Logic: Why Mass Effect is not Art.

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I'll just repost the same post I put in the other games are not art thread:

Writing
Music writing/composing
Concept art/3D artist/Landscape artist/general art
3D modelers/sculptors

Are you telling me all of these things, considered art in their own fields can go together and make something that's not art? That basically means you can take anything out of a game and it's art but in the game it's not.

2) Interactivity is a quality of sports and competition, not art.

This is perhaps the most important reason for distinguishing mass effect, or any video game, from art. The ability to interact with a medium, to change, play, or compete with it, excludes it from being art. Tennis is not art, it is a sport. The people who created tennis are not artists. Monopoly is a game, not art. The people who created monopoly are not artists. Admittedly those who created the board and figurines are artists, just as those who created the landscapes and textures in Mass Effect are artists. But Mass Effect itself is not art, it is a game that uses art to immerse. Monopoly is not art, it is a game that uses art to immerse. The inevitable response is "But a violin can be played, is a violin not art?" The difference here is that when a violin is played it creates art, music which can be recorded and enjoyed later. I would relate that to someone creating machinima from a game. Both music and machinima are art, but the violin and mass effect, the tools used to make the art, are not art in themselves simply for having been the tool used to create.

This is incorrect. There is no reason why Art cannot be interactive. You haven't explained why art must be fundamentally non-interactive.

The only fundamental quality of art is this: The evocation of emotion. The way to discover what Art is, is by asking why Art exists in the first place. Art, through all of the undisputed arts, is that which causes the experiencer of the art to have emotion. It is that which exists for the sole purpose of emotion. Sports ARE art, although they are bound by objective rules, (like points), such that it is easily objectively asserted that one player or another is "better" than another. It is difficult to objectively define "better" in the context of Music, Paintings, etc.

distortedreality:
Logic has no place at all in any discussion about art, regardless of the point of view being expressed. I won't even go into the fallacies of the OP's individual points.

Well, logic does come into play when we need to define Art. That is, whenever we define art, we are defining it to be some set of things. We need logic to make sure that we don't run into contradictions with our definition.

Revnak:

That is a pretty specific and largely arbitrary need to single out. Needs like sex, communication, and hunger are fine, but play is a huge no-no. The fuck is up with that.

Did I somehow claim that play was bad? Play is incredibly important and obviously I wouldn't be here if I didn't love video games. Both games and art, among other things, are essential parts of the human experience.

And when did we stop understanding that the audience has always had a say in how they experienced art? Artists define the work, the work only posses a certain number of valid experiences based on how it is defined, and the audience experiences any number of these, as well as any number of invalid experiences brought about by faulty perception. All art, including games abides by this and any artist who tells you what their work really means is lying to you.

The difference, as I said before, is that the audience interprets the piece differently instead of the piece somehow actually being different for each person. Picasso's Guernica does not look different to each individual; it is simply interpreted differently. This is not true for ME3, let's say, where the experience is actually different and thus not capable of carrying a true artistic vision. It would be like painting a portrait and leaving stick-on clothing for people to choose each time they viewed it; if the creator isn't in control of even the most basic methods of access and experience, then artistic intent is nonexistent.

We play games for different reasons than we patronize art. That's the bottom line. They are so clearly, clearly different in both form and function that I cannot honestly understand why anyone would attempt to compare them.

zehydra:

The only fundamental quality of art is this: The evocation of emotion. The way to discover what Art is, is by asking why Art exists in the first place. Art, through all of the undisputed arts, is that which causes the experiencer of the art to have emotion. It is that which exists for the sole purpose of emotion. Sports ARE art, although they are bound by objective rules, (like points), such that it is easily objectively asserted that one player or another is "better" than another. It is difficult to objectively define "better" in the context of Music, Paintings, etc.

Art exists because people needed a way to best express what it means to be human. We created art so that we could make sense of our emotions and experiences. We created Mass Effect 3 so we could shoot robots and play as another character. A game is not art, whether it is soccer or Uncharted or chess or strip poker or anything else. You're absolutely right that the best way to understand what makes "art" is to ask why "art" was made in the first place - the only problem is that once you do that, you can't honestly say that we had the same reasons for painting The Hands of the Peasants that we did for making Killzone 2.

zehydra:

distortedreality:
Logic has no place at all in any discussion about art, regardless of the point of view being expressed. I won't even go into the fallacies of the OP's individual points.

Well, logic does come into play when we need to define Art. That is, whenever we define art, we are defining it to be some set of things. We need logic to make sure that we don't run into contradictions with our definition.

Who says our personal definitions of art can't be contradictions?

Seems like someone is missing the point of art entirely.

distortedreality:

zehydra:

distortedreality:
Logic has no place at all in any discussion about art, regardless of the point of view being expressed. I won't even go into the fallacies of the OP's individual points.

Well, logic does come into play when we need to define Art. That is, whenever we define art, we are defining it to be some set of things. We need logic to make sure that we don't run into contradictions with our definition.

Who says our personal definitions of art can't be contradictions?

Seems like someone is missing the point of art entirely.

I'm saying they shouldn't have contradictions.

Radeonx:
I haven't really been hearing a lot of people say Mass Effect is a prime example of art.
Hell, the best part about it is the story, and it isn't even a good one.
It is just told very well. But that's a different point entirely.

And can games in general be art? Some can, some can't. I'm sure 90% of people would see certain sculptures, movies, music pieces, or paintings, and classify some as an art and some as shit/not art (Being shit and not being aren't are NOT the same thing, just to clarify), so I don't see why the distinction can't be made for games.

I love your avatar.

OT:

Some games are art, some games are just products. No one will accuse CoD of being art.

Some movies can be art and some movies are just products. No one will accuse Transformers of being art.

Some books are art, some books are just products. No one will accuse Twilight of being art.

Snotnarok:
I'll just repost the same post I put in the other games are not art thread:

Writing
Music writing/composing
Concept art/3D artist/Landscape artist/general art
3D modelers/sculptors

Are you telling me all of these things, considered art in their own fields can go together and make something that's not art? That basically means you can take anything out of a game and it's art but in the game it's not.

Art is often referred to as something that is more than the sum of it's parts. So if a bunch of art comes together to form something that isn't art... Damn, the OP is on to some serious zen shit right here...

While I'm at it, in the off-chance that the almighty OP in charge of defining art for us mortals reads this... Could ya' make crotch-grabbing an art? I'd appreciate it, thanks.

peruvianskys:

Revnak:

That is a pretty specific and largely arbitrary need to single out. Needs like sex, communication, and hunger are fine, but play is a huge no-no. The fuck is up with that.

Did I somehow claim that play was bad? Play is incredibly important and obviously I wouldn't be here if I didn't love video games. Both games and art, among other things, are essential parts of the human experience.

And when did we stop understanding that the audience has always had a say in how they experienced art? Artists define the work, the work only posses a certain number of valid experiences based on how it is defined, and the audience experiences any number of these, as well as any number of invalid experiences brought about by faulty perception. All art, including games abides by this and any artist who tells you what their work really means is lying to you.

The difference, as I said before, is that the audience interprets the piece differently instead of the piece somehow actually being different for each person. Picasso's Guernica does not look different to each individual; it is simply interpreted differently. This is not true for ME3, let's say, where the experience is actually different and thus not capable of carrying a true artistic vision. It would be like painting a portrait and leaving stick-on clothing for people to choose each time they viewed it; if the creator isn't in control of even the most basic methods of access and experience, then artistic intent is nonexistent.

We play games for different reasons than we patronize art. That's the bottom line. They are so clearly, clearly different in both form and function that I cannot honestly understand why anyone would attempt to compare them.

I read for different reasons then I look at paintings. I read poetry for different reasons than novels. I read Emerson for different reasons than Tolkein.

Who are you to say that only one experience is presented? Plays are presented differently from troupe to troupe. Watching a play from the front will always be different than watching from the far back.

zehydra:

distortedreality:
Logic has no place at all in any discussion about art, regardless of the point of view being expressed. I won't even go into the fallacies of the OP's individual points.

Well, logic does come into play when we need to define Art. That is, whenever we define art, we are defining it to be some set of things. We need logic to make sure that we don't run into contradictions with our definition.

But the definition changes between individuals, therefore attempting to apply logic to art becomes a pointless endeavor, because all you'll be doing is assigning qualifying values specific to YOURSELF, thus proving again that art is at the most basic level, subjective rather than objective.

All you can do is sit on your high horse and look at all the other people with differing opinions on what art is, thinking "They don't know what art is because I don't agree with them!"

peruvianskys:
There's a difference between the reaction to the art and the presentation of the art itself. You and I may have different reactions to classical music, but we're simply interpreting a single, uniform piece in different ways.

Lol, leaving aside the rest, classical music is anything but single or uniform, let's see two amazing Chopin interpreters doing Etudes:

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9ZBFkG6p6I

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yG49cdza2U

Not only my experience is diferent if I hear Cherkassky or Berezovsky, the music is different in subtile but profound ways. So Chopin is not art because his dead ass doesn't determine the experience?

Revnak:

I read for different reasons then I look at paintings. I read poetry for different reasons than novels. I read Emerson for different reasons than Tolkein.

Except deep down, I don't think you do. I think you do all of those things for one basic reason which finds its expression in many different ways: to explore what it means to be human. Books and poetry and paintings and plays all do the same thing but in different ways (unless the book or painting is artistically worthless, of course).

Who are you to say that only one experience is presented? Plays are presented differently from troupe to troupe. Watching a play from the front will always be different than watching from the far back.

In the case of a play, only one play is presented. Everyone in the audience experiences the same play. The director's vision for the play is expressed uniformly to the audience, the individual members of which then interpret personally. I feel as though you are intentionally misrepresenting me. Even in the front/back of the theater, you are still seeing the same play. You just experience it differently. This is not the case with a video game, where each player will actually experience A DIFFERENT game based on their own actions. It's this element that makes artistic intent meaningless in a video game.

peruvianskys:

The difference, as I said before, is that the audience interprets the piece differently instead of the piece somehow actually being different for each person. Picasso's Guernica does not look different to each individual; it is simply interpreted differently. This is not true for ME3, let's say, where the experience is actually different and thus not capable of carrying a true artistic vision. It would be like painting a portrait and leaving stick-on clothing for people to choose each time they viewed it; if the creator isn't in control of even the most basic methods of access and experience, then artistic intent is nonexistent.

We play games for different reasons than we patronize art. That's the bottom line. They are so clearly, clearly different in both form and function that I cannot honestly understand why anyone would attempt to compare them.

A play is performed many times by different actors. Each instance of the play is different in staging and performance. The writer of the play does not get to say exactly how each line is performed, so a lot of it is up to the interpretation of the actors. For example, when Mercutio is stabbed in Romeo and Juliet, he gives a speech. Some take this speech as sarcastic/humorous, since Mercutio is a joker and maybe doesn't understand the gravity of the situation. Others take it at face value, as a vicious condemnation of the feud between the two families and a realization of his own imminent demise.

Since actors will often not talk to the playwright (who may be dead), there cannot be a singular artistic vision.

If that's necessary for something to be art, Romeo and Juliet cannot be art.

peruvianskys:

The difference, as I said before, is that the audience interprets the piece differently instead of the piece somehow actually being different for each person.

How is there any difference between the two? If I read Dune, the book will be different for me than it was for my mother. Yes, this happens because we interpret it differential or look at it differential, but it is still different for both of us. If I look at the Mona Lisa at one angle, or in a certain light, what I am looking at is different than from another angle or another light. Does this not make the piece different for me every time I look at it? Because it actually is. If I am looking at it in low light, the colors will look different than if I am looking at it in a bright room. Yet is it not still a work of art?

Judas_Iscariot:
I decided to do away with any pretense in the title that we are dealing with video games as a whole, we all know why this thread is being written, along with the hundreds of others. The difference between this thread and the others is that I will lay out several logical reasons why "artistic vision" is no defence of the immutability of Mass Effect's Ending.

1) Copies of Art are bought, not licensed.

It is interesting to relate the "artistic vision" argument by bioware to the "We will ban you from ever playing your games" strategy of EA's origin when it comes to modding. Making a change to a purchased copy of Mass Effect for private use will result in a ban from Origin, essentially locking you out of your purchase. This does not follow the artistic vision declaration. If I buy a copy of the Mona Lisa I am free to scribble all over it if it adds to my enjoyment in private use. Similarily, if I purchase a movie I am free to (admittedly poorly) add myself to the background of scenes looking bemused using editing software if I so choose, so long as it is for private viewing. Try to so much as improve the textures on Mass Effect and you will find yourself on the blunt end of a ban hammer. This is because unlike art, Mass Effect is not purchased. It is licensed from a corporation whom at any time can revoke your ability to play. The seperates Mass Effect from a piece of art which is bought and appreciated/interpreted however someone chooses in an active fashion, from a service such as cable, which is paid for and then passively recieved. I'm assuming we can all agree cable, despite having been worked on by creative human beings, is not art because noone can ever truly own cable. One of the key elements of art that make it so attractive to humans is it's ability to be owned and enjoyed, whether it be now or twenty years from now.

There is a simple fallacy to this argument: it assumes that the whole definition of "art" as "the way a particular piece of art is distributed". The fact that I can buy a Big Rude Jake CD, bring it home and dub myself as backing vocal in all tracks is not what defines music as an art. So I'll say no, if EA suddenly decide to let me mod my game, it will not affect it's status as "art", whatever that status is at the moment. I mean, it's really dickish of EA to prevent me from changing my copy of their game for my private use, but that doesn't make the game itself more or less artistic.

Judas_Iscariot:

2) Interactivity is a quality of sports and competition, not art.

This is perhaps the most important reason for distinguishing mass effect, or any video game, from art. The ability to interact with a medium, to change, play, or compete with it, excludes it from being art. Tennis is not art, it is a sport. The people who created tennis are not artists. Monopoly is a game, not art. The people who created monopoly are not artists. Admittedly those who created the board and figurines are artists, just as those who created the landscapes and textures in Mass Effect are artists. But Mass Effect itself is not art, it is a game that uses art to immerse. Monopoly is not art, it is a game that uses art to immerse. The inevitable response is "But a violin can be played, is a violin not art?" The difference here is that when a violin is played it creates art, music which can be recorded and enjoyed later. I would relate that to someone creating machinima from a game. Both music and machinima are art, but the violin and mass effect, the tools used to make the art, are not art in themselves simply for having been the tool used to create.

This argument opposes the first one, because in that one, you defined art as something I can take home and interact with (how else would I insert myself in the background of every movie?), and excluded Mass Effect from that list explicitly based on how you CAN'T interact with it.

But that's a low blow; let me analyze this argument by itself. First if all, what you describe as a tool is the ENGINE, not the entire game. I can use an engine to craft a machinima, I don't need to use the game. But there's more.

You see, videogames are a little more complex than sports or most board games; they can be used to tell stories, to convey certain emotions, to touch you in a way sports and board games can't. You isolate one characteristic of videogames, namely the interactivity, and compare it to the interactivity found in sports and board games, ignoring the dozens of differences among them (even between board games and sports, in fact).

That's why you can't analyze this issue so logically, see? It will always bump into your personal definition of what art is. I believe it's something that conveys certain ideas or certain, so to speak, "higher" emotions (sports convey a kind of emotion, but it's a lot more primal, that's why they *usually* can't be considered art). In that aspect, certain games (not all of them, that's the point) are like movies, and like movies they can convey those emotions. Except they have the potential of doing so in a much more powerful way, because we are much more invested in the events happening. So,videogames are kinda like movies, but they are much different at the same time; see my next point for elaboration.

