Videogames as Art

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I find the problem with his argument against video games as art is the nature of what he defines as art. The Mona Lisa is just oil, pigment, and cloth until you look at it and experience it, the Ode to Joy is just ink on paper until someone takes an instrument, plays it, and it is heard. The interaction between object and person shows the real reflection of art, so I'd agree that the rules and pieces of chess are not art but I find the representation and the act of Bobby Fisher and everyone else strategics and the movement and the thrill of the activity is an art and can hush the crowd as well as a movie, a song, or a painting. So interaction is whats important, and without that theres not much else to do. Comments?

In listening to this discussion, I've realized that I have two in my mind working definitions of art.

1. Art is what artists do (which I mentioned a few posts up).

2. Any production whose outcome varies based on the character of the individual doing it.

If I'm walking through a Museum of Modern Art, I'll use the first definition. Sure it conjures emotions: usually alternating between boredom and laughter. But my opinion isn't what matters here, is it?

Regarding the second definition, if say someone works creatively with blowing glass bottles, few would disagree that is art. Being a good golfer though, sure that requires talent, but still it is all about getting the ball in the hole and there is little room for variation other than to do it in fewer strokes than others. But the Harlem Globetrotters, that would be art again. Stacking crates would not be art since all crates stack the same way, unless they are different sizes and one puts them together eloquently, then that might be considered artistic. Doing a pole dance, if one works by routine it isn't particularly artistic, but if an exotic dancer mixes it up a bit it can be.

By definition #2, singing opera is not an art, not usually, but producing one is. Making a videogame is certainly an art form. Playing a videogame might sometimes be.

again y do anyone care what a film critic says about videogames? Oo

if u think videogame is art good for u, he obviously doesn't. Congratulations, the world still goes round. <.<

Slightly disappointed with this Extra Punctuation, the TL/DR seems to be able to sum it up, which is not a good thing.

Really, I don't see why it should matter. I'll play a game because I want to, not because it's labeled as 'art'. I'll play a game and if it triggers a strong emotional response, good for me. I might even play it again sometime. What I wont do, is call it art. I wont not call it art either. I might go on an internet forum and tell people that it was a good game, if I can be bothered, but it shouldn't really matter.

Why do we need to get this 'art' status? Are we so desperate for approval from the non-gamers? If they don't get to play it too bad for them, but why should we care? When I look for a game to play or a book to read, I don't automatically go for the best seller, or the top rated. I'll read a book because I might like the cover, or what's written in the blurb. I love looking for obscure pc games that were released years ago in my local game shop, partially because they're cheap, and my computer's pretty archaic, but mostly - 'just cause'.

My advice. Spend much less time listening to other people, it'll make you happier.

Wow. Behind in the times much?
Ebert made the original "games can not be art" comment back in 2006.
Good on you for waiting 4 years to address it.

Had a chuckle at your TL/DR :D

But indeed. Everyone's definition of art is different. Some don't understand why the mona lisa is declared as art. And some don't see rap music as an art form.

Mankind is a wonderful species.

PapaJupe:
Wow. Behind in the times much?
Ebert made the original "games can not be art" comment back in 2006.
Good on you for waiting 4 years to address it.

No and no. First of all, the question is more relevant today than it was 4 years ago, given better graphics and sound capabilities. Second, someone recently asked if he still held the same opinion and he said that he did, and restated his point in a recent article.

Gotta agree on one thing, That people shouldn't be bother so much about other people's opinion. Thing I agree partly with and disagree with is the part that when someone talks about his own field of expertice he has a stronger opinion. While that is true, it still remains an opinion to me. If a game-producer says gaming isn't an art, why would you be concerned? Does it take away the overal fun that you have in gaming? Does it really matter that much to you what other people think of what you do?

My point here is that people have their opinions and you have to respect them, but you by no means have to follow anyone's opinion. Of course other peoples opinions can be very handy when trying to make an opinion of your own on a matter, but atleast think for yourself and don't immediatly be afraid of what other people think.

Ebert's believes that gaming isn't an art, so what? I could likely say movies aren't an art (I believe some movies could be art, not all). I don't think he would have restless nights about it, even if I was a moviemaker.
I believe he would have restless nights, if the majority of the people believe His movies aren't art. Then he would be concerned, else it doesn't matter.

lol @ butthurt

I couldn't agree more Yahtzze. Emotions is all it matters, you my not remember game but you will remember emotions you lived playing it.

Great article but the one thing in that made me feel awesome was the reference to the Spirit. I love that movie.

What kind of Dishwasher are you trying to impregnate Yahtzee?

I love any visually stimulating medium be it films, games or art.
I find books to be boring and tedious wastes of video game playing [or film watching] time because of how long they take to convey a story. This doesn't mean I think I'm right and anyone who loves reading is a complete loser, It's just that personally I don't GET books.
Those who get "butthurt" by a film critic saying he's never really been pulled into games as much as we have should just grow up and get over it.

Zombie Nixon:
If the "games as art" people really had confidence in their position, they would just ignore Ebert.

Flipping it around, Ebert shouldn't feel the need to comment (twice) about it.

