Welcome one and all to our new Saturday club feature ‘Controversial Club’. As so much of our content is positive, charming and a lovely read we thought we’d start a weekly article where we can get a bit of rage out, or just generally be dicks! I introduce our controversial club, a place where we can all write about things that get on our nerves, rub us the wrong way and generally go against the norm.
Today we look at the age-old debate of ‘art’ – Can forms of media, such as games, movies and music be considered ‘art’, or along the same lines of ‘artistic realisation’? It’s debate time!!
Yes, Games are art. Empirically.
Art is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
So, games absolutely do count. Are they an application of human creative skill? Absolutely. Are they appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power?
Yes. And some of you reading this will be shaking you heads in disapproval. “Games aren’t emotion, they’re primarily about fun. Just because some games have emotional moments, doesn’t make the whole medium art.”
To which I reply: fun is an emotion. Or rather, it’s an experience crafted of multiple different emotions. Curiosity as the game-play begins, followed by frustration as you fail, then determination, excitement, fear, tension, and finally elation and release as you defeat the challenge.
A game is inherently about emotion. Otherwise, it’s not fun. Ya get that?
I’ve literally written over 3000 words about this topic for a school project so I’m gonna keep it short so I don’t get a PTSD flashback to when I was pulling my hair out worrying about deadlines.
I think games are most certainly art since I believe that anything that is made with the intent to elicit emotion in the audience can be considered art. Games have made me feel a wide variety of emotion the same way movies, TV Shows, books and music has. I also believe that games are not only a form of art but one of the most interesting and impactful since it adds the element of player interaction, this allows the developer to choose what kind of journey to take the player on in a completely different way. Games like Undertale, NieR Automata and MGS2 pretty much are at the front of this since they take the idea of it being a game and just turn it up to 11.
VIDEO GAMES ARE COOL JUST PLAY THEM OKAY BYE.
I have always been interested in art, to the point where I did an art GCSE. I didn’t do very well but I still enjoyed doing it. Calling art art is one of those things that is purely based on opinion. Art is all about expression and feeling and but it can also be devoid of feeling as well. What I’m trying to say is that art is anything that your mind percieves as art, its all opinionated. I may look at a pile of rocks and call it art, you would probably call it for what it is. Shit. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to look at it as a form of art.
I personally think that games are an art form. It may not be as emotional or expressive of a single person when we’re looking at a triple-A title due to the number of people who were involved with the game. But Indie developers can pour there heart and soul into a game that is purely them. the game is exactly as they want it to the point of it almost being an extension of themselves. You don’t just need to be an Indie developer to be able to pour your heart into a game though. for example (I’m about to become a weeb…) if we look at Super Mario, the whole idea was dreamed up by Shigeru Miyamoto, and while the game was developed by a bigger team, the core idea underneath is still Miyamoto’s idea.
Under everything, that single pure idea can be called art, no matter if we looking at games, music or film.
Oddly enough, as much as I love games, I have to disagree that they ‘require the classification of art’.
Much like how plays and writings aren’t considered ‘art’, I feel that games as well fall into this archetype; not because they’re not ‘worthy’ or because it’s ‘out of place’, but purely because they deserve so much more. Games are, in their entirety, experiences, much like films and music – They’re pieces of media that speak to us personally at times, look deep into our souls and take us on journeys that we may never had experienced previously; with art, you experience someone else’s journey put into a physical format, and, whilst we still experience someone else’s journey in the forms of games, movies and music, it’s an entirely different, more immersive experience overall that truly sucks you in.
Immersion is the biggest reason why games, movies and music cannot be considered art; they’re something totally different. Involved experiences that you can truly live out.
Video games are absolutely art. They are works created by one’s imagination and expressed through the application of skill – essentially Oxford’s very definition of what art is. And despite whatever criticisms the medium can have thrown at it, nothing can alter that reality. But it is reasonable to consider video games have certain challenges and nuances that other mediums don’t (at least, not to the degree video games experience them).
For example, video games are primarily a commodified art form, first and foremost. We don’t necessarily like to think about it, but it’s true – not everyone has the luxury or resources to make a game for the sake of it, and there’s a reason the industry is littered with publishers who just want to put out cash grabs. This idea that a game must make all the money, must appeal to a specific target audience above all others, is a pervasive one that can really affect the creator’s vision: Being told what they can and can’t do in their own works by a bunch of clueless suits looking only at numbers and near-dead trends must suck. It’s a situation that often doesn’t work out for the consumer, either – just look at Metal Gear: Survive as a prime example.
Video games are often judged a lot more harshly than other art forms, too. The incorrect perception that video games are ‘just for kids’, or that they have some magical ability to dictate our behavior more than anything else just because they’re interactive (resulting in me having to respond to stupid articles), can put pressure on the industry. Screw the middle ground – be entirely controversial for the publicity, or entirely acceptable so as to not ‘rock the boat’. That’s not a good mindset to encourage – people should be free to express what they want, how they want.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s also the fact that not every artwork marketed as a game really is a game. Take the infamous Dear Esther as an example. The arguable originator of the ‘walking simulator’. There’s no fail state, no real interactivity – just moving from Point A to B at whatever pace the player moves at. Whilst games like The Stanley Parable are similar to ‘walking simulators’, they are indeed still games because they offer a greater degree of interactivity, that interactivity affects the narrative, and you can ‘lose’. They have what, in my opinion, makes a game a game.
So yes. Video games are art. Even early ones whose artistic merits might be harder to see, like Pong. They are art because they are creative expressions of our imagination. There’s just a few extra factors affecting this medium than, say, sculpting.
Consider making this text a link to my rebuttal article: