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Games
By dark nowhere (Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 08:23:46 AM EST) Q4G (all tags)
Those gaming essays? In addition to scouring the internet at large (and whatever other media applies), I'm going to try to harvest the enlightened residents of HuSi.

So if you have an opinion, or can even think of one, I'd like to hear it. I'm starting general. These will get more specific in the future.

The Question: Games as art, Y/N? - and why?



When I hear this question, I feel like I'm being blatantly trolled. To me, the answer is obviously yes, but I won't go into why just yet. With this in mind, counter-arguments are more needed than the pro-art arguments, but both are valuable.  Feel free to play devil's advocate.
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Questions for Gamers (and non) :: Art? | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
May I ask for some clarification? by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 09:34:06 AM EST
Are we talking RPG, computer, board games or what?  I have been playing computer games longer than I would like to admit, and I have been playing RPGs since....well too long.

In the mean time, I will throw some thoughts about regarding games as art, in the RPG sense.

RPGs, to me, are a story and in that story there is art.  The same art that goes into any story.  The only difference is that you can only hang a framework up for the story.  The actual story is told by the players and their often unpredictable actions.  

For instance, one of the biggest problems I have with running a pre-made module is that the players often times come up with options that simply are not covered under the framework of the story given by the module author.  Or worse, they find a goddamn loophole, something that allows them to short-circuit nearly the entire adventure.  Now as the DM, its clear I have to deal with these contingencies and make the story happen without railroading them into it, or forcing them in an unrealistic way.  I see pen and paper RPGs as a form of performance art, but only one that can be appreciated by the players.

It does draw into question whether something that interactive can truely be art, considering you have to participate to "get" it.  Where as other forms of art, such as music, writing, paintings, sculpture, and plays are all based on the appreciation of the final product.  RPGs simply lack that.  There is no final product.  It could be considered attributive performance art, a dance that you can only participate in by playing or DMing.

Interesting idea.


Gedvondur

"I love my brain. It's the only organ I can afford to lose." --frijolito
Video Games by dark nowhere (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 10:04:41 AM EST
but your question brings up another interesting question--artistically, how are the three different?

One thing I keep coming back to is that there's obviously artistic content, but is the whole an art? You're asking the same question with P&P RPGs. I'm a bit uneasy with the question because the answer seems to depend on where and how the lines are drawn.

For example, is the game as something to experience (i.e. before it is played) an entity of art?

As for participation: to some extent you can assert the same requirement for The Blue Man Group. There's probably little question as to whether they're artists, and their shows art.

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
Okay by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 09:18:59 AM EST
Well, how all three are different from an art standpoint, I don't know.  I think we need to address the question of whether or not the whole of a game, regardless of the medium, is art.

As you have said, there is artistic content to every game.  This I think is evident.

As to the whole, I have given this some thought over the last day or so.  Here is one possible definition, but by no means an answer:

1.  For something to be art, it must be able to be appreciated by the spectator.  That would leave P&P RPGs, Video Games, and most board games out of the art category.  But that begs the question, is a baseball game art, just as the performance of the Blue Man Group?

I think the conclusion I have come to is this:  Games are not art, but have art elements, some of them very strong art elements.  Games are another category, called leisure.  So for my part, with reservations and much thought into it, video games, P&P RPGs, and board games are not art, but leisure items. 

I am more than willing to be persuaded from this opinion, please let me know what you think.


 

Gedvondur




"I love my brain. It's the only organ I can afford to lose." --frijolito
[ Parent ]
Very good, by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:38:30 AM EST
this is where I start to make my case. I would make the case that the game design is a form of art, and while it's often treated as craft, many games take it to art. For example, the game Gravitation I think is a strong example of art in game design itself.

I'd extend the argument to a given game by asserting that the design doesn't really live in a vacuum, and its implementation--as a game--is the rendition of art.

The problem of course is that interactivity is required, and there is a game-type goal in mind. On the other hand, I challenge the notion that watching a game being played is any more a measure of its artistic merit than observing people in a gallery or at a concert without paying attention to the paintings or music. The point is that without being appropriately engaged, the assessment is being made from Plato's Cave.

(Just now I might be guilty of presuming artist content and circular reasoning, but I think it holds up as a counter-argument.)

I think what I have to ask now is: can the design of a game really be art, and is the game as a whole its rendition? For the first question: I feel it, the very first thing I did in Gravitation was utter simplicity and yet I found it to be very moving. It had the artistic moment, I suppose. For the second question, I'm willing to assert, or define: a game is the (or a) rendition of its design. I think that's acceptable.

