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Video Games as Art General: A Little More Specific Than Usual

Last posted Feb 17, 2013 at 01:46AM EST. Added Jan 31, 2013 at 04:18PM EST
21 posts from 15 users

Topics for consideration:
- Do you consider video games art? I know this is the most obvious question given the thread’s purpose, but…
- If the above is true, what do you consider to be an “artsy” video game?
- How about posting your favorite game’s concept art, or music?
- This next one stretches it a little: What do you think about Save States, or Extra Easy modes in video games? Should a game cater to the needs of the players regardless of skill level?
- Can a game be good without heavy gameplay? Think of a genre like the Point-And-Click Adventure. Do you think a game can squeeze by because of its storytelling, or general experience?
- I dunno… Think of others! The sky’s the limit!

I now leave you to discuss. I might post some of my answers to the above later in the topic.

Jan 31, 2013 at 04:18PM EST
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some videogames is obviously an art

even games with no artistic value is an art:

Last edited Jan 31, 2013 at 04:21PM EST
Jan 31, 2013 at 04:20PM EST
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Videogames are, more often than not, a form of storytelling.

What makes videogames different is the screentime. A character we’ve known for less than two hours is meaningful to us, but a character we’ve been following, nay, embodying for 50+ hours? Then lets say something good (or bad) happens to them. BAM! Aeris just died. Movies can’t have that same inpact.

The fact that you put up with 50+ hours of gameplay has to do with whether the gameplay is any good, but what makes a game really really memorable is the story and how it’s told.

Jan 31, 2013 at 05:36PM EST
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I consider any type of storytelling medium to be art. Yes, that includes cruddy fanfics/fanart and that includes the masterpieces you’ve seen in art galleries. Hey, I said it’s art, I didn’t say it had to be good. Anyways, back to video games. I think any video game can be considered art, but I suppose the really “artsy” ones are the games that use symbolism in their settings/characters/color scheme/etc. and try to tell a really meaningful story or message that is not usually told in the everyday Call of Duty. A unique art/animation style doesn’t hurt either.

As far as I am concerned, you can use as many save states and super easy modes as you want. It’s not gonna give you any bragging rights, but I think games should be as accessible as possible to everyone. I suppose I have such a strong belief in this because I am crap at a lot of video games xP. As long as there are hard modes for the gaming vets, I think there should be an easy mode for the less skilled.

There’s no real way to define what makes a video game, so it’s really tough for me to say if the more “interactive story” type of games are video games at all. I suppose I could say “yes” and say that games like Heavy Rain or The Walking Dead are just as much games as the Assassin’s Creed series, but I can certainly see where people are coming from when people say that these aren’t real games.

Jan 31, 2013 at 07:14PM EST
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“Can a game be good without heavy gameplay? Think of a genre like the Point-And-Click Adventure. Do you think a game can squeeze by because of its storytelling, or general experience?”

It all Depends on what you call a game, A while ago I finished The Walking Dead by Telltale Games and it was Great! But The Walking dead isn’t what some people would call a “Good game”, the shooting gameplay was just poimt and click and the puzzles were easy and the action was just QTEs, which compared to other shooting, puzzle, and action games would make a very Boring “Game”

But I think The Walking Dead isn’t supposed to be a “Good Game”, Is supposed to be a very emotional Story and by all means it was, A big reason why was because instead of just watching or reading what the protagonist does in the story, It made me feel like what the protagonist does during the story is Me and that I was the protagonist In the story, and I saw the characters as if they were real and it made me emphatic for everyone in the game, Which is why I consider The Walking Dead game to be very good.


If your very interested in talks about Video Games being art and more then just toys I highly recommended you watch Extra credits. Here’s a two of there episodes that may or may not add to the thread


Last edited Jan 31, 2013 at 07:49PM EST
Jan 31, 2013 at 07:28PM EST
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Ah, I love Extra Credits. I really need to watch them more.

On topic, yeah, I most definitely consider video games to be art. It’s absurd that mainstream media doesn’t seem to, to be honest. Art is using any type of media to convey a human message, and games have been doing that for years. Shadow of the Colossus, as featured in the OP, is a prime example. Ico, Journey, MGS, TWD and Bioshock all fit the bill and then some as well.

