So this is a topic I see coming up more and more across the internet, this ever burgeoning pretentious assertion that gaming = magnificent great art.
And given that I called it pretentious you guys can gather my feelings on the matter.
Had you asked me back in march last year in the post Mass Effect 3 world if games were art, I would have angrily and categorically shrieked at the top of my lungs that games were not art and to claim that they were would be nothing more than breathtaking arrogance.
Can you tell that I was bitter? lol.
It was my position then (and prior to ME3's release) than games were not art. Games are a form of media designed to enthrall, captivate, and entertain but at the end of the day they remain a form of media that is intended to be consumed. At a pretty hefty cost as well.
IE: They are a product to be sold.
So for me, Game = Product = Not Art. It was fairly simple really.
Now that the shock of Mass Effect 3 and it's "artistic integrity" defence has worn off, I found myself softening on this subject.
I realise now that my hostility to the Games = Art point of view is that too often douchebags like Colin Moriarty @ IGN use it as a blanket statement. That all games are automatically Art, and thus all games are thus somehow immune to criticism (because you know, art can't be criticised ever); and people who disagree are nothing more than self entitled whiners.
And I find that it is arguable at best.
What changed my mind you might ask?
Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition changed my mind. That's what.
Now the original BG (and it's sequel) and it's enhanced edition had and have it's problems. BGEE is nowhere nearly as comprehensively enhanced as many people might have hoped it was going to be.
But overall BGEE reminded me that BG1, and its sequel BG2, were lovingly and painstakingly crafted games that were IMO nothing less than works of art. The beauty of both games, and of BGEE, is such that they are still after all these years considered amongst the best games ever created for any platform and of any genre. No mean feat, to be sure.
It reminded me how much I love RPGs, and how much I love gaming. Which I needed after such a horrible year for gaming that 2012 was. Seriously, every new game I bought this year was a huge dissapointment, except for BGEE. Honestly it says something that for the first time ever several indie games were in contention for GotY on many many sites across the internet in 2012.
My problem now with the Games = Art thing is that I feel sometimes like I am the only person who does not automatically think that all games are examples of this awesome art; that some games are just products to be sold to make money. And that the application of the art descriptor to a game is used far too liberally and far to indescriminately for my tastes.
I find it hugely irritating.
Developer Silicon Knights stole parts of source code from the Unreal Engine 3 from Epic Games which they used in the creation in a number of their games, including Too Human. A collection of, IMO, some mediocre to decent games that really didn't amount to anything that was world shatteringly special.
That isn't to say that their games sucked. Most of their stuff manages a solid 6.5 to 7.5 out of 10 in most review sites, and with most user reviewers on metacritic. Decent to good like I said, but not world shatteringly awesome.
Silicon Knights lost their court battle over the copywrite claims regarding the Unreal Engine 3 and have now had to recall, at their own expense which sucks for them, all existing copies of all their games that use the infringed material to be destroyed.
I saw this being discussed in a forum somewhere, and I saw someone lamenting the fact that these games are being gathered up to be destroyed as a "massive loss for the art of gaming".
And I literally "wtf"ed.
Seriously, a collection of games that together amount to a collective "meh" from the gaming universe counts as art? Games that were literally built using stolen materials are art? That them being destroy is "damaging" to the "art"? Really?
I just don't get it.
Am I the only person who doesn't automatically think games are ALWAYS art? That games as art is something that is rare and special and all kinds of awesome when it happens?
Am I the only person who has to physically refrain from face palming when I see people rattling on about "omg, games are like art dudes!"?
Am I the only person who thinks that douche's like Colin Moriarty and their assertion that games are art and thus immune to criticism is probably one of the most irritating and damaging things to happen to gaming ever?