Ebert can’t be taken seriously. Some video games are more artful than some films. Some game designers are more talented than some directors. Certainly, Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo fame is a genius. Furthermore, some films and some games use highly advanced CGI graphics that blurs the line between games and film. Personally, I am not a fan of CGI in film. Watching some of these films makes me feel like I’m watching a game.
Mark Vanselow said everything I wanted to say.
“Couldn’t playing an instrument also be “playing” art?”
No, because the form of the instrument cannot be separated from its function. The labour spent on crafting the instrument serves a direct practical purpose. But even if it could be separated, you are judging it purely on its aesthetic merits from a critical distance. It’s simply a tool, a means to an end, and that end, in this case, is to create music, perhaps even at the level of art, but the instrument is not built to be a work of art, first and foremost. It’s a functional apparatus.
I do think art, to a certain degree, can be interactive—-if not, why do we argue so much about it?—-but i think it’s capacity for interactivity is obviously limited.
A Stradivarius is a work of art. The instrument itself is a work of art. Beethoven is an artist and his compositions are art. The conductor and the musicians are artists. They interactively create art when they play a Beethoven symphony. They are listening and playing.
Most film is not art, not even close. An argument can be made that some select films are art, but film is a series of individual photographs. I do not consider photography to be art. Anybody can take a reasonable photograph with modern technology. Almost nobody can write a symphony like Haydn or draw a painting like Degas, including the greatest of photographers. It is incredibly difficult and rare.
In certain circumstances, the sum total of a series of frames (cinema) might be construed as art. If one’s definition of art does not encompass standards of excellence, then anything that someone “creates” could be considered art.
Anybody can play a note, but almost nobody can construct a symphony like Haydn. Anyone can take a photograph, but almost nobody can construct a masterpiece like Resnais. It is incredibly difficult and rare.
Why not consider everything that someone ‘creates’ as art?
Photography comprises much more than simply pointing a camera at something and snapping a picture. There are matters of manipulating light and shadow, use of color in setting or clothing, arrangement of people and objects within a frame to create particular types of composition. I for one, do not believe that just anyone could have put together this shot:
“It is incredibly difficult and rare.”
it’s NOT considering the many artistic masterpieces one has to see before he / she can proclaim Resnais / Haydn even as “examples”…plus…Resnais films, he doesn’t photograph like Man Ray did (regardless if the latter later filmed too), one thing is a moving picture and another this:
When I wrote “you don’t play art”, I wasn’t referring to the practice of making art itself. Obviously, there is an art to playing an instrument. I was talking about the role of the spectator in relation to the product. Video games are based on a particular form of interactivity. They are designed to be played. This is why even people who enjoy playing video games probably find watching others play them for three hours at a time fairly tedious (or maybe I’m wrong? I don’t play or watch games).
To consume a video game – to interact with it as it is intended to be interacted with – is to play it. This is fundamentally different than a film, a book, a play, a photograph, a theater play, or a piece of music. I realize that there are efforts in contemporary art to break down the “wall” between spectator and performer and attempt to create degrees of interactivity, but I fully admitted to being old-fashioned in my idea of art. At its best, I find contemporary installation and performance art interesting and amusing; at its worst, complete and utter shit that belies the very idea of art.
But, then again, like Law said you can consider anything art if you want. Personally, I prefer distinctions.
^^^Ari, i like you more and more as time goes on, in a strictly heterosexual way of course!! ;-)
This would have to be the second time this week i’ve agreed strongly with you on a fundamental issue. As much as i admire Peter Greenaway, i cannot stand his (deliberate) exaggerated talk about the death of cinema as a result of it being less interactive than other mediums.
if the future of art is based solely on interactivity, consider me out.
Mark Vanselow: well gosh i guess that’s me told.
Your kinda yanking me right … hahahaha …. must be.
