Games Aren't Art

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Games Aren't Art

The problem is that, at least here in America, Ebert is right. As a result of social pressures, gaming is not an art form in the United States. It's not art in Britain or Germany or Australia. Maybe it's art in France; they've given Miyamoto medals, after all. But around the world, gaming is restricted, hemmed in and censored by organizations thinking of the children so we don't have to.

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The definition I use for art is "The deliberate, complete, and expressive or exploratory summary through symbolism of some portion of its creators' worldview." Using that definition, there are a few games that are surprisingly artistic. Maybe I should write an article about it....

I can't disagree with the summary presented here, but I think it is perhaps too dismissive of the possibility that meritorious art can exist that does not shock or challenge - that is, to use the ESRB's terminology, rated "E for Everyone."

First off, somebody needs to let Ebert know about this thing called 'jazz music'.

Second, someone needs to tell him that if you back off and say "What I should have said is that games could not be high art, as I understand it" then no one cares what you have to say to any previous criticisms of your original statement. If you say 'games aren't art' and someone disagrees with you, and you change your opinion to 'they are art' then you're just arguing with a strawman to make yourself look smart at that point.

If, you know, what you had to say didn't dismiss the music of everyone from John Coltrane to Thelonius Monk as non-art. I mean, he's right: in some ways, musicians in some ways are more like athletes than they are like painters. Then again, action photographers are in some ways more like _Halo_ players than they are like studio photographers, so.

However, that's a pretty big issue for a professional 'art' critic--coming up with a definition of art that excludes improvisational music. Good job, Ebert.

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On the other hand, I think the problem with the 'are games art' debate is that it's not really a debate about games and art; instead, it all winds up being advocacy for games as art because art is a protected activity, at least in America. Once something--anything--gets extra legal protections, everyone tries to shoehorn everything they can into that category. In some ways the 'games are art' argument strikes me a little like the 'refusing to dispense birth control is a religious observance' argument: everybody wants to get under that First Amendment umbrella.

If so, great: I can't imagine a regulation of games making any less sense than taking 2 Live Crew albums off the shelf. However, my fear is that games will become little more than machinima in the quest to produce 'art', as if creating art is a higher calling than crafting a good game. In some ways, it echoes Ebert's prejudice against art that is not 'high' art, a kind of snobbery.

The 'are games art' discussion kinda reminds me of the movie _Dead Poets Society_, when they read the introduction that tells them to measure a poem by plotting it on a graph, to "ask two questions: One, how artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered, and two, how important is that objective. Question one rates the poem's perfection, question two rates its importance."

I feel like that's what happens to games in the 'are games art' debate--that you could almost substitute the word 'game' for 'poem'. The measure of a game becomes not how fun it was, but how 'artistic' it was. The funny thing is, the most well-respected game out there--chess--isn't really artistic at all. It's an abstract game that can be played with anything from ebony and ivory pieces to a varied selection of beer bottles. There really isn't any artistic, literary, political, or scientific merit to such a game to bring it under First Amendment protections. If it was offensive--I guess if instead of Battle Chess you were playing Orgy Chess.

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In any case, games are most often compared to films because they both play on a screen. I think that's the wrong approach: I think the better comparison is with artistic forms that don't just hang on a wall. In some ways the closest art form is musical performance--in both cases you push a bunch of buttons where the order and timing makes a difference. That may be the real problem with someone like Ebert weighing in on the debate: he's not well qualified. He's wonderfully qualified if we're talking about machinima, but, really, music performance critics--and live music at that--are the ones that gamers should be going to for this debate.

What a load. Games aren't art because you can't make art in the summer movie blockbuster format that the bloated budgets of new games and the resultant frightened suits make inevitable. Government stalking that generates institutions like the ESRB wouldn't exist if games didn't make nice, fat targets that spew out a torrent of wide-spectrum marketing to be mainstream enough to rake in multimillion unit per-game sales. Here's how you make art: Instead of making a 30 million dollar game, make 30 one million dollar games for thirty audiences. Moral arbiters wouldn't give any of those games a sniff, because they'd rather chase one buffalo than a thousand rabbits.

For various commercial reasons, this is impossible at present, so games will never be art until the commerce changes.

