Monday, February 08, 2010

'Games are not and never will be art.' Oh, really?

Full disclosure: I cringe whenever I hear someone--especially someone within the games industry--suggest that games aren't an art form. And when that someone takes things a step further and suggests they never will be an art form? Well, I smack my head against the nearest wall.

You can just imagine, then, the condition my head is in after reading Charles J. Pratt's coverage (over at of last week's Art History of Games conference.

For starters, Michael Samyn, founder of Tale of Tales, the Belgian-based developer of such "art games" as The Endless Forest and The Path, suggests that games are not and never will be art because "play was driven by a biological need, and that over time play had been turned into games. On the other hand, art was not created out of a physical need but in a search for higher purposes."

Later, Samym says that "computers offered the way forward for art, but at this point it is being held hostage by the video game industry."

I can't say I agree with those or any of the other comments attributed to Samym in Pratt's article--I'm a firm believer that games, like movies and music, are a form of art--but that's certainly not the first time that's happened since this conversation started way back when.

That said, if you're at all interested in this topic I suggest you read Pratt's article in full--especially since it includes a section titled "When Art and Games Collide," which contains comments from Celia Pearce, assistant professor of digital media at Georgia Institute of Technology.

See also: 'What do you think: Are video games art?'


Bryan Ochalla said...

BTW, the rather fabulous piece of gaming-inspired art was stolen from the Art History of Games website -- My thanks go out to the witty person who came up with it :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I am currently beating my head against a wall. Join me?


It reminds me of the post I did on HL about art vs. entertainment. Holy hell did I get torn up for that one. Apparently people take offense when you suggest that video games are an art form. I would have thought that people over there would be in support of an idea like that...guess not. I think maybe people on the interwebz just like to bitch.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I think one of the problems with the "are games art?" topic is that it's been the "topic du jour" for so long that nearly everyone is sick of it. (Not me, obviously.) Also, I think a lot of gamers and game-makers don't like it because it produces so much eye-rolling from the non-gaming masses -- who think, "Of course games aren't art!"

Personally, I think the topic has become a bit stale because most of us talk about it in the wrong way. Whenever most of us discuss whether games are or aren't an art form, we talk about games that look or sound good -- like Okami -- or games that are artsy-fartsy or quirky -- like Katamari Damacy.

That's all well and good, but I think there's more to the conversation than that -- basically, I think we've only scratched the surface of the discussion so far.