Jan 31, 2013 at 08:20PM EST
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Can Minecraft considered to be art, since it has a more unique take on the sandbox genre and has graphics reminiscent to 8 or 16-bit games?

And you can still make art in a game… that can be considered art?

Well, anyways: Can Grand Theft Auto also be considered art since it tells stories about people making life-changing decisions?

Jan 31, 2013 at 08:32PM EST
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I made a thread a few months ago about something like this for a proyect of mine.
Videogames are art. Whether people like it or not. Art is not only a large book, a beautifully composed musical piece or a perfect painting. It’s something used to express your feelings or thoughts.
Of course, there are stereotypical videogames, but they all have a story. And even if it doesn’t have any story, it is fun to play with your friends or strangers all around the world. For instance: Metal Gear Solid (the series) has the best plot I’ve ever seen in a game, movie or even a book.


However, it doesn’t mean that a game needs THAT kind of storytelling and plot twists to be considered art. At least for me, beating a game for the first time is a huge satisfaction. As Serious Business said above, you get closer to these characters, and if something happens to them, you will feel worse than you would for a movie character. I felt the biggest satisfaction when I beat Final Fantasy on the NES. It’s just so good, because after all the trouble, deaths and grinding you went through, you finally defeated the damn Chaos.
But I think that a game needs a good Ending screen.

I think the gameplay has a lot to do. Point and Click games are pretty cool, but we haven’t seen much of this genre these years. That doesn’t mean they are bad. Far from that, they can have a lot of variety and plot twists, and be pretty funny, like Zork or Spaceship Warlock.

And videogames are the best when it comes to feels nostalgia. You play a game, wait for 5 years, replay it and you have feels.

Jan 31, 2013 at 09:54PM EST
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Well, there are two different approaches, I think, when judging if a game is art or not. There are many factors that go into it, but it basically boils down to story and/or aesthetics. Characters and impact of story attributed to the former and presentation, gameplay, and art to the latter.

A video game can have a great story, impactful characters, and memorable writing. Like… Walking Dead and the Mother series, for example.

A game that is strong in presentation and art while lacking in the rest but still considered art would be like Flower, it’s the closest thing you can get to ‘artsy’ while still being a game.

Shadow of the Colossus is an example of art in the gameplay, story, and presentation. The entire game is built around setting up an atmosphere of somber emotion. The story connects you to Wander and his struggle for Mono. The Colossi themselves are representative of this mood. The soundtrack and setting are lonesome. And that ending had me pissed.

Last edited Jan 31, 2013 at 10:11PM EST
Jan 31, 2013 at 10:10PM EST
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But if the thread is both a general and specific, isn’t it neither?

Jan 31, 2013 at 10:49PM EST

Are video games art? Yes, of course. They’re not a useless commodity, they come in various forms, and with varying degrees of intensity, they evoke emotion in the player, whether it be the satisfaction of a kill or emotional weight of a tense decision. They’ve transcended simply being “games.” Nowadays, more and more game developers want to evoke an experience. And why not? The platform presents innumerable possibilities. Interactivity strengthens storytelling in ways never before seen. If I could be so bold, not only are video games art, they’re absolutely the perfect platform for art.

I can’t tell you how many games I would consider to be art. Certainly, the obvious bits come to mind: Braid, Shadow of the Colossus, Bioshock, etc. However, I’d personally like to highlight Yume Nikki. Yume Nikki is not a “fun” game per se. On the surface, it’s a jumbled mess of images and scenes tied together with extensive exploration. However, beneath this veil is a moving storyline. The images are symbols. They tell a story indirectly of the life of its troubled, depressed main character. Just looking at the number of fan theories can will show you the game’s capacity for interpretation. Was Madotsuki raped? Was she bullied for her weight? Is she the last remaining human? You can’t tell. But you can guess. That’s art to me. Such a piece that can speak volumes without saying a word. It still remains my second favorite game of all time, and certainly something I would immediately view as art.

Feb 01, 2013 at 01:02AM EST
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I know it’s not really art in the traditional sense, but couldn’t art just be expanded anything that is constructed and that brings out an emotional response or a sense of meaning, including the aesthetics of the construction itself?

Seeing as “anti-art” is now considered art, it doesn’t even have to be intended to be art to be art.

I personally find math, computer science, and engineering to be extremely beautiful, and when they are at their best, it is something of a form of art. People have to remember that math was constructed, and many things don’t have to be true. We accept complex numbers, irrational numbers, and infinities, not because they really make sense, but because they simplify many things and are chosen because they appeal to the aesthetics of the mathematician, whether it be that it makes intuitive sense, or that it simplifies patterns, or that we believe they must be true on the basis of our beautiful axiomatic systems, or whatever.

Furthermore, much of even “more traditional art” is inherently mathematical, since it appears to our sense of patterns.

Seeing as computer science is inherently tied to a beautiful application of math, including graphics, fractal patterns, algorithms, numerical computation, music, and software engineering, and the fact that code can be beautiful in itself, isn’t it amazing and beautiful that this end video game product could be formed from all these beautiful underlying structures?

Ugly programs are like ugly suspension bridges: they’re much more liable to collapse than pretty ones, because the way humans (especially engineer-humans) perceive beauty is intimately related to our ability to process and understand complexity.

-Eric S. Raymond

And that’s not even mentioning the plots (Okami) and quirkiness (katamari damacy) that really tie into human emotions and curiosity.

Form ever follows function.

-Louis Sullivan

And some people find that function to be the most beautiful thing in the world.

It might be something of a cop out to consider all these things art, but at the same time, as someone who finds math to be the most beautiful thing in the world, why should my field have to be left out in discussions of art? Math/Computer Science/Programming is what really appeals to my aesthetics, and it connects me to other humans in what i know to be true, so to me and other mathy people (and not necessarily to others), it’s more emotionally appealing than traditional art.

Last edited Feb 01, 2013 at 09:44PM EST
Feb 01, 2013 at 02:01AM EST
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Now for some of my answers.

I consider video games to be art simply on the grounds that they are made basically from music, art and story – as well as other programming elements (which I consider a kind of art because, surprise surprise, I’m part programmer.) To say that it’s just a plaything isn’t quite right. Think about action figures, for instance. They’re supposed to be just “playthings” and yet, people collect them and treat them as precious works of art.

What an “artsy” video game is to me is hard to define. It’s basically the kind of stuff that generates a special feeling I get – sort of a cross between “awesome” and “nostalgic”. I was always a fan of the PS1 era, so most of those games are pretty “artsy” to me. It’s the era where they were JUST getting the basics of how to make a good game, and yet could still experiment with crazy new ideas. Naturally, there are some that are more definitely artsy, (LSD: Dream Simulator) but also some that are only vaguely artsy. (Katamari Damacy? Crash Bandicoot?) A game in my book can be artsy because of its novel gameplay. If it feels fun to play, that’s also art to me.

Save States are okay with me, because I suck at half the games I play. It’s not really the duty of the creator to make something that HE will enjoy, it’s more the duty of the creator to make something that OTHERS can enjoy as well. Super Easy mode is also something I push. I don’t care that it’ll be more of a movie than a game, I can still enjoy it regardless.

I believe a game can be story heavy and not have too much gameplay. Look at Ace Attorney, or Professor Layton. They can get away with little gameplay because they tell a good story. (No matter how cheesy it may be.)

I’m still kind of sad that video games are being targeted as violence creators, though. Why can’t they just go back to Comic Books and Rock and Roll?

Feb 01, 2013 at 04:01PM EST
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CLYDE (Joe's Nightmare) wrote:

Now for some of my answers.

I consider video games to be art simply on the grounds that they are made basically from music, art and story – as well as other programming elements (which I consider a kind of art because, surprise surprise, I’m part programmer.) To say that it’s just a plaything isn’t quite right. Think about action figures, for instance. They’re supposed to be just “playthings” and yet, people collect them and treat them as precious works of art.

What an “artsy” video game is to me is hard to define. It’s basically the kind of stuff that generates a special feeling I get – sort of a cross between “awesome” and “nostalgic”. I was always a fan of the PS1 era, so most of those games are pretty “artsy” to me. It’s the era where they were JUST getting the basics of how to make a good game, and yet could still experiment with crazy new ideas. Naturally, there are some that are more definitely artsy, (LSD: Dream Simulator) but also some that are only vaguely artsy. (Katamari Damacy? Crash Bandicoot?) A game in my book can be artsy because of its novel gameplay. If it feels fun to play, that’s also art to me.

Save States are okay with me, because I suck at half the games I play. It’s not really the duty of the creator to make something that HE will enjoy, it’s more the duty of the creator to make something that OTHERS can enjoy as well. Super Easy mode is also something I push. I don’t care that it’ll be more of a movie than a game, I can still enjoy it regardless.

I believe a game can be story heavy and not have too much gameplay. Look at Ace Attorney, or Professor Layton. They can get away with little gameplay because they tell a good story. (No matter how cheesy it may be.)

I’m still kind of sad that video games are being targeted as violence creators, though. Why can’t they just go back to Comic Books and Rock and Roll?

If I weren’t on my phone right now, I’d tell you why you calling Phoenix Wright a video game and putting Professor Layton on the same tier bothers me.

Also, you hush about comic books being targetted as violence starters. The jury’s still out on whether or not video games actually do cause violence, but regardless of whether it does, we don’t want the loonies of the argument coming back here.

Feb 02, 2013 at 07:02PM EST
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I’ve recently discovered a song that helps articulate why I think games are art better than I ever possibly could.

Feb 03, 2013 at 04:19PM EST
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I super consider videogames art. Heck, I consider anything made with constructive coordination ‘art’.

Feb 07, 2013 at 04:10PM EST
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Ghostony wrote:

I super consider videogames art. Heck, I consider anything made with constructive coordination ‘art’.

I feel like there are a lot of people, myself included, who don’t consider porn to be art.

Feb 11, 2013 at 12:39AM EST
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Teh Brawler wrote:

I feel like there are a lot of people, myself included, who don’t consider porn to be art.

I’d like to know what you consider art.

It’s a very loose definition in my book.

Feb 11, 2013 at 11:00AM EST
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Teh Brawler wrote:

I feel like there are a lot of people, myself included, who don’t consider porn to be art.

While I myself am not exactly a master on the subject of pornography, it is a belief of mine that pornography is most definitely a form of art. While not all of it is well, something one would want placed alongside the statue of David, some porn, does in fact display a lot of factors that many people would denote as artistic. One of the best places to see this is in drawn porn, mainly that which falls under the category fanart which mind you has art in its very name. Many of these pieces are done with skills that many would pay a large sum to acquire, and better yet, these works showcase characters that one may have already grown fond of in their original media, in a more intimate situation, displaying emotions that can’t be put into their original home.
I recently admired a piece of fanmade pornography that featured a set of characters from a popular comic, the characters in the piece were of course having intercourse, but they both had very detailed, human expressions that really showed emotion that was believable for their characters, and they had their fingers interlocked, a very nice detail that showed the illustrator meant for an actual romantic relationship to be displayed.
There is also the fact that if a fanfiction is art which has already been confirmed numerous times, that the constant flow of pornographic material based off the fanfiction needs a title, and if fanfiction, literary works based off of other media is art, then why would the pictures based off of the literature be exempt from this sort of logic?
I have no qualms against those uncomfortable with porn and it wouldn’t be right to have any, but to say that you do not consider any porn art, that is rather offensive. There are people who work hours, days, weeks, even months producing/filming/writing/drawing porn, why should they not be acknowledged for their efforts and/or talents when one could quickly paste together a jumble of shapes and call it a piece of art?
Emotion, thought, belief, individual interpretation, there are many things that can be displayed in a work of “pornography,” sex is a beautiful thing, and it is certainly qualified to be art.
a side not to those who downvoted Brawler, please try and state your issue with a post that states an opinion rather than downvote it

Last edited Feb 13, 2013 at 10:06PM EST
Feb 13, 2013 at 09:48PM EST
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Teh Brawler wrote:

I feel like there are a lot of people, myself included, who don’t consider porn to be art.

Much of ancient art depicted sex that sometimes is and probably was at the time considered pornographic.

Feb 17, 2013 at 01:46AM EST
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