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Love/Hate: The Games as Art Argument


If it weren't for the majority of people who were born at the end of Generation X and the beginning of Generation Y, this debate wouldn't exist. I say this because we were the first generation to be brought up having wide access to televisions...and the fact that most of us wanted more interaction with it rather than being passive sacks of meat slowly roasting in the lovely radiation that it brought into our lives...much like the hotdogs at 7-11.

Every medium has had at one point, neophytes and veterans that love to go back and forth debating entertainment value versus artistic value. Consider this my entry to be added to the ever increasing pile of games as art discussion. Even though the videogame medium isn't new, it was only recently that our beloved game industry surpassed profits that rival that of the movie industry. Yup, what was once a niche market has become mainstream and with it...more arguing.

I love videogames. I love art. However but I can't pretend to know what art really is. Hell, so many people don't even realize that the definition of the word is so subjective as to be completely misunderstood by many who would use it to further one side or the other.

There is just something about how the whole argument for or against games as art that I find completely revolting...to the point of hating the whole fucking mess. It gets so bad sometimes that I will purposely miss out on some excellent games because of the relentless battles of whether it is/isn't art.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe videogames can be art, regardless of its entertainment value or sheer transparency as a work of pulp. My biggest problem is that people want to have a laser-beam focus on certain games or an aspect of them that they want to consider works of art...I don't think it's that simple, you can't pick one game and have it be THE example while not allowing all others a fair shake.

Let's start with classic gaming. I can see the inherent beauty in classic games like Donkey Kong, Frogger, and even Burgertime. I'm not talking about the simple piles of pixels that make up the image you see on the screen (which to sprite junkies like myself are art), but in the manner in which you (as the player) interface with the machine. Even the guts of the arcade cabinet itself have a beauty that many people would argue whether it's art or not.

Even with all of the arguments I just brought up, it seems that nobody wants to debate classic gaming at all. They're on an untouchable pedestal where it 'just isn't fair' to drag into the debates that focus on more recent games on sleeker hardware.

The most commonly used example that I hear about is Shadow of the Colossus. It's already one generation behind but for most of us gamers, that SHOULDN'T matter. It's an excellent game and is gorgeous to look at. My biggest complaint about them citing Shadow is that these people are using a good game on a sexy piece of hardware for their argument about which games should be considered art. It's the same as bringing up Andy Warhol's Soup Can paintings...or Godwin's Law. It's so common that I feel that you've already lost the argument.

All of the posturing and fighting over something so trivial as to whether you see it as art or not is in my opinion, ridiculous. When you become so focused on classifying the merits and artistic value of a game, you tend to become so shortsighted as to not pay attention to the other aspects that make the game up.

Personally I don't see there ever being an end to the debate, but more or less an agreement between the both sides to disagree with each other. It's happened with all forms of mass media over the years, whether it be heavy metal music, comic books, or Fox News.

I wish that people could approach the arguments with a bit more of an open mind instead of having set variables that need to be filled in order to classify it one way or another. Word.
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About Excrementoone of us since 5:39 PM on 07.11.2007

Hey robots, I'm Excremento, but you cool and old skool Dtoiders know that already, this is merely for the N00BS. I've been a videogamer for as long as I can remember. I have well over 27 years of video game experience that I rely on daily, and a near encyclopedic memory of gaming starting with the Commodore 64 and ending with whatever is the current hotness.

I've got my own blog at MediaWhoreNetwork that I try to write on when I'm not too busy...and just recently have decided to come back to do a few Community Blogs here on Dtoid now that most failbloggers don't exist anymore. I'm still here fellas (and ladies) updating as often as I can for all of your enjoyment.

Any of you out there who wish to chat it up with ol Ex can do so at:

Gmail -- xopher (DOT) reed (AT) gmail (DOT)com

Facebook: Xopher Reed

Author of The Ten Commandments for Community Bloggers

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