Games, even games just exploring new game-play techniques, are perfectly capable of creating such experiential art without necessarily needing to sacrifice much to the gods of mammon. I recently played the Adventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and although the storyline itself was a bit of an excuse for the gameplay, really, the gameplay ITSELF was quite wonderful and, well, in my opinion an example of experiential artwork - at least during certain levels. There are better examples, I'm sure (Braid tends to come up, but I haven't really played it myself so I don't know), but the point is that I believe gameplay (to repeat myself) IN ITSELF can be a form of art.

However, I still fully agree with your request that games should begin with an idea and a wish to express that idea, -rather- than some kind of archetype on top of which the 'artsy' bits can be grafted, often with poor success. But I have to say that it often seems to me that despite all the attempts at NOT making something with a message, that message can still be read between the lines. Nazi zombies of Wolfenstein are, after all, a sort of extrapolation of our culture's logical imperative to demonize our recent past...even if the result is a tad bit...kitchy. :P

Good stuff!

- Wolfrug

I kind of see what the author is saying, but I think the argument runs into some unnecessary and inhibitive snares along the way. It seems to imply that something isn't art until it's recognized as such by the greater public ("...videogames are immature [because] the games industry actively prevents them from growing..." with "...there is far more opportunity in the large market of non-gamers than there is in the crammed and fiercely competitive niche of gamers" implies that the act of "becoming art" and being more accessible are somehow synonymous or parallel) and it explicitly states that art is created "...to explore certain themes or to convey messages that cannot be said in any other way."

Art has never been defined by commercial success or even public recognition. How many authors, painters, and composers have only truly gained recognition after their deaths? Did their work exist in some kind of Schrodinger's box, neither art nor not-art until finally recognized?

Art has also long existed to various degrees in a series of artist-patron relationships, sometimes drastically limiting its audience. If someone pays a painter to do an intricate oil portrait of their terrier, it's hard to argue that said portrait was created "to explore themes and/or convey messsages that can be said no other way". That said, I wouldn't necessarily leap to declare that a well-done portrait of a terrier wasn't art, that it's subject matter or crass commercial considerations rendered it ineligible for vague and possibly arrogant reasons. Not all art has to challenge or speak to the soul, to be a clarion call for justice or inescapable scream of the creator's inner turmoil.

It's dangerous to put art on a pedestal, to make it into some kind of phantasmal classification with which we can bludgeon "lesser" creations. I would hesitate to say that there are no video games that are art, or even that there haven't existed games before video games that constitute art. Chess is as intricately crafted and infinitely faceted as any oil painting, and people have devoted their entire lives to its study. Sennet addresses the travel of the soul into the afterlife in Egyptian mythology. How would we dance to create a definition in which these games weren't art?

- Callate

People often use the term "art" to mean anything done well but for this discussion we need to use language with a bit more precision.
There are 4 common domains in the field of visual literacy.

(1) The first is basic visual communication. Many photographs, for example, are simply meant to document, record, or communicate the look of something. Photojournalism is an example of basic visual communication and people who do it well can win Pulitzer Prizes and other awards. In film this might include many documentary films.

(2) The second is design. People use visual forms to solve problems and make the world a better place for others. This includes 2D graphic design, 3D product design, 4D spatial design (architecture, etc.), and 5D experience design (including video games). In film, Avatar pushed the boundaries of design while also becoming an important part of visual culture (below).

(3) The third is visual culture. This includes folk arts, mass media, popular culture, crafts, etc. The public puts video games in this category which is usually appropriate because they are typically created as part of popular culture for mass audiences. In film, Harry Potter movies or "Hangover" might be examples of visual culture.

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