I can not take a baby, freely given to me to use, put it into a blender, blend it up in front of an audience, dump it on a sheet and call it "art" and have it described as "art" by critics no matter what justification I give it.

Society is not at a stage in its evolution to accept that.

Just as we are not at the evolutionary stage to accept violent games as "art" either.

In my own eyes, I feel that everyone is making a huge assumption error...

The MEDIUM does NOT determine whether or not it is art, but the actual work of art itself!

As a simple example, a child who uses crayons to draw a picture of his house isn't really qualified to call it art (though, since the medium is as familiar as "Drawing" or "Painting," it's generally considered a piece of art), as it doesn't try to make a statement or inspire in any way. It's just good fun for that child, as well as the parent who sees that. And that "good fun" is exactly what most traditional video games have worked to create since those days of Pong. But there are many exceptions. I think that we can all agree that meny of today's films are nowhere near the realm of "high art."

Also take into account the post-modernist changes in the perception of art. Though art had been everything beautiful before the 20th century, our time brings about very new ways of expressing ourselves through "art". For instance, the crucifix of waste mentioned in the article doesn't really fit into a major art form. What is it, a sculpture? A painting? Just junk? Games are just another (but maybe less abstract) medium of art, or venue of ideas. The ESRB alone cannot stop games from being art, nor can the perception gained of them, but only the creators of them.

And there's no denying that there are obvious ways of making art out of games: Visuals, Sounds, and (most importantly) rules and effects of player actions are only a few. They can easily make a game into a work of art.

To both emphasize an important point and sum up my comment, games CAN be art, but merely BEING a game does not make it art.

finaltomorrow:
In my own eyes, I feel that everyone is making a huge assumption error...

The MEDIUM does NOT determine whether or not it is art, but the actual work of art itself!

As a simple example, a child who uses crayons to draw a picture of his house isn't really qualified to call it art (though, since the medium is as familiar as "Drawing" or "Painting," it's generally considered a piece of art), as it doesn't try to make a statement or inspire in any way.

I don't think anyone's making any error in an assumption--I think most people would consider that art: it's "good fun for that child" because it's an expressive action, not just because the physical actions that accompany the creation are rewarding. And expressive action is inspiring at least to the actor, and I'd certainly say that "the parent who sees that" is inspired.

finaltomorrow:
As a simple example, a child who uses crayons to draw a picture of his house isn't really qualified to call it art (though, since the medium is as familiar as "Drawing" or "Painting," it's generally considered a piece of art), as it doesn't try to make a statement or inspire in any way.

Oh... that could be very debatable.
They may not be aged, or intellectually stimulated enough to care call it art, but adults can easily find this raw form of expression extremely artistic, and recognize that what the kid was essentially doing, is not different than a painting that is about representing a tree on the side of a rural path.

That said, why should we care, really?

If tomorrow, I was surrounded by a million lemmings who'd "argue" that any random piece of crap is art, and I'd be alone to tell them that it is not, then what could I do?

The deal is simple, politically speaking: try to get those who share your views to reach power and make things change.

Chances are that from the moment you can create something, or a part of something, that may have no practical use, there's likely going to be people thinking about it as art.
Are they right, or wrong? Pff...

At least you get them talk about it. :)

I was first going to state that the premise of this argument misses the mark on games as art in the critical sense. But Cheeze put it perfectly:

In some ways the 'games are art' argument strikes me a little like the 'refusing to dispense birth control is a religious observance' argument: everybody wants to get under that First Amendment umbrella.

We do tend to fall in to this avenue of attack, and we must admit that. Clearly, if pushing the limits were truly art, then the Guggenheim, the Louvre, the Hermitage, et al. would be dumping their collections for museums full of Damien Hirst's sharks in formaldehyde.

The art world has had this debate within itself ever since Marcel Duchamp called a toilet art. So for any critic within any other artistic medium to call another medium insignificant just seems to ring hollow.

The problem lies with an inability for most all media and cultural critics to look at it as a fringe and as a toy. The output of games in the mass culture's eye are seen in two ways: simple entertainment, or tools of the devil destroying our youth. Want an example of how we're marginalized to those who do not game? Let's take a peek into the life of... me.

