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Beauty Does Not Equate to Art

It seems I'm getting some good ol' dissenting opinions on my Monthly Musing, which is always good. At least we have some people that aren't just sheep; that's why I love the DTOID community. You guys actually express your opinions, not just "YAY ITS GOOD!" or "FIRST! :D:D:D" or "THIS BLOWS YOUR GHEY." I like the thought that many of you think I'm depressed; I'm not, I just like being scathing, which brings me to this:

I see lots of people tell me about basically every game I've already written about, you know Shadow of the Colossus, No More Heroes, Silent Hill 2, etc. However, I also get a few others mentioned, like Okami and Flower, most people saying that games like these and others are truly "art". Now, I can't speak for Flower, I don't tend to play many downloadable games apart from your Braid's and Blueberry Garden's, but as far as Okami is concerned...Well, let's just jump into it.

Art is not about beauty. Period. Just because something is pretty doesn't make it art, or meaningful, or really even beautiful. Why do people constantly call Okami art? It looks nice. It looks really nice. It's also a pretty good game, so I guess people like it so much that they have to hyperbolize it's meaning to them. At the end of the day, Okami is a good game, that looks nice, with a pretty good story. That's about it. Never once do you go "Wow, this is really meaningful." or "Oh my God..." like you would at the ending of Braid or Shadow of the Colossus. There isn't a slow realization of meaning like for No More Heroes or Killer 7. It just kind of is. No more, no less.

Now, I don't want to sound like I'm down on Okami, but it really is kind of a perfect example of a good looking game that gets called "virtual art". Every review for the game compares it to a painting, or a beautiful drawing, which leads me to believe that they don't actually know what art is. Now, the definition of what art has to be is basically subjective, based upon opinion, but I think something everyone can agree on is that art must have meaning. It has to have substance. They have a word for art for art sake; it's called being pretentious.

Many people also refer to Killer 7 as art because of it's visuals, but also talk about how flawed the gameplay is and how stupid and nonsensical the story is. This leads me to believe one of two things: A) These reviewers are idiots or B) They do actually get it, but their higher-up's won't let them get all arty like I do on my blog. I realize reviews are based almost purely upon the economic value of a game, which is why most games with only single player always score lower than mindless multiplayer shooters.

It's incredibly frustrating to get art comparisons thrown to games that don't really deserve it, or have only certain aspects of a game highlighted as "art". Pieces are not art, games are. Not graphics, not cel-shading, not art-deco design. Games like Braid are the obvious choice for an "art" game because it looks pretty, it sounds pretty, and it has a genuine, mature, subtle message in it, which basically turns everything that was "pretty" into "beautiful".

That doesn't mean that only pretty games can be art, just look at a game like Silent Hill 2, which is arguably one the most disturbing games ever made. It's ugly, it's uncomfortable, and it's absolutely terrifying. But it's also a subtle deconstruction of a murderer, a story that is full of dramatic devices and visual symbolism. It's a story that truly qualifies of art, even if it doesn't look pretty.

Really, it all comes down to being a game with meaning, whether it be the subtle character study of Silent Hill 2 or the grandiose moral lessons of Braid. Okami is a fun, pretty, and overall great game, but does that mean it is art? No, it just means it's a good game. I'll have to get back on everyone about Flower, a game which may just surprise me. Now, just to prove I'm not a depressed sack of sorrow.

See, I'm a happy guy that just enjoys pointing out the tits of a good ol' Silent Hill nurse outfit! This is a picture from Megacon in Orlando, Florida from a couple years ago.
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About Canti-samaone of us since 9:47 PM on 08.03.2009

Hello, I'm Trevor Johnson, also known as Canti-sama. I like to write about things including videogames (that should be paramountly obvious at this point...) music, film, and anime, so what you see in this blog is just one part of my pretentiousness! I'm a nit-picky bitch when it comes to basically everything, so excuse me if I seem like kind of an elitist, even though I try not to be. If I had to sum up who I am, I would do it through top 5 lists, so how about we a do a few right now! But before that, since DTOID tends to remove frontpage posts from my c-blog, here's the list of my frontpages, which I thank everyone very much for!

Frontpage Posts:
1. Monthly Musing - I suck At Videogames: Nostalgia's Curse, 8/12/09
2. Promoted Story - Suda 51 and the "Art" of Videogames, 9/6/09
3. Monthly Musing - Nothing is Sacred: Videogames, 10/7/09


Top 5 Favorite Videogames:
5. Fallout 3, PC
4. Mega Man X, SNES
3. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, PS2
2. Braid, PC
1. Shadow of the Colossus, PS2

Top 5 Favorite Albums:
5. Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm a Machine, 2004
4. Radiohead - O.K. Computer, 1997
3. Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92, 1992
2. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam, 2007
1. Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation, 1988

Top 5 Films:
5. Brazil, Directed by Terry Gilliam
4. Fargo, Directed by Joel Coen
3. Fight Club, Directed by David Fincher
2. Shaun of the Dead, Directed by Edgar Wright
1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Directed by Sergio Leone

Top 5 Anime Productions:
5. Spirited Away, Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
4. The Big O, Directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama
3. Cowboy Bebop, Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion, Directed by Hideko Anno
1. Fooly Cooly, Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki

Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks
PSN Name: MetalLink1979
Wii Friend Code - 8089-7286-5497-4717
XBL - Metal Link 904 (Note: My Xbox 360 is in possession of my brother, so this is no longer technically my XBL Tag)
Xbox LIVE:Metal Link 904
Steam ID:MetalLink1979
Mii code:8089-7286-5497-4717


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