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The Myth of the Infancy of the Medium
Videogames are not an immature medium that will one day grow up. No, the reason videogames are immature is that the games industry actively prevents them from growing and refuses them the space to evolve into a medium.
Videogame creators don't do this out of commercial considerations -a mask they are often quick to hide behind. Objectively, there is far more opportunity in the large market of non-gamers than there is in the crammed and fiercely competitive niche of gamers.
The games industry does not allow videogames to evolve into a mature medium out of creative opportunism. Not being recognized as an art form gives game creators a certain amount of freedom that they would not have if they were to take up their responsibility as authors. Today, game developers don't need to be concerned with the message that their game is sending to its audience. They can simply continue playing with technology and hide behind the fact that their only purpose is fun entertainment.
This kind of freedom, however, can only thrive within a niche of like-minded individuals. When confronted with anything outside of this dedicated sphere, unpleasant collisions occur.
The Desirability of Videogames as an Art Form
I don't want an artistic medium to emerge out of videogames simply because it's possible, or because of the obligation generated by the capacity for representation. I don't want it because I wish the games industry commercial success, or even because the public seems to expect it.
I want an art form based on videogame technology because I believe it can allow for the greatest works of art our cultures have ever produced, and it would be a crime not to do everything within our might to explore this opportunity!
Through all of art history, there's been a strong tendency towards representation. Throughout the ages, artists seem to have tried to fool their audience into believing they were seeing something that wasn't really there. Even when art was more spiritual, there was a desire for the experience of another reality.
Technology has increasingly offered more tools towards the creation of this spectacle. Oil-based paints gave birth to almost tangible representations of food and fabric and skin. Printed books allowed us to dream away into fantasy worlds without the need for anyone else. Cinema combined visual representation and narrative flow with the representation of movement. Videogames are the next step in this evolution. The simulated reality in the representation becomes procedural, and thus unpredictable, more closely imitating real life. And this procedurality makes it possible to add the most sought-after component of all: the spectator himself as an active element in the work of art.
How Art Is Made
It's not sufficient to make a fun game and then have some academics haul out Duchamp and Fluxus so we can call it art. First of all, that's not how this works. Art is made on purpose, even when the artist includes chance in his method. And secondly, we're not talking about so-called high art here anyway. The fine art on display in museums of contemporary art has long lost the social and cultural relevance that we are after.
We're not looking for a spot in the museum; we're looking for a place in the heart of the public at large. And for that we will need to work as artists.