Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Categories

Dark Dreams of Furiae - a new module for NWN:EE! Buy now
Attention, new and old users! Please read the new rules of conduct for the forums, and we hope you enjoy your stay!

Are the videogames art?

O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,763
Hello. Since my view on videogames led to an off-topic in one discussion, I have decided to create new topic, where we can fully discuss the matter:

Are videogames art?

Now, that I can fully express myself.... I don't think so. While I cannot deny that some videogames are created by passionate and creative people, this, in my opinion, in itself doesn't make videogames as artworks. These are creations of our culture, to be sure, but that's not enough for a art.

For me, art is about an impression. I was lucky enough to see one of da Vinci's artworks (Lady with an Ermine) in the museum and I was just overwhelmed by it. I cannot fully describe this feeling - it's like my soul was ready to sing, if you know what I mean. I have similar feelings of approval, acknowledgement of admiration whenever I see a very beautiful painting. Or when I have goose pimples when listening to music. I bet you know what I mean.

And videogames... While I can agree that music can be awesome, that the graphics can be stunning, that the story can be interesting, the appearing characters memorable... I just don't feel the way I do with traditional art. Even if one of the elements of the game can be considered artistic, I don't think that is enough to call game artistic as a whole. Blizzard games have wonderful cinematics, sometimes good music, good gameplay, but I still don't see games as art. Baldur's Gate might have awesome music, good story, memorable characters and I still can't see it as a art (no disrespect intented, current and former devs).

It might be that I have a very narrow definiton of art that is based of quality, not the author's intentions or idea, or might it be that the majority of people have very "open" definition of art. For example, this is considered as an artwork: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artist's_shit

What do you think about it?

«13

Comments

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    And how do you measure this quality? An objective measurement is preferable.

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,763
    I'm doing that throught pure instict. You know, something that is done badly cannot make me feel amazed.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    But then what's art for you isn't art for me. That's not a proper definition, I think.

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,763
    Proper, inproper. This is my definition. That's because you cannot measure if something is art or not 100% objectively.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Yes, because of your definition. If the definition were measurable you could - obviously - measure it.

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,763
    Attatch some diodes to my head and then analyze how my brain is working before seeing one of da Vinci's works, durning seeing them, and after seeing them. Then, compare those results to the results of me watching myself in the mirror. I bet you could clearly see the difference, considering the big esthetical gap between two different things.

    Silly answer? So was the question. There is no way of objective meassure this and I don't want to even thing about hundreds of possible distruptive variables, (like the mood, the weather, my health condition etc) that could get in the way of measurement. So, either you can tell me, what do you think about videogames and art, or you can waste time and keep pastering me forever. That's your decision alone.

  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    It seems to me your characterisation of art is rather too subjective. Surely, there are many objects of what are conventionally and uncontroversially seen as art, that in no way overwhelm you in the way you describe. Would you say these are then not art?

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Also, once you've seen the piece multiple times does it cease being art once the effect's gone?

    I'm sorry if you feel I'm pestering you, it just seems to me like your definition is a poor one to start an argument on.

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,763
    @Morte50
    Can you give me some examples? I am unable to guess what kind of objects do you mean.

    @FinneousPJ
    Then you can give me your definiton of art, if mine's so poor to you. Sure, I might disagree, but this is a forum. There always will be opinion vs. opinion.

  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    Just paintings, for one. We can walk through, say, the entire catalogue of the Dutch masters. Let's throw in Van Meegeren/Vermeer's famous Supper at Emmaus for an interesting twist. I sincerely doubt all of them evoke the type of reaction you describe in the OP. Or for that matter, I doubt that all Da Vinci's artworks do so. Would you call those paintings art regardless, or not?

  • MoomintrollMoomintroll Member Posts: 1,496
    Of course games are art, and you definitely don't have to cite some really dumb "art" to show it to be so! (and I mean that in the nicest possible way).

    Art is a bit like Religion-Secularism it has variety, combinations gradations and all sorts of weird directions.

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,763
    That's a difficult question. Seeing photo of a famous artwork is nothing like seeing one just before your very eyes. You know, you cannot appreciate that much of a details, you cannot be overwhelmed by their size (if it is impressive, that is) etc. Also, I lack of knowledge how those images were made. For now, I can only say tha these are well-done.

    And besides, who told you that every work of an artist have to be an art? If I see well-drawn image, which lacks that "certain something", than I'll call that well-done drawing. Not "well-done artwork". "Artwork" is a very strong word.

