286: Videogame Myths Debunked

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As a gamer I am of course sympathetic to efforts to correct misconceptions about gaming. However, I can't support countering one flawed argument or misconception, with another flawed argument or misconception. Nearly all arguments in favor of games being "art" fail to make a distinction between something that is art, and something that merely contains artistic elements. A magazine is not an artistic work. It is a creative work, in that it can be copyrighted, but there is nothing particularly artistic about it. Even if the magazine is about art, and features a work of art on every page, the magazine itself is still not art. While it contains art, the way that those components are put together is deliberate and pragmatic (intended to achieve practical objectives like increasing circulation, attracting advertisers, motivating donations or support, etc.), not artistic, in nature. Anyone that has worked in publishing knows this. It is more engineering than art. When you make a distinction between something that is art, and something that merely incorporates artistic elements, it becomes far less clear that games are, or even can be, art themselves. No one disputes that video games contain artistic elements, so the entire debate is really centered on the flawed conclusion that if something contains artistic elements, then it is art. No one in the art world is ever going to agree with that, because frankly it is just wrong by definition.

A video game is, at the most fundamental level, a piece of software. Creating a piece of software is not considered an artistic activity, for any other type of software. Software, like a magazine, is considered a creative work, but not an artistic one. Software has function, and the function must on some level take priority over form, otherwise the software is useless. That is what makes it not art. Art can exist for its own sake, as nothing more than an expression of the artist's thoughts and personality. Software, including games, cannot. Software has to do certain things at a certain level of competence, otherwise it is objectively worthless. Art is never objectively worthless, because art isn't supposed to serve any objective purpose. You may think it has no worth, but there is always room for others to disagree, because appreciation of art is entirely subjective. You can create objective criteria by which to judge art, but art remains art no matter how poorly it is executed. Game software that crashes at the start screen isn't a game at all. It is just a useless piece of broken software.

What makes a video game art when all other forms of software are not? The fact that it has a script and voice actors? Instructional software often has a script and voice actors. That doesn't make instructional software art. A script is art, and so is acting, but that just makes games (and instructional software) a construct that contains art. Not a piece of art itself. The same goes for the graphics, sound, and everything else that the artists on the development team create. They are artistic elements incorporated into the game. No amount of that will make the game as a whole art, just like the art magazine. Games are judged by certain criteria, and it isn't the criteria by which art is judged. Certainly the quality of artistic elements such as graphics, sound (including voice acting), and writing are considered; but so are things like controls, level design, game-play balance, replay-value, and stability. Those things are engineering, not art. Video games, like all software, are an engineered product. Not an artistic one. Art doesn't need a QA team. If even one person thinks that it works, then it does.

Even if some games were art, five examples (BioShock, Ocarina of Time, etc.) do not prove that video games in general are art. Twenty examples would not prove it either. No number of examples proves a generalization. Generalizations have to be proved logically based on established facts. Games-as-art advocates haven't even made a credible attempt at that. Cirque du Soleil, and Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus; are both circuses. I could make a case that Cirque du Soleil's performances are art. Ringling Brothers? Not so much. Are circuses art? At best, the answer is; they can be, but to be successful they only need to be entertainment, and most of them aren't intended to be anything more than entertainment. The same is true of video games at this point, and that may always be the case.

Urialanis:
snip

It's called constructive criticism. Insulting the writers and posting a completely pointless sentence is not.

Pirate Kitty:
Video games can and do promote violence in young people.

Last I checked, using a chainsaw to cut a creature in half or shooting up a base full of militants is violent.

Technically your right people who are exposed to violent games or any violent media for a long period of time can be desensitized, making them more likely to commit murders and other violent acts assuming, of course, they were already inclined to do so.

Blitzwing:

Pirate Kitty:
Video games can and do promote violence in young people.

Last I checked, using a chainsaw to cut a creature in half or shooting up a base full of militants is violent.

Technically your right people who are exposed to violent games or any violent media for a long period of time can be desensitized, making them more likely to commit murders and other violent acts assuming, of course, they were already inclined to do so.

I never said people exposed to violent video games are more likely to commit real world acts of violence. In fact I think that's ludacris - and science would agree with me.

I was with you up until the "Video Games Are Not Art" myth. Fucking sick of that shit. Just accept them as a form of entertainment with the occasional artsy bullshit (just like movies and books), and move the fuck on.

You were bringing me back with the "PC Gaming Is Dead" myth, until you mentioned WoW. We get it, WoW is fucking huge.

After "Cloud Gaming Is The Future" one, I just said "Fuck it, this guy has no fucking idea what he is talking about."

Good day to you and your 90% shit article, good sir.

Some weird myths I didn't think existed anymore here. Still a fun read. Again.

Anybody up for cracking the Games Workshop vs Blizzard nut?

I'd love to see that one cleared up.

Pirate Kitty:
I never said people exposed to violent video games are more likely to commit real world acts of violence. In fact I think that's ludacris - and science would agree with me.

You could have shot this whole thing down on page 1 by simply saying that when you say that a piece of entertainment promotes violence does not mean you're saying that piece of entertainment also encourages violence in the real world.

Because that's what's getting mixed up, your use of the word 'promote'.

Dig the avatar btw. Never played the game (Persona right?) but I'm a sucker for the tomboy type.

Pirate Kitty is correct if "promote" implies that some games contain violence and may encourage gamers to play more games like them.

About encouraging people to become violent, though, there are studies that argue that they may for some gamers and not for others:

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/06/violent-video-games.aspx

There are also the effects of violent scenes on gamers. This is probably why, like movies and television shows, games have ratings.

Vortigar:
snippy

I didn't think people would react that way. Given how liberal I am, I'd have thought it obvious. I mean exactly what I said. No more, no less.

I've no idea where it's form, lol. Made it in a few minutes, loved it at first but hate it now. It's kinda boring to me. Might change it if I can make something more interesting soon. Dunno. It's funny, I own one pair of shoes and next to no clothes, hate shopping and never wear make up, but when it comes to avatars, I more indecisive than any other woman I know XD

Pirate Kitty:
I didn't think people would react that way. Given how liberal I am, I'd have thought it obvious. I mean exactly what I said. No more, no less.

I've no idea where it's from, lol. Made it in a few minutes, loved it at first but hate it now. It's kinda boring to me. Might change it if I can make something more interesting soon. Dunno. It's funny, I own one pair of shoes and next to no clothes, hate shopping and never wear make up, but when it comes to avatars, I more indecisive than any other woman I know XD

Miscommunication, it's everywhere, has nothing to do with being liberal or not.

Oh, looked up some Persona artwork, thought it was Naoto from P4 but she has a different hat and hair and eyes and... well basically everything really. I'd hate not knowing where my avatar is from. To me that picture always has to have some meaning to it other than it just looks nice.

This is the kind of stuff you should put on TV

Pirate Kitty:
Video games can and do promote violence in young people.

Last I checked, using a chainsaw to cut a creature in half or shooting up a base full of militants is violent.

Straw Man...or Red Herring. I forgot which one it is where you knowingly misinterpret a point to sound smart.

Perhaps it is neither of those things. That would be kinda funny.

At any rate, it's blatantly obvious that the point is "Video Games of X Persuasion don't cause you to act in X Persuasion in real life."

Violent Games don't make you kill people.
Brain Games don't make you a genius.
Mario Games don't make you a drug addled Italian Plumber who fights turtles.

Edit: I see you make this same point later. So your original post just confuses me. You apparently aren't part of "that" crowd. Which is good, we need more sensible people floating around. (Though to be fair it's likely there are many, they just aren't talkative).

Casual gaming _is_ killing real gaming. Look at what happened to Nintendo, and look at what kind of games are sucking up the resources that went into things like Kinect. Nintendo doesn't give a crap about its actual fans anymore.

Also, gaming _is_ social. The article conveniently ignored the most social form of gaming: having all your friends and you pile into a room and play a game together. There's nothing more social than solving puzzles or getting into a plot together.

