Can video games be considered art?

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  • I originally posted this article on my blog. You can click through and read the entire thing, complete with pretty pictures, if you want to. In the original post on my blog I also included my original draft. I'm not copying that here as it's only reference. Otherwise, the core content of the blog post is copied here. This is a long standing debate. I wanted others to here my arguments and hear what they had to say. Read it, watch the youtube video, and give me your response. I'm genuinely interested to hear what others have to say.

    YouTube Video:

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    I started writing an article a couple of weeks back considering whether games should be considered art. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that games are indeed a form of art. It wasn?t an easy decision though. I hit road blocks at every turn. Every argument I started to reason, I thought of a counter argument. I found a lot of reasons why some games should be considered art and some games shouldn?t be. I found a lot of reasons why some pieces of art should be considered art and some shouldn?t be.

    Let me try and explain.

    I originally argued that all art can be classified as art because it delivers a message. That?s what separates the arts and crafts, the message from the utilitarian use. That definition didn?t always hold up though. The best example I can think of is listed below in my original piece ? Tony Smith?s ?Die?. It?s supposed to mean many different things. Its six foot by six foot in size so it represents death. I personally don?t see it. I don?t understand it. I see a large box.

    I have other examples. Salvador dali, for instance, creates some very interesting work. I like it. I?ll admit, I am a fan. It has no common message though. The same goes for the countless pictures of Christian art created through the renaissance. They typically tell a story and warn people of not offending the church. They are basically period propaganda pieces. Would the propaganda posters of WW2 or today be considered art?

    What about architecture? Why is that considered art while pottery is not? Both are utilitarian in nature. Both serve a purpose and neither (usually) share any message.

    So what is art then? I still firmly believe that the difference between art and crafts is that art shares a message of some kind. Art will often deliver an emotional message. That is what separates literature from art; art delivers its message through emotions and images while literature delivers it through reason and words. Crafts don?t deliver a message but are merely aesthetically pleasing and help accomplish a task. Because of that definition, art may not mean the same to all people. It also encompasses my biggest conflict; why are films considered art and not video games?

    Certainly, not all films are art nor are all games. Like film though, games can make a person feel. They can transmit a state of being, a sense of urgency, and transplant the thoughts or a person in some other time or universe. They can deliver a message. They can provoke players to feel and to respond in the same way that traditional art would.

    If one would think that games can?t make audiences feel then I would remind people of the death of Aerith. The death of Aerith at Sephiroth?s hands (Final Fantasy 7) sparked massive fan fair and rumors. Players couldn?t handle her death. Rumors spread all over the internet that Aerith was coming back and that she wasn?t really dead. (I should remind readers that these rumors spread during the early days of the computer boom and internet adoption, back during the hay days of AOL to put it into perspective. Internet use wasn?t the same then as it is now which only furthers the proof of impact of Aeirth?s death) Players actually mourned her death. They wanted to seek redemption. Her death made players feel. The Battlefield series, as much as I wouldn?t want to admit it, force players to realize the angst and destruction of war. ?I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream? generally make people feel despair.

    Games do provoke an emotion and response. They deliver a message in a way that neither film, nor traditional art, nor literature can. It?s a new media that is still very much in its infancy. The level of detail and creativity required to provoke such response have only come about in the last 20 years, a short time in the world of art. I think that?s why many critiques don?t consider games to be art. It?s to new. I assure everyone though that games are both a form of art and entertainment. They liven the soul and speak to people. They make players react and think in ways that other media can?t.

    Original blog post: Here- Only needs to be read if your interested in the original rough draft. Otherwise ignore it. The original article was going in a different direction but after mulling it over a lot I felt it best to present my argument with the above article.

  • Games can be art, but don't have to be. Actually it is pretty easy to find some art aspect in most games - graphics, music being the most obvious.

  • Personally, I believe games are a form of art. And the key word here being "a form". For me, art is something that is different from the others and can invoke a reaction. That is why for me, art doesn't necessarily have to be in visual form only. Haha maybe that is why poems and stories are considered art as well.

    You can find this art form in anything, from a one unique sports player, a magnificent actor, a brilliant marketer, an efficient programmer, to a wonderful cook. I depends on what you like, maybe if people try, they will be able to see the art form in everything!

    Haha thanks for the video! A walk down a 15 year old memory lane!!

  • if someone can lay a piece of butter in the corner of a room and say it�s art, than definitely every game is art!

