The debate of whether or not video games are art has been raging for almost as long as the medium has existed. There are various arguments coming from both sides, each valid. I’d like to start this post by going over both sides in a general sense.
The major proponent of games not being art is Roger Ebert, a film critic and jornalist. He has this to say:
“One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.”
His claims have been refuted by a number of games advocates, and that aside, games have been legally protected by the First Amendment since 2011, after the decision for the Supreme Court case, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. Games are an evolving and somewhat new medium, and thus are going to be met with resistance from the people who preceded them.
For the intent of this project, I think it’s safe to assume we believe games can be art, even if not all games are art. We were given a working definition of art to go by, and it goes as follows: Something that creates an affect (Feeling or emotion/An expressed or observed emotional response). That’s all fine and dandy, but how can we apply that to games specifically?
In my research, I found a great number of working definitions of art games, some more specific to sub-genres. In a scholarly article, Professor Tiffany Holmes defined the art game as “an interactive work, usually humorous, by a visual artist that does one or more of the following: challenges cultural stereotypes, offers meaningful social or historical critique, or tells a story in a novel manner.” and that an art game needs two or more of the following qualifications:
1. A defined way to win or experience success in a mental challenge.
2. Passage through a series of levels (that may or may not be hierarchical).
3. A central character or icon that represents the player.
You can get more and more specific, and get into subgenres like “feminist art game” or “aesthetic art game”, but in the most general of senses, our game should focus on artistic intent. Since this is to be a museum installation, expect there to be a short playtime and perhaps no real goal or conflict. These games can just be interactive experiences, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. I’m certain our team will come up with something compelling and fun.
Proteus, Mother 3, and The Unfinished Swan are games referred to in some contexts as art games, either by critics or developers.
As always, here are my (new) group members’ blogs:
Mathieu Lafreniere – https://mattsseriousgameblog.wordpress.com/
Zachary Larkin – https://zachlarkin.wordpress.com/
Joshua Robitaille – https://joshrobitailleseriousgame.wordpress.com/blog/
Nicholas Kruzel – https://seriousfailure.wordpress.com/
Holmes, Tiffany. Arcade Classics Span Art? Current Trends in the Art Game Genre. Melbourne DAC 2003. 2003.