hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Book critic fails at BioShock, says it's not art because he's not depressed

2:34 PM on 09.17.2007 // Jim Sterling
  @JimSterling

The whole 'games as art' debate is getting very tired now, with people on both sides of the fence doing little more than scoring points for their own preferred medium of entertainment, but this is one of the funnier examples of the argument, if only for the fact that it typifies those who refuse to accept videogames as art perfectly -- they absolutely suck at games and can't understand them.

The Washington Post's 58-year-old book critic, Michael Dirda, spent a week with the widely praised BioShock without any help from mommy and daddy, and managed to get all the way to Neptune's Bounty, even though he hasn't worked out how to use First Aid kits in the game. He has one, he just doesn't know how to make it work. "I've got a first-aid kit, but I haven't figured out how to use it," he whines in what most gamers would call a cry for help.

Dirda admitted that what he managed to play of the game had artistic merit and was immersive, but that wasn't enough to qualify it as art for him. Apparently, something isn't art for Dirda unless it allows you to be depressed which ... is a new one. It seems that the only thing that qualifies as art then is anything by Nine Inch Nails. Or American Idol ... I know watching that show depresses the Hell out of me. Dirda rules that until games are depressing, they aren't allowed to be art. Seriously, how is it that people can decide what makes something art based on such random and arbitrary reasons? And who in their right mind has been depressed by a painting? I could claim paintings aren't art because paintings can be framed and anything that is in a frame isn't art. It's just as nonsensical and random as Dirda's argument, yet he believes what he says holds merit.

Hit the jump for more. You know how to do that, right?

Of course, many games have had sad moments, despite this book critic's statement. I'm sure I can get one or two of you to admit you wept when Sephiroth killed Aeris. Even I will admit that several games have gotten to my emotions before. Since the last game Dirda played before BioShock was Myst, he doesn't even have the authority to say that games can't be depressing. Play more games, then come back and try again, ignoramus. We've moved on from the days of Galaga.

Ken Levine, the outspoken man behind BioShock, probably has the right idea in his own rebuttal to Dirda's claims. "Is BioShock art? I don't know, and I guess I sort of don't care," he answered. "All I care about is, does it work -- does it have an impact on an audience?" Any of us without a stone heart was definitely affected by BioShock, and nobody can argue it wasn't an artistic triumph. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be enough for some people who often give off signs that they find the relatively new medium of videogames almost threatening.

Claiming that something isn't art is a purely pretentious practice, since art is boundless, unclassifiable and totally subjective. Videogames are art because I say videogames are art. You can't debate this with me because you can't debate the validity of things that are made valid only by one's own personal perception. Anybody who tries to resist such logic can do nought but fail.



Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
Gee whilikers, guys. I might just explain where I've been and what I've been up to while I've been gone. That'd be a good topic for a c-blog getting me whipped back into shape, right? I'ma try to write more, so expect more of me in the future!
bloma avatarbloma
Just bought Fez for xbox 360. Playing it on my 58 inch plasma. What a beautiful game.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
So there's a chance more MKX characters are being revealed today. Now, I'm not saying you *should* cross your fingers and say a prayer for me to get my waifu Sindel just, y'know, it would be monstrous of you to make me cry with your lack of love & support
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Just so you know, I've been a Huge subscriber for a few years but I thought I had until the end of September to cancel it. So I've opened an inquiry for the refund, which is on tinypass' end of things by the way.
techsupport avatartechsupport
I once posted that Total Recall was the best movie ever made. I would like to make note that Starship Troopers is a close second. Carry on.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
I put too many peppers in my sausage and potatoes. My asshole is on fire. I want to cry when I wipe. But it was good.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
One glorious Japanese twitter user made a custom LBX of one of my favorite Kamen Riders: [img]http://i.imgur.com/yp1oraHm.jpg[/img] It's like getting peanut butter in chocolate but with small robots and spandex banana men!
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
I feel terrible for not reading most of you beautiful people's blogs. Let's just say my passion is writing, not reading :s
techsupport avatartechsupport
People can debate GOTY all they want, but the real question is: D-Horse or Roach?
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
I'm dragging myself away from my PS4 long enough to say that MGS V is pretty darn awesome so far.
Myles Cox avatarMyles Cox
Down with that PAX Pox. Auhhhghghghhhh
Shinta avatarShinta
MGSV: Sneaking into a heavily guarded Russian military base in Afghanistan at night, slashing throats while listening to this. [youtube]https://youtu.be/-hWZqllm3mQ[/youtube] Comes off like a perfectly planned scene in a Scorsese movie or something.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Tortilla chips: The only food I know and love to betray me by deciding to flip to a bad angle and stab me in the gums.
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
I'm ok with Namco shutting down Soul Calibur: Lost Souls, as long as they keep Ace Combat:Infinity running. Love that game and just hit 3 million credits.
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
Holy fuck I feel new again. I've been on hiatus for a while and haven't been up to writing. I might just jump back into things after I relearn things here. Does anyone even remember me? Like damn it's been a while.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
In MGS5: The Phantom Pain, Solid Snake dies from lung cancer from all those years of smoking. #FakeSpoilers
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
[youtube]http://youtu.be/FDSHslyrxkM[/youtube] If you don't know the truth, you don't know the score. The end is coming near. MAJOR SPOILERS!
Paul S avatarPaul S
Wow, it's really easy to get people upset over video games.
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
I hope MGS V is living up to everyone's expectations. I can't get enough.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
I dislike the idea of intentionally reinforcing the notions that either race or gender are character traits, and those that don't match your own are completely unrelatable.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -