A Blank Canvas

A Blank Canvas
The Definition of an Art Form

Russ Pitts | 17 Oct 2006 12:00
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"The art assets that I create for my current project are guided by a couple of factors: an environment lead's 3-D mock up, which shows the technical limits and art direction that is needed; conceptual sketches of a piece that a concept artist has iterated and fleshed out with the help of the Art Director and Lead Designer; or, if it's a very realistic piece, some reference photos given as a guideline.

"An example would be a sailing boat that had a carved wooden mermaid on the bow. I could have more artistic freedom with the mermaid prop, but I would still need to create the other 90 percent [of] the ship to spec. ... I feel I switch back and forth between trying to be an artist versus being more of an artisan; both have different challenges and artistic rewards."

The Question
art form: noun. A form or medium of expression recognized as fine art. (Merriam-Webster Online)

"If games are not art," asks Joseph Hatcher, "then why do so many people admire them, love them and have such great memories attached to them?

"What other media brings together painters, 2-D artists, 3-D artists, sculptors, 2-D animators, 3-D animators, programmers (they are code poets), musicians, composers, writers, etc. like videogames do? Videogames bring so many types of art into the same media for the observer to enjoy that they are a real sight to behold.

"All that hard work, all the creativity that those people pour into [games], all the beauty that ends up being displayed on the screen ... the respect that's deserved never really appears."

"I think in some rare instances," says John Enricco, who's currently working on an as-yet unannounced title for Pandemic Studios, "videogames can come close to being an art form. But I think that our industry is still too young to consistently achieve that goal; the tech is too primitive, and we really don't know what the 'end all be all' of our idiom is right now.

"I say give it 10-20 years with all of the tech advances and a more codified knowledge base and a deeper history, and I think you'll start to see interactive entertainment hitting its stride and becoming a more and more a true art form.

"Hopefully, I'll be there with everyone else, stretching and achieving that ideal."

Mike Krahulik puts it more simply: "Of course videogames are an art form. They are created by artists. What else could they be?"

Russ Pitts is an Associate Editor for The Escapist. He also, when he was 12, had a chalk drawing of a covered wagon being attacked by Apache Indians on horseback featured in an art exhibit in the library of his home town. He cannot remember the title of the piece, but is sure his mother still has it, somewhere.

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