Great (hopefully) Post on videogames as Art

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Great (hopefully) Post on videogames as Art

Post  Duke of Spoot on Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:56 pm

I wrote a blog post about how to make video games artistic in ways that no other medium can emulate. Hopefully it's good.

I appreciate your comments (or comment on my site, so I can get more traffic).
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Re: Great (hopefully) Post on videogames as Art

Post  Majas on Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:56 pm

I really liked your post, especially about the metaphors, but for me the answer is simple. :D

Anything created with the intent to express oneself is a form of art. Dancing, singing, talking, writing, drawing, humming, tapping your fingers... Video games (and comics and movies!) are /definitely/ forms of art, in fact - they're forms of expression that are so complex that people aren't even sure whether or not they can categorize them as such.

Art can be complicated or simple. Sticking a knife through a canvas is art (yes, I witnessed that in a museum), as are products made by the Cloaca



The point of art is to express, not make people appreciate it. However, once the art is created and presented to another person, it has a new purpose beyond just expressing oneself. The viewer (or when it comes to video games, the user) has his own interpretation of that expression... And that's partially why there is mis-communication, but that's a different topic.

Children make art to express themselves all of the time - it's only later when adults tell them that their "art isn't good enough" that they decide to try a different way to express themselves. But the thing is, art (ie expressions) aren't good or bad until someone else interprets the expression.

We have art classes (among other types of How-To things) in order to learn about how to make our expressions more appealing to other people - but that doesn't mean that any "crude" expression isn't art to begin with. It just means that only a few people will ever find it attractive.

So, video games are a combination of methods for expression, taken from film, books, drawings, music, and also are a GREAT representation of how we experience life itself. How can anyone say that video games aren't art, when they in fact are one of the /best/ ways to communicate something to someone else?

How do people actually use "good" art these days, anyway? Drawings and paintings are hung up on walls and are essentially forgotten. Books are definitely not as popular as they once were. Radios are basically only used in cars. And, I can't think of a lot of people who attend ballet performances very frequently. But what about video games, movies, and music? I would say that these are the most "interactive" art forms available for people, and that's why they are so popular! (But, once again, that doesn't mean that what cave men produced in the past by taking a stick and moving it around in the sand ie doodling, isn't art. It just isn't appreciated very much by people today.)

What I'm saying isn't set in stone fact, though - it's just something I've come to realize over time. I'm open to differing opinions and would like to hear them. :D
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Re: Great (hopefully) Post on videogames as Art

Post  Break Man on Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:39 pm

You know what they say, though: art is in the eye of the beholder. In the endgame, it doesn't matter what the artist is trying to express. It's all about what you, the "beholder" of the piece, is getting out of it. If it happens to match up with the artist's interpretation, then bravo, you're either a genius or demented. If you have your own sort of interpretation, then all the better for you (which, once again, either lands you in genius or demented territory).

Video games are different from other forms of art and entertainment (even music and movies) in that it is a wholly interactive experience. You give and take within the game, and in some instances (not so much anymore), you could give a character your name, and that character would then, by extension, be you. Of course, it's all well and good when your game has some solid filmic or literary traits; Osamu Tezuka (the Father of Modern Manga) innovated the entire comic industry just by introducing filmic technique to his manga. However, the entire appeal, the draw to video games, is the fact that you, the player, the "beholder", can interact with this world the artists have created, whether it is small, as in LittleBigPlanet, or vast and desolate, as in Shadow of the Colossus.

Interaction, of course, is not just relegated to the environments; a well-constructed battle system, for instance, can also be just as good to the experience one receives from a game. Or even an excellently designed puzzle. It's not so much that you're looking for art for the sake of art (which, my personal opinion, should never be done above the age of 15, otherwise, it makes you look like a douche), but you're looking to engage people, and video games are the one avenue open to truly engaging with people. Hell, it ain't called a controller for nothin'.

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Re: Great (hopefully) Post on videogames as Art

Post  Majas on Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:08 pm

Yeah, it is in the eye of the beholder because it takes two people to have communication. But, back to what the article was talking about: should video games be considered an art form?

To me, art doesn't have to be good for it to be art. Good communication means a message was interpreted well by the receiver. But if you have bad communication, that doesn't mean that it is no longer able to be considered as communication. It's just not "clear", or "good" communication.

Video games are essentially a very well-thought out form of communication, especially because the user can interact with the world the developers created. You're referring to the interaction of video games being the key difference between it and other art forms - but wouldn't that just mean it's an "evolved" form of art? That any message the creator wants can be revealed in this new format?

--I don't understand what you meant, though, about anyone under the age of 15 being a douche for looking at art for the sake of art? Hahaha.
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Re: Great (hopefully) Post on videogames as Art

Post  thasric on Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:27 pm

I agree with all of you.

Games don't need to be separated from other forms of media - the separation is inherent. No other form of art (at least, that currently exists) can impact a person like a game can, simply because a game makes you feel like you have a personal investment in your character. I think it would be a rare experience to feel completely separated from the character you control. It's common enough to find characters you don't relate to - especially when the story doesn't allow for decision making - but you always feel connected to your character in some way.

For that fact alone, games are extremely powerful forms of expression. Every part of a game works together to create a specific feel and impression on the player. No matter how beautiful the scenes are, and no matter how engaging the music and the story are, they're not the same on their own.