My wife-to-be feels i play games too much...<crickets>.. But wait! There's more! This is someone with whom i've sat for almost a month every night watching the series Six Feet Under in its entirety (time was not an issue, the budget was.), we covered the entire first season of Carnivale in a single night. So watching a screen all day is not a foreign experience for her. "Yet," she says, "Gaming is an unproductive hobby". This coming from someone who reads OK! to see the current state of Cruise-bot 2000's new baby. This coming from someone who's latest read was a Patterson thriller (literary critics, raise your fists in disgrace!). So.... having a laugh (apologies, Ricky Gervais) exploring the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout or the intense matchup of myself and a random stranger on the battlefield of Quadradius is less culturally significant than the latest antics of Brangelina? I might beg to differ. But that is pretty much where we are in the general perception of things....

The point being, games have a bad problem of being taken as a general "blanket statement;" a game is a game is a game. But turn that argument on its head and take it to the film industry. If Mr. Ebert's generalities were applied to the the film industry, he might be tempted to call his industry "artless." Remember, Mr. Ebert, the film industry: for every "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," there are a thousand "Ocean's Pick a Number".

Yes, we produce A LOT of filthy, untouchable junk that has nowhere near the credibility to attend the art debate. But so do you, Mr.(film, print, or art of any medium). We can spend more than a lifetime of debating the flaws in any medium, but the merits of any medium are not easily translated in words. The jaw dropping amazement can not be described of seeing a beautiful work in any medium for the first time. I dare you to show me a difference in the feeling you get when:

a.)you see Michaelangelo's David for the first time
b.) you encounter the "rabbit hole" of the Matrix for the first time
c.) you reach the climax of FF7.

Granted, the merits between these events are not really comparable. But the central idea is there. That each medium conveys a message of art. In their own ways, each piece commands your time. Demands you pay attention to your surroundings through metaphor, and (most importantly, touches us. A lasting effect on how we observe our world. Gaming has given us those moments, they deserve to be called art.

And finally, a plea. For "the children (hey, it works in congress)." If one fails to see games as an active, even positive, player in culture; then at least consider the individual achievements. Great stories, visuals that nobody in hollywood could match, sound design that puts some films to shame.... we're getting there. Mr. Ebert says we will never find our Shakespeare, but we've found some Beowulf, a little Chaucer. Heck, we're a baby. To relegate our passions to mindless entertainment is to give up after the first few hours of D-Day.

Ebert doesn't know anything about games, he's already admitted that. Then he makes these nonargument statements that look like they're made to entertain people more than defend any point.

Here's my argument. Why the hell would anyone really care what Ebert thinks about games being art or not art, when he's a crappy movie critic to begin with. I always assumed he was there to promote movies and help raise box office sales.

I've never heard any movie preview say, "Robert Ebert gave it two thumbs down." He's a slut.

Maruza:
I've never heard any movie preview say, "Robert Ebert gave it two thumbs down." He's a slut.

Maybe, JUST maybe, because when people get bad reviews from the mainstream press, they choose not to use those quotes. They go to your average pay-per-critic, and get their little blurbs the old fashioned way.

I really, really, really, really hate this debate. Everything that we consider artistic has at once had its merit called into question. Music: Rock and Roll, Jazz (current hip-hop for that matter). Movies (umm... the Hollywood blacklist?). Novels. Yes, novels. And let's not forget countless debates surrounding canvas art (there's a strong group within art circles that believe realism should not be considered art). One of these days "critics" are going to realize that they're making a centuries old argument with a new variable thrown in.

Video games are art. It's self-evident.

Geoffrey42:

Maruza:
I've never heard any movie preview say, "Robert Ebert gave it two thumbs down." He's a slut.

Maybe, JUST maybe, because when people get bad reviews from the mainstream press, they choose not to use those quotes. They go to your average pay-per-critic, and get their little blurbs the old fashioned way.

I'm not gunna debate this anymore after this. Yes, of course they're not gunna advertise that they got a bad review, that is why I call him a slut or whore or sellout, whatever you like. And I call him a crappy movie critic because it seems if the movie is in color and has sound, it gets his praise.

Maruza:
I'm not gunna debate this anymore after this. Yes, of course they're not gunna advertise that they got a bad review, that is why I call him a slut or whore or sellout, whatever you like. And I call him a crappy movie critic because it seems if the movie is in color and has sound, it gets his praise.

All I was trying to point out is: maybe you've never seen a movie saying "Hey! Look! We got a bad review from Siskel&Ebert!" because nobody does that. That doesn't mean he doesn't give bad reviews.

And then somehow, you turned that around, and used it to support your theory that he's a slut/whore/sellout? Commonly, the terms slut/whore/sellout imply that someone is being paid for something which the world considers illicit or immoral. In Ebert's case, he gets paid by whatever news corporation he's currently working for, to watch movies, and write reviews. Given his current point in his career, I'd say that 95% of the time, he truly believes what he's saying. You can call him an idiot for his views (personally, I love Death to Smoochie, but Ebert did not), and I think you'd be right on target. But accusing him of taking bribes for writing a better movie review... got any evidence?

"... if the movie is in color and has sound, it gets his praise." Take a look around here. I think you will find plenty of evidence to refute that. Including my beloved Death to Smoochie.

On the topic at large, should anyone in the gaming industry care what Ebert says about games? They shouldn't, except insofar as he remains a bellwether of what the rest of the world still thinks. Also, on this point, I 100% agree with Maruza's first two sentences. Ebert has no idea what he's talking about, and he's just entertaining his demographic.

Just my two cents as to games as art: a guy being interviewed on the Colbert Report a couple days ago made a distinction that I thought was interesting. He critiques art, and has a show on PBS or somesuch, but Colbert asked him if his show was art, and his reply was along the lines of "No, my show is craft, and we talk about art." It goes back to the idea that any medium can be art, and it is ridiculous to claim that an entry in a certain medium as a whole, simply cannot in any way ever be considered art because of its medium (ie what Ebert has said about games, though since backpedaled and claimed "high art" as irreachable by videogames). BUT, I do no believe that this necessarily means that ALL entries in a given medium which is CAPABLE of art, necessarily then qualify as art.

For example, I think the written word can be art (poems, novels, short stories, some essays), but every day at my job, I work in the written word, producing design documentation and testing documentation, which at face value, is in the same medium as a novel; words on a page. I would question the sanity of anyone who tries to call my work products art. In some ways, it comes back to intent. Can photographs be art? Yes. Are all photographs ever taken then inherently art? To me, no, probably not. Maybe what matters is the photographer's intent, when they took the picture.

I'm with Geoffrey42.

Video games are certainly craft. Without question there is technique, skill, and a dedication to form and function that goes into making a game.
Video games can be art. In the same way any form of storytelling can be art, games can be art. They also contain elements of painting and sculpture.

Yet, as much as I enjoy it...Civ isn't art. I don't think Sim City or Quake is art either. I don't think the boardgame Monopoly, as enduring as it is, is art either.

I don't think it demeans a game to say it isn't art. There is certainly nothing wrong with being craft, but perhaps because so much of the "works" of a game are hidden, and require certain skills to percieve, it is difficult to appreciate them at this level.

Aside: Just because it's done for money, doesn't mean it's not art. The vast majority of Renaissance masterpieces were commissioned works. It's hard to imagine a more cutthroat world of pandering to economic, political and social interests than in the time of the Borjias.

Gedrin:
I don't think [...] Quake is art.

JIHAAAAD!!

mm...it's been months since the last post in this thread. Why did this article show up at the side?

I do appreciate an opportunity to hear myself talk in any case.

There've been some interesting comments in this thread. Perspectives I had not considered. Allow me to contribute my own.

Here's a thought: "art" is elitism. That is all.

Somebody mentioned the phrase "of merit". I think this use, as a defining characteristic of Art, is fairly common. So, what is merit? Obviously subjective to any person. I personally find merit in instances of mediums which enrich and broaden my worldview; basically, offer me either new experiences (external) or perspectives (internal).

But anyway. I think in general, out of a need for some form of objective, mediating judiciator of merit, mediums of expression degenerate over time to states where expressors develop complex barriers to appreciation of merit (verbose vocabulary, for example, in linguistic mediums) such that the value derived from the appreciation of Art within that medium comes from being one of the few who can decipher the merit of the work, such that the merit becomes an inherent trait of those barriers. This is a sort of self-affirming loop. It follows, does it not? "I appreciate art, so what I appreciate is therefore art." In effect, however, "art" has no meaning. The statement becomes simply "I appreciate."

But I mean, I guess I can't really criticize a subjective perspective which finds merit in the ability to find what it percieves as merit. It also follows, right? Heh.

Well, whatever. The article title was what caught my eye, as recently I have adopted the perspective that nothing has any artistic merit at all, but it turned out to demonstrate a rather shallow understanding of the nature of art. I don't feel I wasted too much of my time reading the rest of the comments, though.

i find myself unable to be fully sure of my own opinion on this subject. after reading everyone else's thought and comments, i find my previous definition of art to have faded and been blurred faster than a car driving away in a heavy morning fog. i see merit and convincing credibility in arguments from everyone. and while the general consensous here is that games can be art, but not all games are (which i agree with), i find the whole debate to still be somewhat redundant.

Q: what constitutes something to be considered art?
A: what the viewer decides.

art is a subjective term. while there is a certain criteria that has to be met in order for a museum to be willing to display it, its the patron that decides really. cause while i like McDonalds, there are plenty of people who don't. the same can be held true for art. while some think the works of Margret Birk-White (apologies if i butchered the name) are either inspiring or creative (i think so), but i know people who think its a load of bull. art is art to whomever holds it to be.

For me there are games that have pleny of artistic points, but these are few and far between. for me, the criteria of being art is mostly both the intention of the creator, and the interpretation of it by me. and these two things don't have to add up, either. cause i can look at a painting that portrays the pain and suffering of the painter, and feel happy or be inspired to do something nice for someone. personal interpretation makes something art.
as for movies being more art than games, accourding to Ebert; what bollocks. most games these days are nothing more than interactive movies. they all have plots (whether good or bad), character development, musical scores, action, adventure, conflict and resolution, and a cast. i'd say that maybe games are closer to art than movies, at least these days anyway. cause most of whats coming out of hollywood lately is either a remake, a sequel or prequel, a comic book, a video game, or something from the 80's. of course there are those diamonds in the rough that are beautiful, but there just isn't enough of them anymore. movies now are mostly being made just to make money, so there isn't even merit behind their creation or intention by the writers and directors and producers. video games can and usually do at least try to convey some sort of message, even if its a crappy message. video game makers seem to have more of an interest of telling some sort of story.

One thought I had just now is that Ebert, through the course of his work watches far more movies than most of us do. That means that Ebert is probably highly familiar with the medium, and also means that he probably sees the stuff that isn't out in theaters, not "unreleased" but indie films, or lower budget films, sometimes starring the hollywood people, but not marketed the same way. Those films may well approach art, while if his experience with games mirrors mine with those movies. He has no idea that games can tell a story, that giving up partial control over the points of view makes the job of the artist more difficult, but not impossible. I personally feel it's art, but I'm fine with him deciding it's a craft. I think that most people consider blacksmithing a craft, I think that some of the most talented smiths are artists in there own right. When someones passion reaches a threshold and there is a genuine care and palpable feeling put into the object of their attention I think they're approaching high art.

I find myself doubting Ebert has ever played a videogame in his life. Well... maybe Pong or something.

While I agree with the actual title of the article, I think it misses the really important reasons that games aren't art... yet. I don't think the weakness of the AO category has anything to do with it, because "shocking and offending" isn't a characteristic of all, or even most, art. I'd actually like to write and submit a different article on this subject, explaining why I think games have yet to reach the artistic threshold.

When a game about a "bio-engineered soldier" fighting his way through a slightly more complicated version of the plot of Alien, mixed in with the all-too-common zombie virus, becomes an international best-seller...

Then video games aren't art.

MGS might be something to look into, but as long as animated scenes are art, then...

This debate could go one forever, filling server after server with bits and bytes of point and counterpoint, but personally speaking, I have yet to see a credible case put forward for the existence of Game as Art. Which is not to say that I believe this will never occur; Ebert is clearly out of his depth in this discussion, whatever his considerable credentials. There have been significant advances in electronic gaming and it is certainly conceivable that the medium might yet produce a real, honest to goodness work of capital-A, Art. But it hasn't happened yet, and that's ok.