I don't think people understand: Ebert is more than "just a film critic." He is a published intellectual and a cultural touchstone. I find the idea of ignoring his opinions silly when the statement of his opinions actually hold some public sway. And I don't think it any less silly to ignore the opinions of those who take Ebert's views as truth.

I'll agree to the futility of "forcing" him to understand; I wouldn't say video games are "above" him, but they are "beyond" him. However, I will not agree feeling disappointed that an intelligent and likable person doesn't understand something one loves indicates a lack of "confidence in their position."

For me personally, I've found Ebert's comments insensitive and dismissive of the industry's talent and outright patronizing towards gaming enthusiasts. Just because I know I'm not a child doesn't make me any less angry when someone wants to call me one, especially when done by challenging the merits of my personal passion.

EDIT: To summarize. Being angry over this: rational. Thinking something can and should be done about it and thinking something will change when it does: irrational.

Man... I should be a film critic... it's the easiest job ever

Art is only art insofar as it is treated as art.

Much more is at stake in art than simply subjective emotions. That may be how your average person engages art, but there's much more to it than that.

The emotions are only a byproduct to the fact that you are moved by the new depth which the art, and art alone, can open you to. This runs counter to the same misguided truism that pain leads to growth. No, it's simply that growth may involve pain. It is not the "I" suffering or feeling any other such emotion which grows. The growth is not personal at all.

As appealing as writing on about this is, I have to leave it at that and hope this important delineation will prove to do some good.

image

Guess who wrote the screenplay for this piece of exploitative trash?

Roger Ebert.

Is it art?

Yes. It explores themes, it is constructed with appropriateness of technique, it provokes an emotional response (even if that's revulsion).

Is it any good?

Well, here is the thing. This is the one all important question that the whole "Is it art?" false debate is continually used by creators as a smokescreen to prevent anyone from moving on to that more significant question and dismissing it for the crap that it so often is.

image

This famous urinal is asserted to be an artwork by its creator Marcel Duchamp (he evidently didn't have the courage of his convictions to sign the damn thing with his own name, though). Is it art? Actually, yes. I won't bore you with why... but trust me, I have a degree in Fine Art and it just is. Accept it. It is not even a matter of taste or subjectivity, but as a development in the history of philosophy in culture. Now we can move on to the significant question: Is it any good?

No.

Finally, we can do something really interesting. We now have three cultural artefacts and as they are all art we can rank them in order of how good they are:

3. Fountain by Marcel Duchamp

2. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls by Russ Meyer, screenplay by Roger Ebert

1. Ico by Fumito Ueda

Disagree?

As interesting and well-written as his article is, the only thing I was thinking when it was over was, "Hee hee, impregnate a dishwasher..."

Why would we want video games to be art?
Art hasn't been good for almost a hundred years in my opinion, mostly because the modern stuff is pretencious bull shit.
I want a video game to be a video game, you know that thing with all the fun in it?

I didn't expect you to jump in this boat, but that was a very well written response, Yahtzee

My first thought when I heard about Roger Ebert's post was "he's old". I hadn't heard of him before and I find it interesting that I was right

Putting that aside, Yahtzee, could you please review Monster Hunter Tri?

i disagree with ebert, i mean games should be art unless he doesnt consider movies or books art. the only key difference between games and movies and books is interactivity. they both go through the creative process of writing, character building, emotional tensions, and other complexities. This comparison is especially true for movies. As we speak there r games based on movies and movies based on games.

ebert says u win a game and therefore its not art, but that isnt the point, when u watch a movie or read a book u learn about the protagonist, antagonist, etc. usually the reader/watcher would root for the protagonist cause thats how the story in both movies and books try to do, eventually protagonist wins (or dies if its a trajedy)and u end the story. Yes there r games that lack story and go straight into the action packed gun roaring good time(ie warhawk one of my fav games) but more and more games are atleast trying to build story in their games and have some sort of immersiveness, and isnt that the main goal of any movie or novel.so the only way ebert (in my opinion) can defend his position is by saying movies r not art and therefore hes not a movie critic but a movie reviewer.

My contribution is: I'm gonna say blowing up oil rigs and military bases in a huge fucking jet with a mexican spiderman who farts parachutes might not be art, but damn me if it isn't hilarious fun.

And games have cutscenes. If animated shorts can be art, why couldn't these make the games (partly) art?
Oh yeah, and I fucking hate cutscenes. (except for really good ones, but those are rare) But atmospheric storytelling, when you piece together the story while strolling through ArmageddonMcDoomland is pretty cool. And art. For me.

Funny bringing up Carmack, as he said something in regards to another touch subject concerning video games.

John Carmack:
Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important.

MissAshley:
I don't think people understand: Ebert is more than "just a film critic." He is a published intellectual and a cultural touchstone. I find the idea of ignoring his opinions silly when the statement of his opinions actually hold some public sway.

The same can be said of some news media. However, we've all seen how biased and wrong they can be. Though I do find myself in general agreement with a lot of what Ebert says on the matter, but then again that goes back to what Yahtzee was saying about it being subjective.

Ah, at least he's one of the gamers who acknowledges that when all is said and done, Roger Ebert is still a wise person capable of defending his opinion.
My problem lies with the influence he has on people.

