Featured Post

Deluxe Paint Animation lives on!

Werner and Walter Randelshofe have a website, part of which is dedicated to Deluxe Paint Animation (and equivalents across MS-DOS, Amiga, and Atari ST platforms). A whole heap of files are there to be browsed, sorted by platform and artist. It’s really quite the treasure-trove ūüôā But best of...

Read More

Are Games Art?

Posted by CaptainBinky | Posted in Utterly Pointless Questions | Posted on 07-01-2013


Short Answer: Who cares?

Longer Answer: Actually, the short answer pretty much covers it.

This question has been discussed an obscene number of times and will probably continue to be forever. A noteable person in some vaguely related field will exclaim that games can never be art for some half-baked reasons which only really make any sense if your only exposure to games is some vague sense that you can lop people’s heads off and steal cars in them. Then the internet will burst with fiery indignation before everyone forgets about it for another couple of months again.

For a fabulous example of the ridiculousness of the debate have a read of Sophie Houlden’s humourously written rebuttal.

Art is defined as, “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture” and “works produced by such skill and imagination”. Well, that pretty much leaves it open for¬†anything to be art, and ‘art’ as a term therefore is even more useless than ‘indie’¬†(good grief, I’m going crazy with these hyperlinks). ‘Skill’ and ‘imagination’ are pretty whoppingly hazy things to rest the entire debate on, though, since… well… this:

_55420126_bricksArt, apparently

Skill? It’s certainly uniform – all the bricks appear to be correctly placed. Imagination? Er… well… it’s¬†imaginatively¬†lame, I guess. Place this particular piece of art out in the street and it instantly becomes a pavement and therefore without any artistic merit what-so-ever. The fun in stuff like this is reading the bizarre way it’s justified as somehow being much more thought-provoking than it actually is. Behold:

“The sensation of these pieces was that they come above your ankles, as if you were wading in bricks”, Andre has commented. “It was like stepping from water of one depth to water of another depth.” (from the display caption)

Yeah, whatever you say. They’re bricks.¬†This, is¬†why¬†games are not considered art. It’s because developers don’t come up with a bunch of bollocks to explain their games (apart from maybe Catherine – yeesh). And more to the point, nobody has the authority to decide one way or the other anyway. You think those bricks are art? Good for you. You think your five year old’s finger painting is art? Knock yourself out. It’s¬†subjective, isn’t that the whole bloody point?

Oh dear. I’ve potentially just opened a can of worms there with objective vs subjective art. Well tough. You’d be hard-pressed to find anything which can really be said to be objectively¬†true let alone whether something is art. Is that statement objectively true? Ask a philosopher. The point is, you can say that a drawing of a mouse is bad art if it’s got too many legs and wonky ears if you like, but it’s not necessarily objectively so. The artist may have produced the mouse to make us question the nature of mousiness. You can only claim something is bad if it falls short of the intent. Lowry’s matchstick men are incorrectly proportioned – if we were to assume that he was actually attempting photorealism then his paintings would be laughable.

Step away from the visual side of things and everything gets even more fun. Is gameplay art? A boardgame? Chess? Say we unanimously decided right now that all of these things are indeed art, what happens? What difference does it make?

Short Answer:¬†None. This is a pointless discussion – I’ve just wasted my time and yours.