Games As Art: In Memory of Dolores Haze

This month, what I consider the greatest literary work of the 20th century celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. It's the best writing I have ever and will ever read; the prose is crushing, effortless: a creature of power and beauty and horror. I was lost from the first simple, chilling words:

Vladimir Nabokov wrote:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-Lee-Ta.

I will never--can never--read this book again.

Lolita shattered me. A part of me will never be the same after reading the novel, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. The prose is so masterful: so clear, honest, and nimble. But I hate Lolita's subject matter. I hate Humbert Humbert, for his unrepentant, callous destruction of another human being; and Lolita, for refusing to fight back; and her mother, for blaming her daughter for Humbert's sins. To read (and finish) Lolita requires monumental effort.

That, of course, is the point.

Nabokov has been accused of cruelty towards his readers for his attempt to make an abominable character--a serially pedophilic parental figure--sympathetic. This is a charge with which I cannot agree; having read Nabokov's other works, I know that he treasured his readers deeply. Instead, I think he needed to write Lolita, in the same way that Mozart needed to pen Requiem, or Picasso needed to paint Guernica. True greatness hungers for challenges worthy of attack.

Lolita forces the reader to dissect Humbert's savage mind, and the insight is repulsive; yet slowly, unwillingly, the reader starts to ever-so-slightly comprehend Humbert's motives. Once the novel is finished, the reader is alternately amazed and aghast at herself for coming so close to truly understanding a monster, which, I think, makes her both hate and love Lolita all the more. For all its repugnance, Lolita is a work of art.

Art is not simply beauty, because beauty is too subjective to universally categorize. Art does not merely evoke emotions; after all, I cry at telephone commercials and I don't pretend to think those are art. Nor is art only social commentary, since The No Spin Zone is just that, and nobody accuses that of being art.

Instead, art is a mental exercise for the audience, a challenge to the psyche. It's something that actively makes us reassess whatever we've previously thought --if only to return to the same conclusion. There are plenty of good paintings that are not art. But Guernica requires me to incorporate my own experiences of suffering to understand the piece, and thus makes me reevaluate how I understand war. Great art is a mirror. Humbert Humbert is only repulsive because I, as the reader, make him so; I suppose to a pedophile, HH could be a genius.

Are video games art? The key ingredient in art is the interaction between piece and observer; games, by the nature of the medium, already have willing, responsive, and ready participants. And yet, so few games will truly explore this interactivity in a challenging and unexpected way.

I think much of the current commotion about games as art stems from insecurity: we gamers desperately want to attach worth to our hobby. What better way to do that than to label them as art? The word "art" connotes supreme and definitive worthiness; if I refer to something as "a work of art", then automatically, it must be important, worthwhile, and good. This is nonsense. Certainly, there are important, worthwhile, and good things which are not art.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't that games can't be art. It's that, as a general rule, they aren't.

To be art, video games would need to probe our identities, by challenging the foundations on which we base them. This isn't as simple pulling a trick on the player, as if to say "Look, everything you've ever thought was true? It's actually wrong! Ha ha! (Aren't I a clever game?)" Such an attitude is cheap revelation and very, very fleeting.

Rather, we'd play the game only to be forever marked by it. As I said, great art is a mirror. An artistic game would not be about what's happening on the screen, but about what's happening to the player.

So then, should games be art? Should we assign them the same self-reflective functions?

I don't know; it depends on our motives. Games seem to be serving us well enough as a medium without being art. Why should we impose art's limitations and constraints on a medium that doesn't need it? Do we have a responsibility to make all media, including games, into art? Or are we simply trying to legitimatize video games, so that governments will not regulate them and parents will stop complaining about them?

Maybe I don't want Tetris to make me reconsider my preconceived notions of self and other. It certainly could, but then again, I think that might muddle or conflict with its primary purpose: to entertain me.

Art like Lolita brings me closer to myself; I understand my psyche better for having read the novel. On the other hand, games are ultimately escapist endeavors: we play video games to do something else, become someone else. We do not play games to become ourselves.

