Laughing City

Can video games be art?
Yes
92%
 92%  [ 23 ]
No
8%
 8%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 25

Author Message
cynlovescandy
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wilsmith wrote:


fixed the pic. IMG code always spaces it funny.


thanks Very Happy

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jdstories
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ync wrote:
jdstories wrote:

ync wrote:
Even Starcraft 2 has verged onto being ABBBBSOLUTLY gorgeous


I didn't know it was finally coming out! When I read that, I almost soiled myself. EEEK!

JD


i assume you missed out on the beta then? :/


grumble, grumble, grumble...

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jdstories
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do not be afraid. wrote:
while a “movie” might simply be a way of telling a story through images, sound, etc — although, there are plenty of examples of films which aren't (like, say, Mothlight, one of my favorites) — the story itself can still be a work of art, can it not? and if that story is told through a movie, how does that make it less of a work of art? it doesn't make sense! besides, in many films the images and sounds are absolutely essential to the experience of watching the film, while my whole point was that the images, sounds, and even stories, in video-games are not essential to the experience of playing the game.


But many video games have stories that are just as beautiful. Again, no one is claiming that all video games are art, but some have stories that are essential to the game. Granted, if you put a backstory on a game like Mechwarrior, Pong or Mortal Kombat, no one really will pay much attention to it, but the story behind Portal, Metal Gear Solid or the Legacy of Kain were pretty vital to the game as a whole. Personally, when I was playing Metal Gear Solid, I found the story at least as enticing as the gameplay, if not more enticing. What makes that story less of a work of art? What makes the images and sounds in a video games less "absolutely essential" to the experience of playing the game.

Sadly, I think I am figuring out where you are coming from. You look at the essential part of playing a video game as simply the process of pushing buttons in specific sequences. It should clue you in that pushing buttons doesn't get people excited, but video games do. Video games are more than that, and in fact video games are often so much more. Have you actually played a video game in recent years? Maybe it doesn't take a fantastic story to make a good video game (tetris, mario bros), when a video game has a fantastic story integrated in a way, especially if it influences the choices you make during the game, then that is definitely art.


do not be afraid. wrote:
no, because the point of experiencing any work of art isn't “hey, try and figure out what's going on here”, the point is the raw, primal, experience — how it affects you on an aesthetic, emotional, and even intellectual level — and nothing else. you can't get that just from a three sentence description!


By the same token, you can't get the whole video game experience from pushing buttons in sequence.

Anyway, the raw, primal portion is only part of the experience, and it is important. But, if you think you can fully appreciate a work of art without understanding the background and social setting within which it was created, you are dead wrong. Even works that fall under the "Art for Art's Sake" movements can't be fully understood and appreciated without realizing that the movement, and any work as a part of the movement, is a reaction to the movements and preceding it and the politics surrounding it. That being said, no one reacts emotionally to Pac-Man. However, many video games can cause a variety of emotional reactions in the players, and it isn't the button pushing causing the reaction. I'd wager that some could even have such an effect on onlookers. So what would make that different from a movie?

Really, I don't get how you're not seeing these connections. I'm sure you'd say the same thing about me.

JD

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Sprocket
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Will's gonna groan like a creaky door in heat (I SAID DOOR!) when he sees I've resurrected this! Very Happy

However, I really like this debate and would have been right in the fray of it if I hadn't been distracted with my dissertation!

I think a lot of people did misconstrue do_not_be_afraid's argument just a tad, though ync and cynlovescandy get close to tackling it head on across the last couple of pages.

So the argument, rephrased is, can the 'game' element of a video game be art?

The most convincing response I've read is that do_not_be_afraid is out-moded in his use of the term 'game' rather than 'video game', refusing to allow the fact that non-interactive elements (cut-scenes) are anything but super-imposed upon a central game mechanic. What we'd have there, I believe he would argue, is a movie, which can be art but is different from a game.

Ebert also uses the interactivity argument as his central crux. He posits that if one was given the choice to re-write Romeo and Juliet as one wished (walking on their hands, naked) this would diminish its status as 'art'. Here he gets dangerously close to conflating 'art' with 'good art' (i.e. naked, upside-down Romero and Juliet would be bad art and thus not art at all), but his central point seems to be that art needs a pre-determined structure, which can then be interpreted by a viewer. However, here he severely over-estimates the freedom that a video game provides. A game may have an elastic narrative, it may be sand-box, but it has still been pre-scripted. The player is merely experiencing various permutations which have been made allowable by the programmers. I would argue that The Unfortunates, which is a marvelous un-bound novel, the sections of which can be rearranged by the reader in a different order to the one they received the novel in, is art (great art too). Also, Ebert has played two video games, I think it was. He also wrote Beyond The Valley of the Dolls.