I don't know about anyone else, but I get the feeling that the confusion with the whole 'promotes violence' statement has nothing to do with the word promote but more with the word violence.
I am not getting into names or quotes because that would make this post a page on its own, but a recap says that games promote violence because you have to use it to progress and get the game rewards, with the counter argument saying that the violence isn't real so how can you promote something that doesn't exist.
I say that games promote aggression; the violence in games is outlet for said aggression, the same as punishing time limits in racing games or the increase in difficulty in puzzle games like Tetris; and there is nothing wrong with promoting aggression in a controlled environment. Better to smash a controller than someone's face.
As a final point I would like to put my own spin on this discussion and ask: Are we as the audience/consumer guilty of promoting violence in games by making the violent ones the most profitable ones?

Video games don't make you smarter, this is true, being smart and being knowledgeable are two different things.
A game might teach you what C4 is (ty MGS1) or that robotic arms are awesome and all Nazis should die, but any idiot can read the back of a cereal box and learn something new, just not something useful.

And dat's my input.

gkpama00:
As a gamer I am of course sympathetic to efforts to correct misconceptions about gaming. However, I can't support countering one flawed argument or misconception, with another flawed argument or misconception. Nearly all arguments in favor of games being "art" fail to make a distinction between something that is art, and something that merely contains artistic elements. A magazine is not an artistic work. It is a creative work, in that it can be copyrighted, but there is nothing particularly artistic about it. Even if the magazine is about art, and features a work of art on every page, the magazine itself is still not art. While it contains art, the way that those components are put together is deliberate and pragmatic (intended to achieve practical objectives like increasing circulation, attracting advertisers, motivating donations or support, etc.), not artistic, in nature. Anyone that has worked in publishing knows this. It is more engineering than art. When you make a distinction between something that is art, and something that merely incorporates artistic elements, it becomes far less clear that games are, or even can be, art themselves. No one disputes that video games contain artistic elements, so the entire debate is really centered on the flawed conclusion that if something contains artistic elements, then it is art. No one in the art world is ever going to agree with that, because frankly it is just wrong by definition.

A video game is, at the most fundamental level, a piece of software. Creating a piece of software is not considered an artistic activity, for any other type of software. Software, like a magazine, is considered a creative work, but not an artistic one. Software has function, and the function must on some level take priority over form, otherwise the software is useless. That is what makes it not art. Art can exist for its own sake, as nothing more than an expression of the artist's thoughts and personality. Software, including games, cannot. Software has to do certain things at a certain level of competence, otherwise it is objectively worthless. Art is never objectively worthless, because art isn't supposed to serve any objective purpose. You may think it has no worth, but there is always room for others to disagree, because appreciation of art is entirely subjective. You can create objective criteria by which to judge art, but art remains art no matter how poorly it is executed. Game software that crashes at the start screen isn't a game at all. It is just a useless piece of broken software.

What makes a video game art when all other forms of software are not? The fact that it has a script and voice actors? Instructional software often has a script and voice actors. That doesn't make instructional software art. A script is art, and so is acting, but that just makes games (and instructional software) a construct that contains art. Not a piece of art itself. The same goes for the graphics, sound, and everything else that the artists on the development team create. They are artistic elements incorporated into the game. No amount of that will make the game as a whole art, just like the art magazine. Games are judged by certain criteria, and it isn't the criteria by which art is judged. Certainly the quality of artistic elements such as graphics, sound (including voice acting), and writing are considered; but so are things like controls, level design, game-play balance, replay-value, and stability. Those things are engineering, not art. Video games, like all software, are an engineered product. Not an artistic one. Art doesn't need a QA team. If even one person thinks that it works, then it does.

Even if some games were art, five examples (BioShock, Ocarina of Time, etc.) do not prove that video games in general are art. Twenty examples would not prove it either. No number of examples proves a generalization. Generalizations have to be proved logically based on established facts. Games-as-art advocates haven't even made a credible attempt at that. Cirque du Soleil, and Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus; are both circuses. I could make a case that Cirque du Soleil's performances are art. Ringling Brothers? Not so much. Are circuses art? At best, the answer is; they can be, but to be successful they only need to be entertainment, and most of them aren't intended to be anything more than entertainment. The same is true of video games at this point, and that may always be the case.

I generally have to agree.

Regarding such, I've only ever encountered a handful of titles that would actually classify as "art," and as such, these arent' titles that the everyday player would be willing to pick up, either.

"Art" games tend to take a drastically different approach, and as such, usually have a gamestyle or interface that's is hard to comprehend for the average player - or, the gameplay is so difficult that a user can become easily frustrated. At the very least, the plot and/or story tend to be extremelly vague, usually relying more on artistic concept than anything substantial.

A perfect examplary title would be The Void. Beautiful . . . Brilliant . . . truly artistic with a lot of symbolism and conjecture abounding, really focusing the player on the meaning and theory of life, death and afterlife . . . But, it's inherent vagueness, asking the player to be able to form their own conjecture, will lose MANY players. Many others will be easily frustrated by how hard the game itself is - it asks of you to focus on the game-world's macrocosm instead of only paying attention to the microcosm. One must be willing to pay attention to the big picture, while carefully acknowledging the details.

Pirate Kitty:
Video games can and do promote violence in young people.

Last I checked, using a chainsaw to cut a creature in half or shooting up a base full of militants is violent.

I've been playing games since I was about 6 (and that means doing all the horrible things like drowning Sims, kicking chickens, ripping demon's hearts out, sniping people in the face, and just generally torturing digital human beings), and I've never so much as looked at someone funny in real life, let alone done anything that could be considered "violent". Even at 6 I was able to differentiate between fantasy and reality - showing simulated, fantasy violence for the sake of entertainment is not the same as "promoting" violence.

I suppose you think playing chess promotes violence too, since the objective is to eliminate the other player's pieces (which represent people)?

Pirate Kitty:
Video games can and do promote violence in young people.

Last I checked, using a chainsaw to cut a creature in half or shooting up a base full of militants is violent.

I think a better way of saying it is that video games do promote violence inside the game

theultimateend:

Pirate Kitty:
Video games can and do promote violence in young people.

Last I checked, using a chainsaw to cut a creature in half or shooting up a base full of militants is violent.

Straw Man...or Red Herring. I forgot which one it is where you knowingly misinterpret a point to sound smart.

Perhaps it is neither of those things. That would be kinda funny.

At any rate, it's blatantly obvious that the point is "Video Games of X Persuasion don't cause you to act in X Persuasion in real life."

Violent Games don't make you kill people.
Brain Games don't make you a genius.
Mario Games don't make you a drug addled Italian Plumber who fights turtles.

Edit: I see you make this same point later. So your original post just confuses me. You apparently aren't part of "that" crowd. Which is good, we need more sensible people floating around. (Though to be fair it's likely there are many, they just aren't talkative).

I don't know about that Mario example cause Ive seen Jersey Shore and the only thing missing is a turtle fight

This article is loaded with WIN.
1) I'm a female gamer
2) Farmville sucks, but I can see what is good about it, sadly
3) If game development is not an art form, neither is graphic design, web development, acting, and dancing.

Myth: Videogames Make You Smarter
I'd have to argue with this point because two items are never established:
a.) Smarter than what?, and
b.) Do the "certain skills" more prevalent in video game players not constitute superior intelligence?

Myth: Game Testing Is An Awesome Job
True, it is not a "fun" job. But right now, it may be the most important job is the development of electronic entertainment right now; because I get the feeling that with the current development cycles and deadlines for modern games, not enough time is being allocated to see if some games actually work. Anyone else played Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas? Is anyone else sick and tired of the game freezing up at random intervals? Could this and other problems have been prevented by more play and bug testing? The same goes for many games riddled with horrible bugs.

Myth: Game Design Is An Auteur's Medium
At last count, it takes about 217 people to design, produce and market a killer game. (Miller Freeman)
Yeah, they're right... It takes up to 20 or so to do a game (depending on the time frame and the complexity of the programming, artwork, etc.), 10 or so to market, publish and sell it, and 187 to stand around, collect salaries and bitch about the stock dropping. Yes, that's correct. (Mark Shander)
'nuff said.

Myths: Girls Don't Play Games
... what are they playing. And how old are they? No, seriously, what are they playing?

Myth: Gaming Is Social
Not yet, or not anymore. Or did the author mean video games? That may make a bit more sense. Here's the thing: gaming is, was, and will be social. Always. Hide and seek? Cops and robbers? Require more than one player. Pen & paper RPGs? Good luck trying that one alone. Video games developers are looking to social games as the future of their medium. No, not that Farmville crap. Competitive or cooperative games available via social networks, possibly platform-independent. This is due to the fact that many games prior to video games were social experiences. MMORPGs came into existence because of this fact.

Myth: Games Have No Artistic Merit
"Games are art, just as gravity pulls you to Earth and water quenches your thirst. It's not even debateable."
SOME games are arts, others are entertainment, and the rest are crap. A few are both art and entertainment. But, as a rule, any game that does not entertain me is crap. Any game that makes me want to save a screenshot because the current image on the screen was "freaking cool" is art. The presence of the word "art" and the phrase "not debatable" is a paradox. Appreciators of all arts have contested and debated for centuries. Games are not different. But, again, not all games are art, i.e. have no artistic merit.

Myth: PC Gaming Is Dead
Other than World of Warcraft and other MMORPG clones, real-time strategy games, social network games, and the occasional FPS with incredibly steep system requirements developed somewhere in Europe... what else is there? PC gaming right now looks like a planet with five types of animal life and a few dozen trees on it; unless you took a microscope to it, you'd think think it was uninhabited.

Myth: Casual Gaming Is Killing "Real" Gaming
1.) They don't make AD&D Gold Box games anymore. Previously complex games and genres are becoming more and more simplified, and that trend has endured longer there has been a distinction between "casual" and "hardcore" games. Compare Daggerfall and Oblivion; as technology incresed, complexity decreased.
2.) Casual games are cheaper and reach a wider audience. Mention "cheaper" and "reach a wider audience" to someone in the entertainment industry, and they are all over that like white on rice. In the future, it will be difficult to prevent this migration.

I would subtitle this article "Complicated Questions and my Simple Answers".

Pirate Kitty:

Urialanis:
snip

It's called constructive criticism. Insulting the writers and posting a completely pointless sentence is not.

Questioning/insulting/trolling someones opinion is not constructive criticism its thinking you know better than everyone else and thinking they should agree with you.

Pirate Kitty:
Video games can and do promote violence in young people.

Last I checked, using a chainsaw to cut a creature in half or shooting up a base full of militants is violent.

And letting you do something in fiction is not encouraging you to do so in real life.

Blitzwing:

Pirate Kitty:
Video games can and do promote violence in young people.

Last I checked, using a chainsaw to cut a creature in half or shooting up a base full of militants is violent.

Technically your right people who are exposed to violent games or any violent media for a long period of time can be desensitized, making them more likely to commit murders and other violent acts assuming, of course, they were already inclined to do so.

There's no solid proof for even that. And fictional violence desensitizes you to fictional violence not real violence.

Could've gone after real myths instead of "casual's killing mainstream herpa do".

Myths: Girls Don't Play Games

Chalk this one up with "games cause violence". Yes, to gaming-savvy readers of The Escapist, it will hardly come as a shock to hear that 40 percent of gamers are women (42 percent in an online capacity), nor to hear that female gamers play 7.4 hours a week (almost equal to the 7.6 hours enjoyed by the boys).

Outside of game-literate circles, however, the notion that gaming is a purely testosterone-filled market is shockingly prevalent. Hence the existence of abysmal newspaper articles lamenting "gaming widows" printed in the UK's Telegraph regarding the 2009 release of Modern Warfare 2.

Sorry, I'm still not buying it.

There are three types of lies, lies, cursed lies and statistics. "40% of gamers are female", may be technically true, but reality looks different. Go into a GameStop and look at the customers, I'm willing to bet that much less than 40% of the people who buy games will be girls. Go on to XBLA or Steam or WoW, I'm not saying you won't find the odd girl, but it will not be 4 in 10. Hell, do a poll on this very site and you will get another result.

Maybe girls play as much games as guys, but it's not the same type of game, and it's not with the same general obsession enthusiasm. I'm not saying I don't want girls to play games, I'm not even saying we aren't moving in that direction, but video games are still seen and are still treated as "a guy thing".

gkpama00:
[words]

I could post a long argument and explanation about how you're using an inclusion or an exclusion fallacy. But I'll just let Penny Arcade answer you. Take it away, guiz.

Again With The Art Stuff
image

Video games that require you to execute fictional violence in order to progress promotes executing fictional violence in said game in order to progress.

Also in the news, five equals five.

More at 11.

HankMan:
Game testing is like prof-reading an essay? Hell I ALREADY play games like that! It would be great is someone actually did something about the problems I find in the games I play.

I know this was on the first page but I really wanted to put my 2 cents in.

In reality, you only get listened to about 50% of the time. I recently worked on a temporary contract for a large company (won't give a name due to the game not being released still yet) and almost all the bugs our team found were waived in the last month it was there. Some of these bugs were either obvious or quite annoying to the end user but they were on a tight deadline and so unless it caused a full on crash they would ignore it. This isn't really their fault to an extent because publishers like you to keep to deadlines if you want your money.

It is also a thankless job, a quarter of the people on the team (around 10 people from the day shift no idea about night shift) the developers "forgot to put in the credits" and then came back with "well it's too late now and we don't care anyway, you're just QA." Myself being included in this list, which was frustrating when we all tried to talk to a lead. The lead tried but sadly failed to get our point across to the developer.

Don't get me wrong, functionality testing made a huge difference to the amount of bugs in the product. But don't go into a job like that thinking you alone will change a game (your post gave me the feeling you possibly felt this way but if I am wrong I apologise.) It's also a team effort, so sometimes you won't have "a bug by your name" for days as you'll be helping others by re-testing their bugs to ensure you get a good idea on the frequency.

It's an interesting and fun job but it is also a job that doesn't get enough recognition publicly unless you're being blamed for bugs still inside the game. So many times have I seen posts online "their testers must have sucked look at all these bugs I found!" They will have most likely found the bug but the developer had no time to deal with it.

Ah, the phrase "promoting violence". This is such a flexible word. You could put a 6+ year old in front of Dora the Explorer show and chances are they may be "promoting" a learning experience, but they aren't exactly going to go outside and make an adventure of their own. As little as a handful at best would.

PC gaming dead?: Well Diablo 2, Maybe this "Titan", A LOT of indie games on steam, GoG has even more games and they sell like heck. Dragon Age was first made for PC. Hunted: Demon's Forge, well it's on consoles but the Mods for PC would keep them going.... This bring me to another point that REALLY helps keep PC gaming alive, MODS. Out of 10 PC gamers, 8 1/2 would have a moded game in one form or another. The MOD community helps keep PC gaming alive and well for years to come.

Violence in video games translating to real life is in the same boat as people using religion to kill.
Games are an Art form,just like movies,music,etc..Metal Gear Solid 4 is a piece of Art hands down.
Cloud Gaming,,ROFL..No sane person would buy in to this terrible future..
And as for games making you smarter..i dont think its possible,your either born with a good capacity to understand/process & store or your not,i dont believe knowledge alone makes you intelligent

Don't think you know what 'casual' gaming is popularly percieved. It's nothing to do with the number of units sold.

Did anyone else feel that the article was shoving information down their throats?
"NO. You WILL believe this. This is FACT. There is NO ALTERNATIVE."
I'm not saying I disagree with the article, I just don't like the way it was written. It's just one of those things that rubs me the wrong way. You know what I mean?

gkpama00:
snip

I'd argue that you are attempting to debunk flawed arguments with more flawed arguments. A pencil and a canvas have a function, much like software and computers, yet the end result (by some indetermined metric that even artsy folks can't agree on) can be considered art.

To me, drawings, movies, games and books have a personal objective: to engage and entertain me. Does that mean all these things stop being art the second I interact with them since now they do have an objective, clearly defined purpose?

Your argument that art cannot have a purpose is also flawed. There are plenty of movies and books out there that were made to turn a profit but are still considered art by many. And who is to say code cannot exist for its own sake. It'd be just as useless as art that exists for its own sake, but it can exist.

Lastly, why is coding not considered artistic? I was not aware that art was defined by its medium. Code is more complicated, but allows for much more expression than a canvas and brush ever will.

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