    PS. Moomintroll - at least some blunt guy!

    God
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    The problem with that view is that it pushes the notion of what constitutes art into an entirely subjective realm. Basically, it becomes defined as "an object or performance that affects [you] in a certain way". Apart from the fact that that arguably rather conflicts with how the concept of 'art' is normally understood, both in general and in the philosophy and academia that studies art, it turns it into a rather unstable concept. It stops being a property of the object itself, and becomes a (temporary) relation between you and the object. In this view, logically you would have to conclude that "Lady with an Ermine" only became art when you saw it, it wasn't art before. If at some point you see it again and it no longer evokes that sort of response, it again stops being art. Basically, it reduces 'art' to something like 'evocative'.

    Given this, it also begs the question why you started this thread in the first place. If 'art' is at least somewhat objective, there is something to discuss about: what makes art art? Can computer games have the requisite qualities to qualify? If so, does game X possess these qualities? But if art really boils down to whether the object/performance provokes a certain sensation in someone, then the question would be much the same as asking people whether people like chocolate ice cream. Either they do or they don't, but there is little else to say on the matter.

    ElectricMonkAedan
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161

    Of course games are art

    And you base this on what, exactly? Which games, according to you, are works of art, and why?

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,763
    @Morte50
    Well, I have started this topic just because people started discussing the matter in different topic of mine. Basically, I wanted to avoid rather unwanted off-topic.

    Even if art is seeing as a subjective, there is still something to discuss. Hell, there maybe some points in which people generally agrees, leading to creation little more objective definition of art. For me, art is about quality and impression. For someone other, it might be about idea itself. But for someone else, it can be about quality and idea, or maybe impression and idea. So, there may be some general ideas behind art.

    I think you have the matter wrong. Art isn't art only when I see it. It always is, or never is. But to rate it, I have to see it at least once. That's the crucial thing.

    Of course, there is always possibility that I'm alienated in my own perspective - that nobody thinks the way I do. That is fine, I've always prefered to just be myself, even if it means to be polar opposite of the majority.

    Even if I'm completely wrong, this discussion still exists for you. Have fun. It's always better to discuss something while waiting for BG:EE to be alive again. Even if discussion seems pointless.

  • LateralusLateralus Member Posts: 903
    Video games are an interpretation of others expressions through a form of electronic art. It IS art...sometimes. When it's done right, 100 different people can play the game and get 100 different impressions about it. When games are done wrongly, most people feel the same about it.

    Art is something that can be revisited and the feelings can change, and the perceptions can change. Baldur's Gate is a work of art.

  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    edited August 2013
    @ZelgadisGW

    If art is about an impression, as you say in the OP, then it only starts being art when you first experience that impression. On the other hand, if something being art is a property of the object itself, then the impression is merely a means by which to recognise it as such. In that case, the quality that makes it art is an objective one. It would also follow that unless your ability to recognise this quality is infallible, something can be art despite you not having an 'art-like' experience when you observe it.

    More generally, there is an entire branch of philosophy that deals (among more general questions) with the concepts of art and beauty. And, as noted, there is a large body of works that is uncontroversially recognised as art. Consequently, there seems to be little basis for the notion that the notion of art is a (largely) subjective one. It may not have a clear definition that exactly specifies when something is art (then again, neither does 'chair'), and there is in fact quite marked disagreements on what constitutes 'art' (then again, the same applies to 'science' and 'philosophy'). But it is still well outside the realm of mere opinion and subjective point of view.

  • StinkyStinky Member Posts: 39
    Art
    Noun

    The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture.

    Source: Oxford English Dictionary. :)

    So all video games are art. Some are subjectively better than others and are therefore more emotive and outstanding to the individual. It's the same with music. Lady Gaga is as much art as Chopin's Nocturnes, just obviously massively inferior to anyone with a modicum of taste.

    There's a bit of "if a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it does it still make a noise" pretentious arguing going on up in here. And like a falling tree will generally always make a noise, art is pretty much anything that somebody comes along and labels as such, regardless of whether it makes your willy tingle or not.

  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    Ah, such eloquence. Such insight. 'Cause dictionary entries are always so useful in answering complex conceptual questions. Never mind of course that pretty much any man-made object can be seen to fall under that definition, rendering the entire concept of 'art' meaningless. Right...

