Critical Miss
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Johnathan Grey Carter | 23 Jul 2013 13:00
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While a lot of the earlier Critical Miss strips make me cringe (and by "earlier," I mean every strip prior to this one), there are only a handful I completely regret writing. This one, which I suppose was meant to be a response to Roger Ebert's notorious dismissal of gaming as an art form, some kind of weird homage to Kick Ass and a riff on cause and effect in comedy, is one of them. Not only is it unfunny, it's entirely the wrong response. The correct response to Ebert's claim that games are not, and can never be, art, was actually brought up by Ebert himself in the same interview. That response is, "Why do I give the most insignificant quantum of fucks about what Roger Ebert thinks of gaming when he clearly doesn't know the first thing about it?"

Videogames are art. This statement may be seen as controversial. It shouldn't be. They are clearly art by any reasonable definition of the word.

But that's not what this conversation is about. The question isn't really, "are games art?" it's "are games good art?" or, "should videogames receive the same respect, study and funding as more traditional art forms?" The discussion is less about acquiring the (ultimately arbitrary) label of "art" and more about gaining access to the vino-swilling, twirly-moustache, twat-festival that surrounds classic art, literature and, to a lesser-degree, music. It's about the prestige, in other words.

And it's in their desperation to please these tweed-clad gatekeepers of credibility that gamers actually start to demean the entire medium. Ask a typical gamer to name some arty games and you'll quickly spot the pattern; Braid, ICO, obtuse indie title #44384, Braid, Dear Esther, Braid, anything by ThatGameCompany or Tale of Tales, Braid. Games that either superficially resemble art from other mediums (with a tendency towards aesthetic and narrative minimalism) or are deliberately obtuse. That's not to say these games aren't good, they're mostly brilliant, but it's no coincidence that they're all what we might call "smart" games.

Videogames are art. They are not books, films or music (though they can certainly include elements from all of the above). As such, we can't judge them by standards derived from other mediums, nor can critics of other mediums offer anything resembling insight on a given game as a whole. That isn't to say the "art" moniker is some kind of magical criticism shield or that we should stop demanding games make better use of their multi-media aspects (seriously, it'd be really nice if some game writers could figure out what a character arc is), nor am I arguing that "gameplay" is the only real metric by which a game should be measured, I'm simply done trying to justify and explain an entire medium to laymen.

TLDR: Bayonetta is art. Minecraft is art. Even Resident Evil 6 is art. Come to terms with this.

As always, you can follow Grey and Cory on Twitter.


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