“The humble hula hoop DOES have more artistic purpose and potential than videogames. Likely you’ve never been to a burlesque show or cabaret circus act, judging from the ignorance of your statement. So too does skipping rope have more artistry than your entire computer game collection put together” – when the last time you checked out my videogame collection? ‘fanchild’ ?? of videogames – sure am. Of film – hell even more so, hi fellow fanchild – we’re both on this site guess it kinda makes us both FANS of film don’t you think?
“I grew up on them, but I never took them to the extreme and I NEVER pontificated about their “artistic value” – I only comment on the ‘artisitic’ quality of videogames in the same way say, a painter, can surely have an argument (hell I’d disagree) that film is not really art.
“For you, Sakuragen, to even SUGGEST video games might evolve into something equivalent to cinema in terms of artistic merit is ludicrous.” – Why? The fact that it’s being discussed in serious circles means the suggestion does have at least some merit. I’ve read a few books on the early history of cinema and quite a few theatre groups considered cinema a fad. Hey it ws silent, black + white, technology had to catch up – kinda like videogames are doing now. And YES I AM a fan of silent movies and realise their merit – but I’ve been to an art gallery too and seen PacMan playing on a loop which was introduced by the artist as art (and yeah even I had to snigger but you know….)
“Ditto your belief all the elements were in place for the latest “Indiana Jones” film to be another scorcher. Harrison Ford, one of the world’s most popular actors? It’s 2010, not 1989 or 1994, Sakuragen. Ford hasn’t been box office dynamite in well over a decade. Similarly, Steven Spielberg, although still a bankable producer-director, has never been able to replicate his (critical and to an extent commercial) success from the ‘70s, ’80s and early ’90s. He might come up with the odd hit, but the days of banging out one hit after another are long gone. He’s living off his past reputation.” – but SO MANY people were waiting for this movie to happen – I agree with the comments about it, its director and star but it was an EXAMPLE not the definitive be all and end all. I don’t have the time or space to list every single film of the last couple years. The latest Indiana Jones went so far as to ape a lot of videogame design (badly) and suffered because of it which is kinda where my original question came in. Sure the artistic merits of the top echelons of cinema are beyond reproach …. but can you not see that there ‘may’ be more artistic (and I’m confused why art came into my argument but hey I’ll go with the flow) merit in the highest quality videogames than a lot of cinematic dross ou there. And something like Ico or Shadow of the Colussus have a lot of qualities that, so-called, ‘slow’ cinema contain.
“The fact is some people, ESPECIALLY gamer types, are so cloistered from the rest of the world, worshipping the demi-gods Nintendo, Sega and Commodore, tied up in their obsessions, they don’t recognise anything else. So they must praise their obsessions as being mightily significant, otherwise their own lives become INsignificant…they don’t want to admit they’ve wasted their lives playing video games 24/7, so they raise their fetishes to the highest level of cultural elitism…The Arts…and excuse me while I listen to the gamers at the Supernova convention talk about the “deep social and artistic values espoused by the latest shoot-’em-up where you get to play a crack dealer in Miami”. – and te general mass of people think we movie buffs are VERY different don’t they. They don’t find any aspect of our film obsession wierd in the least do they? Well do they? We all have our obsessions man and some do go way overboard but this some people find discussions about our wierd little movies as interesting as stamp collecting. It’s kinda relative ain’t it?
And I don’t believe any videogame with merit comes from just from Japan just as I think not all films with merit come from Japan – even if Ozu is a God (lordy the fanboy in me!!) And btw been to Japan a few times – all 4 main islands and yes I do know something about the culture.
But hey anyone else see the irony that film’s most successful film EVER has a lot (all?) of the qualities of a videogame? Kinda where my original argument came in.
ARI has never played a videogame, nor watched one played, but yet has an opinion on whether or not videogames can be art.
Can one of the pro-video games folks please cite one game that is undeniably art, and what it is that makes it so. Also, tell me if you think roller coasters are art, because if you do then it’s the definition of “art” that’s the problem, not the qualities of computer games.
Who can define art? People go to school to get degrees in artistic mediums and try to define that one word, and very few succeed… and they only succeed on a personal level.
A solid definition of art would defeat the purpose of art, it is the single most subjective thing in the world.
Jardun: It doesn’t have to be a solid definition, but if you refuse to define it at all then it logically follows that the word won’t have any meaning.
Now personally, I’d define art as anything created by another human that can expand consciousness. So a speech can be a work of art, a film can be a work of art, a video game has the potential to be a work of art, but I don’t think one has been created yet. Facade is the only thing that’s come close: www.interactivestory.net
Most video games provide entertainment, but they do not expand the consciousness of the audience. They might improve problem solving skills or puzzle-solving ability, but they don’t improve our perception of reality.
Great films can get us beyond our previous ways of understanding, but video games ENFORCE these understandings. The idea that we have enemies who we need to defeat, and goals we need to achieve in order to be happy, is an essential part of the very best video games. This is something shared by only mainstream Hollywood films, TV shows and pop music.
So yes, I’d agree that video games are equal in importance to films like Indiana Jones, and if you think Indiana Jones is art then video games are art too. But if you hold the idea of art in the least bit of esteem, games don’t come close.
The only person making any sense at all is Dimitris.
Video games aren’t anywhere near as “important” as film and given their rate of development over the last 30 years or so, never will be at this rate. Yes, they look more realistic than ever before, but I haven’t seen any come as close to realism as much of the cgi in many blockbusters today, and THEY don’t look all that great.
Please, someone show me one game that doesn’t have the worst acting ever heard. I have 2 teenage kids and believe me, I’ve seen most of the so-called movie-like games that are popular now. They’re terrible. How can anyone say that any of it rivals-or even comes close to cinema. I’m shocked that this thread has as many posts supporting the ridiculous assumption. And that trailer for “Flower”? I hope the game looks better than the trailer because the trailer animation looks no better than the generic animated backgrounds I buy for work.
Jason, I’ve played Metal Gear Solid. Again, it may have “become” more cinematic, but PLEASE don’t compare it to a film. Not to [pick on you but this quote deserves a response:
“Games today are about where film was around 1925 or so”
How’s that? The technology changed very little in the first 30 years of film. It has leapt leaps and bounds in that time in the video game world. Ridiculous.
Video games are lame.
Video games are still fukin’ cheesy, an the only “moral dilemma”, they can provide, is whether it is funnier to shoot a guy in the ass or the nuts. My “shiny” two cents.
Do video games have an answer for Ingmar Bergman?
Can’t help but notice that most of the games mentioned here involve crazy action and guns and all sorts of violence…. what about silence, contemplation and stillness?
I’m aware that not all video games are about blowing shit up and killing people, but most of the critically acclaimed ones are.
Big, dumb movies such as Avatar and Star Trek (sorry, but there’s just not a whole lotta there there) and Transformers 2 might as well be video games at this point. I’d go out on a limb and say that there are a million video games made that are superior in narrative and visual content to Transformers.
However, what video game can equal Bergman or Chaplin in their understand of what it means to be human?
If you ask me (which I know none of you did), the defensiveness of video gamers on this subject seems rooted in some weird kind of shame, seeking validation for something they seem intuitively to know is a mere hobby. There’s no reason that video games need to be called “art”. Just call them “games”. Sooner or later, “games” might come to mean a pretty hefty thing…. but until they lose the objectives and the missions and buttons and the point systems, it’s unlikely they’ll achieve status as an art.
Pushing buttons is merely the pretense of interactivity.
^ yea, remember that time in Little Big Planet when I shot that dude in the sack? good times
and I proudly compare Metal Gear Solid to any Hollywood film. I’ll take the MGS franchise over James Bond any day.
Jason wrote: “ARI has never played a videogame, nor watched one played, but yet has an opinion on whether or not videogames can be art. Astounding.”
Uh, I never said I have never played nor watched a video game. I said I don’t play them. And fuck if I can’t walk into a Best Buy without watching some kid play Guitar Hero but I’ll be fucked if I’d call Guitar Hero “Art.” But having encountered some of your posts, Jason, I’m actually quite astounded that you can be astounded by any perception (false in this case) of intellectual hubris. Anyway, if you actually bothered to read what I wrote, my problem was with the idea of a video game as an art form in the abstract (independent of any single video game itself). If you want to construct an actual argument with that, I’m all ears.
I actually think your idea that video games are where film was at in 1925 interesting. I disagree but it’s an interesting idea. I find it strange when people like yourself talk about the “storytelling” aspects of contemporary video games as evidence of this and as a mark of the medium’s maturity. I’d actually like to hear more about this. From descriptions, it sounds like video games are approaching the sophisticated narrative level of Choose Your Own Adventure books. A step up, certainly. But when will Video Games have their Tolstoy? They barely seem to have their Tom Clancy. By 1925, film had produced Griffith, Chaplin, von Stoheim’s Greed, Caligari, etc,etc). Where are their equivalents in video games? If your argument makes any sense, I’d say video games are closer to 1908 or 1912.
not official “gameplay” but there is no doubt that the atmosphere of Bioshock is about as cinematic as any blockbuster film I have seen
Dimitris, that you are judging games by movies that were based on them as an attempt to cash in on their success; shows that you are not serious about discussing the possibilities of videogames as art.
“Mortal Kombat” the movie, was based on Mortal Kombat the game. The movie was horrible, and while the game was a descent example of its genre, it is not exactly the sort of game that anybody who discusses videogames as art, discuss.
Strawdog, and ARI, and Dimitris, and others.
I think that before we can have any kind of discussion over whether or not any videogames can be called art, or whether videogames in the future could achieve artistic heights; I think that we first have to consider videogames on their own terms. I know that this is a message board for film lovers, and most of our favorite works of art are films, and most of our expertise in art may be based around films; but videogames are not an offshoot of movies. Before any serious discussion can take place, it has to be recognized that videogames have nothing to do with movies, and that while many videogames do have stories to tell(as do operas, poems, plays, etc); and that some videogames have adopted cinematic techniques in order to tell their stories; a traditional storyline, or use of cinematic techniques are not required, essential, or even necessary for a videogame to exist on its own merit.
Again, I know that this is a film website; but I don’t understand why people continue to compare videogames to films, and not any other artforms. In film, we photograph real people(unless it is animated), at 24 fps; and edit these series of filmstrips together to make a film(screenplays, set designs, and other stuff go into the planning). Yes I realize that real people act in films, and many of them are fine actors. But videogames do not require actors or real people in order for us to connect with them, merely depictions. Are paintings solely based on the work of the model who is modeling, or does the artist merely use them to depict a human image which he then projects his ideas upon? Same could be said for scultpure, same could be said for animation, same could be said for literature. Are the voice actors used in videogames sometimes very bad compared to animation or actors in film; yes; but also they are not needed in order for a videogame to be successful. Furthermore, this depiction, can and will improve over time, and is not entirely necessary in order to have a videogame, although I do generally agree that art is at its best when it is relating to the human condition, I think that there are many examples in music of great art being done that have more abstract qualities, and I think that, with the endless possibilities that videogames offer, that games with abstract qualities could be brilliant on their own merit, without having to directly relate to the human condition, but rather to inspire and interact with the human condition in a similar manner that music does.
If we could remove the thought that videogames are merely trying to be interactive films, and thus should be judged as such (bad acting, lame plot), and if we stop judging examples of videogames, and consider the possibilities that such a medium may offer; then I think that we could get somewhere.
You can make a videogame about anything. You can make a video game without a healthmeter, or points. You can make it without dialogue, without instruction blurbs, and violence. The possibilities of what can be done in a videogame are nearly endless, and the cost of creating a game is going down (despite budgets for very big games going very high (50-100 million). There will come a time when independent game creators will be just as plentiful as independent filmmakers are today, and with as many viewpoints and concepts as can be found in film or any other artform.
As I have said before, Videogames are where film was back in 1925, perhaps even earlier. This is evidenced by the fact that games are still trying to copy storytelling devices from cinema and other artforms, just as early cinema contained a multitude of literary adaptations. Also, while videogames have come a long way, I don’t think that it can be said truthfully that technology chaged very little in the first thirty years of film. This is either a dishonest statement, or the statement of someone who doesn’t know much of the history of cinema. In the first thirty years of cinema, we saw static handcranked cameras, to zooms and closeups, dollies, cranes, lenses that could shoot outdoors, red-green technicolor, the invention of montage as we know it, and films move away from literary adaptations and filmed plays to having its own ‘voice’ in the world of art. The first thirty years of cinema history saw films go from being 15 seconds, to a reel, to 10 reels to full length features and an entire industry the world over built around them.
The attitude being voiced in this thread, if it is a real one, is the same old, stuck up attitude that the movie industry faced over a hundred years ago.
PS. to use novelty games, such as guitar hero, as an example of the possibilities or achievements of the entire medium, is weak.
“shows that you are not serious about discussing the possibilities of videogames as art.”
of course i’m NOT! are you fuckin’ kidding me?? so many undiscovered masterpieces out there and you’re “serious” about video-game “discussion”? what’s next? aerobics???
^ disagree. play Muramasa: The Demon Blade for about 6 minutes and then tell me you arent serious about videogames as visual art ;)
Jason, it seems like you want to talk “possibilities” rather than realities. That’s fine but it’s a dead end. Much as I would love to see a videogame “inspire and interact with the human condition in a similar manner that music does,” this strikes me as hyperbolic nonsense when not grounded in examples.
While the ’possibilities" of video games, as you say, might be endless, in the end, they are games that are meant to be played. This involves a far bigger constraining factor than any other art form. And this is why comparisons with painting and music fall flat. Videogames have more in common with Monopoly than a Picasso.
Sekzee’s examples aren’t really helping your case. If this is the closest video games have come to visual artistry they still look like crap (It’s like Hello Kitty threw up on Pokemon). Quite frankly, Pacman had a better design. You say guitar hero is a weak example but where are yours? Your attitude, if it is a real one, isn’t based on evidence.
Excuuuuuse me Ari, maybe the small screenshots and video are not doing that game justice but to compare Muramasa to Pacman is borderline retarded. I cannot name a 2D platformer that has a more appealing look and, believe me, ive played them all. Please at least try to be realistic here. If Hello Kitty threw up on Pacman it would look like this:
“Jason, it seems like you want to talk “possibilities” rather than realities.”
Correct observation, and an appropriate approach on Jason’s part, I think. Per the thread title, some people here are interested in proposing that gaming and increasingly highly interactive subjectivities are coming-into-being important. While others are arguing that video games are stupid. One camp is arguing there ARE possibilities (perhaps largely unexplored, as of yet). Others see their reality of NO possibility for the medium to advance. I don’t think we’re going to come to any agreements on this one. Either you “get” “it” or you don’t (on both sides).
There is indisputably art in some video games. The question is really whether the games themselves are art. I don’t view games as art, although I appreciate some of the artwork in games. I don’t view most films as art. Are books art? In the strictest sense, art is art, books are books, films are film and music is music. Some music is artistic and some is not. Some films are artistic and some are not.
If there are no standards, anything could be considered art. Today, everything is seemingly considered art. The genius and masterpiece label is used on many rather pedestrian efforts. Labeling something as serious art or genius or masterpiece in today’s world has essentially become meaningless when people accept kitsch as real art.
the sound and visuals in computer games are always going 2 be as great as film… the interactive aspect is what can heighten the thrill when added to the sound and picture
i remember playing resident evil and encountering giant snakes and spiders was a lot more frightening because they tried 2 kill me! not some character in a film that i had no control of
good topic :O)