OK, I know I’m really late to this party, but I haven’t been able to blog lately because every time I go to write an article about making it in the games industry, this debate pops into my mind. About 150 days or so ago, there was controversy stirred up by Roger Ebert, the well known film critic for the Chicago Sun Times, in which he skewered games, saying not only are they not art, but that playing them reduces time for people to enjoy “real” art. Of course, he got a lot of hate mail from game players, there were a lot of blog posts written about the subject, and even magazine articles chimed in. I saw a lot of writers defending games, but few game makers defending games. So, I’m going to take my shot at reviving the thread.
This kind of sucks. I make games, and don’t pretend to be a writer, so I don’t have the communicative tools to say what I am thinking. Writers don’t make games or movies or music, but they can pretend to be critics of the people that are pouring their guts out to make their art, and get the attention of an entire nation. So, in my own little non-writer fashion writing in an obscure blog about making games, I’m going to fight back the only way I know how. Here goes…
@Ebert. You suck. I always did like Siskel better anyway. Besides, now that we have Rotten Tomatoes, we don’t need guys like you anymore. I would much rather have “Joe Average’s” good, better, best review than your pompous, inflated crap of an opinion.
There. I wrote it and got it off my chest. Even if it isn’t journalistic art, I feel a lot better:) A little more seriously, my real answer is this:
Of course games are art.
Here are a couple of quick definitions from the Google search Art Definition (bold added by me for emphasis):
I can tell you this for sure. The games I work on are definitely an expression of my creativity and imagination.
I bleed to make my games. I live and breath my ideas, concepts, and designs. I strive to make alliances with other like minded people to help me bring these visions and ideas to life. Sometimes these ideas are carried around and researched for decades before they finally make it to a player’s screen. I think about what a player will feel like when playing the game, I think about situations that I want the player to be put in. Most of all, I worry about whether or not my game is fun. Sometimes I don’t know if a game will be fun until well into development. That all sounds a lot more like art than science or process to me.
Are Shigeru Miyamoto and Will Wright not artists? On the same note, how about Damon Slye, Kevin Ryan? What about the Fuzzee Fever guy, or the Large Animal guys? I say they are.
I have made music in the past. My son makes music now. Nobody denies music’s art stature. I know when I went to Aaron’s concert last night and saw the passion, creativity, and effort he puts into his music it assures me that music is an art form and he is an artist. I can tell you that as a student of both, games are every bit as much an art form as music. I know it feels much the same to conceive, design, and create a game as it does to write a song.
Most of the arguments about games not being art revolved around characters, storyline, or the actual game art (bitmaps, polygons, etc.) which is totally a diversionary argument. Games are not about story lines, or character development, or how good the graphics are. At the end of the day they are about fun. Making games is the art of making interactive fun. What else can it be?
Art by Alex Swanson