“I make pictures and someone comes in and calls it art.” - Willem De Kooning
That's how I feel about it. While it is good and well that art in its purest form is simply something that has been created with the intent to evoke an emotional response, you really can't jump at everything like it is art because it adds pretense to something that may not actually be able to have any type of critical response on a viewer whatsoever. This is where the critics come in either decide they like or don't like it, and sadly enough we are all critics. Unless the person whom is creating something makes it with the express purpose of being art or affecting themselves in a similar manner that it does others experiencing it, then it is really hard to judge the value of artistic intent.
An arguing point as against video games as art has been that they rely too heavily on the audience's interaction, and thus cannot truly impact the audience with the full affect of the artist's intent. I'd like you to consider how that would apply to something as mundane as dinner theater or as dynamic as performance artists on a crowded city street. Neither would amount to much without the audience's interaction, and they rely heavily on the improvisation of an outsider. While they can and will do their best to effectively impress upon their audience their own intended vision, there is a distinct difference that each person adds to it and the audience becomes part of the art, which can either please the artist, as it seems most artist who create such works would, the particpants can feel that same joy, but what happens when they do not? Does it invalidate the performance? Let alone whether or not the audience understands that by particpating in an ongoing performance that they are helping in the completion of that piece of art. Do you see how pretentious that is?
Creative intent in its best case scenario is when everyone involved gets it and likes what they are getting, although that is not a common reaction and for the most part when a medium where expression is either subtle or often overlooked any claim that it is art can get dismissed or even worse be done so heavy-handedly that the audience is turned off by it. Ultimately though the end result of anything being consider art is a consensus from an outside audience, whether it is a patron that buys a bunch of portraits to be painted of their family, a panel of judges at an art fair putting a ribbon on toilet, or a legion of gamers defending Shadow of the Collosus.
When we approach art itself we always come as a critic, and if anything critics become classicists. We look for points of reference, be that they are from previous pieces of art that we have experienced or moments in our own life. Even when a piece of art seems mysterious or inscrutable we have taken the time to place enough of its elements through our knowledge base in an attempt to rationalize, and while it we may not recognize it's exact nature we know that one is there and undeniable, which basically the leap that one must take every time they are attempting to view something as art.
This knowledge base is a heavy requirement, and in my honest opinion is why critics and art specialize in mediums. One cannot look at an object with which he has no familiarity with and know what it is. He needs to see a large amount of them, categorize them, create terms for their elements, and vivisect the unknown until he has it down to the bones, which funnily enough is how science works, and while you can critique something with science, would you necessarily call the things that it focuses upon demystifying as art?
Again classicism is what defines art to the majority. Pieces that are undisputed for generations become the basis of acceptable mediums, and move on from there. This is why people will name drop games while arguing about whether or not they are art. They know that for an acceptance to be made we must have a point of reference, but not only does that point of reference have to be made, but people that can critic it must present the medium to a larger audience in order to have public validation. This does not mean that more people need to be shilled by marketing blasted at them by the game's publisher, but rather that when we as gamers say that a game is art we must be able to critique it and illustrate why that is to people that aren't gamers. If we can do that, and have people that normally not focus on any elements of a game outside of it being a toy or past-time, then we may actually get someone to think the same thing that we have been thinking for a very long time now, and that is that video games are art.