Now, the engine a game uses is certainly not art, it's just a tool. That's why you can demand it be fixed in case of bugs, by the way, which doesn't mean you can demand the story be fixed. They are two separate entities.

Judas_Iscariot:
3) The story of Mass Effect is not literature

The most compelling point an advocate of "video games as art" can make is to say that even if the gameplay of Mass Effect is not art, the story itself is. Their point is compelling, after all the story of this universe is both compelling and moving. In addition, it does resemble the art form of literature, using the written word to record the artistic expression of stories. However, it only resembles this art form, it is not this art form itself. The reason Mass Effect cannot be treated as an art form due to its story is the same reason that driving your car cannot be considered art, because the interactive nature prohibits an exact duplication. To elaborate, in the videogame Mass Effect not a single person will recieve the same story. This isnt just marketing "Every story is different!" bullshit, this is literal fact. It may take me twenty bullets to kill a maruader and you only 19, but that very difference launches the game away from being art and towards being just that, a game. Art must be identical to all who experience it, it must be our perception that changes it. If you classify an activity such as playing Mass Effect "art", then you must call me driving my Toyota Tundra "Art". In both cases we are using products that were worked on and designed by a hard working group of professionals who considered beauty and functionality as part of their paradigms for creation. Neither of these groups created art, they created a product.

Again, this all depends on how you define art. And that very definition is personal, it's impossible to say my definition is "right" and yours, "wrong". That's why it's impossible to apply pure logic to it.

See, I already defined art as "something that is designed to convey a certain idea or elaborated feeling". That is MY definition, it works for ME, and anyone else who thinks it sounds right. So, from that perspective, I don't think immutability is something that must be considered when judging art. If that was the case, you could never consider a new arrangement for a song as "art".

I know you are comparing Mass Effect to literature alone, not to art. At least in this point. But you only prove that: Mass Effect is not LITERATURE. Painting is also not literature. And music is not cinema. An art form does not have to be related to any other to be considered art. So, the way I see it, videogames have the potential to be -- and NOT all of them are -- art.

Specifically, Mass Effect has different situations happen to different players, but they are all part of the bigger story, and were all planned by the authors to happen that way. Maybe your whole story didn't unfold like mine did, but every decision you faced, so did I. And in every one of them, we chose one of the options the authors crafted for us. You can never go down a path they hadn't created. Oh, of course, you can use different weapons or powers to fight Cerberus, but you WILL be fighting Cerberus. Gameplay mechanics are not the whole game.

So, different from a strategy game or sport, where you can devise new, unforeseen strategies, or a car that you can make do things it was never meant to do, Mass Effect has a very finite and definitive number of choices for you to assemble your story. And all of them have the same general goal: to convey a sense of fighting impossible odds to save life as you know it. No board games make me feel like that.

tl;dr: It's impossible to use cold logic in this case, because the whole discussion depends on your very definition of what art is, and that is far from a consensus. As it should be; Art is not something that exists to be rationalized, but felt. At least, the way I define it (which is the whole point).

Syzygy23:

zehydra:

distortedreality:
Logic has no place at all in any discussion about art, regardless of the point of view being expressed. I won't even go into the fallacies of the OP's individual points.

Well, logic does come into play when we need to define Art. That is, whenever we define art, we are defining it to be some set of things. We need logic to make sure that we don't run into contradictions with our definition.

But the definition changes between individuals, therefore attempting to apply logic to art becomes a pointless endeavor, because all you'll be doing is assigning qualifying values specific to YOURSELF, thus proving again that art is at the most basic level, subjective rather than objective.

All you can do is sit on your high horse and look at all the other people with differing opinions on what art is, thinking "They don't know what art is because I don't agree with them!"

Well, if they have a more rational idea of what Art is, I will accept it myself.
Your line of logic could apply to anything. "They don't know what a chair is, because I don't agree with them".

It's not a pointless endeavor if it is convincing, no? I have derived my own definition of art based upon what I has been considered art over history, and by looking at what is agreed to be not art. To come to a definition of art, we have to look at what sets apart Art from other things. A useful definition for any object or idea is one which distinguishes itself from other concepts. The less ambiguity, the better.

peruvianskys:

In the case of a play, only one play is presented. Everyone in the audience experiences the same play. The director's vision for the play is expressed uniformly to the audience, the individual members of which then interpret personally. I feel as though you are intentionally misrepresenting me. Even in the front/back of the theater, you are still seeing the same play. You just experience it differently. This is not the case with a video game, where each player will actually experience A DIFFERENT game based on their own actions. It's this element that makes artistic intent meaningless in a video game.

I have yet to encounter any game where this is the case. If you and I play Super Mario Brothers, we are both experiencing the same game. We are both going through the order of the levels that the designers intended us to go in. We are just "interpreting" what the game throws at us differently, and responding accordingly. This is no different than a film, where if I see a sad moment, I react accordingly (feeling sad).

peruvianskys:

Revnak:

I read for different reasons then I look at paintings. I read poetry for different reasons than novels. I read Emerson for different reasons than Tolkein.

Except deep down, I don't think you do. I think you do all of those things for one basic reason which finds its expression in many different ways: to explore what it means to be human. Books and poetry and paintings and plays all do the same thing but in different ways (unless the book or painting is artistically worthless, of course).

