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Bigdeadbug

Its not just a game... Its art!

13 posts in this topic

Well this may be one of those pointless questions that always gets asked but in the end has no real answer and is just an excuse to get in a good old fight over the Internet, or maybe get very angry at[url="http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=ANSWERMAN&date=20051127"] a film critic.[/url] So why am i making a post about it? Well silly old me went and decided to write a short paper on it for my university course. Now don't get me wrong it is an interesting topic and after sitting here for yet another hour staring at the beginning of a new paragraph i started to wonder what other peoples take on it is, specifically those people who are and will be designing games in the future.

So what's people's opinions?

Also as more of a side note what do you feel the role of art is in game design?

(Sorry if this is a regular topic or theres recent threads on it, for the life of me i couldn't find many, especially recent ones, that discuss this sort of topic.)
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Art is a subjective personal experience. The question as to weather something can or can't be art simply doesn't make sense. It's like asking, "Can green be a favourite colour?"...

If I cut out dirty linoleum, frame it, hang it on my wall and call it art, then it doesn't matter if people think I'm a postmodern douche - their opinions can't change my own personal experience of the "work".

It's simply ridiculous to say someone's feelings are incorrect.
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Although it's difficult to define art, if novels and movies are usually art the same should apply to video games.
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There's no accepted definition of what counts as art, but here are my thoughts.

New artistic media present new dimensions for artistic expression, which cannot be assessed on the criteria of existing media. For example, literature requires effective use of language to convey emotions, ideas, settings, and so on. Film, on the other hand, requires effective blocking, acting, scenery, lighting, sound design, etc. You could judge a film on the text of its script alone, but in doing so you would be ignoring all of the dimensions for expression that film offers.

Ebert is judging games based on the criteria of previous media only. It's hard to deny that a game can be artistic in the same way as a book or movie; that is, the script can be fantastic and the visuals sumptuous. But for him to declare that the new dimension offered, player choice and engagement with the game, prevents games from being art is as fallacious as saying that because a film shows moving images it is less artistic than a piece of writing.

Ebert thinks that there's no video game comparable to the greatest works of writing, film, stage, and so on. In this I don't necessarily disagree. But video games have existed for forty years or so-- language and writing existed for a lot longer than that before anyone wrote anything considered to be "great literature". There were a lot of cave paintings before anyone painted a "great painting". The possibilities of the medium have only barely been explored which will eventually make video games great art in their own stead, rather than by the criteria of earlier media (which games have already equalled in many, if not all respects).
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If you ask me, art for a game designer simply tells how the designer wants the characters the levels and the entire game to be according to his vision.Some game designers wouldn't care much of the art but more of the game play instead.Some may not be good artists but would hire an artist to make the art great in case the actual game isn't an original concept like Braid for instance.
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If I can convert a mile or two of electric fence wire into something that became one of the most popular pieces in a local art gallery for a summer, then games [b]Have[/b] to be considered art. Random scratches on cave walls are covered under art, random objects thrown together from every day life are considered art, and crap boring movies with a plot line as slow as frozen molasses gets called art,... To randomly claim that games can't be art is as bad as to randomly claim acrylic can't be used to make a window, as it isn't glass.
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[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1300406035' post='4787233']
Well this may be one of those pointless questions that always gets asked but in the end has no real answer and is just an excuse to get in a good old fight over the Internet... after sitting here for yet another hour staring at the beginning of a new paragraph i started to wonder what other peoples take on it is... So what's people's opinions? [/quote]
Why didn't you start with your own opinion? Why don't you tell it now? (And it's not clear what your question is anyway. What about "art"?)
And give us examples for your arguments. Is Flow as much "art" as Call of Duty: Black Ops is? Is Fifa Soccer 11 comparable to the Mona Lisa?
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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1300469879' post='4787567']
Why didn't you start with your own opinion? Why don't you tell it now? (And it's not clear what your question is anyway. What about "art"?)
And give us examples for your arguments. Is Flow as much "art" as Call of Duty: Black Ops is? Is Fifa Soccer 11 comparable to the Mona Lisa?
[/quote]
I didn't add my own explanation so the first post wouldn't just be a wall of text. The question is essentially "are games to you a player/designer what you consider are or capable of being art?” As for what art it is well I’ll have to agree with other posters and say that it’s subjective since well art itself is subjective. If i was pinned up against a wall and forced to choose a definition i think Kellee Santiago's one from her[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9y6MYDSAww"] 09 talk[/url] is as good as any.

As for games themselves being art. Yes i think they could be and will be in the future. Are they now? I think there are some games that are very finally crafted and are on their way to being art; i couldn't point out a game off the top of my head and without hesitation call it art.

Personally i would view Flow as more artistic than Call of Duty but neither of them would really be art to me. I guess both Fifa and the Mona Lisa could be comparable but i think it’s hard to do that when there such a big difference in the subjects.