Artistic games would place the burden of introspection on the player. It could be conceivable that one day, someone could create the equivalent of Lolita: The Videogame. I don't mean that in the sense that one day, someone will put pedophilic porn on TV; I mean that one day, someone will write a game that crushes its players, hollowing out their innocence and faith, leaving them eternally and irrevocably changed.

I'm not so sure I want that. Give me beauty, emotions, or social commentary, I don't mind. But as a player, I'm just not ready to cope with Humbert Humbert on my Playstation.

Comments

You've reminded me of how much I loved (and loathed) Lolita. What a fantastic book that was. I've heard it whispered before that Lolita was Nabokov's love affair with the English language, and I don't think I could think of a more apt description. Truly a timeless novel and wonderful piece of art.

Which brings us back to the whole 'videogames as art' issue. The definition of 'art' is fluid, and I find to peg it with one description next to impossible. But are videogames art? Sometimes I think yes, other times no. I've picked up 'Rez' lately for the PS2 and struggled as to whether its a work of art or not. The more I think of it, the more I believe it should be considered an amazing example of design, but not necessarily art. However, take something like 'Okami', which has such a unique visual style and tries something completely different, should that be considered as 'art'? There was definitely a lot of artistry put into that game, but does that alone make it a work of 'art'?

It's a tough call, since you could argue both sides and come up with valid points from either standpoints. The medium itself is still so new that I find it difficult to peg as one thing or another, but I find that when people refer to such and such a game as "˜art', they're more or less referring to the overall unique design of the game.

You've brought up an interesting point in a very well written article, KaterinLHC, good job!

Having never read Lolita, all I can say is the selected quote sounds like it came out of a Vampire: The Masquerade novel.

dhaelis, I agree that when people refer to a game as "art" they're really talking about unique design values I have a problem defining art in that way, because I think it's too vague a definition. Art has a specific purpose. (Although I'll admit that the purpose I outline above is a narrow one.) Since each English word has a unique meaning, I think calling things 'art' that aren't art is pretentious. If you mean 'stylish', you should say 'stylish'; if you mean 'beautiful', say 'beautiful'; if you mean 'complex', say 'complex'. But none of these words are synonyms for 'artistic'.

(Thanks for the compliments, too :).)

LobsterMobster wrote:

Having never read Lolita, all I can say is the selected quote sounds like it came out of a Vampire: The Masquerade novel. :)

I guess... I've never read any Vampire: Masquerade novels. However, I'd say that if anything, Vampire more likely stole from Nabokov than the other way around.

Nabokov is lucky the Sharks traded for Thornton to help people overlook his inability to keep the puck ouf of the goal.

I gotta say before I comment....

fire of my loins

see also, cockles

KaterinLHC wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

Having never read Lolita, all I can say is the selected quote sounds like it came out of a Vampire: The Masquerade novel. :)

I guess... I've never read any Vampire: Masquerade novels. However, I'd say that if anything, Vampire more likely stole from Nabokov than the other way around.

What I'm saying is it's a bit... emo.

Emo posturing and vampire novels are funhouse mirrors of the style of writing that Nabokov typifies. Intensely emotional and lyrical prose can seem pretty overwrought - it requires a deftness of touch and a sincerity that I would daresay is fairly rare in Vampire: The Masquerade novels. :p

Great article, Katerin. Art, how it is defined, and the service in which it is utilized, are subjects very near to my heart. I'd put Lolita in the same category as The Wars by Timothy Findley. Both are novels which I loathed and at the same time respected for their artistry. The Wars was the first book that made me really think about what art is, and about the degree to which I was attached to comfort, and made me realise my struggle to come to terms with how the book made me feel was the most important thing that I took away from it.

KaterinLHC wrote:

Nor is art only social commentary, since The No Spin Zone is just that, and nobody accuses that of being art

Social commentary? I can't really go there with you, Katerina, though I understand your point. Social commentary I think needs to at least INTEND to educate or illuminate. The No Spin Zone and its ilk are pure propaganda, and I think are only intended to inflame and entertain. I doubt the people involved would admit that, but I think that's true nonetheless.
Lovely piece, though, Katerina.

Ok, sorry for dragging the thread down earlier, I just can't be thoughtful all the time.

I think the word "art" comes from greek or latin and means "to arrange". Traditionally, art has meant to be visual arts, ie, painting and sculpture. Most of my favorite painters, Van Gogh for example, do not produce a burden of introspection towards my inner self, unless it is to wonder at my own feelings of amazement at the colors and images I am seeing. That's how someone clued me in on so called modern art, don't try to comprehend it, just observe how it makes you feel.

Video games are young. We are just beginning to discover their structure and their grammar. Once we have the fundamental building blocks, we'll see the first works of video game art.

Rat Boy wrote:

Nabokov is lucky the Sharks traded for Thornton to help people overlook his inability to keep the puck ouf of the goal.

I love you Rat Boy.

Jakobedlam wrote:

Social commentary I think needs to at least INTEND to educate or illuminate. The No Spin Zone and its ilk are pure propaganda, and I think are only intended to inflame and entertain. I doubt the people involved would admit that

Maybe because they believe to be educating and illuminating. Your O'Reillys, Limbaughs, Frankens, these people hold viewpoints that they believe to be "right". If one takes the time to really listen to what any of them say, one can easily find the belief and viewpoint behind it, even if the viewpoint is of questionable merit. Unfortunately, people find it easier to just demonize those that they disagree with, or those that present their viewpoints in manners that perhaps aren't the most gentle or openminded.

KaterinLHC wrote:

For all its repugnance, Lolita is a work of art.

It is not difficult to find someone that strongly disagrees with that. To some, Lolita is pure trash on paper.

For anything one might label "art", there's a Roger Ebert waiting on the other side of the coin.

The problem with any argument over "is X art" is that it operates under the premise of an authoritative determination of something being "art" or "not art".

Any definition, or attempt at definion, of art (beyond the dictionary definition of "the products of human creativity", of which Lolita, video games, and Britney Spears albums all fall under) is a purely masturbatory exercise.

I've never read Lolita (sounds pornographic :D) but I agree with katherinLHC. Video games are my escape to another world/character/life/etc, my 'drug' (without the nasty side effects) and even though I do get alot of hassle from my parents from playing video games 'all the time' I wouldnt sacrifice the entertainment factor for some hoity toity arthouse camera anges in Halo or whatever, just so I can say to my parents "ITS MAKING ME BETTER!!!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!" "O-ok d-dear sorry"

I wouldnt mind seeing what developers would come up with if they were told to make an arthouse game though, we would probably end up with a game completely in french all about a cannibalistic family with graphic sex scenes and funky lighting or just pitch black where you would only pass the game with pure luck.

I don't necessarely agree with your definition of art, Kath, but any definition is as good as another so I'll go with it. I do play a lot of games in which I do not wish to get emotionally involved in any way, let alone let them hold a mirror in front of me. When I play Pro Evolution Soccer, I'm thinking about how I can get Serhat Akin curl that ball in the top corner, not how it will affect my life and my paradigms or whatever. And sometimes there are games that are insanely addictive as well as intruiging, like Planescape: Torment.

Which is not very different from a movie, tv-show or a book. I mean, we're not going to watch a movie that bores the hell out of us just to learn a valuable lesson, are we? It's not because the Italian Job, Ocean's Eleven or whatnot are entertaining and nothing more and movies like, say, American Beauty are both a mirror and entertaining "movies" can't be viewed as an artform, right?

*Legion* wrote:

Any definition, or attempt at definion, of art (beyond the dictionary definition of "the products of human creativity", of which Lolita, video games, and Britney Spears albums all fall under) is a purely masturbatory exercise.

I think this attitude is a cop-out. Why shouldn't we try to pin down art? Because it's a difficult thing to do? By my definition, art is subjective. And that's quite alright. In fact, that's my entire argument: that art is purely interaction between piece and observer, which is inherently a very, very subjective thing. But just becaus it's subjective, doesn't mean we shouldn't try to pin down a working definition of it. Just because Lolita challenges me and does not challenge Joe down the street makes Lolita no less a work of art to me. Moreover, just because Casablanca does not challenge me and challenges Josephine up the street doesn't make it any less art either.

And before you say, "Well, what's the use of a definition if it's just going to be subjective anyway?", we define plenty of things that are subjective in focus. A reflection in a mirror depends on the observer, and to every observer, the reflection looks different. Yet we define reflections. What I see when I look at the color green is different than what you see (especially if I am colorblind!). Yet we have a definition of green. Love is different for every participant, and yet, definitions for love. Art is no different.

Ace Rimmer wrote:

I wouldnt mind seeing what developers would come up with if they were told to make an arthouse game though, we would probably end up with a game completely in french all about a cannibalistic family with graphic sex scenes and funky lighting or just pitch black where you would only pass the game with pure luck.

They do make these stylistic sorts of games now, maybe not with the graphic sex and the cannibal families, but funky lighting? Games based on pure luck? Definitely out there. But style does not an arty game make.

Instead, an artistic game would be more about you as an observer than what you'd see on the screen. Thus, the focus wouldn't be on the cannibalistic family with graphic sex scenes, it would be on the player's reaction to them. I think that would be extremely difficult to do, given the shocking subject matter, but perhaps it could be done. The family's actions would test your own identity as you'd react to their misery or callousness. Maybe. Hey, if Nabokov could do it for Humbert, I'm sure someone could do it for the Manson family.

An example I thought of would be a hero in an RPG, say, who kills countless monsters as part of his job. And then he's held to task for all the life he's taken, in a very skilled and in-depth examination of morality and the meaning of heroism. The game would raise questions in your mind: How does it affect you as a player to have been sympathizing with a murderer? Where do you go from there? Do you continue to sympathize with him? What kind of person does that make you if you do? So what makes a hero? Would you--could you--become one? Etc., etc.

dejanzie wrote:

I mean, we're not going to watch a movie that bores the hell out of us just to learn a valuable lesson, are we? It's not because the Italian Job, Ocean's Eleven or whatnot are entertaining and nothing more and movies like, say, American Beauty are both a mirror and entertaining "movies" can't be viewed as an artform, right?

You bring up movies, which is a very apt comparison. As time has proven, it's not that movies can't be art, it's that usually, they aren't. There are definitely movies that are art. And then, there are the vast majority of movies, which aren't. Perhaps, if the game market ever does invest in arty games, it will look to the movie industry for examples on how to do it, which, depending on your perspective, could be good or bad.

This isn't to say that there aren't good, stylish, intriguing, complex games or movies out there, because there are. But there aren't many that challenge us in the ways that art challenges us.

Also, I appreciate that you disagree with my definition of art. My definition of art is extremely narrow, I think, and it excludes more things than it includes. But you gotta start somewhere, right? If you have a different definition of art, then you'll have a completely different argument, either for or against games as art. Which makes for interesting debate :).

Instead, an artistic game would be more about you as an observer than what you'd see on the screen. Thus, the focus wouldn't be on the cannibalistic family with graphic sex scenes, it would be on the player's reaction to them.

Kat, your comments make me wonder about a dancer. Is his performance art to everyone else but himself? What if the performer is improvising? Then I thought of a piece of art that Yoko Ono did, the thing that John Lennon said attracted him to her. There was a ladder in the middle of the gallery which brought you right up to the ceiling. On the ceiling was a tiny door, which you were supposed to open. Behind the door was the word "yes". Like sculpture, it was art that you explore from different physical angles. It wouldn't work without interaction. Neither do games. Don't know where I'm going with this, but... great, thought provoking piece!

As time has proven, it's not that movies can't be art, it's that usually, they aren't.

Maybe this is our point, or argument. Instead of defining art, then defining "good" art and "bad" art, maybe we are saying that all art is necessarily good, so you definition of art will be different for each person. Bad art isn't art at all, but merely an attempt.

Re: Guernica, The Wars, etc...

