Why video games are still not Fine Art (yet have art in them)

I was a heavy contributor to the infamous Roger Ebert thread on why he thought video games can never be art, Video games can never be art. I concurred with Mr. Ebert, and a few of my answers where highlighted by Mr. Ebert. I duked it out with some of the best pro-games-are-art word-ninjas and logic-dodgers, and have a few trophies on my wall to prove it.

That said, of all the arguments in the 5,000 comments left on Ebert’s post (before it was closed), few are more potent than one presented a recent article at CNN, which adds a novel and potent twist to the thesis that video games can never be art. But we’ll qualify “art”, as I did in Ebert’s comment section, as Fine Art. This important distinction escapes 99.999% of all the video-games-are-art enthusiasts:

Why most people don’t finish video games

“…Only 10% of avid gamers completed the final mission, according to Raptr, which tracks more than 23 million gaming sessions.

Let that sink in for a minute: Of every 10 people who started playing the consensus “Game of the Year,” only one of them finished it.

How is that? Shouldn’t such a high-rated game keep people engaged? Or have player attention spans reached a breaking point?

Who’s to blame: The developer or the player? Or maybe it’s our culture?

The correct answer is, in fact, all of the above…”

Houston, we have a cultural problem. Without rehashing the endless permutations of what-is-art theory and charges of “you can’t define art” followed by “I define art as…” soliloquies, we will simply dive right in to what this study means. It means we have scientific proof that video games are not Fine Art. It means video games are…games! Whoa nelly! But how?

Can you “not finish” a Monet? Certainly you write and ponder a Monet for this or that amount of time, but you can never say you didn’t “finish” it. You either saw it or you didn’t. And you comprehended to one degree or another. Now of course there is a certain kind of very delimited relativity to comprehending art, but it’s not nearly as complicated and relative as some make it out to be.

Who ever heard of a general pattern of 90% of movie-goers “not finishing”, say, Citizen Kane or The Godfather? On the other hand, how many sessions of Monopoly, Solitaire, Risk, and Chess have people abandoned? Yeah, thought so.

Perhaps the rate of abandonment for chess games played withartfully hand-carved chess sets is lower than for your run-of-the-mill plastic chess set from Target, but only because playing with beautiful set is probably more of an occasion. The chess-is-art argument falls short for the same reason.

Yes, you may have to run out of the museum to pay the parking meter and thus not finish taking in your Renoir.

Yes, you may have to pause Citizen Kane to take the dog for a walk. But you’ll be back. And you’ll finish the predefined journey that Wells has taken you on up to that point. You don’t have a general apathy about not finishing a movie. Unless, of course, it’s awful, like most of what is on Netflix streaming these days.

But unfinished video games? They are unfinished because they don’t speak to the heart and don’t compel it to continue. They don’t rouse the desire of the beloved. They don’t stoke soul-thirst. They speak of logic, of dexterity, of thrill, of adventure, and even imagination. But we can leave these kinds of things, willy-nilly, without shedding a tear or being moved or overcome with emotion or insight.

Art is in video games. Art is in the beautiful lamp on my desk. Art is in the design of my car. But Fine Art, especially the best that the cultures of the world have created, preserved, and handed down to us as our legacy, is about the human condition, the state of our souls, our place in the world, and our place in eternity. Video games are about our place on the couch where we don’t think about those kinds of things—except in the most trivial and trite kinds of ways.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a comment of mine that Ebert highlighted on his famous post:

The 20th century tyranny of mediocrity that has obliterated objective standards of beauty is slowly grinding to a halt under the weight of its own internal contradiction. There is a nascent renaissance for the recapturing of beauty in art as conceptual art runs out of steam.

And remember, don’t feed the trolls!


  1. JF says

    I reckon I’ve finished about 10% of the fine art novels I’ve started – Albert Camus amongst others being someone I’ve dozed off a few times trying out. Yet I’ve finished pretty much every trashy novel with lots of guns that I’ve read. But I wouldn’t argue that the novels that I read to turn my brain off are art, but I’d be happy to concede to fans of Camus, etc. that their books are art. Just art I struggle with!

    Comparing trashy games with fine art from other genres isn’t comparing like with like – perhaps the games that could compete haven’t been made yet (I wouldn’t know, I’m not a gamer) but that’s not to say they can never exist.

  2. says

    JF: The “they don’t exist yet” argument is presently the last fallback position the games-are-art crowd has. There is an enthusiastic, almost fundamentalist zeal for that kind of prophesy. I don’t have any problem with “games will be fine art” prophesies per se because people can hope for whatever they want. But as long as we acknowledge they don’t exist, most of my argument is already made. Will they ever exist? We don’t have any rational to think that they will given the incomprehensible amounts of money spent so far in 40 years of gaming development. It’s theoretically possible, but based on the evidence and long well-defined history thus far, we have no rational basis to make that leap of faith from. Reason leads to faith, and the faith gap grows where reason lacks. Right now the “games will be art” reason to faith gap is insurmountable. Again, yes, it could change, but there is no reason to hold your breath right now waiting!

  3. says

    There could be a lot of factors involved as to why gamers don’t complete the game’s final mission. I tried playing an online rpg but stopped because I was so caught up with my work that I didn’t have the time to play.

  4. JL Ohly says

    First, I have to mention, you speak of looking through the lens of fine art, but then you go on to talk about Hollywood films and, inexplicably, board games. I thought i would help by giving you a couple of critically accepted ‘fine art’ films. And then, I thought I would dare you to finish any one of them-
    – “The Clock” by Christian Marclay 
    ( 24 hours long, it won The 2011 Venice Biennial’s Golden Lion for best artwork in the main exhibition) 
    – “24 Hour Psycho” by Douglas Gordon 
    (same length, won the Turner Prize, wide acclaim)
    – “Sleep”, “Empire”, or any comparable Andy Warhol film. 
    (Runtime of either of these is only about 8 hours, but they are completely unwatchable. I won’t belittle you by listing Warhol’s credits.)

    I won’t short you, either, as you did make some mention of fine art. This particular sentence jumped out at me the most: 
    “Yes, you may have to run out of the museum to pay the parking meter and thus not finish taking in your Renoir.”
    I won’t argue whether or not skimming a painting is “finishing” it, as much as I wouldn’t argue with someone if they said they beat a video game, but skipped all the side quests. How you choose to consume your media is yours, and there is almost never a definitive, all-encompassing correct way to do so.
    However, if you leave a showcase, exhibition, etc, in the middle, you have not ‘completed that art’. Curation is an art form. If you were to walk into a gallery or museum or art school and ask whether or not curation is, in itself, art, likely the answer would not change. Very often the same schools, programs, or campus divisions that teach painting, or any other fine art medium, also teach curation. In movie terms, it is as if you are implying that a still frame and a full length movie are the same thing.

    Finally, if you look at art history in the 20th century, I find that an interesting theme arises. If you’re questioning whether or not something is art, it’s probably art. If you demand something is not art, it unquestionably is art. The fact that a popular critic insists that video games aren’t art has practically doomed this medium to the fate of fine art. 
    You mentioned Monet, but do you know his cultural significance? He founded an art movement called Impressionism. It was named by way of Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” by art critics. Critics used the name to mock and imply that the impressionists’ paintings couldn’t possibly be considered finished, labored works of art. They were doing something too vastly different from the historical portraits and landscapes of the old school. But, in time, it gained  public favor, and the old way of thinking fell away. 

    And as the argument rages on, there are children who are consuming movies, television, video games, and fine arts. Without precedent, without distinction.

  5. says

    @ JL Ohly:

    The mention of board games is for comparison against the completion rate of great films. The point is that, yes, many many people don’t finish sessions of Monopoly or Risk because it’s simply a game. You wouldn’t get 1.5 hours into Citizen Kane and not finish it, generally speaking. And you certainly wouldn’t watch 1.5 hours of it on a routine basis and never get to the end. Anecdotally speaking, lots of sessions of Monopoly are abandoned and not properly finished. This is part and parcel with all kinds of games. Sometimes you have your fill of a game whether or not it’s finished, and this does not detract in any way from the pleasure or meaning derived from playing it.

    Second, board games, specifically chess, came up repeatedly on Ebert’s thread. “Chess as art”, including discussion about Yoko Ono’s famous all-white chess set (which renders it unplayable) were discussed at length from many different angles from the “art” of gameplay to the art of handcrafted chess pieces.

    The films you mention, which I’m not familiar with, sound more like drawn out concepts, rather than uniquely unfolding and progression of a storyline with a specific journey through standard literary devices, like plot. Nobody could tolerate an 8 hour Citizen Kane. There is a difference between a story and a concept. I touch on this at places in the comments, but conceptual art is in a different category of art than the traditional skill-based forms of art.

    “If you’re questioning whether or not something is art, it’s probably art.”

    Perhaps, but we can also put said art on a sliding scale, a continuum, with “Art” on one end and “not art” on the other. If discussing something automatically qualifies it as art, if that is where the conversation has gotten to culturally, I’m fine with that. The cat is out of the bag, so we can move on past that discussion and start the next one. The next conversation is about the value of concepts on a sliding scale, complete with a full dose of relativity. That’s where it gets interesting. That is also precisely the point where the hucksters, shysters, pretenders, and talentless “artists” make their grand entry.

    When the doorway to the discussion is gated by objective standards of beauty, 99% of prospective entrants are rejected. The “anything is art if I say it is” crowd is really a mob of mediocrity that can’t differentiate between the Sistene Chapel and first-year art student final projects.

    Of course I understand Monet, but the Impressionists were working from a classical understanding of academic drawing and traditional painting methods. Their innovation is in direct relation to their understanding of what they were “breaking” from. They truly invented a new and quantifiable, as well as teachable, method of seeing and painting. It was a real innovation. They were not “vastly different” from tradition, they were a legitimate leap from and forking of tradition. You might also consider that their great leap of evolution also came to an end. Their own branch forked out into countless splinters, with each successive splinter further distanced from the principles the Impressionists leapt from, until we arrive today at pure “concept as art” with no relation whatsoever to traditional, quantifiable skills of any sort. To make it in modern art today, you need a radical lifestyle and an idea. This makes you marketable – end of story.

    The old way of thinking, as you say, never completely fell away. Today, classical ateliers are popping up all over the place, and time-honored, quantifiable, and teachable skills are on the surge. What is falling away is the absurd relativity of “anything is art”. It’s just proving itself not to be true. There is no room for another Picasso or Duchamp. It’s been done. For now, the way forward is to shun concept and embrace our legacy of great art and beauty and “leap forward” from there, once again. There isn’t anything else to leap from, which is the reason we are 1) post-post-modern and 2) mining the past to find the future.

    Games will remain games, video games will remain games, and video games will never be fine art. They may contain more art than ever, going forward, no doubt. But games they will remain.

  6. PlayItLive says

    AS masters of remediation, video games borrow and repurpose from every form of media that can be digitized. If it can be said that video games contain art, then they also contain that initial experience or response that the original piece of art contained. The experience will undoubtedly be altered when placed in its new video game form, but it is still an experience. There is still an elicited response.

    The thing that is tough to balance is whether the new experience contains both a cognitive and physical reaction from the participant. Games have a tendency to disconnect us from the interpretive suture that we might get as we gaze and try to unravel the semiological workings of movies or a painting. If we are not actively participating in a mental discourse, then I think video games are not art. But do we not also take time to admire the brushstrokes and texture of a painting outside of any meaning it might hold? Do we not have to go through the mundane task of paying for a movie ticket and finding empty seats before the artistic interpretations can begin. Within any game, or any other medium for that matter, there can be moments of art and moments of living in the reality of the medium.

    Even after playing a game though, the experience lives on in our minds. Hmmm…I am inclined to agree that video games definitely house art and, in their best moments, challenge us as all art does.

