Articles

Are Games Art?

In Uncategorized on 2010-02-06 by Kyle Maxwell Tagged: , ,

Here’s something I wrote about games as art, eons ago, when somebody on the Internet made me all mad. Someday I may finish it, and update its bunch of busted links, but for now I offer it up in rough form, in honor of the Art History of Games (#AHoG), happening this week here in Atlanta. Please consider this a work in progress.

Who said games can’t be art?

Famously, Roger Ebert did. Back in 2007, in a response to comments decrying his earlier opinion that video games are not art, Ebert wrote, “Games may not be Shakespeare quite yet, but I have the prejudice that they never will be, and some gamers are prejudiced that they will.”

Last week, film critic Devin Faraci of CHUD.com published an editorial adding his arguments to the ongoing debate. Faraci’s editorial came after his comments in a news item on a possible Shadow of the Colossus film triggered a debate (on Twitter) about whether or not video games are an art form. Faraci says video games aren’t art, and the Internet is full of people who disagree with him.

I disagree with him, too, but I was more interested in understanding his argument. Aside from Ebert’s opinion, I’d never read a serious argument for why video games shouldn’t be considered art. Ebert’s argument is concerned with both form and quality—he says games do things art shouldn’t and that they aren’t much good, besides. Faraci’s argument is completely categorical—he says games are not an art form because they do not do what he says art does.

Chuck Wendig, who’s both a brilliant writer and a clever game designer, wrote his response to Faraci’s editorial right away, but I’m not completely on board with it. Chuck’s written a host of short stories (one was even published at CHUD, I think) and designed Hunter: The Vigil, so you know he has some experience with games and the arts. But in his response Chuck merely disagrees with Faraci and Ebert.

Here, I’m going to make my case for why some games are art. […]

No border lasts. Nations fold, coastlines fatten, rivers dry, rockets defy gravity’s definitions. I don’t know if Laika’s an art object, but we get more art from leaving the question open, and closing it won’t work anyway.

And for the record, I’m (obviously) totally on the side of “games are art, even if most of them suck.”

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