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Ebert: Video Games Can Never Be Art
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Captiv8



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icarus502 wrote:
I would, except that the counter-argument will have a bunch of fat-cheeto-eating, got-scurvy-from-only-playing-wow-and-drinking-jolt types can sit around thinking that they're, like, the world's foremost experts on "art."


I think you're giving that brand of video gamer too much credit, Icarus. And I could be wrong, but I don't think they view World of Warcraft, or whatever they happen to be into, in terms of aesthetics so much as a way of life.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:59 am
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Mikal kHill



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So, a game like Oblivion, with its magnificently and painstakingly rendered landscapes, with the overarching story that elicits an emotional response from the person that experiences it... these things aren't art? There are hundreds of books within the game that include short stories, folk tales and "history" books... these things aren't art?

Whaddeva.

It's clearly art, and there's no need to defend that stance because it's the obvious stance to take.

No one needs to justify that rap music is really art to metalheads.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:03 am
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Hellen Earth
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yah, but people that play video games are fat and malnourished! those sorts of people can't appreciate real art.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:10 am
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Sage Francis
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I haven't read all the arguments here, so pardon me if I'm imparting some played out "wisdom" right now.

It seems to me that video games use ART. It consists of artistic elements. But the video game, as a whole...and functionally, is not art. How that differs from a movie I'm not totally sure.

Turns out I have nothing to add here. But you should watch me play Tetris on the original NES. Now that right there is art.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:13 am
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icarus502
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I think I've said before on here that I'm generally of the opinion vis-á-vis video games that Fredric Jameson is toward architecture i.e. that the directness of the relationship to pure commerce may allow us to more directly access the contemporary spirit of capital. If video games are art then no branch of "art" is further removed from the romantic notion of an intrinsic, non-capitalist "aura" to a work; farther removed from the classic models of apprenticeship (currently in the form of directed training / "schools" in the formal and informal sense) and patronage (i.e. the financial end is motivated by being associated with sublimity or perpetuating it rather than getting a financial return). There aren't movements in video gaming, there are only genres; there aren't patrons, there are only customers. So to that end, I think it's important — as I've said many times here before — that video games need to be taken seriously. Taken seriously as "art" or otherwise.

Last edited by icarus502 on Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:18 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:14 am
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Hellen Earth
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It employs multiple artistic elements in a way which creates an interactive, and i would argue in some cases cathartic, artistic experience.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:15 am
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Hellen Earth
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icarus502 wrote:
I think I've said before on here that I'm generally of the opinion vis-á-vis video games that Fredric Jameson is toward architecture i.e. that the directness of the relationship to pure commerce may allow us to more directly access the contemporary spirit of capital. If video games are art then no branch of "art" is further removed from the romantic notion of an intrinsic, non-capitalist "aura" to a work; farther removed from the classic models of apprenticeship (currently in the form of directed training / "schools" in the formal and informal sense) and patronage. So to that end, I think it's important — as I've said many times here before — that video games need to be taken seriously. Taken seriously as "art" or otherwise.


so you are saying that you don't define it as art because of it's commercial success and the process by which it is created? maybe i'm not understanding you.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:18 am
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Mikal kHill



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icarus502 wrote:
I think I've said before on here that I'm generally of the opinion vis-á-vis video games that Fredric Jameson is toward architecture i.e. that the directness of the relationship to pure commerce may allow us to more directly access the contemporary spirit of capital. If video games are art then no branch of "art" is further removed from the romantic notion of an intrinsic, non-capitalist "aura" to a work; farther removed from the classic models of apprenticeship (currently in the form of directed training / "schools" in the formal and informal sense) and patronage. So to that end, I think it's important — as I've said many times here before — that video games need to be taken seriously. Taken seriously as "art" or otherwise.


This is the knee jerk and automatic response that prolly always comes back in this circumstance, but there have been great peices of art that were simply commission pieces long before video games came along.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:19 am
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Mikal kHill



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You added that last bit after I had already responded, but, there are tons of complete reworkings of games like Oblivion and Fallout where independent developers (who start as customers, but rework the game using it as a template for building something new) who give their work away for free after creating whole new stories and graphics, etc, on their own. Also, I do think there are "movements" that go beyond simple genre, particularly in the independent scene.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:23 am
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icarus502
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Hellen Earth wrote:
icarus502 wrote:
I think I've said before on here that I'm generally of the opinion vis-á-vis video games that Fredric Jameson is toward architecture i.e. that the directness of the relationship to pure commerce may allow us to more directly access the contemporary spirit of capital. If video games are art then no branch of "art" is further removed from the romantic notion of an intrinsic, non-capitalist "aura" to a work; farther removed from the classic models of apprenticeship (currently in the form of directed training / "schools" in the formal and informal sense) and patronage. So to that end, I think it's important — as I've said many times here before — that video games need to be taken seriously. Taken seriously as "art" or otherwise.


so you are saying that you don't define it as art because of it's commercial success and the process by which it is created? maybe i'm not understanding you.


