things there that are too subtle to notice. But frankly I don't think the game designers have conversations with the 3d modeller saying things like "Now, when you model this shotgun, I don't want it to be *just* a shotgun.. I want you to make a *statement* about all shotguns and their effect on modern culture!"


So if a painter paints an ordinary shotgun on a piece of canvas it's not a form of art? Or is it now a form of art because of the irony that it is just an ordinary shotgun. What game have you played doesn't have the same thing (at the least) that you see in those summer blockbuster movies with dabs of art? I'm sure even DooM's designers didn't tell the artists "draw something to shoot at in a room." It was probably a bit more elaborate than that. If you can imagine what it might have been, then maybe one of the more obvious parts of games that is "art" will stand out.

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Original post by Pulpo
When movies began in the early XXth century, they where just considered an entertainment: People went to theatres to see those amazing moving pictures.

When movies technology matured: Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind.. They had achieved the status of Art but it took them 40 years to get a solid technology (color film, audio, long cuts).

Games are under the same process.. Our technology is maturing and a few game designers are just starting to realize the artistic potential of gaming.

I would like to invite you all who share my view on GAMES ARE ART where artistic games, articles about the subject and a community around this, is being built.

Cheers,


I don't think it's the designers that are realizing this now, it's the viewers. And I highly doubt audio and color film are reasons that people took film more seriously as an art form. I'm sure any Garbo fan would agree that silent films can be art, and anyone who has seen Schindler's List or Seven Samurai can certainly agree that they didn't need to be in color to be taken seriously.

[Edited by - ferr on August 3, 2005 11:28:12 AM]

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The reason "just a shotgun" on canvas is art and "just a shotgun" in a game is not --- necessarily --- art, is a matter of intention. Any viewer can look at an image rendered on screen in a game and find something that is to them art in it, but I believe the question was more about whether game developers think of their work as art. If I'm walking around town taking pictures of everything I see, not as a great photographer, but merely with the intention of showing my friends what I saw while I was, say, travelling in a new city, a photograph I take of "just a shotgun" is not likely to qualify as art. A viewer might look at it and see some irony, for example, perhaps about the juxtaposition of a shotgun in an otherwise peaceful environment, or some other reason for which this picture invokes an artistic feeling. However, the intention here was not art - only communication of things that I saw. People rarely put things on canvas as a form of communication. The exact same picture painted out is, in the mind of the creator, art - they would not be painting it were it "just a shotgun". Of course, anyone who's ever looked at modern art and said "A big dot on the center of the white canvas? That's not art..." knows that what the creator and the viewer see as art can vary. Still, most of the time, the creator of the game does not see the game as a whole (not talking media) as art. Some games certainly can be, I just don't think it's the norm.

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So if a painter paints an ordinary shotgun on a piece of canvas it's not a form of art? Or is it now a form of art because of the irony that it is just an ordinary shotgun. What game have you played doesn't have the same thing (at the least) that you see in those summer blockbuster movies with dabs of art? I'm sure even DooM's designers didn't tell the artists "draw something to shoot at in a room." It was probably a bit more elaborate than that. If you can imagine what it might have been, then maybe one of the more obvious parts of games that is "art" will stand out.


Yeah, you're right, all those character designs, environments, etc, can be considered artistic elements. I guess it's dangerous to try to say "this is not art" and "this is art", because you can always find a little art in something, it's just a matter of degree.

The reason I want to say that "shooting games aren't art" is that, when viewed as a whole experience, they don't amount to much more than shooting stuff. A shooting game might have elements that are artistic, but there's no moment where all the elements conspire to produce something greater. To me, "art" means that the whole thing becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Although, I guess you can argue that the elements of Doom do conspire to evoke something greater- they conspire to evoke "scaring the crap out of you". All I want is games that evoke things that are deeper and more interesting.

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"Art" is most commonly defined as some form of communication that has a particular message or meaning. Music, movies, books, painting, comics, spoken word, etc, can all be forms of art. But the thing is is that not every product of thoes forms of media are actually "art". There is lots of music that has no message or meaning. Lots of movies are nothing more the and hour and a hlaf of entertainment and that's it. Comics that are just full of violence and sex to sell copies to teenage boys and books about grass. None of thoes things are "art" although lots of them take "artistic talent". Just because you produce something in a certian media doesn't mean you've produced "art".

So if you want to lump games in with the broad deffinition or art (that being any form of communication) then sure games are art. However if you want to try and have games reconized as serious, well thoughtout, soical or politcal commentary then you might have a rougher go.

Basically there are 2 types of art in our culture: Art that comes from the production of any form of media and art that has message and meaining (politicial, social or spiritual)

God it's really hard to try and get across what i mean. It's like the difference between Kung Fu films as art and that guy who painted black and white squares and was called a genius. Ones an art form and the other is "art".

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From Wikipedia:

Quote:

Characteristics of art

1. Requires creative perception both by the artist and by the audience
2. Elusive
3. Communicates on many levels and is open to many interpretations
4. Connotes a sense of ability
5. Interplay between the conscious and unconscious part of our being, between what is real and what is an illusion
6. Any human creation which contains an idea other than its utilitarian purpose.
7. That which is created with intention to be experienced as art


Art is very easy to capture: it is any thing whose purpose is to express the feelings of the artist.

Therefore, art need not be "beautiful", nor need it not be "ugly". It is art if it was the artists intention to express a concept abstractly.

Thus, it is safe to assume that most hot dogs are not art, as it is unlikely the hot dog cooker was aiming to express his feelings through his hot dog or cooking methods.