  7. says

    @ PlayItLive

    I agree with you, partially, that games disconnect us from “the interpretive” suture as you put it. It’s no different than putting art on say, a coffee mug. The act of using the mug disconnects us from the Monet on screenprinted on the side. If we put the mug down and reconnect the “suture” as you put it, and reconsider the Monet, we are no longer using the mug, but it is still a mug: a mug with art on it. Now there might be a cross vector between my coffee and reproduction of a Braque cubist piece of a table in a cafe, but that doesn’t make my mug into a piece of art.

    If we consider the brush strokes of a painting outside of the painting itself, we are admiring craftsmanship, an “art” in itself that can be quantified in any number of painting traditions. That would be the equivalent of admiring the stitches of the cotton canvas the painting is bonded too.

    Playing a good game of chess on a beautifully hand-crafted chess set may be memorable: indeed it could be striking and visceral. That does not make the experience art. The experience is still a game. The game itself may consist of components borrowed from all manner of art traditions past and present, but at no point does the amalgamation of any of these things transform a game into Fine Art. Games contain art, but are not Fine Art. Games may even contain Fine Art, but nevertheless remain games. Not that games can’t challenge us in their best moments: they do. But that experience is not one of Fine Art, it is the art of gaming that reveals interesting things about us and our world.

  8. someone says

    Programming is art.

    Designing is art.

    Writing is art.

    Acting is art.

    Drawing is art.


    A collection of art is… art!

  9. says

    Programming is not a Fine Art, though there is an art to programming. You have to distinguish what “art” means and be very careful.

    There is an “art” to blowing big soap bubbles on warm summer day. That does not mean that that “art” has anything to do at all with the “art” of Da Vinci or Picasso.

    Sometimes the term “art” is used as synonymous with “craft” and that would be valid. Writing good news headlines requires knowledge of the “art” of copy writing. Writing “Les Miserables” requires knowledge of the art of writing literature. The two “arts” share very little in common. And what commonality they do have is trivial and mechanical.

  10. someone says

    “There is an “art” to blowing big soap bubbles on warm summer day. That does not mean that that “art” has anything to do at all with the “art” of Da Vinci or Picasso.”

    What validates anything as art?

    Who decides?

    Do we really need someone to tell us what is art?

    Does art need to be “sanctioned”?

  11. says

    “What validates…”

    Reasonable question, if you mean it. Many people ask that question as if it had no reasonable answer, as a ruse to propose that nothing validates anything as art.

    But things are not a subjective as some would suggest.

    The principle source of validation for modern art is the modern art collectors market. Downstream of the market, which is bogus and controlled by a very small cadre of name-makers, hapless artists try to emulate what sells. Many make the case today that the standards of the market are simply manipulated and are an indicator not of merit but of contrived popularity.

    But back to the question: what validates art as art? There is in fact a time-tested and neutral third party: history. What has been historically always been considered art will continue to do so in the future.

    We let the collective voice of all history chime in on whether or not something is art. But by art, I mean Fine Art, not “art” as in decoration, skill, wit, etc. Fine Art masterpieces need no introduction, nor do you need a Phd to recognize them. The untrained eye knows Fine Art when it sees it.

    The merits of Fine Art speak for themselves, and the hokum of modern art speaks for itself too.

    We can’t get into that here, really, or else we’d have to write a book.

    Fine Art always has as it’s core lasting human values like beauty, truth, mystery, etc. Decorative arts have their place too, but they don’t speak to the human condition. There may be a sliding scale between the two. But video games are simply games covered with decorative art and design, and may contain Fine Art in them, but they are not Fine Art.

    So, video games may be an “art”, but not Fine Art, as in what has been produced at various pinnacles of various cultures throughout recorded humanity.

    Modern Art is sanctioned, make no mistake about it, by a small group of money makers far more interested in personality and concept than actual, measurable, objective, artistic skill.