It makes me wonder if these compositions lose their artistic value in the world around them, simply because we've become so desensitized, or if the measure of GREAT art is that it has gained MORE value (or at least stood the test of time).

Lady Chatterly's Lover was seen as abominable. A working class guy who has sex and swears? Say it isn't so! Lawrence just wanted to write about it because it was LIFE, apart from the flowery sex scenes. I wouldn't necessarily include this book in the great stunning volumes of art, but I use it to make the point that...now, a person would read what had stunned so many people, romanced so many women, and think.."What's so bad about that?"

Great post.

I think this attitude is a cop-out. Why shouldn't we try to pin down art? Because it's a difficult thing to do? By my definition, art is subjective. And that's quite alright. In fact, that's my entire argument: that art is purely interaction between piece and observer, which is inherently a very, very subjective thing. But just becaus it's subjective, doesn't mean we shouldn't try to pin down a working definition of it. Just because Lolita challenges me and does not challenge Joe down the street makes Lolita no less a work of art to me. Moreover, just because Casablanca does not challenge me and challenges Josephine up the street doesn't make it any less art either.

This argument states that all things made are art, regardless of your personal perception of them - up to and including blatant propaganda, Tetris, mindless social commentary, etc.
It has to be, by your argument, because it challenges and is artful to someone, somewhere. Or may one day be challenging, etc.

Or, in a more quantum sort of way, it states that all made objects exist in a superposition state of Art and Not-Art, and it requires a subjective observer to collapse the local state variable, if only for themselves. After all, just because you aren't moved by something, doesn't mean someone else isn't.

You contradict yourself, as well - first you state that art is truly subjective, which means all objects are placed into Art/NotArt superposition, and then you turn around and say subsets of things aren't art - basically applying a subjective filter, that below a certain threshhold, they can never BE art, which requires an objective definition of art which you claim is largely impossible. Your example of Love in that instance is flawed, as Love is defined in largely the same way that Art currently is - an attraction of two minds, whereas Art is the emotional response to a creation.
How do you define an objective system from either of those?

In order for the first proposition - the superposition of art - to be true, all things in a set (such as movies) must potentially be art. There can be no limitations like "Doom was a crappy movie, it can't be art.", because there is someone for whom the Art vector collapsed opposite of yours. In order for anything to be considered Art, all things have to be considered potential Art.

I've always liked the definition of art as anything not directly related to survival.

Azure Chicken wrote:

This argument states that all things made are art, regardless of your personal perception of them - up to and including blatant propaganda, Tetris, mindless social commentary, etc.
It has to be, by your argument, because it challenges and is artful to someone, somewhere. Or may one day be challenging, etc.

Good point. Although I think my definition allows that all things could be art, rather than all things are art. There's a difference.

It's not that beauty, emotionally evocation, and political commentary are categorically not art. It's that art is not merely beauty, emotional evocation, or political commentary. (Forgive my double negatives; it's late). There is a subtle but important difference, and perhaps I was unclear. By my definition, beauty can be art, if it challenges the way you think about your identity, but just plain beauty, however, is not art. I was perhaps misleading when I wrote "Art is not simply beauty, because beauty is too subjective to universally categorize", because it implies that art is objective. I'm not sure how to reword it though.

Anyway, my definition is narrower than most people will allow, and it's quite arguable. As I said to dejanzie, different definitions of art will lead to different conclusions about games as art, which I think would make for interesting discussion. How do you define art, Azure Chicken? And to what conclusions does it lead you about video games as such?

souldaddy wrote:

Maybe this is our point, or argument. Instead of defining art, then defining "good" art and "bad" art, maybe we are saying that all art is necessarily good, so you definition of art will be different for each person. Bad art isn't art at all, but merely an attempt.

I hesitate to assign the labels "good" and "bad" to art, because I don't think makes much sense. Is "good" art that which makes you examine yourself more? Is "bad" art that which makes you examine yourself less? Or doesn't make you examine yourself at all, in which case, it's not art anymore, is it? I don't know. I think what things are art--that is different for each person, but I say the concept of art--something which challenges the identity--is not.