Even Guitar Hero could be considered art. You can air-guitar all day. You can even draw yourself as a rocker. But when you create your own character and see them up on stage, rocking when you rock and making the mistakes you make, the fantasy becomes more real. It affects you personally.

XD Anyways... That's not as well put-together as I wanted, but that's the gist of my thoughts on it.

Also, I think he means that when you look for art simply to categorize "art" and "not art," you're missing the point. Art is meant to be appreciated or hated because of what it means to the individual observer... It's not meant to be sliced up and objectified until people are embarrassed to admit that it means something to them.

[Edit] Oh, I feel the need to clarify. When I say games are "separated" from other forms of media, I just mean that they're unique enough that we don't need to pretend that the only merit they have comes from their components. Games may be composed of other elements, but they're still games. They're not advanced movies, just as movies are not advanced pictures.
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Re: Great (hopefully) Post on videogames as Art

Post  Dariel00 on Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:48 pm

I don't understand why society has been so apprehensive of accepting games as a form of art. Guillermo del Toro put in a few but meaningful words.
Video games are the comic books of our time…It’s a medium that gains no respect among the intelligentsia.
Like early comic books and film, (and perhaps most art forms, I'm not well versed in the history of others) games were first introduced as entertainment and nothing more than "child's play". But at some point since then, these games started carrying serious and beautifully unique messages and people need to recognize!

I do understand that this change between novelty and artistic merit will take time for the public to embrace, just like it did with Film and (more recently) Graphic Novels. What I don't understand is that Video Games seem to face more adversity than just its "immaturity", but also its interactive nature. I don't get why making the experience more immersive and personal is not a sign of artistry. It's straight up hypocritical if you ask me when it comes to Academia.

There's a very influential modern classical composer by the name of John Cage that blew my mind when I learned about him and other experimental composers. They implemented the use of randomly generated elements of music. The most interesting practice was the use of Graphic Notation, which allowed the individual members of the orchestra to interpret the experimental sheet music themselves and play. This opened up a whole bushel of experimental musicians that worked off of player, audience, and other outside interaction (like using FM radio stations as instruments) to help create a piece of art. So, intelligentsia can embrace interactive music, interactive film, but not Video Games?

I don't get it.
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Games = art.

Post  kiblade on Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:05 pm

thasric wrote:
Games may be composed of other elements, but they're still games. They're not advanced movies, just as movies are not advanced pictures.

True, however, movies could be considered a visual representation of novels. And by extension, games are an interactive interpretation of said novel.

I'm not saying a game is better or more advanced than a movie, just as a movie is not "better" than a book. It's all art, and the goal is to convey a feeling/message. In this case, the best game usually conveys a great story (as movies and books do).

/2 cents.
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But, are video games a new medium for art?

Post  Duke of Spoot on Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:51 pm

Everyone agrees video games are art. BUT, the central theme of article is how are video games not simply movies with pauses for game play. Everyone knows movies are art, and if video games are playable movies, then of course video games are art. The point is, as creatives we are burdened with considering gameplay as a medium for creative expression.

Majas wrote:
So, video games are a combination of methods for expression, taken from film, books, drawings, music, and also are a GREAT representation of how we experience life itself.

The problem is that movies are already a combination of visual, audio, and plot. If the only way you can explain your video game is artistic is through these methods, then (artistically speaking) you could have done the same thing in a tv series or a movie.

The video games I mentioned (especially those of Jason Rohrer, and most of his are free, check it out here) all use gameplay for more than simply drawing a person in, but also to extend the metaphor being expressed to a new aspect.

kiblade wrote:
It's all art, and the goal is to convey a feeling/message. In this case, the best game usually conveys a great story (as movies and books do).

Hate to call you out here, because I think most people would agree with you. But video games cannot simply be a story, or else (artistically) there is no reason for them to be a game.

Take Final Fantasy XIII. The player lacked the ability to affect the outcome of the game. As I played, I did not feel as though I was casting magic or swinging a sword. The characters in battle, though different, did not exist as the characters I had grown to know from the plot, but extensions of my strategy. I can honestly say after playing the game that, while exciting, the gameplay added nothing artistically to the game, not even to make me closer to the characters. In fact, as in many Final Fantasy games, certain characters I grew further from, because they became less useful than the others.

Now, personally, I did not care for the story line of XIII either. However, had the game been made into a OVA series with the same graphics, I contend it would lose none of it's artistic flavour.

Anyways, for more examples of gamplay as a mode of expression, check out Rod Humble's independent games. I particularly enjoy the marriage as a good example, by removing music and visuals, Humble highlights gameplay as the expressive medium.
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Re: Great (hopefully) Post on videogames as Art

Post  Majas on Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:01 am

Duke of Spoot wrote:Everyone agrees video games are art. BUT, the central theme of article is how are video games not simply movies with pauses for game play. Everyone knows movies are art, and if video games are playable movies, then of course video games are art. The point is, as creatives we are burdened with considering gameplay as a medium for creative expression.

I definitely agree that gameplay is a unique extension of video games, and perhaps one not thoroughly explored. It allows you to really connect with the final message - kind of like (I think) you were saying about the nuclear explosion thing. That's not something that any movie could convey as plausibly.
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