  12. Bloofishbloo says

    I’m curious as to which games you have been observing. You said “Who ever heard of a general pattern of 90% of movie-goers “not finishing”, say, Citizen Kane or The Godfather? On the other hand, how many sessions of Monopoly, Solitaire, Risk, and Chess have people abandoned? Yeah, thought so.” I can’t say that I’ve ever “finished” looking at a painting – I can walk away from it but that does not mean that it is complete for me. I took inspiration away from the painting and that touches me where ever I go. For me, at least, that experience is not limited to just “fine art” – I have felt that way about movies (which were completed), books (same), and video games (same).

    Video games are not in the same genre as “fine art”. Just like graphic design isn’t fine art and my car isn’t a monkey. I know a lot (lot lot lot) of people in the game designing world and I’ve yet to meet one that has said to me “Bloofishbloo, what I am doing is fine art and should be hunt in a gallery permanently”. Video games are experiences – some like Heavy Rain, Dragon Age, Uncharted, etc tell a story that you actually do want to follow along with. In order to get to the end of the story, though, you have to get to the end of the game. Some of them are interactive movies, whereas some are full of whimsy and are fun to play after a hard day at work like Little Big Planet.

    Now, does the fact that they’re not “fine art” detract from the beautiful work that the artists put into character and set design? Hell no. At the end of the day you still have a beautiful, interactive experience which you can take with you where ever you go. Just like a visit to a painting in a museum.

  13. says

    @ Bloofishbloo

    “On the other hand, how many sessions of Monopoly, Solitaire, Risk, and Chess have people abandoned?”

    For some reason you are making my point. You must have missed it. The point is that people don’t finish games, but they do finish movies.

    If you feel the “same way” after reading a great book and playing a “great” video game, that must mean your book is not very good or you are not a good reader. There is no parallel, quite yet, of Les Miserables and any video game.

    No one said video games aren’t experiences. So is your car (well-designed or not) and your monkey (well-trained or not). Watching a football game is an experience, and so is going for a walk, and so is staring at the wall for 10 minutes.

    That games are not fine art does not detract from character and set design. Those are arts. Nobody says they are not. But they are not the Fine Arts, and visiting a painting in a museum CAN be like playing a video game, if you are visiting a mediocre painting, like pretty much all post-modern, concept driven art. In fact, it does video games a disservice to compare them to a lot of what passes for art. By the standards of a lot of modern art, video games stand heads above the crowds in terms objective craftsmanship and relative beauty.

    But as there is no comparison between A Tale of Two Cities or The Grapes of Wrath or any Shakespeare and *any* video game, there is also no comparison between the work of Bosch or Titian or Vasari or Raphael and *any* video game.

    The repeat theme of so many people that comment on this topic is a basic conflation between the very broad and generic term of “art” and fine art. “Art” can mean so many things but I’m not talking about so many things. I’m talking about the most elevated and time-celebrated masterpieces of human genius our cultures have ever produced. No, there is no game even remotely close to expressing anything like that of the great artists. Video games are games with “art”, the broad term, applied to them. You can’t reduce the Sistene Chapel down to an 8-bit expression, but just about *any* game can be reduced, graphically, down to an 8-bit, or even less, expression of the core game experience. That is because it IS a game and is something that has a very fundamental expression, in terms of physics or other simple criteria. Fine Art, the work of true masters, is what it is en totum and cannot be reduced to a simplified expression.

    Great games don’t really require mind-blowing graphics, though games with graphics are a unique game experience. However, they remain in essence nothing more than a game. A night game of capture the flag outside with a bunch of friends may be a great experience (it is!) and may even yield some lessons about friendship and international politics (maybe that’s stretching it) and you may have beautiful silk “flags” on either end of your play field, and you may even weep at your loss or victory, but you are nonetheless experiencing a game and not art. Even if you wear period costumes and play the game with a live orchestra on the side, you are playing a game, a great game, a great game with art to enhance it, and it’s a great experience…but it is a game. It is not fine art.

    This is really not hard to grasp with some education.

  14. Bloofishbloo says

    Wow, I must say I really did expect such an acerbic response regarding this from you. I guess what it comes down to, at the end of the day, is that we hold different opinions. Which you could have said without questioning whether or not I have an education. I don’t think you full understood what I was trying to convey – which was either my fault as a communicator or your fault as a reader.

    I grew up with video games – as a child of the 80s they were always there, always getting better. They unfurled from platform games (which I guess you’re thinking of when you think of games) to games that can tell an elaborate narrative. A lot of modern games include movie like cinematics (unless you also don’t count 3D movies (i.e.: Pixar films) as movies because they don’t contain real people) in between game play. The object of some of the better games is to get to the end of the story.

    Let me put the rest of what I want to say in more basic terms, so as you can understand:

    – After I FINISH a book I carry the story along with me for a while. Thus, I am not done reflecting on bits that inspired me or characters that grabbed my attention for the duration of the read. In that sense the book isn’t finished, because I could imagine different endings, etc.

    – After I FINISH a movie I will do the same.

    – After I FINISH a game I will (say it with me now) do the same.

    – Video games are NOT fine art, NOR are they pretending to be. They are video games and want nothing to do with the pretension that surrounds the fine arts. Did someone from a game studio come up to and say that they felt that the field was in league with the “fine arts” or something? Your blog post, as thus, confused me. Why would anyone pose that video games fancied themselves as a “fine art”?

    – In my previous response I was just trying to point out some..inaccuracies in the points you have made within your post. I wasn’t trying to claim that video games had a place among your precious masters. I pointed out that video games WERE experiences and thus there was no reason to compare them to a completely different genre. I mean, I get it. You have no respect for video games and clearly don’t really know much about them. Right on, good for you.

    – You’re right in that a lot of people don’t finish video games. But that goes for books, movies, relationships, etc. I don’t really get why finishing something makes it more artistic to you.

    Also, questionable business practices if you’re insulting to people who happen upon your business blog and try to engage in friendly dialogue about an article you’ve written. I found this by looking up graphic designers in RI. What would potential clients think of this?

  15. says

    @ Bloofishbloo:

    Thanks for leaving a comment and talking about the issue. I appreciate it. I think there is an issue of context here. The topic is *quite* animated and opinionated. In trying to respond quickly to your engaging comment, I may have come across gruff but no offense was intended. I just kind of dashed off my response, but there is more than meets the eye as well.

    “They are video games and want nothing to do with the pretension that surrounds the fine arts.”

    If you scroll to the top of the page here, there is a *very* important link the now-infamous article by Roger Ebert that started this whole discussion. It is often vulgar and mean-spirited. The thread has 6000+ comments or so. Nearly everyone on that thread that defended videos games as art did so on the ground that they were comparable to fine art now, or took a position that they are the new fine art of the future, but have arrived in some form or another. Anyone that disagreed with the posit that “you can’t define art” was vilified repeatedly. Ebert was called a lot of nasty things, if you read through a bit. You have to peruse that article, for a good while, to get a handle on the kinds of positions and arguments many that people have taken up on both sides.

    So, in a nutshell, this discussion as carried on here from Ebert’s original thread, is kind of a little battlefield of the wits.

    “Why would anyone pose that video games fancied themselves as a “fine art”? ”

    The thought that games are fine art is the position of many, many people including many “academics” who “study” and and write about video games as a nascent form of a new fine art. They are dead serious. They have no problem drawing a connection from Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Rembrandt’s Night Watch right to their XBox. My position is that video games are just games (and that’s not a bad thing) with the application of decorative arts to the game mechanism.

    “- You’re right in that a lot of people don’t finish video games. But that goes for books, movies, relationships, etc. I don’t really get why finishing something makes it more artistic to you. ”

    The finer point is that fine art doesn’t have an “abandon rate”: games do. People “give up” on complex games. The mechanics or puzzle aspect is at times more time-consuming than a player cares for. This is simply another reality about the nature of games in general as compared to the nature of art. You don’t lose, win, score, cheat or quit (or anything else you can do in game) with fine art.

