Which do you agree with more?
Video games are just for fun
12.4% (29)
12.4% (29)
Video games are art
54.3% (127)
54.3% (127)
Video games are art, but art should never be taken seriously
33.3% (78)
33.3% (78)
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Poll: "Video games are just for fun" vs. "Video games are art"

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EDIT: Because this thread is already filling up with people who didn't read the poll options properly and are making posts along the lines of "but I think video games are both fun AND art!" let me highlight this:

Video games are just for fun

I am not saying that art and fun are mutually exclusive. Notice the word "just". It specifically refers to the belief that video games are for fun only.

------

I've noticed that whenever the issue of "video games as art" comes up, generally speaking you find gamers arguing that games are art, with people who don't play video games insisting that they're not.

Now, the issue of people entering a debate when they don't actually know anything about the main subject aside, another trend I've noticed in any thread that seriously critiques a game - particularly if it critiques possibly negative aspects of the game like potentially racist or sexist content - is an outcry of people saying, "It's just a game, who cares? It's just for fun. You're not supposed to think about it seriously."

Again, these people are gamers. And it frankly astounds me that anyone would think so little of their own hobby, to insist that it's unworthy of the kind of critical analysis that films, books, painting, music or sculpture get. I mean, if you think that games are just a series of braindead blinking lights and reaction tests with no thought put into them then I guess that's OK, but if so then why would you be so invested in them as to defend them from criticism?

When video games were ruled as protected under free speech laws in the US, Justice Scalia supported the decision by comparing video games to classic literature:

"Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat. But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional."

The way I see it, you can't have it both ways. You can't argue vehemently that video games are art when the issue of video game violence comes up, and then throw the "just for fun" blanket over them when someone tries to discuss their content with the same level of intellectual depth that gets applied to books and films. Unless of course you're arguing from Oscar Wilde's belief that art should never be taken seriously. But even Wilde agreed that art was deserving of a certain level of criticism:

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all."

So which is it? Are video games art in the same way that films and books are art? Are they sort of art, but in a lesser way than "high art" forms? Or are they not art at all?

Oh, and because I know that at least one person will come into this thread crying "censorship", I'm only going to say this once, so pay attention: Criticism and censorship are not the same thing.

I don't play games for art, I play them for fun. Games like Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Fallout, CoD, they're fun to play. I don't play games for art, like Journey or Unfinished Swan or other games that are meant to transport you to a higher plane of existence, because I don't find them fun and if I want to achieve that I'd listen to music or watch a film or look at art as I find they do it much more successfully.
I'll play a game for fun but if it works artistically too then that's probably an added extra?
EDIT: Should also add that I'm one of those people who cares little for graphics. My favourite games all have average graphics, and I won't buy a game if it's main boasting point is great graphics. As people have said, aesthetic is what really makes me enjoy the way a game looks.

Can't it be both?

Art can be both art AND fun... I think. I might be studying art history, doesn't make me an art expert in the slightest >.>

I guess it depends on the purpose said game was made for, to put this post to an end

I don't really see how anyone can say games CAN'T be art. Look at Spec Ops, made me think more than any painting i've seen. Some games can be art, some games are just for fun, some games are for other stuff like education etc, just like books, films, pictures and drawings etc.

Not all games are the same, aimed at the same people or produced for the same purpose. That is all i have to say on the art subject.

As for the racism/sexism etc aspect, seems Wilde has it down, some games are just poorly made, end up being sexist or racist in some ways and should be open to criticism. But we shouldn't be distracted from what they are at the core: badly made games. Some games CAN express sexist or racist attitudes and still be well made, American History X expressed some horrifically racist ideas, criticizing it because of that would be beyond stupid.

Why can't we have our cake and eat it to?
A video game that is fun, can also be art.

If a film can be both entertaining and a work of art, why can't a video game? After all, games and films both have similar goals, they are products that are experienced by the people, for entertainment, educational value or to convey a message. I loved the crap out of Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, Journey, LOZ: Windwaker. Not all for the same reasons, but I consider each of them to be a work of art.

What constitutes "real" art has be debated for centuries. To me, video games are just as much art as film, and I couldn't care less what people like Robert Ebert think of the subject.

Define art conclusively, then you can decide.

I don't particularly care myself. Are they art? *shrug* Sure, why not, they're art, no problem.

