...will he ever win?

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March 15, 2012


Grand Text Auto

Why video games are art, by William Wang

When one considers the breadth of new media art that has been popularized in the last several decades, a major trend emerges: they’re about big messages. Famous pieces we’ve examined this term, from Domestic Tension to The French Democracy, all have a serious thematic purpose. Rarely are works intended for fun or entertainment considered legitimate “art,” as though fun and artistic merit are mutually exclusive. Consider Roger Ebert’s assertion that “video games can never be art.” These arguments devolve largely into discussions of semantics, essentially claiming that entertainment is not artistic. But this seems to contradict the most basic idea of art: that which is aesthetically pleasing to behold.

After all, when we first learn about and experiment with art we do not strive to achieve certain thematic effects. A child’s first forays into illustration or painting are only explorations of aesthetics. Though no one would seriously consider a stick-figure house high-quality art, it is nevertheless considered art. If that is the case, why would video games be considered non-art to most beholders? (It is important to point out here that by this essentializing the definition of art in this fashion makes the distinction between “art” and “not art” somewhat subjective.) After all, a variety of artistic elements converge in a video game, in the same way audio and visual elements combine in film, which almost anyone considers art today. Consider one of the most acclaimed games of recent years: Starcraft 2. The game is visually stunning, orchestrating the interaction of hundreds of detailed models and animations, with accompanying music and sound. One could argue that while each constituent element constitutes a work of art, the entire composition does not—that it does not create a “whole greater than the sum of its parts” in the fashion a film might. But aren’t video games just interactive films, in a way, to the point where recent games like Call of Duty or Metal Gear Solid 4 have actually been criticized by the video game community for being too film-like?

A battle in Starcraft 2, combining numerous artistic elements in an interactive medium.

In fact, it seems as though the only major distinction between film and games as mediums is the interactivity. And if anything, this interactivity should give a game more artistic merit. In the context of a film, the audience is guided in a specific direction by the director. The supreme court agrees that interactivity does not preclude video games from artistic distinction. If anything, by allowing the audience to take part in the progression of plot, the artist (game studio) simply wields a greater range of options for expressing thematic elements. For example, video games can explore themes of cooperation, risk analysis, or geographies of power (just to name a few) in more visceral ways than other mediums. A film or novel can show us people grappling with issues of cooperation, for example. And this idea is emphasized in fiction writing, to show, not tell. Then isn’t interactivity just taking it another step further, by making the audience experience rather than witness?

 

March 15, 2012 01:49 AM

March 14, 2012


IGN PC

XCOM -- Designing a Game for Two Audiences

Older games weren't better because you had to decipher how to play them. People constantly belittle current games with lengthy tutorials and forgiving check points, wondering what happened to the days when someone would take the time to read a 50-page instruction manual and be OK with constantly re...

March 14, 2012 11:01 PM

A Countdown to Baldur's Gate Announcement?

Update: The Baldur's Gate website has been updated with a countdown clock, which completes its cycle at 12 p.m. PST tomorrow. Will this be the official announcement of a new game in the series? Stay tuned to IGN to find out...

March 14, 2012 08:40 PM

Contrast's Beauty is in the Shadows

Murder, romance, and deception highlight the noire-tale of Contrast. These scenes play out in shadow on the walls of a world set in an early twentieth century European-style city. These twisting stories already happened, their silhouettes revealing the past. Contrast's protagonist shifts between the colorful 3D world of cobblestone streets into the 2D world of shadows to change the past...

March 14, 2012 08:20 PM

Yesterday Screens

March 14, 2012 08:14 PM

Line of Defense: A Massive Shooter

3000 AD and Derek Smart's Line of Defense isn't meant to be a mind-boggling melange of intricate mechanics. Instead, this massively multiplayer sci-fi shooter is meant to be a little more approachable, a little bit easier to understand in comparison to 3000 AD's usually ultra-dense games. From what's been shown so far, though it's supposed to be more accessible, there still appears to be plenty of depth and detail for dedicated gamers to dig into in this PvP-only experience...

March 14, 2012 07:08 PM

Microsoft Flight Review

Unless you truly believe in the magic of potential future downloadable content and are willing to pay the very real price for whatever enhancements may or may not be coming down the pike Microsoft Flight is, for the most part, a waste of your time. It matters not if you're a detail-oriented, accuracy-loving sim-head or a gunning-for-action "arcade" gamer. Flight is likely not the droid you're looking for...

March 14, 2012 05:25 PM

Waves Review

It's hard not to see a game like Waves as a meditative experience. Something to zone out to, without any silly exposition or narrative getting in the way of just blowing stuff up and avoiding enemies' deadly touch. It strips away higher brain functions and favours your pure instincts instead, puttin...

March 14, 2012 04:49 PM

GTA V Arriving in 2013, Says Analyst

A leading business analyst group has released a statement suggesting that Grand Theft Auto V will be released in March 2013, and not late 2012 as previously thought...

March 14, 2012 03:49 PM

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