A game is art from the moment I feel it does, and I say so. Then you're free to disagree.

Of course, as there's money behind the art label, this is never going to end unless the artsy people outnumber those who share Ebert's position.

My opinion of vague, emotional arguments regarding what is "art" fell down hard when I took a trip to the Guggenheim and saw what kinds of paintings and sculptures got the places of honour on the top floors. I'm no expert or critic, but nothing is ever going to convince me that painting tens of canvases in different shades of "dark" is valuable, emotive work. How many galleries did the famous abstract artists get turned away from before someone picked their work up and said "ah, yes, this is art, this speaks to me, this is amazing" and everyone who had dismissed it before suddenly decided to follow suit?

(Now the Metropolitan Museum, that was a different story, it was amazing.)

What I'm getting around to is that I really agree with people who call gaming a craft, simply because I (personally) consider "art" to require both a message or feeling and some inarguable skill in putting it into a medium. Games require the mechanical and artistic skills of tens or hundreds of skilled people, but not all of them are designed to express a complete message or feeling. Some are, and I think those are art, but it doesn't necessarily make them better games.

Regarding the "should games be called art" debate, by my standards I think they should, because as some people have said, out of ten novels/movies/songs/sculptures, how many of them are "really" art? I think a few games are, and while many aren't, every attempt at art reflects its culture and time, and I think games are worth preserving as much as films in that regard.

Of course, that's just what I think, and the age-old problem is that everybody sees the question of art differently. Which makes the whole debate more or less meaningless. As Arbre said, it'll never end until the people who call games art outnumber the people who don't. It'll be a bandwagon. Just like a lot of the things we call art.

Art is what you make it. It is the expression of ones' self and can be in many forms. The art being sugar coated for the masses is another matter all together. It is not a question of it being art or not. It is a question of morals by the game creator, forced upon them by the public and all the people who set the standard for rating the games.

i've always thought everything was art, in that art is what you want to make of it.

things always get more interesting when it's made by a group of people though. 'cause who's the real artist? the one who wrote the script? the one designed the look of the game? it's all...sort of confusing.

Katana314:
When a game about a "bio-engineered soldier" fighting his way through a slightly more complicated version of the plot of Alien, mixed in with the all-too-common zombie virus, becomes an international best-seller...

Then video games aren't art.

MGS might be something to look into, but as long as animated scenes are art, then...

What complete BS. Just because the unwashed masses tend to appreciate utter crap (like Shakespeare), doesn't mean that nothing else in the medium can be artistic.

If you were attempting sarcasm, then you failed. If you were attempting to make a decent point, then you also failed.

*I have intentionally left any potentially sarcastically intended statements un-labeled, because either I'm returning the favor or I wasn't being sarcastic, depending on the intent of your original message.*

The real question is when do several mediums stop being separate works of art (e.g. the music from Halo [which, imo, is the best part of Halo] and the images from Halo) and start being combined to form one concrete piece of art (the game Halo).

I like the post about the Dead Poet Society quote. It makes an interesting point.

What is art? Would any of you, for example, call Postal 2 art? Are all novels art? What concrete definition can we stick on art - why wouldn't a lazy Susan be art, or the Hoover Dam, or indeed why couldn't any form of engineering be art? Why, in the same way, can't games be art, especially when they are made up of several mediums that, as a collective whole, are already seen as "art," no matter how vile and degenerate they are.

Geoffrey42:

Katana314:
When a game about a "bio-engineered soldier" fighting his way through a slightly more complicated version of the plot of Alien, mixed in with the all-too-common zombie virus, becomes an international best-seller...

Then video games aren't art.

MGS might be something to look into, but as long as animated scenes are art, then...

What complete BS. Just because the unwashed masses tend to appreciate utter crap (like Shakespeare), doesn't mean that nothing else in the medium can be artistic.

If you were attempting sarcasm, then you failed. If you were attempting to make a decent point, then you also failed.

*I have intentionally left any potentially sarcastically intended statements un-labeled, because either I'm returning the favor or I wasn't being sarcastic, depending on the intent of your original message.*

Nah, I wasn't really trying to use evidence to prove a point. More of a sarcastic comment, but just trying to say that in general, MOST video games aren't art.