But I still judge games case-by-case, especially those that have a lot of PR funding behind them, because we gotta keep the industry honest and all. And even case-by-case, I'm not the type to just devour a new game then toss it aside and completely wipe it from my memory once I get my hands on the next most coolest thing ever™

To me games are about experiencing them, not beating them. Huh. Sounds artsy, actually.

PsychicTaco115:
Can't it be both?

Eclipse Dragon:
Why can't we have our cake and eat it to?
A video game that is fun, can also be art.

Go back and read the poll again.

Video games are just for fun

I never claimed that they can't be both. If you think that they are both fun and art then choose the "art" option.

Art and fun are not polar opposites of each other.

Lots of games have artistic merit and can be fun to play. Bioshcok, Mass Effect etc.

Video games are, first and foremost, games. It's in the name, after all. But that doesn't preclude them from being art as well. It's just that, like every other medium, not everything is art, or is art for some, but not for others.

Just like with films, most of video games are there for entertainment purposes. Some lean to a more refined direction and there's nothing wrong with that. Variety is good!

Eclipse Dragon:
Why can't we have our cake and eat it to?
A video game that is fun, can also be art.

If a film can be both entertaining and a work of art, why can't a video game? After all, games and films both have similar goals, they are products that are experienced by the people, for entertainment, educational value or to convey a message. I loved the crap out of Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, Journey, LOZ: Windwaker. Not all for the same reasons, but I consider each of them to be a work of art.

I doubt that the OP intended to say that art and fun are mutually exclusive, but is rather asking: are games only just for fun, or also art?

In any case, I fully agree with the OP: you can't have it both ways.

I'm asking the same question, can't it be both? I play games only for fun myself, doesn't mean they can't be art as well. Bioshock Infinite and God of War: Ascension were particularly works of art in my opinion.

Get_A_Grip_:
Art and fun are not polar opposites of each other.

Lots of games have artistic merit and can be fun to play. Bioshcok, Mass Effect etc.

I'm going to have to go back and edit the original post to stop this thread from being filled up with people who didn't read the poll properly, aren't I?

Art is anything done or made through creative expression. Art and fun are not mutually exclusive games can be both. Also something doesn't need to be good to be art either. I consider all games a piece of art because they all have creative ideas and people expressing themselves though them.

CloudAtlas:

Eclipse Dragon:
Why can't we have our cake and eat it to?
A video game that is fun, can also be art.

If a film can be both entertaining and a work of art, why can't a video game? After all, games and films both have similar goals, they are products that are experienced by the people, for entertainment, educational value or to convey a message. I loved the crap out of Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, Journey, LOZ: Windwaker. Not all for the same reasons, but I consider each of them to be a work of art.

I doubt that the OP intended to say that art and fun are mutually exclusive, but is rather asking: are games only just for fun, or also art?

In any case, I fully agree with the OP: you can't have it both ways.

The OP clarified the poll, but thanks for your concern anyway.

I fall into the group that they are more art, as you said, fun and art.

This thread is going to end badly though, I have a feeling.

aba1:
Art and fun are not mutually exclusive games can be both.

I refer you to the edit in the original post and pray that this is the last post I get that makes this same basic mistake in reading comprehension.

i want to know how it being "art" changes anything at all

I don't get the argument that games are primarily for entertainment anyway. Of course it is a requirement for a good game that you will actually want to play it. But that's no different for movies, books, or music. A good book is book you will want to keep reading, a good movie is movie you will want to watching. The words "fun" or "enjoyment" might not describe your experience when watching a movie like "Schindler's List", but that equally applies to many games.

If you are concerned about reading comprehension, you should at an option that includes neither or other, because I dont agree with any of the poll options. Maybe I don't understand your premise the video games can only be one thing. Nobody would ever try to claim movies are "just for fun" or "just art." I've also had plenty of emotion provoking incidents in video games that made them more the "just fun" but I wouldnt go as far to claim the most video games, other than PR bullshit, are trying to give players a spiritual journey.

spartandude:
i want to know how it being "art" changes anything at all

It makes everyone here feel cleverer.

I feel like the OP should clarify their definition of art, because it seems like people are getting confused. (I feel like most people are confusing "art" with "arty-farty"). EDIT: Never mind, you just did.

I think games are art just like films and books are. Die Hard films are art, comicbook films are art, Twilight books are art etc. You can make distinctions between "high" and "low" art if you like, but imo it doesn't change anything.

Of course they're art. There's nothing any other expressive medium does that even the most schlocky of games don't also do. The only reason this argument even exists is because people still like to think that "art" is some sort of undefinable, subjective term related to the quality of the work, when it should be an objective term related only to the function of the work.

Comocat:
If you are concerned about reading comprehension, you should at an option that includes neither or other, because I dont agree with any of the poll options. Maybe I don't understand your premise the video games can only be one thing. Nobody would ever try to claim movies are "just for fun" or "just art." I've also had plenty of emotion provoking incidents in video games that made them more the "just fun" but I wouldnt go as far to claim the most video games, other than PR bullshit, are trying to give players a spiritual journey.

Is a spiritual journey required in all art?

And if you go back and read again, you'll see that the second poll option does not say "just art". For the last time (I'm not going to fill this thread up repeating things that are already made clear in the OP), I am not saying that video games can only be one thing or the other. I am not saying that fun and art are mutually exclusive. I am saying that "art" and "not art" are mutually exclusive.

Definitely not mutually exclusive. Though it depends on what you mean by "fun".

I don't think I had "fun" playing Spec Ops: The Line. But it was certainly an experience I 'enjoyed', in that I didn't want to stop and I still think about it to this day.

Where's the none of the above or other option?

I don't agree with "Video games are just for fun" because of the "just", I think many (maybe even most) video games are art, but can't agree with "Video games are art" because I think there are exceptions, and I don't believe that "Video games are art, but art should never be taken seriously" because of course art can be taken seriously.

Raikas:
Where's the none of the above or other option?

I don't agree with "Video games are just for fun" because of the "just", I think many (maybe even most) video games are art, but can't agree with "Video games are art" because I think there are exceptions, and I don't believe that "Video games are art, but art should never be taken seriously" because of course art can be taken seriously.

But I don't understand the "exceptions" argument. Are you seriously saying that you can take specific video games and place them into "art" and "not art" columns based on your own arbitrary measuring system of "art points"? The point of the discussion is to establish whether video games as a medium are deserving of the same analysis as films or books.

boots:
But I don't understand the "exceptions" argument. Are you seriously saying that you can take specific video games and place them into "art" and "not art" columns based on your own arbitrary measuring system of "art points"? The point of the discussion is to establish whether video games as a medium are deserving of the same analysis as films or books.

Do I believe that the medium is as deserving of the same analysis as films or books? Yes.

That said, when I had to make a very basic game for a school assignment, it was not art - it was created purely though a technical/craft process. There are certainly film examples of the same thing - if you test a new camera but randomly shooting a short video, that's the same kind of thing. It doesn't cancel out the artistry of games (or film) in general to acknowledge that there's a craft element to the basics.

Look at fibre arts and crafts - a new design is art, but putting the pieces together and following the pattern is a craft.

Raikas:

Do I believe that the medium is as deserving of the same analysis as films or books? Yes.

That said, when I had to make a very basic game for a school assignment, it was not art - it was created purely though a technical/craft process. There are certainly film examples of the same thing - if you test a new camera but randomly shooting a short video, that's the same kind of thing. It doesn't cancel out the artistry of games (or film) in general to acknowledge that there's a craft element to the basics.

Look at fibre arts and crafts - a new design is art, but putting the pieces together and following the pattern is a craft.

When I say "video games" I'm referring to published video games, not school assignments. Just like when we say "books" we're generally referring to published words as opposed to toilet graffiti, and when we talk about "films" we're generally not including Jerry's iPhone video of his dog throwing up on the carpet.

boots:

Raikas:
Where's the none of the above or other option?

I don't agree with "Video games are just for fun" because of the "just", I think many (maybe even most) video games are art, but can't agree with "Video games are art" because I think there are exceptions, and I don't believe that "Video games are art, but art should never be taken seriously" because of course art can be taken seriously.

But I don't understand the "exceptions" argument. Are you seriously saying that you can take specific video games and place them into "art" and "not art" columns based on your own arbitrary measuring system of "art points"? The point of the discussion is to establish whether video games as a medium are deserving of the same analysis as films or books.

The thing is that everyone deems what they define as "art" differently. There is a widely accepted academic definition for the term, yes, but it's so all-encompassing that the person who had a some-odd terabyte hard drive filled to the brim with files and programs was called 'art'. A person's unmade bed was called 'art'. Splashing paint colors in random patterns on a canvas is called 'art'. So people use their own subjective opinions to form their own personal definition of what they consider to be art. On that basis, yes, people probably sure can classify various games as "art" and "not art" based on their arbitrary measuring system. Since the definition of art is so loose and abstract to begin with, who is anyone to say they're wrong?

OT: On the simplest front, I do believe video games deserve the same treatment and analysis given to other entertainment mediums. You can see the parallels already if you strain hard enough to make connections; Bioshock is to Call of Duty as Cloud Atlas is to The Expendables, or G.I. Joe, or countless other action films filled with explosions.

They shouldn't be exempt from all critical analysis on the basis of being simple entertainment, but I do feel that some people take it entirely too seriously and need to step back to remember that they are, in fact, just games. Just as The Lord of Rings is just a series of books (or films), just as The Big Bang Theory is just a television show, I see no reason to get worked up into aggressive or defensive furors over the things to either attack ones you dislike, or defend the ones you do enjoy. That's not to say I don't particularly understand why it happens; The same thing happens to me with Final Fantasy XIII.

boots:

Raikas:

Do I believe that the medium is as deserving of the same analysis as films or books? Yes.

That said, when I had to make a very basic game for a school assignment, it was not art - it was created purely though a technical/craft process. There are certainly film examples of the same thing - if you test a new camera but randomly shooting a short video, that's the same kind of thing. It doesn't cancel out the artistry of games (or film) in general to acknowledge that there's a craft element to the basics.

Look at fibre arts and crafts - a new design is art, but putting the pieces together and following the pattern is a craft.

When I say "video games" I'm referring to published video games, not school assignments. Just like when we say "books" we're generally referring to published words as opposed to toilet graffiti, and when we talk about "films" we're generally not including Jerry's iPhone video of his dog throwing up on the carpet.

But some school assignments do end up being art - ditto graffiti. That's the problem with absolutes - there aren't any.

When most people say that games are meant for fun, they are not meaning it in a dismissive "So that's all they should be", they mean it as in "It doesn't have to have a deeper meaning beyond what you see".

Like how in English Literature lessons at school. I recall having to read The Lord of the Flies for my examinations in my final year. We had to write entire essays making up bullshit hidden meanings that were almost certainly not the intent of the author when they wrote it.

For example how the glasses of the character Piggy supposedly "symbolised knowledge". When the glasses were more likely included purely for the sake of the plot and characterisation. They are used for lighting fires and making Piggy an outcast due to him being different (as he also has asthma).

The point being, that when people use the "Gamers are for fun" argument, it's normally meant as another way of saying "Stop over-analysing it" rather than "It shouldn't be taken seriously in any way".

I think we have to discover and qualify what makes videogames different from the mediums of Film and literature.

What are the unique qualities inherent in videogames that will allow them to take an idea and create an emotional and thought provoking experience that would not be possible or not be better implemented in a book or a movie.

Personally I think the answer lies in the interactivity of games. You cannot influence a movie to make it play a certain way, you cannot influence a painting to show you what you particularly want to see, but a videogame... You can decide what actions to take, you can decide where the plot goes, and from that I can see a lot of potential to create some really soul searching games, that can still be entertaining and fun as any movie is, but also confront you with the choices you make in the game and ask you to consider what type of a person that makes you.

Spec Ops the Line does this, to a lesser extent it is present in the Walking Dead game. Even Deus Ex implements things like changing people's reactions to you depending on how reckless you are. Heck, Skyrim has provoked threads here discussing the merits of two factions based on having to make a choice between an ineffective, compromised faction and a racist, selfish faction, and those threads are longer than any I've ever seen about a film or a book on here.

In my opinion art is something that promotes a higher thought process than just an initial emotion or reaction. It's something that creates a deeper interest in the subject matter presented to you, and videogames have so much potential to create great artistic, challenging pieces and soul searching problems that make you question your own morality, emotions and world view by using their unique viewer interactivity, I can't wait to see the games that will grasp this and really push the medium into the artistic spotlight.

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