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welp, i posted a comment
Posted By: Hawaiian PigDate: 4/18/10 7:45 p.m.

In Response To: Re: A view from those asshole Hardcore gamers (SonofMacPhisto)

so no one in his comments was saying what i wanted to say, so i posted this

(yes, I shamelessly lifted from my earlier post):

"Video Games:" An Identity Crisis

Video games have become a nexus of competitive activity and art, and this appears to be the root of the problem. It is the meeting of these very incompatible concepts that deeply complicate their development and confound this debate.

On the surface it would seem that video games have recently begun to shoehorn elements of other art forms into what is essentially competitive activity. To many, it's like giving chess a make-over and an epic storyline; one may argue that the game itself is not the art, but rather that the make-over and the story line are.

I'd suggest that this is an unfair and overzealous approach that overlooks what video games have become today.

When one considers the word "game," they conjure up images of competitive activities, be it competition with others, or with and against a specific set of rules and goals. The current medium of "video games," however, have so far departed from this image that it would no longer be fair to consider them nothing else but a mere chess match with dressing.

An Artistic Melting Pot

The development of video games as a medium for portraying art is particularly stark when one investigates the drastic variance in the use of art in different games over time. While the examples provided to you are perhaps the worst I could imagine to that end, there do exist games that attempt to "appeal to the senses or emotions." While in the past, the art in games had existed mainly to provide dressing, the aim in video game development has definitely shifted. Developers of games seek to build convincing or unique environments for one to explore, to script sequences that both engage and stimulate the player, or to tell a compelling story worthy of critical acclaim.

The latter, I will admit, is harder to find than the rest. Though they are rare, there do exist moments in games that generate suspense or emotion for characters involved. Rattling off examples of such specific experiences within games to you would be a lengthy and unnecessary exercise. I need not explain to you why colours on a canvas invoke emotion, or why light on a screen can bring one to tears; while the extant body of video game titles lack tear-jerking examples, the medium itself is surely capable.

There comes a point where, when you throw enough elements of art into something, it becomes its own art form. Movies themselves are a nexus of various art forms (visual art, music, written narrative, and performance to name a few). Without these, movies are nothing but light on a screen. Unsurprisingly, video games have sought to include these various art forms in an attempt to craft a unique experience. If you can tell a compelling narrative from the first person perspective, and do so on film, then why can you not do so in a video game, where the player is guided through the story? Surely there is room for art here.

It's at this point that one ought to step back and view video games as a summation of their parts, and not a set of art forms slapped together on top of a game. In the same way that a gripping movie may rightly be called an engaging "experience," so too can a video game. The difference is simply the interaction of the viewer.

The Interactive Element

I find the stance taken by those who discount the medium are often simply inexperienced with video games or are misunderstanding the form that has developed today. "Video Games" have ceased to be solely a matter of competition (between one and a computer, or one and another player), but rather have entered the realm of crafted interactive experiences. Many highly successful video game titles have developers who pride themselves on the creation of these compelling experiences. As a result, the emphasis on immersion in games has far departed from the emphasis on competition, and the current state state of "video games" (as a meaningful term) hangs in the balance.

Indeed, the problem stems from that incompatibility of art and competitive activity I referred to earlier. If you were to ask various "gamers" what they look for in games, you'll garner wildly varying responses. There are those who pine for games to challenge their dexterity or strategical ingenuity, those who seek games to provide relaxation or social activity, and others who seek games to immerse them in a fictional world.

If there truly is no example of video games as art as of yet, it's due to the above variation in what people want. It would seem that "video games" have not yet decided what they are; the medium is far too young. There are games that focus solely on competition, games that seek to provide fleeting amusement, and games that seek to provide immersion.

Sadly, many games try to do all three of these things at once, and it results in poor art and poor competitive games. You might be surprised to find that there are those out there who feel that video games no longer provide meaningful competition as a result of their new impetus to appeal to broader audiences and their extremely variant needs.

This mediocre production of art and development of competitive games stems from the unfortunate reality that games are extremely expensive to produce. Because people seek games for all sorts of reasons, developers, in order to stay in business, are left with the task of pleasing everyone.

The Bottom Line

Indeed, I will admit that the games that exist today are so financially motivated that the majority of them are as engaging to play as schlock rock is to listen to. That said, to discount the entire medium as incapable of being art is a bit of an oversight.

Ultimately, I have found that the use of "video games" as a meaningful term is beginning to diverge. On one hand, you have carefully crafted experiences which seek to stimulate the senses and engage the emotions, and on the other you have activities that provide one with intense challenges and opportunity for competition. Both the "experience" and the "activity" are separated by a gray area that games today are trying desperately to straddle.

I'd suggest that these are growing pains for the medium of interactive entertainment.

Undoubtedly one can depict a narrative on paper, through radio, or on film, and I find it not a great stretch of the imagination to extend storytelling into something like a three dimensional computer generated environment. Through the development of elaborate graphical set pieces, the employment of musical scores, the use of talented vocal performers, and the programming of a game's scripted sequences and parameters, a game designer can guide a player through a narrative in a way that is both extraordinary and intriguing. In bringing together various forms of art into a single unique package, one cannot help but treat the entire package as art. Honestly, to claim that these potential carefully produced interactive experiences are not art would be quite na´ve and impetuous. To say that such experiences have not yet been crafted and the medium not yet fully explored? Well that's up for debate...


Message Index


(F)ART OR NOT?Miguel Chavez 4/18/10 4:06 a.m.
     Re: (F)ART OR NOT?NsU Soldier 4/18/10 6:19 a.m.
     (F)ART *NM*hyokin 4/18/10 7:14 a.m.
     Re: (F)ART OR NOT?DHalo 4/18/10 9:03 a.m.
     Vague, abstract terms are just headaches!Leviathan 4/18/10 12:16 p.m.
           Re: Vague, abstract terms are just headaches!Jillybean 4/18/10 3:10 p.m.
           Re: Vague, abstract terms are just headaches!Cody Miller 4/18/10 7:01 p.m.
                 BLAAAAAAAAAAAHRiceatron 4/18/10 7:30 p.m.
                       Re: BLAAAAAAAAAAAHCody Miller 4/18/10 7:47 p.m.
                             Re: BLAAAAAAAAAAAHRiceatron 4/18/10 7:51 p.m.
                 Re: Vague, abstract terms are just headaches!Leviathan 4/18/10 9:16 p.m.
     Re: (F)ART OR NOT?General Vagueness 4/18/10 1:28 p.m.
           Re: (F)ART OR NOT?General Vagueness 4/18/10 1:30 p.m.
           Re: (F)ART OR NOT?SonofMacPhisto 4/18/10 1:46 p.m.
                 Re: (F)ART OR NOT?General Vagueness 4/18/10 2:27 p.m.
                       Re: (F)ART OR NOT?SonofMacPhisto 4/18/10 3:29 p.m.
     A view from outside HBOSonofMacPhisto 4/18/10 4:54 p.m.
           cut/paste failSonofMacPhisto 4/18/10 4:56 p.m.
           Re: A view from those asshole Hardcore gamersHawaiian Pig 4/18/10 5:24 p.m.
                 Re: A view from those asshole Hardcore gamersSonofMacPhisto 4/18/10 6:03 p.m.
                       welp, i posted a commentHawaiian Pig 4/18/10 7:45 p.m.
                             Re: welp, i posted a commentCody Miller 4/18/10 7:59 p.m.
                                   Re: welp, i posted a commentHawaiian Pig 4/18/10 8:10 p.m.
                                         Cody.Riceatron 4/18/10 8:57 p.m.
                                         Re: welp, i posted a commentCody Miller 4/18/10 9:20 p.m.
                                               JRPGs don't give up a lot of control bro *NM*Hawaiian Pig 4/18/10 9:24 p.m.
                                                     Re: JRPGs don't give up a lot of control broGeneral Vagueness 4/18/10 10:08 p.m.
                                                           Re: JRPGs don't give up a lot of control broHawaiian Pig 4/18/10 10:39 p.m.
                                               Re: welp, i posted a commentSonofMacPhisto 4/18/10 9:38 p.m.
                             Re: welp, i posted a commentLeviathan 4/18/10 8:29 p.m.
                                   Re: welp, i posted a commentSonofMacPhisto 4/18/10 9:02 p.m.
                 Re: A view from those asshole Hardcore gamersGeneral Vagueness 4/18/10 9:34 p.m.
     Re: (F)ART OR NOT?Cody Miller 4/18/10 6:47 p.m.
           Re: (F)ART OR NOT?NsU Soldier 4/18/10 7:08 p.m.
     Re: (F)ART OR NOT?ThorsHammer 4/19/10 8:50 a.m.
     What about this?Avateur 4/21/10 4:34 a.m.

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