To be honest i do think this is the sort of question no one will think of asking in a few years’ time, it will just be accepted in a similar way films are today. Currently game are fundamentally different from any other form of art and it will take time for people to become accustomed to thinking of games like they do say film or music, but like i said i do this that will happen.Really the whole thing seems more of a way for designers and players to have their passion given more acceptance in intellectual circles (if that makes any sense) than actually caring if games really are art.
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"are games to you a player/designer what you consider are or capable of being art?”

That's two questions:

1. "are games art?”

2. "are games capable of being art?”

to which you get two completely different answers:

1. Some are, some aren't.

2. Ipso facto, yes.

If I may make a blanket statement: "blanket statements about art are flimsy, likely to fall apart in the first light breeze."
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[font="Times New Roman"][size="4"]Ah, the art question. I haven't come to any conclusions myself about it yet, but here's some thoughts:

[/size][/font][font="Times New Roman"][size="4"]Video games distinguish themselves from other media principally because they "push back" against the user. That is, in order to progress the story (the phrase "such as it is" comes snidely to mind for nearly all video games), the players must meet a series of challenges. For that reason, traditional story telling methods are obviously incompatible unless we modify them to some extent. Why do I say that they're incompatible? Because the entire concept of pacing goes out the window in a video game (due to the fact that players will inevitably play through sections multiple times). It doesn't have to be this way, but that's the route that most games take. What are the alternatives? Either make your game so easy that players hardly ever die (the approach of a lot of modern games) or else adopt storytelling conventions that are totally unlike those of film or literature. Unfortunately, as I play through the "story" (note the passive-aggressive quotation marks) of Dragon Age, Call of Duty 4, or any other given modern game, this pacing issue comes up again and again. I think the games that tell the best stories are those that are willing to be a bit surreal and dispense with rigid Western storytelling conventions (I'm thinking of Braid and the like here).

The fact is that so far our biggest and best titles in the video game media (Bioware's output etc.) are content to ape previous media to the best of their ability. I think that this can account for some of Ebert's hostility.
[/size][/font]
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The word that I use when I think of games and art has been used several times in this thread already: Craft.

But what does "Craft" mean?

Well dictionary.com has this (the stress is theirs): "[color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=4][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]an[/size][/font][/color] [/size][/font][/color][url="http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/art"]art[/url][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2], [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]trade,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]or[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]occupation[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]requiring[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]special[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]skill,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]especially [/size][/font][/color][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]manual[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]skill:[/size][/font][/color] [/size][/font][/color][color=#333333][font=Georgia, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2][i][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]the[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]craft[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]of[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]a[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]mason."[/size][/font][/color][/size][/font][/color][/i][/size][/font][/color][/size][/font][/color]

So Craft is a certain type of art, or at least has an aspect of Art in it. I think this describes games quite well. They can contain art, or even be art, but they aren't [i]necessarily[/i], [i]explicitly[/i] art.

Think of a table. Basically a table is just 4 legs supporting a flat, horizontal surface. But, there is a craft to designing tables. You can, using skill, turn them from the basic utilitarian object into a work of art.

Such as it is with game. A game can be the basic "[i]utilitarian object"[/i] where you play for fun (being the utility of a game is to have fun playing it). Or it can be something that has, through the skill of the designer turned it into an object that goes beyond the raw utility.

Which, if you also look at dictionary.com is part of the definition of "Art": "[color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=4][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]the[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]quality,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]production,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]expression,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]or[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]realm,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]according[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]to [/size][/font][/color][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]aesthetic[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]principles,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]of[/size][/font][/color] [/size][/font][/color][url="http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/what"]what[/url][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]is[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]beautiful,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]appealing,[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]or[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]of [/size][/font][/color][color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]more[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]than[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]ordinary[/size][/font][/color] [color=#333333][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=2]significance."[/size][/font][/color][/size][/font][/color][/size][/font][/color]

The important phrase there is: "of more than ordinary significance".

So just as a table can be made to have "more than ordinary significance" through the skill of the craftspersons, so too can a game gain more than ordinary significance if the designers which to do so and apply their skills to do so.

It is also why the issue seems confused. Because games can both be and not be art (because they are a craft) one can point to examples of either and make claims for either. It is the same as a table. Mu kitchen table is really just the basic utilitarian table and I don't think anyone would consider it artistic. However, I have seen tables that are amazing works of art, to the point where you would not use them as a table because of their artistic merit (you wouldn't want to damage it) and they effectively loose their utility as a table and become pure art.

But this same spectrum also exists for games. There are games that are almost pure art, there are also games that are pure utilitarian for fun, and then there are the games that range as a continuum between these.

So I think the best way to think of games is not pure art or pure utilitarian, but as a spectrum between them and this is the real of Craft.
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It doesn't matter. The root of this issue is all about getting approval. And this elusive "art" merit badge won't mean anything if continue to toss traditional games under the bus just to possess it.




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Short and sweet:

Art is a creation from the imagination

Games are a creation from the imagination

They're just plain facts.
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