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
It's commerce, isn't it? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 2) #2 Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 09:46:29 AM EST
Well, then it's not art, you tosh.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

So um, by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 12:15:36 PM EST
what separates 'commerce' from 'art'? I think we would have a lot less producers of art in general if there were no money to be made from it.

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
A lack of patronage has crippled the arts. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 03:52:46 PM EST
There is no art in worrying about money.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Okay, by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 04:02:33 PM EST
what if I point out that many games are available free of charge? Assuming they're not part of some larger scheme to make money, they obviously don't fall under the category of commerce. Does your position allow games-as-art within this category?

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
Free games. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 04:15:31 PM EST
That's a marketing strategy for the next wave of sales, or simply a hobbyist's diversion.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
The direction this is taking by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 05:11:29 AM EST
seems to be: no one produces art (because there's always something disqualifying in the intent.) Is that what you're getting at?

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
No. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 04:12:17 AM EST
Some small segment of the population produces art, and they are occasionally paid for the effort.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
but none of them produce video games? by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 05:31:59 AM EST
Is that because it's impossible, or that it simply  hasn't been done?

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
Concept art can be art. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #22 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 09:51:28 PM EST
Production "art" is not art.

Yes, conceptual artists incidentally do get paid for what they do, which is to stretch the imagination and create original ideas (essentially--don't get me started on Hollywood). I believe that they would be doing the same stuff out of love, even if they didn't make a nickel from it.

Production "art"? Well, that's cranked out by the hour in a Korean warehouse.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Artists all over the world are paid to produce... by codemonkey uk (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 01:27:54 AM EST
What makes games different?

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.
[ Parent ]
They aren't artists either. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 03:50:18 PM EST
If your primary motive and objective is to make a buck, then you're not an artist.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
primary motive? by codemonkey uk (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 02:47:33 AM EST
for most of the people I talk to in the games industry, the money isn't the primary motivator, if it was they would be doing something that pays better.

"I don't get paid to make games, I'd do that for free.  I get paid to put up with the management."

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.

[ Parent ]
So that was their CV goal? by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 03:51:12 AM EST
"To secure a position putting up with management."
I don't believe it.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
What is a CV goal? by codemonkey uk (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 08:29:45 AM EST
Just because you have a broomstick rammed up your ass, doesn't mean the rest of the world does.

Simple fact of the matter is, for a significant chunk of people working in the games industry, the being paid part of what they do is just a way to do what they do full time. 

Think about it.  You want to make games, right?  So you can either take a job in the games industry, and get to do what you love 8 hours a day, or you can do a SHITTY day job, and have much less time to spend making games, which will, by the way, be much worse, because all the people who are really good at making games are too busy getting paid to make games than to work with you for free on your shitty part time game that'll probably never get finished.

So really, what your saying is, people can only call themselves artists if they make very very bad life decisions.

In conclusion, shut up, your being an idiot.

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.

[ Parent ]
YHBT, dude by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 10:51:00 AM EST
...at least I assume it's a troll.

But actually, ammoniacal's stated point of view is  helpful in a reductio ad absurdum sort of way.

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
Congradulations! by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:26:55 PM EST
You just proved that Bach, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Shakespeare weren't artists!
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Without wanting to sound too cynical or reductive, by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 11:48:04 AM EST

doesn't this essentially boil down to "What is art?".

Last time I looked, we were still arguing the toss over that one.


----
Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
Yeah, by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #5 Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 12:10:45 PM EST
if it helps, I'm mostly worried about perception. Should video games be perceived as art?

This particular question is the least important to me, but I want to cover it for the sake of completeness. I figured I should get it out of the way fast so that my later struggles can be with things that are less, um, frustrating to nail down.

OTOH, if I can find a genuinely challenging opinion that would be awesome. Unfortunately the "what is art" question really muddies it. I've a reason for thinking the package as a whole is an artistic work separate from its contents, and I think that's easier to attack than the simple argument that video games deliver art.

Another important aspect of the question is to gather peoples general perceptions and fit them into some kind of coherent spectrum that I can use as a contrast for the position I'll be taking.

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
I think if the question by garlic (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 10:26:56 AM EST
'is it art?' can be legitimately asked of anything, then the answer is yes.


Questions for Gamers (and non) :: Art? | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback