Games as art?

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Games as art?

Post by MattS on Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:29 am

I know this is a contentious topic. Some people believe that games should only serve the purpose of being fun. Others (and I fall into this boat) believe that just like films can have more value than entertainment, as can games.

There are some art games that I didn't necessarily enjoy in the conventional sense while I was playing them: Killer Is Dead, Deadly Premonition, even Rain and Beyond. But these games are my highlights of the year because they got me thinking, and when I start thinking I'm a happy chappy.

Is there anyone else that would actively play an "art" game, even if "fun" wasn't the reason that you are playing it?
avatar
MattS
Admin

Posts : 362
Join date : 2013-06-25
Location : Australia

View user profile http://www.digitallydownloaded.net

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by Chalgyr on Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:15 pm

Always a tricky subject, but my short answer to the initial point is that I agree - games can be, and by definition are art. You are creating something out of nothing. There's music, scripts and acting (such as in movies) and visual creations (like more traditional paintings or sculptures). What's interesting is this medium brings these things together - much as movies often do, but gives some element of control to the viewer/participant (much how a person views an abstract painting and puts their own interpretation to it). I've never understood the argument that a game cannot be art for the above reasons.

I can't think of any instances where a played a game TO enjoy it expressly as art, or to try and take a long view of it and see it as something more than a game. Then again, there are very few games I can't find redeeming qualities to, and I can eek out my own type of fun. Maybe in Madden I enjoy building a franchise and losing myself in familiar football gameplay, or in Beyond I am so invested in the characters that I want to see how the story plays out, or games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age or Heavy Rain where I feel like I am helping to create a unique story that is a bit more about me.

There are games with artistic qualities to them (such as the ones you listed above, and also others that try to do something 'different' - like Limbo, which I adored on so many levels), and I certainly enjoy them because of these elements, but I've never sat back and tried to separate a game out from the pack TO 'view it as art'. This is one of the reasons I always struggle with those kinds of questions in year-end polls and such - because to a degree I find some 'art' in almost any game I play, it's just a matter of 'how much' or 'what does it do differently'.

wow, that got verbose/babbly. Smile
avatar
Chalgyr

Posts : 250
Join date : 2013-06-25
Location : Michigan

View user profile http://chalgyrsgameroom.blogspot.com/

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by Shaan Joshi on Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:49 pm

Chalgyr wrote:Always a tricky subject, but my short answer to the initial point is that I agree - games can be, and by definition are art. You are creating something out of nothing. There's music, scripts and acting (such as in movies) and visual creations (like more traditional paintings or sculptures). What's interesting is this medium brings these things together - much as movies often do, but gives some element of control to the viewer/participant (much how a person views an abstract painting and puts their own interpretation to it). I've never understood the argument that a game cannot be art for the above reasons.

I can't think of any instances where a played a game TO enjoy it expressly as art, or to try and take a long view of it and see it as something more than a game. Then again, there are very few games I can't find redeeming qualities to, and I can eek out my own type of fun. Maybe in Madden I enjoy building a franchise and losing myself in familiar football gameplay, or in Beyond I am so invested in the characters that I want to see how the story plays out, or games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age or Heavy Rain where I feel like I am helping to create a unique story that is a bit more about me.

There are games with artistic qualities to them (such as the ones you listed above, and also others that try to do something 'different' - like Limbo, which I adored on so many levels), and I certainly enjoy them because of these elements, but I've never sat back and tried to separate a game out from the pack TO 'view it as art'. This is one of the reasons I always struggle with those kinds of questions in year-end polls and such - because to a degree I find some 'art' in almost any game I play, it's just a matter of 'how much' or 'what does it do differently'.

wow, that got verbose/babbly. Smile
Good assessment, though I can think of a few games that I play not to "enjoy" in the traditional sense, but rather to experience something; emotions, revelations (some games have taught me important lessons), and some games can be cathartic. Things like Journey and Braid come to mind.
avatar
Shaan Joshi

Posts : 63
Join date : 2013-06-25
Age : 26
Location : Gainesville, Florida

View user profile http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by Midori on Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:22 pm

Chalgyr nicely outlined most of my thoughts with that first paragraph, particularly that virtually all games by definition have to be "art". Of course, if we're talking "fine" or "high" art, that's another subject entirely. I still believe there are plenty of ways video games have greater potential to achieve that than any other medium, though. Ignoring that they combine visuals and sound in the same manner as movies, player creativity and choice can be integral ingredients that no other medium allows in the same capacity. Depending on the execution, a game can be the art itself or merely a canvas (or, in certain cases, a new type of museum that transcends any other). Not every game is inherently fine or high art but there is plenty of room to achieve that through both established means and new ones that are exclusive to this industry. Lastly, I would argue that video games have the most varied basic structures compared to most other art forms. It is possible to go for something totally abstract and beyond the norms or use countless pre-existing formulas to make the art more effective.

As for playing a game purely for the artistic qualities, no specific example comes to mind, but I would never rule it out. Like any other art form though, there has to be a particular element that draws me to it.
avatar
Midori

Posts : 83
Join date : 2013-06-25

View user profile http://www.digitallydownloaded.net

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by KiDasharus on Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:23 pm

I believe wholeheartedly that game can be and are art. It really stands out when a developer goes out of their way to make sure a game looks amazing or just different than a regular game through their art style. I hope to see more art-styled games in the future -- it'll be cool to see where devs go with the idea.
avatar
KiDasharus

Posts : 38
Join date : 2013-08-08
Age : 18
Location : Skyworld

View user profile http://nintyonline.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by MattS on Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:25 am

KiDasharus wrote:I believe wholeheartedly that game can be and are art. It really stands out when a developer goes out of their way to make sure a game looks amazing or just different than a regular game through their art style. I hope to see more art-styled games in the future -- it'll be cool to see where devs go with the idea.
This is the bit that has always confused me about the games-as-art debate (not to pick on you, but your post got me thinking, haha); so often people seem to see the word "art" and think "visuals."

I would argue that this isn't what makes a game art, as opposed to a game that is more in line with a sport or competitive activity. League of Legends is a pretty game, but it's not art.

Art is a thematic thing. For me, a game deserves to be considered art when it holds some kind of cultural relevancy, speaks to a contempary issue in some form, or is some kind of deeply personal work by the game creator that has some kind of meaning to it, beyond what is left on the surface.

Basically, if you can think about a game on a level deeper than "it was fun to play" then it's art.

So for instance, I would argue that Lollipop Chainsaw is a work of art. Not because it's a good looking game, but because it's a self-referential satire on the gender tropes found in video games.
avatar
MattS
Admin

Posts : 362
Join date : 2013-06-25
Location : Australia

View user profile http://www.digitallydownloaded.net

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by CanisWolfred on Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:29 am

I think you all know my opinion on this subject, so I won't repeat it fully, but for those unfamiliar, I'll summise it with a quick comparison: Games can be art, just as pornography can be art, but much like pornography, an artsy game does not belong in my living room. Razz
avatar
CanisWolfred

Posts : 161
Join date : 2013-06-26
Age : 26
Location : New York State

View user profile http://caniswolfredsden.blogspot.com/

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by Chalgyr on Mon Nov 11, 2013 4:30 pm

MattS wrote:so often people seem to see the word "art" and think "visuals."

I would argue that this isn't what makes a game art, as opposed to a game that is more in line with a sport or competitive activity. League of Legends is a pretty game, but it's not art.

Art is a thematic thing.
I think most people gravitate toward the visual aspects of 'art' first and foremost. I agree with you, that thematics are and should be a big part of the conversation, but at an early age most people associate art with visuals. Art class for kids usually is about drawing or painting. Art galleries are generally about sculptures or paintings.

What I always found interesting is those who say video games aren't and cannot be art. Yet... books can be art because of the stories they tell. Movies can be art as part of the acting that takes place in them. Paintings can be art because of the visual creation. Music can be art. Yet a medium that includes all of those elements cannot be? To me that line of reasoning is fundamentally flawed.
avatar
Chalgyr

Posts : 250
Join date : 2013-06-25
Location : Michigan

View user profile http://chalgyrsgameroom.blogspot.com/

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by MattS on Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:32 pm

Chalgyr wrote:
MattS wrote:so often people seem to see the word "art" and think "visuals."

I would argue that this isn't what makes a game art, as opposed to a game that is more in line with a sport or competitive activity. League of Legends is a pretty game, but it's not art.

Art is a thematic thing.
I think most people gravitate toward the visual aspects of 'art' first and foremost. I agree with you, that thematics are and should be a big part of the conversation, but at an early age most people associate art with visuals. Art class for kids usually is about drawing or painting. Art galleries are generally about sculptures or paintings.

What I always found interesting is those who say video games aren't and cannot be art. Yet... books can be art because of the stories they tell. Movies can be art as part of the acting that takes place in them. Paintings can be art because of the visual creation. Music can be art. Yet a medium that includes all of those elements cannot be? To me that line of reasoning is fundamentally flawed.
Generally the people that argue that games can't be art has little to do with the quality of games. It's more to do with what they perceive to be a lack of thematic depth. For instance, while anyone can look at a painting and say it's pretty, you can write a 10,000 word academic thesis on the meaning and context of the Mona Lisa.

The fact that people aren't writing about games at that depth means that the wider public has yet to be exposed to the deeper themes of games. 99% of comments on Lollipop Chainsaw are "it's exploitative." The number of people that have written 5000 word essays on it being a self referential satire of gender role expectations in games are few and far between, and for games to be art, I firmly believe that those conversations/ writings need to be far more visible in both the academic and broad community.

To sum - conversations about games are so simplistic and as long as that's the case there are going to be people out their that have a rightful argument that games have no artistic merit. It's up to us as gamers to deepen the conversation and prove those people wrong.
avatar
MattS
Admin

Posts : 362
Join date : 2013-06-25
Location : Australia

View user profile http://www.digitallydownloaded.net

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by Chalgyr on Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:43 pm

This seems relevant to the conversation:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mattsainsb/the-interactive-canvas-gaming-artists

Most of you likely have already seen this since you frequent Digitally Downloaded, but in case you missed it: The Interactive Canvas.
avatar
Chalgyr

Posts : 250
Join date : 2013-06-25
Location : Michigan

View user profile http://chalgyrsgameroom.blogspot.com/

Back to top Go down

Re: Games as art?

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum