Identity Crisis of the Game Industry

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It's perfectly simple.

When asking "Is XYZ art?", if you really want to know, and aren't just trying to generate debate to ensure you have a job, then DEFINE ART.

Example:
"Art is something which invokes emotional reaction".

Yes. Look at the ME3 threads; games are art (but then so is throwing faeces at the queen).

Example:
"Art is works produced by human creative skill and imagination".

Yes. Games are art.

Example:
"Art is anything humans do other than for survival".

Yes. Games are art (but so is masturbation and genocide).

It really is that simple. Philosophical debate over something which is as poorly defined as art is a waste of time without first defining the word. Scientists rarely have such problems because they tend to define things properly; when conflict arise (wave/particle duality or additional states of matter for example), some re-defining is done.

The difficult question is not whether games are on any kind of par with the Mona Lisa, it's what your definition of art is at any given time. The way I see it, art is a big fat talking point which makes shed loads of money for people who don't like working and who should really have studied something more useful when they were at school.

Left 4 Dead is better than fucking opera. But is it art? I don't care.

Are movie's/plays/paintings/architecture/pieces of music considered art? Yes.
Do you pay for access to these things? Yes.

Of course art and business aren't mutually exclusive. They never have been, so I'm struggling to figure out how we got the notion that they are.

You trace the word 'artist' back to its original roots it literally just means 'Man with job', so trying to differentiate between what is and what isn't 'art' when the word has lost all relevant meaning is a waste of time. While I have no objection to games being called art I've long since given up on the whole debate. It's all just entertainment to me, and I like it that way.

Also that debate doesn't really have any relevance to the ME3 debate. Piece of art or not, ME3 is Bioware's intellectual property, and that alone states quite plainly that you have no right to demand that they do anything with it that they don't want to. If they decide to change the ending, then great, but that's up to them. The most you are entitled to is to ask for a refund if you feel that there's something inherently 'wrong' with the ending that invalidates the product. However, good luck proving you case...

KingofMadCows:
Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes. His fans didn't like it. Doyle brought Holmes back.

See, this is a good example. Games are both, and fans can't force bioware to change the ending. but bioware would be idiotic to ignore the consumers.

You can be artsy all you want in any medium, if no one likes your product enough to pay for it, you still go hungry. It can be the greatest piece of art ever created, if no one wants to pay for it, you still go hungry. Hell, look at all the artists that were not appreciated at all in their time, who scraped just to find food to eat, but who's works are regarded as some of the best there are. It's a rough world we live in, but we're stuck with it.

The problem is most art is created by a one person such as a painting or a small group of people like some music and small budget art films whereas big budget games have huge numbers of people working on them which is expensive so it needs to be a business to pay for them but gamers all seem to want more meaningful experiences some of which they are not going to agree with such as the mass effect thing so really people need to stop pressuring the AAA industry to make games with more meaning and focus on art and then complain that they dont like it.

Krantos:

"Can Video Games be an Art and a Business simulateously?"

Yes they can be both because all artistic endeavors are businesses as well. For every Van Gogh, there were hundreds of painters that were good and made a great living from painting, but are not remembered today. We don't have a lot of those works still around because back then there was no sense of historical preservation. When the buyer was done with it, he either gave away or destroyed the painting. Same with music, the bad stuff simply was destroyed and forgotten about.

Moviebob is fond of saying that 50 percent of the first 30 years of movie making is destroyed and gone forever. It could very well be that those movies were destroyed on purpose because they weren't that good to begin with.

Video games can be called art, sure, but the game makers are not worried about that. Making something that lasts through the ages is the furthest thing on their minds and it should be. They are more worried about selling a product and making money off of it. If they did their job right, people will remember their game fondly 20 years down the road. If they did it wrong, then it is one of the millions of products that should be forgotten down the road.

Zayle79:

Sorry, I wasn't very clear. Making new content that caters to the desires of fans, fixing bugs, or improving gameplay mechanics are all excellent things for devs to do. Those sorts of changes are welcome, and show that the devs are aware of and care about their audience. But the idea of retconning a deliberate, crucial decision made on an already-released game because it was unpopular really alarms me. Dr. Muzyka has stated that, rather than changing the ending itself, BioWare plans on releasing DLC that will explain the ending and bring more closure, addressing the concerns of the fans while standing by their original decision, which is the best possible course of action for them right now, I think.

Don't see how other fixes weren't deliberate, crucial blablabla ect.

spartan231490:

KingofMadCows:
Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes. His fans didn't like it. Doyle brought Holmes back.

See, this is a good example. Games are both, and fans can't force bioware to change the ending. but bioware would be idiotic to ignore the consumers.