First-person shooters, however, certainly can be art. For example, Painkiller, if considered so by it's makers, could be an artistic expression that games don't need complex gameplay to be enjoyable.

Most FPSs, though, aren't considered art in the minds of their makers, thus making them not art.

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In my opinion, games are equally as artistic as any other artistic expression, however I would argue that it has the most dimensions to it of all arts. Even though, much of the general public still sees games as simple entertainment, they are still great works of art. Even film, back in it's early days was considered in the same light that games are/were now. They were just silly entertainment, like vaudeville acts with no credible value at all, at the time. However, over time film evolved and so did the world's appreciation of it. From what I have observed, games are following a similar path.

In the early days of games, they were simply functional to the point of entertainment. Pong, Pinball, Asteroids, etc... they were meant to entertain without involving a really well developed story line or non-visually artistic values. However, they did serve as great breakthroughs and experimented heavily with the idea of gaming to bring us what we have today. Games have evolved over the years as the general public's attitude toward gaming has changed with it. Pinacolada is probably right when he says that the game designers and modelers don't conspire to create an abstract representation when creating things such as weapons and such in 3D shooters, however... one must consider the kind of work that goes into such a creation. Granted... a shotgun is a shotgun, however it takes a lot of work to create something like that. It's not quite as easy to create a production quality model as just throwing some polygons together and texturing it. In a good production scenario, the model probably goes through several prototypes of designs before being finalized to get it right and make it fit within the atmosphere, no one gets it perfect the first time around. And even if it is just a shotgun, it is part of a much larger 'picture'. You could take a beautiful picture of a landscape and pick out a rock... and it doesn't have to mean anything... it's just a rock that's there to complete the final image.

Also, when one looks at environmental creation and populating that environment with creatures. Bringing that world into a game is similar in artistic quality to painting a picture of that world, or a story board/graphic novel... you're simply defining every visible trait (model) of the creature or item to be viewed at any time instead of a static 2D sketch/painting/etc. A modeler is simply an artist with a digital canvas... creating with '0's and '1's instead of graphite or paint. Granted there are games which exhibit more creativity, uniquness, and do show some abstract tendancies more than others which seem to piggy back off of previously established hit ideas, stories, and environments instead of coming up with something original.

Even a coder, is an artist. Just because coders are not creating something that is visually artistic, it is still a creation of their own. The code itself may not be an art, but look at the final product. Using various methods to create something that has a personal touch, a way of reacting that the coder has given it. They poor heart and soul into an engine that needs to be fast, elegant, and actually bring all those dimensions of art (visual, sound, time, interactivity, player input, story) together into a singular high level creation.

I guess some might consider comparing games to the other arts as comparing apples and oranges etc... though, I like to think of games as more of a fruit punch. ;-) A refined creation from combining all those elements.

At least, that's my two cents.

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Original post by ferr
I don't think it's the designers that are realizing this now, it's the viewers. And I highly doubt audio and color film are reasons that people took film more seriously as an art form. I'm sure any Garbo fan would agree that silent films can be art, and anyone who has seen Schindler's List or Seven Samurai can certainly agree that they didn't need to be in color to be taken seriously.


I've mentioned B&W films in my examples as well. For the viewers to realize that what they have in front of them is mautred so as to be considered art, that has to be made with solid tools.

And in the game industry, believe me: I've been in all the events and it's a thought shared among all my known colleagues that Games Are Art. But most gamers just don't see yet.. thought with the success of great title like Katamari Damacy, and some indie games, I believe the general perception is starting to change.

It's up to Us developers to demonstrate this.

And I would like to recommend anyone to read on how Pictorial art began, that's also a great analogy with the birth of our industry.




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Original post by pinacolada
A shooting game might have elements that are artistic


This reminds me of the time I took to a corpse in HL and painted the walls red.
[EDIT]
...took to a corpse with a crowbar... Just to clear things up a little.
[/EDIT]

Quote:
Continued...
but there's no moment where all the elements conspire to produce something greater. To me, "art" means that the whole thing becomes greater than the sum of its parts.


I agree with you here. A true artist can wield their instrument (brush, musical instrument, voice, source code, etc.) to produce something at is truely awe inspiring. Some artists can produce marvelous works, while others pour everything they have into something simple. A dot on a page, while insignificant, could hold a far greater meaning if it was able to capture the artist's feelings at the time. Then again, it could just be a dot on the page, but unless you actually knew the artist, you'd probably never really know.

[Edited by - Gorax on August 3, 2005 11:25:03 AM]

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Original post by Daniel Miller
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To me, "art" means that the whole thing becomes greater than the sum of its parts.


Nearly everything made by man would fall under this category.


I meant that as a requirement and not the definition. There are other requirements.

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Original post by Daniel Miller
Using wikipedia's definition, facial expressions are art.


Yeah, I guess they would be. [smile]

I was going to say that art should be restricted to things outside the human body, but then I remembered tatoos, piercings, etc.

This reminds me of the "body artists" who make art displays by painting their bodies chrome or silver and then holding strange poses for hours.

But I'm not sure I see the importance of determining whether games absolutely are or absolutely are not art.

By some definitions they are, by others they are not.

If you consider them to be art, then so be it. If you don't, then so be that as well.

In my opinion, the purpose of games is not to trigger emotions in the player, but to let the player have fun, however that might be achieved.

Certainly this fun could be achieved by making the player become emotionally attached, but it could also be achieved without such attachment.

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