I don't care if it's art. I go back and forth on the question. I want to think about video games in the way that I think about art. And if everything I think about in that way (comic books, literature, rap music, movies, sculpture, photos, painting — these are the things I've been thinking about and writing about lately) are "art" then what's the point in drawing a distinction between them and video games? There's not one, really. Except that I can't shake the notion that there's a big difference here. I feel like video games are much more the jurisdiction of social psychology. But, yeah, I said that the relationship to patronage and apprenticeship is different but is this a physical difference or a chemical one? I dunno.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:25 am
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icarus502
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Mikal kHill wrote:
icarus502 wrote:
I think I've said before on here that I'm generally of the opinion vis-á-vis video games that Fredric Jameson is toward architecture i.e. that the directness of the relationship to pure commerce may allow us to more directly access the contemporary spirit of capital. If video games are art then no branch of "art" is further removed from the romantic notion of an intrinsic, non-capitalist "aura" to a work; farther removed from the classic models of apprenticeship (currently in the form of directed training / "schools" in the formal and informal sense) and patronage. So to that end, I think it's important — as I've said many times here before — that video games need to be taken seriously. Taken seriously as "art" or otherwise.


This is the knee jerk and automatic response that prolly always comes back in this circumstance, but there have been great peices of art that were simply commission pieces long before video games came along.


This is kneejerk and automatic? I thought I was being thoughtful! Oh well.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:26 am
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Mikal kHill



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No, I'm saying my defense I was about to present was kneejerk and automatic. ha

Last edited by Mikal kHill on Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:28 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:27 am
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futuristxen



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good grief what a pretentious AND ignorant article. His criticisms of Flower and Braid are moronic to anyone who has actually played the games.


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I think I've said before on here that I'm generally of the opinion vis-á-vis video games that Fredric Jameson is toward architecture i.e. that the directness of the relationship to pure commerce may allow us to more directly access the contemporary spirit of capital. If video games are art then no branch of "art" is further removed from the romantic notion of an intrinsic, non-capitalist "aura" to a work; farther removed from the classic models of apprenticeship (currently in the form of directed training / "schools" in the formal and informal sense) and patronage. So to that end, I think it's important — as I've said many times here before — that video games need to be taken seriously. Taken seriously as "art" or otherwise.


This point is completely oblivious to the strong demo scene/indie art gaming scene. Videogames aren't just what EA puts out anymore. A lot of these people are talented enough to make games on their own and make games that really play with the medium in really intellectually interesting ways. And yes, offer geniune catharthis. Flower and Braid are both mainstream examples of this.

Yes videogames are popular and making a lot of money, but so do movies. I don't see how videogames are any more or less pure commerce than them. The only difference between a film and a game is that you have a controller in your hand, but both are artists coming together to form an experience for the user/viewer.

How is something like Heavy Rain different from a random Noir film?

Also. Sport can be performance art. Thought that needed addressing as well. Watching Barcelona orchestrate a goal isn't that different from watching dance.

It all seems just an attempt to say in some amount of words that the thing which I am interested in is important and meaningful and you're not allowed into the club.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:28 am
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Hellen Earth
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I suppose once people start thinking about it as art, it becomes art.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:30 am
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icarus502
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futuristxen wrote:


This point is completely oblivious to the strong demo scene/indie art gaming scene.


No it's not. I mean, I may have missed it in my point but I'm not oblivious to it. I know it exists and I know enough about them to know that it doesn't really change my point. A motivated, creative hobbyist does not an artist make. Or, I should say, if it does make an artist, then it's not the sort of artist that I have any interest in.


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And yes, offer geniune catharthis.

I guess I'm not interested in "genuine catharsis." I'm convinced that insofar that it exists (and I'm not sure of that AT ALL), it can probably exist from any number of sources that aren't "art." A forest isn't art. Niagara Falls isn't art. Watching your babies first steps isn't art. And these things have elicited infinitely more "catharsis" than any video game.


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How is something like Heavy Rain different from a random Noir film?


Fuck if I know!



Quote:

Also. Sport can be performance art. Thought that needed addressing as well. Watching Barcelona orchestrate a goal isn't that different from watching dance.


And anything anyone ever does is art, I guess. Not to be flip but can't I appreciate the greatness that is Lionel Messi without considering him an artist per se?


Quote:


It all seems just an attempt to say in some amount of words that the thing which I am interested in is important and meaningful and you're not allowed into the club.


That's fair. No wait, no it isn't! I'm not interested in a lot of things that I think are art and I am interested in a lot things that are not art. I really enjoy playing at Barça on PES 2010, even. Three of world's 20 or so best strikers on one team. Call it art, or simply call it unfair. It's fun and it is the product of talented, creative people. But if I don't call it "art" it isn't because I don't like it.
Post Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:44 am
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