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Games as Fine Art

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#1 Shinkage   Members   


Posted 03 January 2000 - 05:24 PM

Just reading that plan update by Mike Werckle really seems to have gotten me riled. Not that that''s an incredibly difficult thing to do. I think anybody who in any way criticizes people for simply wanting to "make the funnest game" is completely losing sight of what it is that game developers do--MAKE GAMES. Wanting one''s art to be more appreciated is one thing, but deluding one''s self into believing making games is anything other than making games isn''t being true to the profession. Many developers seem to think that the only way making games can ever be a truly respectable profession is by elevating it to some new form of art. As far as I''m concerned this just isn''t true. If something is to be appreciated, it must be appreciated for what it is and what it is alone. Besides, just look at the common stereotype of hollywood and the film industry. Do we really want that? Well, that''s my rant for the day, sorry if I seemed to be repeating the same point.

#2 meeper   Members   


Posted 03 January 2000 - 08:31 PM

He's not criticizing anyone for trying to "make the funnest game." He says himself "I'm a huge lover of action games and movies, so I don't think this is an unworthy goal."

He's just wondering if there's something more. So am I, for that matter.

The source of the misunderstanding, I think, is that Mr. Werckle isn't really talking about games when he coins the term "art game." He's talking about interactive multimedia software, and although games fall under that category so do many other kinds of software.

Andrew Rollings and Dave Morris talk about the need to make all entertainment software into games in their book _Game_Architecture_and_Design_. They challenge the assumption that everything has to be some sort of contest, either between the human and computer or between two or more humans with the computer as mediator. They themselves say it best:

"Games are something that computers can do very well. It is not the only thing - interactivity is what computers are good at, and although games are interactive, so are many other things - and that includes many things that nobody has used the computer to do yet."

I think you really hit it on the head when you say "if something is to be appreciated, it must be appreciated for what it is and what it is alone." This implies to me that you think that games can never be enjoyable if someone tries to "elevate" them into some artsy fartsy level. Once you do that, you don't have a game anymore, you have a piece of art. I agree wholeheartedly.

I think if someone is going to make ENTERTAINMENT SOFTWARE that is more artistic than your average game, it won't be a game at all but something altogether new. It WON'T be for everyone - I suspect hard core gamers would be particularly adverse to this sort of thing - but it might be really damn cool.

Edited by - meeper on 1/4/00 2:33:42 AM

#3 ghowland   Members   


Posted 03 January 2000 - 10:41 PM

Id have to agree. The problem with some peoples concept of "games as art" as it often does loose track of the thought that games are supposed to be fun.

IMO, this is what often leads to games that are more fun for the designer than they are for the players. GADA gave a great example of this in Deathrap Dungeon where the designer was trying to make traps deliberately to kill the player that the player couldnt get out of. The designer was having the fun here, not the player.

I think this is often the same mentality of the "artist game designer", they want the game to be more about them, instead of seeing themselves as selling services to the player, who is the client, and is paying to be entertained and challenged.


#4 Xipe   Members   


Posted 20 January 2000 - 01:00 AM

Why not art? Movies weren''t art 75 years ago and now you can go and see two hours of art in Kubrick''s Eyes Wide Shut. So why not in games?
Personally I already think of some of the well-made games as ''artish''. Take Fallout & Blade Runner for instance. Both were really fun to play, very immensive and had great graphics, sound and atmosphere. Art. Just in another form.
I don''t feel that semantics should stop us dead in our tracks to create games that take gaming to another level, be it by greater immersion, prettier graphics, finer music or a completely new concept.
There will be a point where a game is not a game anymore, but alot of art can fit before reaching that point, Shakespeare said it best; Does a Rose by another name not smell as sweet?

#5 SiCrane   Moderators   


Posted 20 January 2000 - 02:40 AM

My take is that games should be fun first, and if you can make it are on top, that''s great. I''ve also seen a couple of games that were trying to be artsy, but for whatever reason, that contributed to the game being not fun. Basically, trying to make the game artsy often ruins the in game mood by making it over the top or just not very grabbing. Making a game a work of art... It''s a lot like Zen, if you try to achieve it, the further it slips from your fingers.

#6 kill   Members   


Posted 20 January 2000 - 02:21 PM

I can''t agree with you on the fact that games can''t be art. I won''t argue, just give an example.
RPG - you create an interesting story, based on certain events in, say, European history, or bible, back it up with wonderful graphics, and interesting gameplay. U got urself a great game. Story(art) + Graphics(art) + etc. = Game(art).
Why can''t games be art? I don''t get it.

#7 Woop   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 03:34 AM

I think too many people think art=painting.

Pearl Jam is art. Even Rage Against the Machine is Art. Tchaikovsky (hope I got the spelling) is art. Monet is art. Tolstoy is art. Tolkien is art. Kubrick might indeed be art.

Is Baldur''s Gate art?

I don''t want to argue about specific games, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and those that don''t like something will rarely recognise that something as a work of art. But I have to agree that the bringing together of stories and music and pictures into an interactive experience surely must amount to a style/form of art.

The ability to then breathe life into these combinations and make a form that a person can actually interact with and respond to is in itself an art form that transcends even the greatest of it''s individual components.

If you say designers have a ''talent'' no-one seems to have a problem with that description. But ''artist'' seems to adhere strictly to the visual in many peoples minds.

Games are a wonderful combination of a whole range of art forms (at least the good ones are).

**Woop''s note: I actually started off thinking games were not really ''art''. But thinking about these things a while can be a most enlightening experience!

Enjoy your day!

#8 mason   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 05:09 AM

meeper - right on.

My own $0.02 -

A good game - just like a piece of art - is entertaining. It doesn't have to be fun. That may seem strange, but consider this - there are many movies which are not very much FUN to sit through. Examples: Shindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and most recently, Boys Don't Cry.

These movies were not fun to watch - I doubt anyone came out of Ryan and said "hey, that was really fun, let's go watch that again!" But they were very entertaining.

The dictionary (www.m-w.com) defines entertainment as "something diverting or engaging." There's no mention of fun in there - to be entertaining, all you have to do is divert and engage the audience. No-one said it had to be a fun experience.

Most games don't realize this. Most game designers - and movie makers, for that matter - think that "entertainment" means "fun." It does not.

It will be a great day when someone releases a game that completely entertains me, but in a non-fun way.

It certainly won't be easy to make something like that - as meeper said, we've latched onto this "game as contest" idea - but if it happens, I think (err, hope) everyone would consider it art.

Mason McCuskey
Spin Studios - home of Quaternion, 2000 GDC Indie Games Fest Finalist!

Edited by - mason on 1/21/00 11:16:57 AM

#9 Domini   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 09:46 AM

Games are a art form. No matter what the type. Games are an expression of the designers, the artist, and yes even the programmers vision. A game being fun doesn''t not make it less of an art form. Art does not have to be boring, it doesn''t have to make you feel sad, it can be fun. Art usually causes emotions to build up, but who is to say that those emotions can''t be fun, and excitement. Art is a very broad subject, and every game genre is a differnt branch of the game art form.

Also on the subject:
Game programming can be very creative when the programmer comes up with new ideas, and algorithm. Programming is not boring like some think and it shouldn''t be.


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