Quiet Stranger:
How can he be Ebert's "videogame equivalent" when he hates almost everything and Ebert actually likes some movies and hates some movies, I've only seen one or two games Yahtzee actually likes

Psychonauts, Saint's Row 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Portal, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Silent Hill 2. That's six games Yahtzee likes that I can name right off the top of my head.

Here's some more: Gears of War 2, Monkey Island, God of War, Bioshock 1, Assassin's Creed 2 (and possibly Screed 1, depending on how strict a definition of 'like' you're using).

That uninformed "Yahtzee just hates everything" claim is both very old and tired and very wrong.

That was a really well written article and I agree with 90% of it.

The part I couldn't agree with is the evangelical bit. First, art is not a matter of life and death whereas religion is, more, it's a matter of eternal life and death. Second, you are correct in your statement that no one ever persuades an atheist into becoming a Christian. Of course not! Humanity rejects the one true God at every turn. Instead God comes to them and works the miracle of saving grace. Why then do Christians still spread the gospel? Simple, we can be part of what God uses to bring someone to him.

Or to put it another way, if I believe that everyone who hasn't accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour will go to Hell for all eternity what sort of person would I be if I didn't try and warn people?

I always thought Norman Rockwell was one hell of an artist. He crafted beautiful images which translated so many thoughts and emotions within a single scene. But you know what? A lot of "experts" don't consider him to be an artist at all. Not because he lacked skill, or that his works did not touch the soul, but for the worst crime of all. He produced them for the cover of a publication (the Saturday Evening Post). Thus, not art.

Hogwash. He was an artist and I don't care what any so called expert says to the contrary.

If:
A man can crucify himself to the top of a VW Bug and call it art,
A man can urinate on a cross in a jar and call it art,
A Dadaist can sign a urinal and call it art,
A Hollywood Producer can create a 2 hour long waste of time and call it art,

Then a game producer who creates a game that ensnares you and pulls you through 20 hours of gameplay just to see the protagonist victorious can certainly be called an artist.

I have disagreed with Ebert on many of his opinions on movies. His view on games is just another one to add to the pile.

By the way, Ebert is currently suffering from cancer in the most horrid way imaginable. He cannot eat food, all his nutrition is taken intravenously. He can't even talk!

Just imagine never being able to eat a cheeseburger again, enjoy a nice steak, bite into a crisp apple, or take a good stiff drink of whiskey.

He has had so much reconstructive surgery you might not even recognize him anymore.

Just something to think about if you are wishing this man ill will due to his views.

Trust me; he's got all you could wish on him and worse.

And trying to impose your feelings on someone else is as pointless and time-consuming as trying to impregnate a dishwasher.

Oh sure... NOW you tell me. No wonder the rinse cycle has been a little dodgy of late.

Quorothorn:

Quiet Stranger:
How can he be Ebert's "videogame equivalent" when he hates almost everything and Ebert actually likes some movies and hates some movies, I've only seen one or two games Yahtzee actually likes

Psychonauts, Saint's Row 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Portal, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Silent Hill 2. That's six games Yahtzee likes that I can name right off the top of my head.

Here's some more: Gears of War 2, Monkey Island, God of War, Bioshock 1, Assassin's Creed 2 (and possibly Screed 1, depending on how strict a definition of 'like' you're using).

That uninformed "Yahtzee just hates everything" claim is both very old and tired and very wrong.

He liked Gears of War 2? are you sure?

Perhaps "game" is the wrong word for what videogames have become.

Glad I'm not the only one saying this. The only problem with Ebert's stance is that he sees video games as games.

Perhaps "interactive experience" isn't such a pretentious term after all.

My answer to anything like "X thing is subjective" is "subjectivity is objective."

Considering what passes for art these days, leveraging videogames as art would be a hollow accomplishment indeed.


Lets just say that videogames can be awesome, as great as any supposed work of "art," and leave it at that.

Personally, considering all the various forms of recognized art (pictures, music, sounds, concepts) that you can fit in one any video game, I don't consider video games art. I consider them digitized art museums, or perhaps incredibly well fabricated montages.

I agree on the whole "Don't feel bad about it" part, but I really think that debates are a good thing. A lack of dialogue between opposing opinions lead to stagnation, while having your thoughts on the world challenged really isn't a bad thing. Personal growth and all that. The whole "Keep it to yourself" thing strikes me as an lazy excuse to not challenge oneself. So really, if you have the chance to talk about videogames and art with Ebert, then take it. Who knows, maybe both of you will learn something.

You're right, Yahtzee.
Can I really say more than that?
Probably...

I'm just gonna throw this into the mix for the hell of it but my interpretation of art goes beyond what most people have even mentioned here. My definition would include architecture, theater, cinema, games, comic books, in some cases medicine or research, and even war (Sun Tzu called it that, or at least it translated that way in English). For me it's more the skilled work of a craftsman who wishes to discover, create, or share his work. Not every painting is art and not every film, game, or building is either. Art must appeal to the audience for its own acceptance, but I think it's a bit of a mistake to eliminate the effort of the author from the equation.

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