Videogames as Art

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So I know the article and the comments on it are... old. But this is still something I've been thinking about for a long time, since I'd like to be able to have a nice list of video games with an introductory level of difficulty that still do a lot to showcase what the medium is capable of artistically. So this is eventually what I thought of.

First, I'd say any game in the Katamari Damacy series. The game's use of color, music, strange gameplay and story does a lot to evoke a feeling of childish glee. The controls are odd, but it's no harder for an incoming gamer to pick up than it is for any new gamer. In fact, a new gamer probably has an easier time since they don't have to unlearn the whole "left control stick moves, right control stick is the camera" habit. The game doesn't do a lot to showcase how the medium's interactivity brings a new level to storytelling. In fact, it doesn't do anything to showcase that. What it does do is show how an interactive medium can make pop art come to life. It creates the sort of cohesive interactive experience that many modern artists will spend their lives trying to achieve by decorating exhibit rooms with sculptures, paintings, and music, and it makes it immediately accessible to a broader audience through the gaming medium.

Next up, I'd probably choose Chrono Trigger. This one also does very little to showcase gaming's ability to create truly interactive stories, but it does show how a game is a great way to tell a long form narrative that may otherwise get boring partway through. By being part of the game medium, players explore the plot at their own pace, much like reading a book. Like a more visual medium, the graphic art furthers the atmosphere and story of the game in such a way that it's hard to imagine the story and art being separated. While most of the story sequences are non-interactive, it's always been interesting to me to see how different players control Chrono during long dialog sequences. Some players have him constantly running around the screen like a spastic kid, while others stand perfectly still. In its own small way, these choices shape the story. The music rounds this out, turning an above average RPG story into something incredible. If the game can't convince you that it's a proper medium for this sort of story by the time Frog gets Masamune, then I don't think any game could.

The Road would be my next game. Controls are simple, and it's interactive storytelling at its most basic form. This shows off how gaming as a medium can present a story in a way no other medium could. There's not a whole lot more to say about this one, except that if it doesn't do away with a person's conception that a game is "just about scoring points" as Roger Ebert put it, then nothing will.

I could concede that Ebert's point that games aren't art because games are something you "win" would have held a lot more water in the old arcade days of Asteroids and Missile Command

Probably someone else has pointed this out, but I'm not going to read all 350 comments, gosh. This sounds really strange considering that you can't win either Asteroids or Missile Command (as far as I can remember). Even more so now, since Extra Credits did a video a few weeks ago using Missile Command as an example of how game mechanics can be artful and included the fact that you can't win among those exemplary mechanics.

Bleh. I think what pissed those people off, and irked the hell outta me, was that Ebert went and basically pulled the Pacman Fever trope out and used it to justify his blanket statement against videogaming.

Personally, the whole article came off like my grandfather and father, who both despise videogaming: "Videogames are nothing more than time-killing brain-wasters and they should never have existed in the first place!" If that's the case, Ebert, then what the hell makes film any different? Afterall, most films are mindless entertainment, whether it be watching the computer-meltingly-rendered Devastator in Revenge of the fallen tear up the pyramids of Giza, or watching the insane mind of Christopher Nolan breakdown the concept of sentient dreaming. Sure, there are thought-provoking "artsy" films out there, your Casablancas and your Wrestlers, and there are your character-driven dramas and subplots, like Sherry Baby or even Empire Strikes Back, and there are your thought-provoking "artsy" games, like Mass Effect's explorations and breakdowns of our race's interactions and conforming to the Galactic community or the Silent Hill franchise's(well, before it went to shit, anyway) probing of the human psyche and our deeper, baser urges and wants.

Films and videogames have a lot more in common than one would think. They're both forms of escapism, first off, that regularly wipe their asses with the law of physics for the sake of entertainment or story. They're both mainly comprised of "dumb fun", whether it be popcorn flicks for film or games like Mercenaries or Just Cause for games, that are meant to draw the audience in and just kill some time. And they're both capable of latching onto our heartstrings and giving them a solid tug if that's the intention(and that intention's being executed well), as well as getting cerebral and challenging you to actually think.

And that, I think, is where a lot of people's complaints originate from: Ebert blanket-statemented a genre with a blanket-statement that could, with some tweaking, be applied to the genre he oh-so greatly vaunts and gushes over.

Roger Ebert, you silly man. Did you just played Missile Command in 1980 and beheld the simplicity from a story of war with no winners in a game better told than a movie? Were you scared that this may possibly make your job meaningless when there is a new form of art and expression of narrative in a superior way and worked hard with your resources to make everyone in the world fear and tremble with accusations of video games promotion violence and promoting the idea that being just a game, any decision making its just limited to that in-game world and no one will be that stupid to associate it with the real world, making all the heads of corporations of games to always chose profit over chosing anything risky or a story that may lead to controversy thus ensuring the saturation of games that are basically completely similar to each other and............
Ok that didnt happen but i will like to see a movie like that (needs more refining of course)

How i delete this comment?

EmeraldGreen:

I could concede that Ebert's point that games aren't art because games are something you "win" would have held a lot more water in the old arcade days of Asteroids and Missile Command

Probably someone else has pointed this out, but I'm not going to read all 350 comments, gosh. This sounds really strange considering that you can't win either Asteroids or Missile Command (as far as I can remember). Even more so now, since Extra Credits did a video a few weeks ago using Missile Command as an example of how game mechanics can be artful and included the fact that you can't win among those exemplary mechanics.

I never undertood how the "isnt art because you WIN" can even be an argument. Isnt like complaining about the hero of 90's action movie or romance movie that wins in the end? DOes Ebert even know that some games even if you "Win" it may still end up losing storyline wise? like if the world ends up being destroyed an such. If he mean "Win" as "Complete" or "Reach To The End" then how is a film any different? you still have to do a "complete" watch to beginning to end of a film to even after the credits for stinger.

This guy just makes me believe even more that the film industries is deliberately trying to make shitty video games movie to:

1) Make their plots look so stupid and make so many many of these that arent even watchable to spread the idea of:
"Videogames plots are actually stupid because there is NO WAY that these many film adaptations have done it wrong without taking notes of previous films that they SHOULD adapt the game scripts. The logical conclusion is all the films are ACTUALLY exact adaptations of the games and the Fanboys are just in denial that their poorly scripted trash was actually show to the world of the films where the taste of the movie going public is superior to their trash, myself included. Now if you excuse me, i am off to watch my favorite movie of all times: Transformers 2 Revenge of the Fallen"

2)Or make sure with the least effort and cost, that the movies actually win some money to guarantee a sequel to keep the people to actually play the games and considering that the people is too costumed to CGI crap, when they see the original old games they will just discard it in disgust

If the movies bomb at the box office, they could use that as a proof that videogames are utter shit and more money for the films.

If the movies make money, they will make so many sequels that are beyond of anything good to the original that people will be saturated of hearing anything related to the game in question that they will avoid the original game because now their brains CANT take off the impression that the game IS like the movies

In either case they win

Oh, by the way Ebert if you need a game that you dont "Win" or by winning you have a bad taste in your mouth then why dont you start with "The Stanley Parable"?? But then again he kinda need to have played something to get savy enough to be manipulated but maybe its just me.

I kind of agree. Although I don't really consider games as art, I don't really care if they are. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference, as everyone is going to have their own opinion on it anyway. The only things that everyone will agree are art is stuff like paintings and sculptures. It's not like anyone is going to officially declare games as art, this is an argument you just can't win.

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