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Games: Entertainment? Art form?

Started by etgadsby, March 26, 2004, 01:21:33 PM

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In reading the forums as of late reminded me a discussion I had with an old girlfriend (mercifully we’re not together anymore) about the nature and purpose of games.

She felt they where useless entertainment (electronic pulp fiction as it where) while I think accomplishments like the “King’s Quest” and “Myst” series make this kind work more then simply entertainment but instead part of the word of art.

I’d love to hear what folks think, I know we focus on adventure games here, but I’d like to hear if anybody as options about other sub-genres of games as it pertains to this question.

*Sits down to discuss*
Peace, Love, & Understanding,

E.ric T.homas Gadsby


Ooh a philisophical thread!  I haven't seen one of these in a long time.  XD

I would say that games are more of an art form in the true sense.  A lot of time and effort goes into their creation, most of the time with the help of team collaboration and corporate entities.  And what's the main motivating force behind it?  Well, some people might say profits but that's more because they consider games as a product and in order to survive in business, you have to continue to sell your product and make some profit.

Anyway, I see it as an art form because it's something people want to have, to play and to keep.  There's no biological need for them, people just want them just because. ;D  There's something in the marketing & advertising that makes us say "I HAVE TO HAVE THAT"!  

So yeah, they are entertaining, but the way in which they are created, used and enjoyed could definitely be seen as a form of art.  :)
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I'd definitely consider games art. After all, if people can stick garbage bags and wet towels on sticks and call it art, why can't games be art? ;)

Seriously, games are just as valid a creative form as anything else. True, some games are "better" than others, but then, some art is always "better" than other art. (And "better" is a very subjective matter, anyway.)

I will agree that I don't find even the "best" games to be a good in a literary sense as a film or book. But that's to do with the nature of games... a strong story really requires the firm control of the author. The more control you give to the player, the less able you are to give the full nuance of a story.

But gaming definitely makes up for that in other ways. What interactivity takes away from the story, it makes up for by being it's own creative outlet. Putting the player into the story provides a whole new level of options, and gives you the unique possibilities of making that person an integral part of the experience. Gaming is one of the few (if not only) truly collaborative art forms, and perhaps it's that which sometimes puts people off... we're pretty used to just being shown our art/entertainment, after all.

It's a matter of differing mindsets. I read or watch TV/film when I want to just see how a creator intended their work to be displayed. I play games when I want to be some part of the story that's unfolding. Someone who lacks that desire for that brand of interactivity may have a harder time understanding why gamers love their games so much.

Peace & Luv, Liz


Games are art, mostly because they contain more than one type of art already. ;D Music, pictures, everything.
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Computer games have no practical purpose, and they're quite useless for anything except for fun... must be art then ;)
"Never argue with idiots. They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

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I think certain genres lend them selves to the "art" label more than others. Adventure gaming/RPGs which usually have a main focus on the story are more about what the maker of the game has to say than you having fun, not that you dont have fun (confusing i know but it makes sense to me). Also games such as MGS or Final fantasy feature heavily in the FMV which in itself I feel is an art form. But of course it all depends on how you define art. Like jeysie said some people can fall in love with a "bed" and blank canvas' and some people only class classical art as true art. The same with music too.  
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Questions like this will haunt you for life  :suffer:

Some games are artistic, but sadly I would not put Kings Quest on the list. Games like Res, Neverhood, Darkeye, Shenmue and Myst are pretty artistic to name a few. They innovated teh experience of gaming or the very definition with style, conception, innovation and vision. But how in the world can a game based directly off fairy tales be artistic. KQ was never really big on style or originality, it was a well made craft if anything.

KQ was more innovative in the numbers of sales and in programming ability. Like Halo...not like Myst. Halo isn't artistic, it's just a really well done game of a very specific genre. Mastery, not artistry. Both KQ and Halo both have stories yes, but they're both horrendous.

You can stretch some of what art to fit other games in that Metal Gear Solid, Black and White, 7th Guest, Final Fantasy and the classic lucas arts adventures to name a few that seem to lie in between artistic vision and a simple means of entertainment.

Oh, and if something is used for entertainment purposes, then it does have a purpose. Thus, in the truly traditional fine art world, no game can be an art. I however, think that's bogus. Architecture has a purpose and so does music...but those two things are art. Games can be art I believe, but most of the time, it must be partially made for the sake of art. Can't say King's Quest ever did that though.


Ah, the other side of the debate. I am glad Plays_4_Pants brought in the other side of the argument for the sake of balance.  

Anyway here are two articles (a little dated) that I guess are on the negative side of the this argument enjoy:
Peace, Love, & Understanding,

E.ric T.homas Gadsby


Heh, I actually read the first article before... I still don't get why some people bother arguing with success  8)
"Never argue with idiots. They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."


I've actually read both before. I agree that the quality of Sierra's games is somewhat uneven, but I don't feel as negatively as that fellow does.

I also find a certain amount of irony in the fact that he loves Gabriel Knight, but hates KQ6.

As for other thoughts... I disagree that something that is well-crafted but isn't original isn't art. I also don't think something has to be made "for art's sake" in order to be art. In fact, I personally prize and find more aesthetic value in something that is made to be creative and useful over something that is merely creative.

...not to say that I don't enjoy stuff that's just for looking at... I do. But I like stuff that's for looking at and using better. So I'd much rather have a game that's art and a good game, than a game that's just made for looking pretty.

Peace & Luv, Liz

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I think it depends on the genre, time, and place.

Action RPGs from the 80s(non-D&D)=entertainment, with an artistic quality to them.

Adventure games from the 80s=same thing

Most modern retail games, I'd put in the entertainment catagory.

I think Europian(mainly English) strategy games, old-school style(I forget the time period)=neither(I consider them complex simulations)

Myst= an art form, despite that I didn't really enjoy it.

KQ9=remains to be seen, but I'll guess that it'll be an art form.

I'll end it here, before this becomes an almost limitless post.