You can be artsy all you want in any medium, if no one likes your product enough to pay for it, you still go hungry. It can be the greatest piece of art ever created, if no one wants to pay for it, you still go hungry. Hell, look at all the artists that were not appreciated at all in their time, who scraped just to find food to eat, but who's works are regarded as some of the best there are. It's a rough world we live in, but we're stuck with it.

Pretty much this. I've been listening to this debate for almost the whole of the past 2 weeks since I beat ME3 myself. I've taken a long look at both sides of this debate while thinking over my own opinion.

The thing is my opinion can easily be summed up by NinjaDeathSlap above. Bioware is under NO obligation to change the ending to ME3, but if they don't they risk alienating a substantial portion of their fanbase.

So, in essence both sides are right. However, the consumer side of the debate has greater leverage, if only because they pay for the game and can just as easily withdraw said money, killing their bottom line. So Bioware is kinda backed into a corner if they don't at least TRY to appease the angry masses of fans.

An unfortunate truth in today's world is that so little can be done to big corporations like EA unless the consumers band together and hurt their bottom line. Bioware, at least, still has some form of integrity and is at least hearing the complaints out and looks like their doing something about it.

malestrithe:

Krantos:

"Can Video Games be an Art and a Business simulateously?"

Yes they can be both because all artistic endeavors are businesses as well. For every Van Gogh, there were hundreds of painters that were good and made a great living from painting, but are not remembered today. We don't have a lot of those works still around because back then there was no sense of historical preservation. When the buyer was done with it, he either gave away or destroyed the painting. Same with music, the bad stuff simply was destroyed and forgotten about.

Moviebob is fond of saying that 50 percent of the first 30 years of movie making is destroyed and gone forever. It could very well be that those movies were destroyed on purpose because they weren't that good to begin with.

Video games can be called art, sure, but the game makers are not worried about that. Making something that lasts through the ages is the furthest thing on their minds and it should be. They are more worried about selling a product and making money off of it. If they did their job right, people will remember their game fondly 20 years down the road. If they did it wrong, then it is one of the millions of products that should be forgotten down the road.

Essentially you're saying Business is the gardener (so to speak) of art, right? That what ends up being preserved is only that which was popular/successful (cases like Van Gogh being the exception rather than the rule).

That's an interesting concept really. There are also some intriguing implications there. Both from a consumer's and Producer's standpoint. For one thing it suggests, not only that art and business are historically intertwined, but that they are reliant on each other. Without business, art never grows or evolves. But without Art, the only thing business can do is sell necessities.

An interesting idea, to be sure.

shadow skill:
I am a computer programmer by trade (I don't make video games.) I consider the code I write art in the same way that a building can be art, or a knife or a sword or a gun can be art. The fact that certain things also do something beyond merely being aesthetically pleasing does not render them not art. The issue isn't a confusion between art and products it is that the manufacturers want to be able to sell items and pretend that those items exist for their own sake and therefore they have no responsibility to their customers.

I work with a few graphic artists myself when the boss man comes around and says to change something, they change it or convince him that X is a better course of action. I do much the same. I also try to add functionality not specifically requested but that I think might be helpful to my users.

Oh here we go. Why is everyone so consumed with being "artists". It's like people lose their shits over such title.

Good coding is good coding. Slapping the "art" label on it is unnecessary. To clarify, just because you "consider it art" doesn't mean squat. Again, we can go by the BROAD definition that EVERYTHING CREATED is art. Or we can be more practical about this. If your goal is to provide a service. then its a service. If your goal is to express yourself. then its art.

Tanakh:

Francisco Goya, painter that did some of his masterpieces under comission.

J.S. Bach, composer that did most of his works under comission.

François Rabelais, mayor french writer that adopted the serialized novel style (think of comic style) to sell his works and make a living.

I could continue all day, but i won't, either art can be also buisness or you will have to erase all economically sucessful artist.

I am with you that EA has not released an artistically significant game in at least a decade, but your argument is flawed.

OT: "Can XX be an Art and a Business simulateously?" Seriously? Someone ask that? I am guessing he knows shit about art history, read a good biography of Michelangelo, the guy was filthy rich, most of the classic composers had decent dough, almost all the classic painters made good cash... WTF.

Surprised you didn't mention Frank Frazetta.

Art is definitely a business. Crapload of people make money making art. My point was that when you're in the servicing business, alot of your artistic vision gets compromised inorder to serve the product.

I find this the opposite of "art". If art is about expression. Having someone dictate how your expression should look.. is counter-intuitive.

Zachary Amaranth:
... I also think this final one is more important:

Holding the above to be true, why is gaming the only instance where its viability as art is questioned? Do people generally accuse Da Vinci of not being an artist? Lennon? Coltrane? Scorcessi? Twain?

Short answer is because it's still new as a medium.

Long answer I think it has to do with the medium of computing. It's not something people associate with art, now lets be fair computing has made a massive impact on how many traditional art forms are produced (CGI, 3d Modelling, sound engineering as a few examples) but art from computers based on computers not just part of another medium is still novel to most people and it probably will be that way for a few generations more.

Coding has and is still evolving, the generation that read computing mags and typed up the code listed in the magazines sound archaic almost now, but yet we have websites dedicated to showing you how to use new programs, but to get good at these still takes dedication and time, and working in computing is about a way of thinking more than outright skill lists (I know specific skill will always have value). That's not something those outside understand in the way they understand a paint brush or a singer/musician, so its harder for the whole of society to relate to and appreciate the skill involved.

At the moment mt thoughts - I still think games are for entertainment purposes not art, they can be aesthetically pleasing but pure art not yet.

Captcha: know thyself - deep

Zeel:
Surprised you didn't mention Frank Frazetta.

Art is definitely a business. Crapload of people make money making art. My point was that when you're in the servicing business, alot of your artistic vision gets compromised inorder to serve the product.

I find this the opposite of "art". If art is about expression. Having someone dictate how your expression should look.. is counter-intuitive.

I would say that "art" is something that i love and isn't shit, so:

- Fallout 3 not art because i don't love it

- Battlefield 3 not art because it's shit though i love it

- Chrono Trigger art

- Skrillex not art because it's shit though i love it

- Mozart art

And so on, so far it's the best definition I have came across.

I don't understand this "Games are Art" sentiment. As in, I don't get why it's an issue, at all. Whenever someone says they aren't be, I always have to wonder- so, is every film a work of art? Every painting? Every song? I think the real question is "Can games be art?" Why not? What exactly cripples games as a medium from being an art?

But more importantly, why does anybody care? I don't care if the next person doesn't think the movies I like are art, so why should I care if they don't think the games I like are art either? I can only speak for myself of course, but I don't need anybody else's approval or validation to enjoy the things I like to enjoy.

I will claim that games can be art, but, just like films, music, paintings etc. not all of them are. Does Batman and Robin deserve to be called art on the same level as Gone With The Wind? Games are a medium, and like any medium, they have the potential to be great art. But it's a case by case basis, not a broad sweeping all-encompassing thing.

I think that yes, they can be both art and business simultaneously, but in different balances. Many games will be made on a low budget because the dev can't get the money for their message/idea those have a greater art aspect. Many will be made to appeal as far and wide as possible sacrificing artistic vision on the way.

I have played games from both extremes, made only for the sake of the art and made only for the sake of the money and I'd say both the extremes are bad; art only games tend to be poorly constructed due to lack of resources and a need to do something on the side to pay the bills, business only games are soulless and bland to appeal to as many as possible. There will be a sweet spot somewhere in there, probably with a majority of art but some profit in mind.

As for can we demand a change... no, never. Can we criticize and request one, of course. In all cases the individual can criticize what is on offer and the artist/accountant can decide if to do one or not. In the case of a 100% either way game it's very unlikely they will.

The sweet spot lies somewhere close to art than business but requires the business to pay the bills, allow for greater technology and so on.

I guess my overall point is that the business should exist to fund the art (indie devs) not the art exist to fund the business (most AAAs).

I don't see why game developers are getting so worked up over whether or not video games are "art". Would anything really change if people labeled video games art instead of entertainment? Personally I don't think so, people who like games would like them, and the haters would keep on hating.

I see them as a new kind of artistic expression all in their own, not movies, and certainly not works of art on canvas. They're simply "video games" to me, but that shouldn't cheapen them. Video games make me laugh, cry, and scare me in ways books, movies, and art never does. I've even developed emotional attachments to fictional characters, something that most of us probably share.

They're a new form of expression for a new kind of world, we should celebrate older mediums and let them enrich the modern ones; not use them as a yardstick.

I think it falls down to some games being art while others remain mere products, never achieving art status(or, I guess, never aiming for it in the first place). Off topic, thanks for bringing this up OP. This is a very relevant topic that needs attention and discussion.

Of course games are both art and business. Mona Lisa was painted on commission, da Vinci got paid. Artists don't live on air, you know.

It's just that some art is better than other. And the pricetag does not always assume quality.

Rofl Harris:
It's perfectly simple.

When asking "Is XYZ art?", if you really want to know, and aren't just trying to generate debate to ensure you have a job, then DEFINE ART.

Example:
"Art is something which invokes emotional reaction".

Yes. Look at the ME3 threads; games are art (but then so is throwing faeces at the queen).

Only if you wanted to evoke emotion from your audience. It's not art if you genuinely dislike the woman.

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