    “Also, questionable business practices if you’re insulting to people who happen upon your business blog and try to engage in friendly dialogue about an article you’ve written.”

    The “education” comment I made in closing was *not* directed towards you! The context is the original post at Ebert’s blog. If you read through that, it comes up many times. What passes for art education today can be summed up in the oft-repeated maxim by many art-illiterate youth: “you can’t define art!”. For them, that is the start and the end of all critical analysis. It’s also the point of origin for “anything is art if I call it art” and subsequently “video games are art”. To which I respectfully and persistently reply “video games can never be art.” :)

    BTW, I’ve been programmings games and applications since I was 10 years old in 1980 when I got my first computer! I program them for fun today with my teenage son. And there is no illusion that we are making great art :)

  16. JabXIII says

    first off…

    Fine Art: “a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture.”

    I don’t agree that Video Games can never be Fine Art. Although not every game fits into this category, there are some that would most defiantly fall into the description above quite well.

    I can understand how it might be confused as not being art, generally speaking other forms of art aren’t as interactive, and the majority of the games out there are more concerned with selling games to the wider audience than being “Fine Art”. It’s very much like comparing Hollywood films to Fine Art films.

    Though some mainstream games are reaching to be fine art. Shadow of the Colossus comes to mind. A game which takes the standard adventure game and stands it on its head, its an entirely different aesthetic that pushes to be both entertaining and beautiful at the same time.

    Denying video games the right to be art just because they are a game? Or the general audience doesn’t complete them? that seems a bit unfair, some games may not even have definitive endings. I could spend a lifetime creating a single piece of art and never complete it… but it doesn’t make it any less of an art piece.

    if a sculptor designs a piece as a bike rack, does that functionality cause it to no longer be art? Video Games are just a more functional form of art. It’s a medium we use to delve into stories or blow off steam.

    “The finer point is that fine art doesn’t have an “abandon rate”: games do.” This sentence is completely untrue. You can go into an art gallery and soak up a painting for hours on end, but theres going to be a point when you “abandon” the painting and move on to something else for a while. You may come back to that painting again but for the moment your done with it. The same goes for a video game. Some people may tire from a particular game for a while, some may never come back to it… BUT the better games, the games I’d consider fine art are the games that people DO come back to. I have friends who play some games annually.

    So what if the medium is played through an X-Box, a painting is hung on a wall, or printed in a book. Just because you didn’t connect with a piece of art doesn’t mean others haven’t.

    The entire argument of “Are Video Games Art” is just an extension of Duchamp’s Fountain in my opinion. Some artists and critics couldn’t handle his ready-made art, even some artists today find it intolerable. Yet its now considered one of the most influential pieces of art of the 20th Century. Yet at the time the gallery HID his art out of site during its premiere show.

    “conceptual art is in a different category of art than the traditional skill-based forms of art.” Yes but its still fine art. Would you exclude Andy Warhol or Salvador Dali’s films just because its conceptual art? Thats frankly absurd.

    There are plenty of under appreciated arts out there. Just because some can’t wrap their heads around it as art doesn’t mean it can never be art. Never is far too finite of a word to use when art is concerned. There are plenty of artists who weren’t recognized until after their deaths, Van Gogh being among them.

    Finally, it seems to be that the reason games aren’t considered Fine Arts to some, is simply because they haven’t been looking for the proper games. As I said before making a game is more about the money side of things. Making a Fine Art game is likely not going to sell very many copies. And those games that I consider “Fine Art” are really more underground, and don’t get much attention in the major video game venues, but I can go to a convenience store and buy some cheap painting and a copy of the newest Mario Brothers. Neither may be “fine art” perhaps somewhere out there is a Gallery that contains “fine art” games. Would you go up to the artist and tell him what he made is in fact not art? I think not.

  17. Victoria Adams says

    “Video games are about our place on the couch where we don’t think about those kinds of things—except in the most trivial and trite kinds of ways.”

    I’m going to suggest you play Journey. Hell even Catherine made me think a lot about relationships and infidelity. Curious what you think after playing those games.

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