Who are you to say that only one experience is presented? Plays are presented differently from troupe to troupe. Watching a play from the front will always be different than watching from the far back.

In the case of a play, only one play is presented. Everyone in the audience experiences the same play. The director's vision for the play is expressed uniformly to the audience, the individual members of which then interpret personally. I feel as though you are intentionally misrepresenting me. Even in the front/back of the theater, you are still seeing the same play. You just experience it differently. This is not the case with a video game, where each player will actually experience A DIFFERENT game based on their own actions. It's this element that makes artistic intent meaningless in a video game.

I play games for the same reason. I explore such ideas in the many wonderful characters of Fire Emblem, the humor of Paper Mario, the absolute loneliness of Shadow of the Collosus. Just because I enjoy them through play does not make them cease being art in that sense, just like being aroused at the portrait scene of Titanic doesn't rob it of it's artistic qualities.

Except the many different presentations of a play are not new plays, simply new presentations. I thought that would be obvious. The different times you play a game you are simply acting through it under a new director, and that director is still not you, but the work itself. I suppose many games put us into the role of actor, but I cannot see how that diminishes the work's artistic value.

Tanakh:

Lol, leaving aside the rest, classical music is anything but single or uniform, let's see two amazing Chopin interpreters doing Etudes:

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9ZBFkG6p6I

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yG49cdza2U

Not only my experience is diferent if I hear Cherkassky or Berezovsky, the music is different in subtile but profound ways. So Chopin is not art because his dead ass doesn't determine the experience?

You clearly don't understand. Each instance of the performance is an artistic statement; as I said before, everyone in the audience experiences the same piece at the same time. There is someone, not Chopin of course but the person playing, who is expressing an artistic vision. The corollary with a video game would be if the man sat on stage, handed out pianos to each member of the audience, and said "play whatever you want." Then there's no artistic vision present and the results cannot be called art (unless, as I said before, the very act of passing out the pianos is the artistic statement - but that's a whole other can of worms).

Unsilenced:

If that's necessary for something to be art, Romeo and Juliet cannot be art.

Each time the play is performed, an artist, in this case the director, expresses his or her artistic vision through it. I'm not arguing that art must be unchanging, but simply that there must be a certain amount of control in the hands of the artist, independent of the consumer, before an artistic vision can be honestly produced.

BreakfastMan:

How is there any difference between the two? If I read Dune, the book will be different for me than it was for my mother. Yes, this happens because we interpret it differential or look at it differential, but it is still different for both of us. If I look at the Mona Lisa at one angle, or in a certain light, what I am looking at is different than from another angle or another light. Does this not make the piece different for me every time I look at it? Because it actually is. If I am looking at it in low light, the colors will look different than if I am looking at it in a bright room. Yet is it not still a work of art?

You seem to not understand the concept of artistic vision. Art exists for a reason, mainly to express or examine an emotion/mental state/concept/etc. In order for something to be art, most would agree that it needs to have been created (or altered or presented) in order to evoke or express something. That's the artistic vision. If the fundamental nature of the piece is not controlled by the artist, but instead the consumer, then there cannot exist that concept of artistic vision. Many people interpret Dune differently, but each one is experiencing Herbert's vision. Herbert picked every word out in the service of a certain conceptualization he brought forth - if he had left certain chapters to be personally filled in by the reader at decisive spots, or with fill-in-the-space blanks throughout, then the piece would not be his, the artistic vision would be gone, and with it, the value of the piece as art would disappear as well. That's all I'm saying.

BreakfastMan:

I have yet to encounter any game where this is the case. If you and I play Super Mario Brothers, we are both experiencing the same game. We are both going through the order of the levels that the designers intended us to go in. We are just "interpreting" what the game throws at us differently, and responding accordingly. This is no different than a film, where if I see a sad moment, I react accordingly (feeling sad).

But unless the game exists to evoke an emotion, then it is not art anyway. My basic critera (which, I should say, is a definition supported by most aesthetic philosophers) would be that art is the formed expression of a concept or emotion through the vision of a central actor or group of actors. Super Mario Brothers may be under the direction of a central actor, but it is not an expression of emotion; Mass Effect 3 might express emotion, but it is not under the direction of a central actor due to its interactive nature.

peruvianskys:

BreakfastMan:

How is there any difference between the two? If I read Dune, the book will be different for me than it was for my mother. Yes, this happens because we interpret it differential or look at it differential, but it is still different for both of us. If I look at the Mona Lisa at one angle, or in a certain light, what I am looking at is different than from another angle or another light. Does this not make the piece different for me every time I look at it? Because it actually is. If I am looking at it in low light, the colors will look different than if I am looking at it in a bright room. Yet is it not still a work of art?

You seem to not understand the concept of artistic vision. Art exists for a reason, mainly to express or examine an emotion/mental state/concept/etc. In order for something to be art, most would agree that it needs to have been created (or altered or presented) in order to evoke or express something. That's the artistic vision. If the fundamental nature of the piece is not controlled by the artist, but instead the consumer, then there cannot exist that concept of artistic vision. Many people interpret Dune differently, but each one is experiencing Herbert's vision. Herbert picked every word out in the service of a certain conceptualization he brought forth - if he had left certain chapters to be personally filled in by the reader at decisive spots, or with fill-in-the-space blanks throughout, then the piece would not be his, the artistic vision would be gone, and with it, the value of the piece as art would disappear as well. That's all I'm saying.