While I agree that artists shouldn't censor themselves, I think it's kind of warped to say things like the AO rating are preventing games from becoming art. If anything, it's much more likely that the industry's view of "games as a product" is what's holding them back.

Michael Zenke:
Games Aren't Art

The problem is that, at least here in America, Ebert is right. As a result of social pressures, gaming is not an art form in the United States. It's not art in Britain or Germany or Australia. Maybe it's art in France; they've given Miyamoto medals, after all. But around the world, gaming is restricted, hemmed in and censored by organizations thinking of the children so we don't have to.

I don't think we suffer the same restrictions in Britain that countries like the US, Germany and Australia suffer. While discussion might spring up (i.e. the Alan Titchmarsh Show debate which lead to a huge backlash) there is generally support for gaming here in the UK. Our Prime Minister openly admitted to owning a Wii and our government offers tax breaks for games companies to boost the British gaming industry. Games which stirred controversy and spawned smear campaigns elsewhere such as Mass Effect, Six Days in Fallujah, GTA4 and Modern Warfare 2 all went by unscathed by the British press as far as I'm aware. I think MW2 had a few critics cocking an eyebrow over the "No Russian" level and MP Keith Vaz reportedly urged parliament to take extra measures to ensure the game didn't end up in the hands of kids, but to my knowledge it didn't receive any televised news press.

While that doesn't attribute the medium to art, it certainly shows that Britain is in no way on the same level as Germany and Australia for ignorance and censorship.

Also, our version of the Academy Awards (BAFTA) has a separate ceremony exclusively for the gaming industry. http://www.bafta.org/awards/video-games/ That's a pretty big effing deal - it's a British "Oscars" for gaming.

This years ceremony saw Shigeru Miyamoto given a fellowship award which puts him in the same stead as people like Hitchcock, Kubrick and Pinter. Now if that doesn't account for the British stance on gaming as art, I don't know what will!

From the article : "Now, of course, Manhunt 2 is a stretch to be referred to as art. From what I've read about it, it sounds like a cynical cash-grab, eroticizing violence rather than making a statement with it."

if we want to dismiss games an art form for thing like this, we must dismiss drawings when its something like "shitting dick-nipples", movies when Uve Boll is in the vicinity and paintings when we see another bunch of dogs playing poker.
Either all or none (we can of course say that its bad art, but art nonetheless).

Yes games are not art because of the AMERICAN public? Faulty premise.

*Ahem* most AMERICAN games are not art i would agree. Anyone who has played games like "The void", "The Witcher" and "STALKER" will know that there is more than just America in the freaking world! I sick and tired about hearing of america, all the exiting development of gaming i am seeing is coming from Europe, namely eastern Europe.

image
Just look at it's cover, bask in it's suggestions of female orgasm.

The game's frequent naked women, artful premise and moments steeped in symbolism about the flow of life symbolized by the flow of colour in a bleak and often surreal world. It obeys very few conventions, it's imagery is wholeheartedly erotic in places. It's fucking art.

Limits we have not in the land of the free, that bastion of liberty and free speech the home of the ungagged developer. The former soviet union and soviet block. It may be a foreign concept to the cheezeburger huffing "Reds under the bed" public of the USA but the cold war is over (although you wouldn't guess it from your games).

STALKER was such an impactfull game because it was never designed to be Halo. It's A-Moral world populated by NPCs which will routinely calmly walk over to a wounded crying enemy, pull out a pistol insult them and execute them. It's part of the AI. It's also not governed by the idea that a media outrage may ensue. It's a world of true horror, grand themes, crippling fear and loneliness and veiled messages about the nature of humanity on the fringes of existence and it's powerlessness in the face of forces it can't hope to understand or destroy. It's extremely dark stuff and peppered with the fiction of the film "stalker" and the novel it was based on "Roadside picnic". It's very experience of the exclusion zone i think qualifies it as 'art'.

Also anyone who has played Polish CD-Projeckt's "The Witcher" will know that rampant sex and violence are pretty much a prerequisite in it's world. This is definitely not a game for little billy or little Timmy.

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