  • if someone can lay a piece of butter in the corner of a room and say it?s art, than definitely every game is art!


  • if someone can lay a piece of butter in the corner of a room and say it?s art, than definitely every game is art!

    rofl :D ohw yeah

    In response, to that and the topic, I believe considering something art lays in the eyes of the beholder.

    For instance, I call the mona lisa a crappy old painting, another pays millions for it but does it for the money and some poor chap on the other side of the world think its the worlds greatest piece ever created.

    "art" is a fleeting thing, set it on fire and its gone ... only those that beheld it, were able to determine for themselves whether they consider it art or or a piece of junk.

  • if someone can lay a piece of butter in the corner of a room and say it?s art, than definitely every game is art!

    I really wish there was something equivalent to a 'Like' button for this on here.

  • It's up to the individual to decide for themsleves what art is. If you connect with it and you feel it's art, then it is. That doesn't mean it's "art" to everyone, because they may not connect with it in the same way as you or at all. You wouldn't tell someone their favorite color isn't blue. In the same way, you can't tell someone what art is to them. Art is subjective.

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  • Video games are never art. Ever.

    However ART can use the medium of video games. This means that a good game is not art. VG's can can have emotionally impacts, movies can have emotional impact, books can have emotional impact. But i wouldn't consider my sniffles in the Lord of the Rings books or movies and consider them just because I felt they were emotional scenes.

    On another side as a table top gaming GM I've managed to get my gaming group to sniffle at the death of certain characters. So does that make my D&D(actually tribe 8) game art? nope it does not. While I was glad to run an emotionally charged game the emotional experience doesn't change that what I was doing was still just the game.

    Here are some wonderful imagry of various games. Doo these make the games art? no. However the artists should take credit for there portrayal of the world. keep in mind that the visuals of a video game are only one element of the game. A game is composed of visuals, audio and gameplay. At the center stage is the game play. When the gameplay of the game is the game itself then it's a game and not art.

    However and I wish I can remember the name of the game. But there was game developer who had synaesthesia of sight and sound. His game was a portrayal of what he saw of sound. So the "game" visualized the sounds of the game. That game I would classify as art. The game while some form of rail space shooter wasn't about the shooting and levels. It's focus was on the players experience of colour and sound that the developer was expressing.

    So where as Shadows of the Colossus is a gorgeous and wonderful game. one of my favourites. I would never classify the game as art.

  • +1 to Sebastian

    I kinda dislike the term art myself. It's so often flung around by people who want to feel extra clever about what they do. I think of art as something that consciously tries to provoke or communicate a feeling, a message, or whatever through non-explicit means. Other people may have other opinions about it. But eh, in the end it doesn't matter one bit whether games can be labelled art or not imo. It's just a word.

  • Art is subjective, but it can be shown that game making is analogous to painting, thus is considerable as art. The game making activity is reducible to the painting activity. Smeared paint, on a canvas, is considered art, by most people, if thought went into the final product to make it represent something (either figuratively or literally). Painting walls a single color, as a job, is not considered art by most, but painting an image is. Replace paint with text,images,sound,movement. The artist now smears text,images,sound and movement over a blank sheet (programming can be considered his brush), and the end result (the game) represents something other than the items (or medium) used, just as a painting represents something other than the colors (or paint) used. Thus, the final product (the game) is simply a more complex painting, and it is shown that an unknown artform is reducible to a known and respected artform. QED.

  • It's easy to recognize if it's art or not. Art is thought provoking. It is something that has a message between words. You wont see or hear this message, but you can feel its presence. Then it's your job to look within yourself and interpret those feelings. Everything else that "looks nice" or "sounds nice" but doesn't make you feel that thought provoking presence I've talked about, is just craft.

    So to answer to your question: almost all games are only a craft. And to be honest I can't even think of a game that would agree with my description. I can think of music, paintings and films, but no games.

  • It depends what your definition of art is.

    If you read the dictionary's definition, then yes; A lot of games can be described as art.

    Art is as much about creativity as it is about making use of a skill and conveying an emotion or feeling.

    I know many games that are enourmously immersive, made with mastery and creativity on technical as well as visual and auditive levels.

    To me, skill is a necessary element amongst other to categorise something as being art. I can admire the skill that is needed to make something without having to like the end result.

    Old paintings by the masters might have been propaganda etc, they might be old and dusty, but you can not deny that they are painted with enourmous skill and talent.

    Even WW2 posters can be admired for their typography typical for the era.

    As pointed out in previous posts, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • YES


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