Sorry, but I do not buy that idea for a second. When I play a game, I am experiencing the game the designers intended me to experience. Everything I can do was planned and accounted for by them. The fundamental nature of a game is not controlled by me, the player. I cannot go into, say, Deus Ex and change it into a kid-friendly cell-shaded platformer. Each time I am playing Psychonauts, I am experiencing Tim Schafers vision. All options in ME3 were picked by the designers ahead of time. I am not left to "fill-in" anything on my own, anymore than I am allowed to when reading a book and picturing the events in my mind.

peruvianskys:

BreakfastMan:

I have yet to encounter any game where this is the case. If you and I play Super Mario Brothers, we are both experiencing the same game. We are both going through the order of the levels that the designers intended us to go in. We are just "interpreting" what the game throws at us differently, and responding accordingly. This is no different than a film, where if I see a sad moment, I react accordingly (feeling sad).

But unless the game exists to evoke an emotion, then it is not art anyway. My basic critera (which, I should say, is a definition supported by most aesthetic philosophers) would be that art is the formed expression of a concept or emotion through the vision of a central actor or group of actors. Super Mario Brothers may be under the direction of a central actor, but it is not an expression of emotion; Mass Effect 3 might express emotion, but it is not under the direction of a central actor due to its interactive nature.

First, if we want to get into a debate about art's interactive nature, this link pretty much has to be posted:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_art#Interactivity_in_art

Anyway, to address your points, I do not see how SMB is not an expression of concept or emotion. It is an expression of the concept of "fun" and the emotion of happiness. Are those not valid concepts and emotions to express? Also, to address the point that ME3 is not under the direction of a central action: yes it is. The central actors are the game designers, and we are only doing what they have allowed us to do. Basically, what I was talking about above.

Also, as an aside, here you see one of the problems: you have a definition of art that is different from mine, and we both interpret what that definition means in different ways. That is pretty much a central problem when talking about this stuff.

peruvianskys:

Unsilenced:

If that's necessary for something to be art, Romeo and Juliet cannot be art.

Each time the play is performed, an artist, in this case the director, expresses his or her artistic vision through it. I'm not arguing that art must be unchanging, but simply that there must be a certain amount of control in the hands of the artist, independent of the consumer, before an artistic vision can be honestly produced.

Most of a game is left unchanging once you go beyond the most superficial layers.

No matter how many times I play Bioshock, it will still be about the pitfalls of objectivism. I cannot make Bioshock be a pro-objectivist game.

Far Cry 2 had an extremely open world, yet no matter what I did I ended up being taught a lesson in nihilism. The game is nihilistic. I cannot make it not nihilistic by any course of action inside the game, because the creator did not allow me to do that.

Mass Effect has a lot of themes running through it, but one is the right of a group to fight for it's existence. Now, I can respect that right and spare the Geth/Rachni/Krogans, or I can ignore it, but the message about that right doesn't go away. I can't make the game suddenly start encouraging me to eat babies because that's not what the designers made it say. I'm playing within their world. I might be able to choose some of my actions, but they choose the consequences, tailoring them to their own beliefs.

peruvianskys:
-snip-

So, the person pressing keys and pedals in a piano following a predefined partiture is doing an artistic statement, but the person pressing keys in front of a monitor to do predefined objectives isn't? Clear now.

Control? Then i guess you will deny that this http://vimeo.com/8525186 (linked earlier) or this random made music http://sunsite.univie.ac.at/Mozart/dice/ is art; and those are more free in some ways than your traditional videogame running on railroads. Good for you, i disagree.

1. Technically, no. It is still illegal for you to take scenes from movies and insert yourself, it's just that far too many people do this for the movie cororations to ever make any real attempt to stop you. Also, there are multiple copies sold of movies, books, films and music, but only one copy of paintings or sculpture, so there is already a fundamental difference between these mediums. Since we consider all of them to have produced works of art why should the fundamental difference in owning Mass Effect make any difference to its definition vis a vis art?
2.
art
Noun:
1.The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,...: "the art of the Renaissance"
2.Works produced by such skill and imagination.

The BioWare team applied human creative skill and imagination, in a visual form. The Mass Effect games are works produced by such skill and imagination. I don't see how that doesn't fit the definition.

3.

Judas_Iscariot:

Art must be identical to all who experience it, it must be our perception that changes it.

Again, says who? I can find no definition of art that says this.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/art
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/art
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/art
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/art-definition/
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/art

I find the freedictionary's definition the most interesting. 'Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.' Since everyone experiences nature differently, as a result of the ever changing qualities within it, this makes videogames more likely to be art, because they too are ever changing. Paintings, movies, books, msic, sculpture. All of these are stable, stationary, they don't change and as you so rightly put it, everyone experiences the same physical thing. Well this is not true of videogames.

Who says that art must be the same for all who experience it? The fact is, people experience works of art differently. Art is a SUBJECTIVE experience. Your logic is also not really logic, it's just a list of opinions.

Frozen Donkey Wheel2:
This thread is silly.

True, and yet we can't help but post on it can we?

Judas_Iscariot:
I decided to do away with any pretense in the title that we are dealing with video games as a whole, we all know why this thread is being written, along with the hundreds of others. The difference between this thread and the others is that I will lay out several logical reasons why "artistic vision" is no defence of the immutability of Mass Effect's Ending.

1) Copies of Art are bought, not licensed.

It is interesting to relate the "artistic vision" argument by bioware to the "We will ban you from ever playing your games" strategy of EA's origin when it comes to modding. Making a change to a purchased copy of Mass Effect for private use will result in a ban from Origin, essentially locking you out of your purchase. This does not follow the artistic vision declaration. If I buy a copy of the Mona Lisa I am free to scribble all over it if it adds to my enjoyment in private use. Similarily, if I purchase a movie I am free to (admittedly poorly) add myself to the background of scenes looking bemused using editing software if I so choose, so long as it is for private viewing. Try to so much as improve the textures on Mass Effect and you will find yourself on the blunt end of a ban hammer. This is because unlike art, Mass Effect is not purchased. It is licensed from a corporation whom at any time can revoke your ability to play. The seperates Mass Effect from a piece of art which is bought and appreciated/interpreted however someone chooses in an active fashion, from a service such as cable, which is paid for and then passively recieved. I'm assuming we can all agree cable, despite having been worked on by creative human beings, is not art because noone can ever truly own cable. One of the key elements of art that make it so attractive to humans is it's ability to be owned and enjoyed, whether it be now or twenty years from now.

2) Interactivity is a quality of sports and competition, not art.

This is perhaps the most important reason for distinguishing mass effect, or any video game, from art. The ability to interact with a medium, to change, play, or compete with it, excludes it from being art. Tennis is not art, it is a sport. The people who created tennis are not artists. Monopoly is a game, not art. The people who created monopoly are not artists. Admittedly those who created the board and figurines are artists, just as those who created the landscapes and textures in Mass Effect are artists. But Mass Effect itself is not art, it is a game that uses art to immerse. Monopoly is not art, it is a game that uses art to immerse. The inevitable response is "But a violin can be played, is a violin not art?" The difference here is that when a violin is played it creates art, music which can be recorded and enjoyed later. I would relate that to someone creating machinima from a game. Both music and machinima are art, but the violin and mass effect, the tools used to make the art, are not art in themselves simply for having been the tool used to create.

3) The story of Mass Effect is not literature

The most compelling point an advocate of "video games as art" can make is to say that even if the gameplay of Mass Effect is not art, the story itself is. Their point is compelling, after all the story of this universe is both compelling and moving. In addition, it does resemble the art form of literature, using the written word to record the artistic expression of stories. However, it only resembles this art form, it is not this art form itself. The reason Mass Effect cannot be treated as an art form due to its story is the same reason that driving your car cannot be considered art, because the interactive nature prohibits an exact duplication. To elaborate, in the videogame Mass Effect not a single person will recieve the same story. This isnt just marketing "Every story is different!" bullshit, this is literal fact. It may take me twenty bullets to kill a maruader and you only 19, but that very difference launches the game away from being art and towards being just that, a game. Art must be identical to all who experience it, it must be our perception that changes it. If you classify an activity such as playing Mass Effect "art", then you must call me driving my Toyota Tundra "Art". In both cases we are using products that were worked on and designed by a hard working group of professionals who considered beauty and functionality as part of their paradigms for creation. Neither of these groups created art, they created a product.

tl;dr? the strongest logical failings of calling Mass Effect "art" are its inability to be owned and therefore permanently enjoyed, its interactive nature rendering it an activity rather than a art, and its inability to be replicated putting it on par with driving ones car.

Active discussion encouraged. If you can logically and without vitriol offer reasons why video games are art, by all means lay out your argument.

I almost responded seriously to the fact that you don't know what art is but then I saw your name and post count, troll account is making a troll post.

If people can declare a toilet bowl full of shit in the shape of Ironman to be "art" then whatever I feel like calling art can be art. To me. That's the whole point.
Including me driving home. I'm beautiful.

This thread is silly.

Edit:

Frozen Donkey Wheel2:

This thread is silly.

Whoops, ninja'd.

Art is subjective. We're arguing semantics here. Wether or not bioware changes anything in their product is just that. Change in a product. Trying to chalk it up to muting artistic expression, is possible. But not fact.

Judas_Iscariot:

1) Copies of Art are bought, not licensed.

It is interesting to relate the "artistic vision" argument by bioware to the "We will ban you from ever playing your games" strategy of EA's origin when it comes to modding. Making a change to a purchased copy of Mass Effect for private use will result in a ban from Origin, essentially locking you out of your purchase. This does not follow the artistic vision declaration. If I buy a copy of the Mona Lisa I am free to scribble all over it if it adds to my enjoyment in private use. Similarily, if I purchase a movie I am free to (admittedly poorly) add myself to the background of scenes looking bemused using editing software if I so choose, so long as it is for private viewing. Try to so much as improve the textures on Mass Effect and you will find yourself on the blunt end of a ban hammer. This is because unlike art, Mass Effect is not purchased. It is licensed from a corporation whom at any time can revoke your ability to play. The seperates Mass Effect from a piece of art which is bought and appreciated/interpreted however someone chooses in an active fashion, from a service such as cable, which is paid for and then passively recieved. I'm assuming we can all agree cable, despite having been worked on by creative human beings, is not art because noone can ever truly own cable. One of the key elements of art that make it so attractive to humans is it's ability to be owned and enjoyed, whether it be now or twenty years from now.

Who says you have to own art for it to BE art? Property rights have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not something is art. You can't go paint Michelangelo's David blue, but it's still art.

Judas_Iscariot:

2) Interactivity is a quality of sports and competition, not art.

This is perhaps the most important reason for distinguishing mass effect, or any video game, from art. The ability to interact with a medium, to change, play, or compete with it, excludes it from being art. Tennis is not art, it is a sport. The people who created tennis are not artists. Monopoly is a game, not art. The people who created monopoly are not artists. Admittedly those who created the board and figurines are artists, just as those who created the landscapes and textures in Mass Effect are artists. But Mass Effect itself is not art, it is a game that uses art to immerse. Monopoly is not art, it is a game that uses art to immerse. The inevitable response is "But a violin can be played, is a violin not art?" The difference here is that when a violin is played it creates art, music which can be recorded and enjoyed later. I would relate that to someone creating machinima from a game. Both music and machinima are art, but the violin and mass effect, the tools used to make the art, are not art in themselves simply for having been the tool used to create.

Again, says who? What is it about interactivity that makes something inherently not art.

I think the flaw here is that ultimately not every video game is art. Madden is not art. Counter-Strike is not art.

But what about Shadow of the Colossus? Heavy Rain? What is it about interactivity that makes those games NOT art? You say that they aren't, but that doesn't make it truth.

Judas_Iscariot:

3) The story of Mass Effect is not literature

The most compelling point an advocate of "video games as art" can make is to say that even if the gameplay of Mass Effect is not art, the story itself is. Their point is compelling, after all the story of this universe is both compelling and moving. In addition, it does resemble the art form of literature, using the written word to record the artistic expression of stories. However, it only resembles this art form, it is not this art form itself. The reason Mass Effect cannot be treated as an art form due to its story is the same reason that driving your car cannot be considered art, because the interactive nature prohibits an exact duplication. To elaborate, in the videogame Mass Effect not a single person will recieve the same story. This isnt just marketing "Every story is different!" bullshit, this is literal fact. It may take me twenty bullets to kill a maruader and you only 19, but that very difference launches the game away from being art and towards being just that, a game. Art must be identical to all who experience it, it must be our perception that changes it. If you classify an activity such as playing Mass Effect "art", then you must call me driving my Toyota Tundra "Art". In both cases we are using products that were worked on and designed by a hard working group of professionals who considered beauty and functionality as part of their paradigms for creation. Neither of these groups created art, they created a product.

Again, says who? 1st, your argument about how many bullets it takes to kill an enemy is a reduction to absurdity. but regardless, who is to say that art must always be the same?

It's art if I say it is.

Judas_Iscariot:
-snip-

Im sick of Mass Effect talk, but you present a good argument. So ill argue point by point

1. You seem to confuse the way a product is being sold with the product itself. If I was banned from the Kindle store for editing a book file, or banned from Itunes for editing a song, would that invalidate the artistic intergrity of the product itself? Answer is it wouldnt, it'd just make it a shitty service (which I should point out that Origin is).

2. Interactivity invalidating videogames as art has been a debate thats been going on for a while. I could use the copout answer that the Smithsonian believes videogames to be art, as does the American Government, so thats that. But thats lazy, so ill try some other arguements.

My main problem with this argument is that it identifies the difference between traditional art and videogames. It doesnt see the similarities, nor does it look at the various possibilites for videogames as an new form or artistic expression. Its not forward thinking, it look backwards.Art has always been about our interpretation of the work, rather than the work itself. All videogames do is take that idea from the abstract image in our minds and makes it concrete interactivity of the game world. They can be used to add weight to an idea or theme, not by the use of language, or backdrops, but by mechanics and controls. Dark Souls is a good example of this. The fear, the loneliness, the sense of camaraderie, the journey into the unknown are expressed brilliantly in this game. It works to make you feel lost in a hostile environment. If this was done in a movie, like it was in "The Grey", it wouldnt have the same impact, due to the limitations of that medium.

3.This again talks about how videogames cant be art due to interactvity. See above.

Oh look, people are throwing out their own subjective definitions of art, since there is really no objective way to define art. Since, you know, everyone has their definition,

Art is a meaningless term, these days, and we'd be way more productive analyzing the artistic merits and the product itself, rather than trying to define something as art or not art.

This thread is a result of this new craze to define art and it's so meaningless and just a buzzword to value or devalue something.

Alot of good points in this thread which is why i consider that art is matter of opinion and therefore differentiates from person to person.

However the people at Bioware are artists and have the right to change their creative work however they please, so fanboys, if Bioware change nothing; move on, I know its hard to take, believe me but im with ya, however there's going to need to be a point where we have to be the bigger man and walk away, on that note, Game Journalists; If bioware do change the ending however they want and are satisfied that the original "Artistic Integrity" is kept then please, don't rage on about how it has set the industry back 10 years as a serious medium, Bioware could have changed it of their own acord after noticing the amount of plotholes it served in the final 10 minutes

Judas_Iscariot:

1) Copies of Art are bought, not licensed.

stopped reading there.

movies are classed as art, and we license them, we don't buy them.

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