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    I don't think any man-made object falls under "produced by skill and imagination". Like, my Ikea desktop. It saw neither, assembled by me and designed by a chinese non-designer.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,605
    I'm not sure if I agree with him, as I haven't thought about it that much, but here's what Roger Ebert had to say on the subject:

    http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/video-games-can-never-be-art

    I think video games definitely contain art, and use art, but I don't know that they are art.

    ElectricMonk
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161

    I don't think any man-made object falls under "produced by skill and imagination". Like, my Ikea desktop. It saw neither, assembled by me and designed by a chinese non-designer.

    You'd be surprised how much effort IKEA puts in getting both the products as well as the logistics (which aren't independent, IKEA in particular designs its stuff among others to maximize logistical efficiency) right. It may seem like a simple product, but still quite a bit of creativity and skill was involved in the making (imagination may be a bit of stretch, but still).

    But even if we disregard your IKEA desktop, consider the manual that went with it. It's no Picasso by any stretch, but at some point some creative skill and imagination went in drawing the diagrams and the cartoon figure that's usually in them. Which is my point: that art has something to do with creative skill and imagination seems hardly controversial. But a simple, one-line dictionary definition is hardly going to capture the complexities of a concept like art, like it won't with many other concepts. As noted, it isn't even going to fully define a simple concept like 'chair', at least not in the sense that we could derive a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for something being a chair.

  • StinkyStinky Member Posts: 39
    Right. :)

    The world is only as complex as you make it, friends, and throwing around random words with disjointed concepts attached just serves to confuse everyone in my opinion. :)

    At the end of the day you can debate what constitutes art until you are all blue in the face but it's an entirely fruitless venture because nobody cares what you call something, just how it relates to your human experience in a practical sense.

    What I think you chaps seem to be discussing is whether the stimuli of video games can elicit an emotional or meaningful response or not, boring definitions of art aside. To which I would answer that yes, personally I enjoy certain specific video games sometimes on an emotional or deeply insightful or thought provoking level, but there are so many variables involved (people are different and react to things differently) that it must be a truly subjective thing.

    A prediction for the conclusion of this discussion would be that some people will agree video games are pretty cool and be happy in the knowledge that someone somewhere feels the same about something as you do. Someone else will think video games are a waste of time....

    And then the two factions fight to the death with the victors claiming moral victory establishing the way forward for everyone to be more like everyone else. Welcome to human history. It's all a bit pointless really isn't it. I think we should all drop the facade of intelligent discourse, get naked and just hug it out. Everyone can agree that spooning is a good thing at least. Dibs on being the big spoon though, you gotta earn my trust to be behind me with your willy out.

    It wasn't my intention to rustle your jimmies so I'll leave you chaps to it. :P

    FinneousPJ
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    @belgarathmth
    Nice article. I think he goes too far in stating that games cannot ever be art, though I might agree that no currently existing games are art (though as you rightly say they may well contain it, though even on that count I expect it to be a rare occurrence). I think one major obstacle for games as art is that they are (almost) all made with a far more prosaic goal in mind: they are supposed to be good as games, with the specific kinds of requirements that entails.

    It's similar to movies, I feel: I think it is clear that movies can be art, but many of them aren't. They may still be good, thoroughly enjoyables movies (or inane, 3D-'enhanced' garbage, as the case may be; but let's not get sidetracked), but those are different qualities than those that make them 'art'. Most of them don't leave a very lasting impression; they don't evoke the sort of reaction @ZelgadisGW described in the OP (which I do agree is something art generally does do).

    But given that movies can be art, I would think that the medium of a computer-game (in the generic sense of an interactive, computer-generated, virtual world, say) should in principle be capable of being art. Even if the practice hasn't really materialized yet.

    ElectricMonk
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    edited August 2013
    @Stinky

    I wish I could Quote, Insightful, Agree, Like, Spam, Abuse and < everything> your post because it's awesome.

    However, I'm curious. Why is the piece "Mona Lisa" a piece of art instead of a piece which contains art?
    Morte50 said:

    I don't think any man-made object falls under "produced by skill and imagination". Like, my Ikea desktop. It saw neither, assembled by me and designed by a chinese non-designer.

    You'd be surprised how much effort IKEA puts in getting both the products as well as the logistics (which aren't independent, IKEA in particular designs its stuff among others to maximize logistical efficiency) right. It may seem like a simple product, but still quite a bit of creativity and skill was involved in the making (imagination may be a bit of stretch, but still).

    But even if we disregard your IKEA desktop, consider the manual that went with it. It's no Picasso by any stretch, but at some point some creative skill and imagination went in drawing the diagrams and the cartoon figure that's usually in them. Which is my point: that art has something to do with creative skill and imagination seems hardly controversial. But a simple, one-line dictionary definition is hardly going to capture the complexities of a concept like art, like it won't with many other concepts. As noted, it isn't even going to fully define a simple concept like 'chair', at least not in the sense that we could derive a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for something being a chair.
    I would not be as surprised as you may thing, since I study engineering and know quite a lot how the engineering mind works.

  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    @Stinky
    If you think that the point of a discussion is merely the conclusion (if any) that it reaches, then you may not have really grasped the concept of a discussion.

    Also, nobody cares what you call something? Given that different words have different meanings, if we want to get our message across to others I would think it rather important that we do care.

  • ElectricMonkElectricMonk Member Posts: 599
    I agree with Ebert on many of his points, but I think he was always biased against video games.

    The definition of art provided by the OP is not really possible to work with because it is essentially: "whatever makes me feel that I am experiencing art," which can be different for each person. That Da Vinci piece that you were lucky enough to view could illicit no such response in another viewer, and so what is it about your opinion in particular that determines art? Furthermore, you were expecting to witness a great piece of art, and your expectations and your former knowledge and opinion of Da Vinci undoubtedly skewed your psychological disposition upon viewing. You wanted to be awed, and there's no way of knowing if you would have been had you been shown this piece at some other point in your life and not known who the painter was.

    I won't attempt to define art myself, because that isn't the topic of this thread. For our purposes, working with the dictionary definition of any creative form of expression being art, and differentiating between "good" and "bad" on a scale of what is considered to be generally good or bad by scholars of art, should be sufficient. In other words, since the definition is so broad, I'm trying to suggest that a video game can, at the very least, contain "good" art, and also be a sort of artistic amalgamation.

    Video games clearly have the capacity to contain forms of media that themselves have the capacity to be considered art: visual artistry, stories, poetry, and music. None of these things, if they were independently considered to be "good" art, should be invalidated by their inclusion in a game. While the frame of a piece of art can be argued to contribute to it, the piece itself isn't art if its artistic label can be taken away by the wrong frame.

    So, what we have in video games is a potential for a combination of many different pieces of art, and there's no reason that these pieces of art can't be "good art." I believe that, by Ebert's stated definition of art, there is no real reason to exempt video games. He says the following:

    "For example, I tend to think of art as usually the creation of one artist. Yet a cathedral is the work of many, and is it not art? One could think of it as countless individual works of art unified by a common purpose. Is not a tribal dance an artwork, yet the collaboration of a community? Yes, but it reflects the work of individual choreographers. Everybody didn't start dancing all at once. "

    So, the individual works of art unified by a common purpose that make up a cathedral can be a piece of art, and the collaborative dance of a community can be considered art (potentially because it is the creations of individual choreographers), and yet the individual works of art unified by a common purpose which make up a video game can not be art, despite being the creations of individual artists (writers, composers, etc.).
    I believe that he has clearly contradicted himself here.

    As for me, I would say that the tribal dance and the cathedral, and the video game as well, are all outside the definition of a single work of art, but all exist in a sort of unique experience of an amalgamation of individual works of art. You can experience a cathedral in many ways, you can take part in a tribal dance, and you can experience the art and story of a video game from the perspective of being immersed within the frame of the art (the world of the game). So, I don't believe that a video game can be considered to be a singular work of art, but it has the potential to be equally as artistic as much as any other collection of art with which we can interact.

    BelgarathMTH
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161


    However, I'm curious. Why is the piece "Mona Lisa" a piece of art instead of a piece which contains art?

    Good point. My thought would be that in the case of the Mona Lisa, and physical works of art in general, part of the art is in the physical object, in the way it is created. The 'idea' of the artwork and the performance are inseparable, in a way. If we could mechanically produce an identical duplicate, it would still lack something. It is strongly related to the discussion in aesthetics on forgery and plagiarism in art. In other artforms such as music the art is less a physical thing: the 'idea' of the art is in the composition, not in any specific instance of its physical notation. If I burn the Mona Lisa, it is gone. If I burn all of Beethoven's original sheet music (assuming it still exists), we still have his 9th Symphony regardless.

    In the case of video-games, it can also be (and I take @belgarathmth to mean this) that an existing piece of art is incorporated in the game. The 9th Symphony, I would think, is art. If a game developer would use it as music in a game there is then a piece of art in the game, but the game would not (because of that) be art itself. Similarly, if an original piece of music was written specifically for a game, that music could be considered art even if the game wasn't (or vice versa, for that matter).
    I would not be as surprised as you may thing, since I study engineering and know quite a lot how the engineering mind works.
    But in that case, I would think that you'd agree that a lot of creativity (and I would argue, imagination) goes into that sort of process. IKEA designs certainly aren't the pinnacle of it (though their logistic process might be), but it isn't devoid of it either.

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    I once described the industry as "Digital Interactive Entertainment Media (DIEM)", and I would say I probably wasn't too far off. I think we've been approaching (and perhaps even passing) the point where the term "video game" is no longer appropriate. Certainly some games are just that--diversions from reality, a means to pass the time, offering challenge and little more than that--but there are also a great number of "games" where the intent is not to "win" or "complete an objective", but rather to experience the world, the story, and the characters within.

    For example, take a few minutes right now and play Loneliness. I mean it; click the link, play the game. It's only maybe three minutes long, but it's worth it.

    That is a game that, at its most basic level, has one objective: "Go up."

    Loneliness is a video game, by which I mean it is a digital interactive piece where you have an objective and by the end of the game you complete that objective. But would you really consider it a game?

    We may need to consider a new word or phrase to describe this budding art-form, which is no different from a book or a play except that you as the spectator are expected to participate for the entirety of the experience.

    Because Roger Ebert is right, albeit on a technicality: "video games" can never be art. Because "game" is not an art-form. Basketball is not art, baseball is not art, football (American or otherwise) is not art. The game of Chess is not art, at least not by virtue of it being a game. I think when we're talking about video games (or DIEM), though, we're talking about something entirely different, and that's something that needs to be addressed.

    There is a difference, for example, between the competitive multiplayer mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops, and the single player campaign in the same game. the competitive multiplayer is why the game is so popular, but the story is what makes Call of Duty a better shoot-em-up than, say, Quake.

    There is a similar difference between the various sports games out there and Dark Souls. Sports games are there to let you play against your friends or the computer, with the intention of creating a competitive environment that challenges your mind to come up with new strategies, and that's pretty much it. Dark Souls, on the other hand, uses the punishing difficulty of the game's levels and enemies to paint a very clear picture of a hopeless world. If we were to categorize them based on television analogues, I would categorize Madden NFL as ESPN, and Dark Souls as HBO.

    And really, you can sense that difference just from the developer making it. Would you expect a thrilling RPG from EA Sports? Would you expect a by-the-numbers NHL game from Obsidian?

    People (non-gamers, mostly) hear "video game" and they think either Pong, Call of Duty (just the multiplayer), World of Warcraft. Very rarely do you bring up video games to a non-gamer and they say "Oh, you mean like Chrono Trigger and Bastion? That's some great storytelling."

    But the difference between a sports game and an RPG is as big as the difference between, say, Microsoft Excel and Garage Band. They may both use the computer, but they are there for very different reasons.

    ElectricMonkGodBelgarathMTH
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    jaysl659 said:

    As for me, I would say that the tribal dance and the cathedral, and the video game as well, are all outside the definition of a single work of art, but all exist in a sort of unique experience of an amalgamation of individual works of art. You can experience a cathedral in many ways, you can take part in a tribal dance, and you can experience the art and story of a video game from the perspective of being immersed within the frame of the art (the world of the game). So, I don't believe that a video game can be considered to be a singular work of art, but it has the potential to be equally as artistic as much as any other collection of art with which we can interact.

    I would say that the cathedral actually is a single work of art, since you cannot separate out the individual contributions into smaller works of art. Even if conceived of by multiple people, it still constitutes a single whole. Similarly, a computer game is a unified whole, even if some of its parts (like the music) can be seen as a whole in their own right. What would make the game a piece of art would be how all those parts are put together. That's also why I can't quite grasp Ebert's position, since he certainly thought movies capable of being art. But there the situation is similar: a movie can contain the 9th Symphony without making the movie art. The 'art' would again seem to be in how the music, the story, the camera-work, etc. are put together to form the movie.

    ElectricMonk
Sign In or Register to comment.