KaterinLHC wrote:

And before you say, "Well, what's the use of a definition if it's just going to be subjective anyway?", we define plenty of things that are subjective in focus. A reflection in a mirror depends on the observer, and to every observer, the reflection looks different. Yet we define reflections. What I see when I look at the color green is different than what you see (especially if I am colorblind!). Yet we have a definition of green. Love is different for every participant, and yet, definitions for love. Art is no different.

"Reflections" and "Green" are pretty poor examples, in that we do define what both are (light) in very non-subjective terms. And regardless of if a "reflection" looks different, we don't sit around arguing "is that a reflection?", as we have a very concrete definition of what the hell a reflection is.

"Definitions of love" is kind of a bad example to make your case on, seeing as how completely insufficiently "love" is defined. Here, I refer you to D. Coverdale [1] for further reading.

The real point, though, is that none of this has anything to do with the discussion. Even if I accept your premise of "we define things that are subjective", it does not therefore stand to reason that we must and are able to define ALL subjetive things.

So let's get back on topic.

By my definition, art is subjective.

Now there's the topic. And two important words in it. "Subjective" being the first one. "My" being the other.

Any attempt at defining "art" beyond the inclusive "the products of human creativity" becomes an exclusionary exercise. And as we see, the decisions on what to exclude is completely based on personal bias. Hence my comment on the whole process being a masturbatory exercise.

I hesitate to assign the labels "good" and "bad" to art, because I don't think makes much sense.

Completely arbitrary exclusions make far less sense.

but I say the concept of art--something which challenges the identity--is not

A very narrow definition based very strongly on personal bias. It's been made very clear that you have this inclination, towards the whole "a challenge to the psyche" idea, and you seem to want to wrap the whole definition of art around it and feed it to us.

Counterexample: there is a lot of classical music - particularly in the Romantic period - that is very serene and beautiful, and not necessarily very challenging (in terms of listening or social impact). Your idea of "art" would exclude that music from being "art".

No, I would say the whole discussion would be well served if every instance of "art" were replaced with "art to Katerin".

[1] Coverdale, David. "Is This Love?" As performed by Whitesnake, 1987

A very narrow definition based very strongly on personal bias. It's been made very clear that you have this inclination, towards the whole "a challenge to the psyche" idea, and you seem to want to wrap the whole definition of art around it and feed it to us...
No, I would say the whole discussion would be well served if every instance of "art" were replaced with "art to Katerin".

Of course this is all my opinion. When did I ever present it as the absolute truth? These front page articles are not encyclopedia articles, they're opinion essays. I'm not trying to "feed" you anything, and I invite differing opinions, so that perhaps, we might have a meaningful discussion. I'm not sure how you get "masturbatory" from "exclusional exercise based on personal bias", but instead of deriding my opinion, why don't you offer your own? Or is your only opinion on the matter that I am full of crap?

According to my definition, there is a lot of classical music that, to me, is not art, no matter how serene and beautiful it is. There are also a lot of fabulous classic movies, incredible paintings, emotionally stirring dances, great literature, and intriguing sculpture that I would not consider art. Yep. I agree. Just because it's not art doesn't make it any less moving, or beautiful, or important, or worthwhile. Doesn't mean we shouldn't study it, or exalt it, or preserve it. It's just not art to me.

A great article, worth taking the 2006 Golden Elysium award away from Fletecher and giving it to Kat instead. Indeed, what a way to finish the year with a bang on our frontpage!

However, I think many would agree with me that games such as Max Payne series or Planescape Torment, or, some would say, even StarCraft do a pretty good job at provoking precisely the kind of effects Kat ascribes to art. I believe Silent Hill games, even though not for everyone, are particularly strong in that area too (don't know, since I haven't played one myself).

And just wait till Alan Wake is out.

*Legion* wrote:
Jakobedlam wrote:

Social commentary I think needs to at least INTEND to educate or illuminate. The No Spin Zone and its ilk are pure propaganda, and I think are only intended to inflame and entertain. I doubt the people involved would admit that

Maybe because they believe to be educating and illuminating.