Art?

do_not_be_afraid's argument is slightly different and more subtle, but it rests on the assumption that the 'game' element of a 'video game' can be divorced from its story and graphics; that the 'game' is the skeleton, the inner kernel, of what a video game is. In the 1980s he would have been right. However, increasingly, game-play mechanics have become inextricably intertwined with story. The guy who achieves this best at the moment is IMO video game auteur and shockingly handsome man Jason Rohrer.



Rohrer's best game is a game called Gravitation, but his earlier Passage is a more simple affair and better expresses my argument. Play it - it take 5 minutes (no more, no less) - and then read on, if you can be fussed:

http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/passage/

Okeday. The game-play of Passage is very simple and consists of a very basic path finding mechanic implemented through the most rudimentary collision detection - the player sprite can walk in spaces where there aren't colourful blocks; he can't walk in places where there are. You use the curser keys to move. There are also treasure chests, which increase your 'score' and a partner/ wife sprite, who can accompany you.

The game is a little story (perhaps, fable or flash fiction is better) about life goals and accomplishment. Importantly, our understanding of this message is derived from the game-play mechanics functioning as metaphors. So, if we choose to have the wife sprite accompany us on our journey, we double the width/ length of our sprite. This means that passage-ways that will only permit a sprite in size equivalent to one block are now too narrow for us to pass through. A pretty clear metaphor, it seems to me, for the way that marriage can put certain restrictions upon achieving high-end life goals - certain treasures are now out of your reach. However, what are the points we accumulate through obtaining these treasures really adding up to? We don't get a prize and we certainly can't win the game in a conventional sense.

Passage is game as art, not necessarily good art, because it is a man-made artifact (in this case, created by a single author) that prompts interpretation (in this case, provides a message) through its game-play.

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mr pine
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if games were not considered art than those once popular choose your own adventure novels would not be considered art either.

as they require a choice and "game" elements.

all video games have a pre determined structure. some have multiple based on how you play them, a la' cyoa books.

now a cyoa book is no hemingway or Poe. but it is still art.

i also think bad art is still art.
you can't call it non art simply because you dont like it.

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wilsmith wrote:
You're the Anti-Censorship+Topless Twitpic Parodying+Youth Group Video Directing guy that's a champion for the 1st amendment, Videogames as Art, and unrepentant file sharing...

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Sprocket
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mr pine wrote:
if games were not considered art than those once popular choose your own adventure novels would not be considered art either.

as they require a choice and "game" elements.

all video games have a pre determined structure. some have multiple based on how you play them, a la' cyoa books.

now a cyoa book is no hemingway or Poe. but it is still art.

i also think bad art is still art.
you can't call it non art simply because you dont like it.


Think we're pretty much arguing the same point, though I took a lot longer to do it! Wink

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mr pine
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yeah i dont think i was arguing your point. just stating mine.
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Wil's excellent description of me.

wilsmith wrote:
You're the Anti-Censorship+Topless Twitpic Parodying+Youth Group Video Directing guy that's a champion for the 1st amendment, Videogames as Art, and unrepentant file sharing...

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wilsmith
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Sprocket wrote:
Will's gonna groan like a creaky door in heat (I SAID DOOR!) when he sees I've resurrected this! Very Happy


I am not a moderator Laughing
I just happen to have lapse in time where reading & posting helps to keep me sharp, and conscious.

and it's weird cause whether dealing with character or level design, or interactivity I feel like almost everyone who was pro-games as art were hitting on the same key points with different evidence. If this were a court tv show, we would have broken for commercial a long time and ago with the announcer saying "When we return Judge Whosowhatevertheirnameis will be back with his decision on this case."

Well argued everyone, I think the defendant has been exonerated.

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jdstories
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I miss cyoa books. I used to sit in the library reading those when I was a little kid. FUN!!!

JD

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Sprocket
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jdstories wrote:
I miss cyoa books. I used to sit in the library reading those when I was a little kid. FUN!!!

JD


as for good art versions of them...

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar seems to come close, though is really a novel in fragments, rearranged at choice by the reader. I can't help but feel that the fact that the novel provides an optimum reading pattern devalues the experiment somewhat. Otherwise, there is the aforementioned The Unfortunates which is a sterling piece of work imo, but Johnson was obliged by his publishers to provide a definite 'end' and 'beginning' chapter, which otherwise undermines the fine sense of chaos and mental disarray created! Publisher interference to the detriment of his work often seemed to happen to Johnson, which is a shame all-in-all.

Otherwise, more true to the cyoa form, there is Life's Lottery, which is a "gamebook for adults", by Kim Newman, who is known for writing B-movie reviews, so I hope the book isn't just an exercise in irony or kitsch!

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