Exactly my point. I don't think many of these folks actually do believe they are educating or illuminating. When someone does intend to actually educate, I think it becomes social commentary.

*Legion* wrote:

Your O'Reillys, Limbaughs, Frankens, these people hold viewpoints that they believe to be "right". If one takes the time to really listen to what any of them say, one can easily find the belief and viewpoint behind it, even if the viewpoint is of questionable merit. Unfortunately, people find it easier to just demonize those that they disagree with, or those that present their viewpoints in manners that perhaps aren't the most gentle or openminded.

Wow. Do you think you have to "really listen" to find the belief behind what these guys say? Don't you find its pretty much slapping you in the face like the plot in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie?
And can I safely assume you don't actually believe that my statement "demonizes" these people, just because I don't consider them social commentators?
Ah. Openmindedness. Don't you think you need to come to the Social Commentary table with at least some modicum of this? So if you're presenting your viewpoint/belief without openmindedness, are you really trying to educate, or just ranting? I've found its a pretty poor teacher who's convinced he can't learn from his students.

I personally view the definition of "art" from the perspective of the creator. That is, art is a physical manifestation of human creativity, free of any need of third party observance. Once you begin discussing subjective matters such as what one thinks should and should not be considered art, then you are arguing matters of taste. What you define as "art" I would refer to as "high art" (although that's certainly an arguable label.) So, semantics aside"…

Would I want to play a game that was emotionally and/or psychologically involving and challenging? (This is the primary question at hand, no?) I sure would. Not to say I don't enjoy games that provide pure, mindless entertainment, but I'd love an occasional game that confronted with unique challenges that would demand my personal involvement.

The problem seems to lie in that such a game would be even more challenging to create, and would likely never see the light of day

Great article btw, always a fun subject matter.

Perhaps the problem with this endless debate is that we are trying to attach gaming onto the already overloaded concept or "Art." I think this might be a case of taking the path of least resistence on part of gamers that feel insulted and scorned for having their hobby constantly under attack from just about every angle conceivable. I'm not saying the frustration is not justified but I think it causes a rush to try and bring legitimacy to our beloved past time and Art is a good place to start. The problem with this is that the people we are trying to convince of gaming's legitimacy are not going to see this as an argument for games but rather as a blow against Art.

Make no mistake; you do not have to convince us that games are awesome. We know. It's kind of our thing. We as a group have to convince the general public of that. Not that gaming is art, but that gaming is good. Trying to find a way to "legitimize" our past time feels like an excersize in cheapening the thing we love. Why should we have to label gaming according to the status quo? Gaming is the cat's pajamas and I, personally, have stopped giving a damn whether it's art or not.

My opinion is as follows: The reason we all have such a problem labeling games as art is not because art is to grand a concept for gaming; it's that gaming is too evolved a concept for the archaic concept of Art to contain. Gaming requires critical thinking, detection, reflexes, respect, and intuition. Not something usually required when appreciating a painting, or a peice of music, or even a good book. Gaming isn't art. It never will be. Gaming is a new separate juggernaut of human expression.

In 20 years my dream is that people on forums in space will be asking the question: "What is gaming?"

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

In 20 years my dream is that people on forums in space will be asking the question: "What is gaming?"

We all can hope so. I'm personally afraid that gaming will tumble down the same path that the film studios currently are following. By that time perhaps gaming, as we'd like to see it, will transcend the mold and become something else entirely *shrug* (No idea where I'm going with this)

How isn't gaming an art if these days there are legions of artists of all kinds listed in credits for any game that's worth its "do you want a strategy guide with that?"?

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

How isn't gaming an art if these days there are legions of artists of all kinds listed in credits for any game that's worth its "do you want a strategy guide with that?"?

If I go to the dentist does that make my only purpose the display of teeth?

Artists add to a game. Games have art in them, but they are much more than that. They are something else. Something new that can't be categorized because the pre-established catagories aren't suitable.

The viewing of art in a game is almost identical to how we view actual art in the real world. That's the kind of leap in thinking I'm talking about.