The March Philosophy Book of the Month is Final Notice by Van Fleisher. Discuss Final Notice now.
The April Philosophy Book of the Month is The Unbound Soul by Richard L. Haight. Discuss The Unbound Soul Now
The May Philosophy Book of the Month is Misreading Judas by Robert Wahler.
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1. The interactive nature of video games challenges and stretches a conception of art that has long been based around the traditional non-interactive mediums such as painting, literature, theatre, and concert music. It will take time to reconcile the differences between the two types of art.
2. Video games have not developed the same institutional infrastructure that the traditional mediums have. High art thrives under the patronage of elite audiences. For example, writers, artists, and musicians currently enjoy the patronage of universities and independent grant-giving organizations to produce work outside of the open marketplace. By contrast, nearly all non-independent games are of the "popular" sort, meaning they depend on success among the mass public and must cater to the tastes of such an audience. What does it do to the genre that all games must be "fun"? There is just no financial niche for specialized works of the sort that would compare to other artistic mediums.
However, I also can understand a definition of art that rejects interactive mediums and would not classify video games as art. This too makes perfect sense to me. Interactive media is clearly of a different sort than non-interactive medium so why group them under the same name? But rather than being a judgment of value, I think this is merely a semantic argument. Maybe video games aren't art and maybe it is time to come up with a new term for interactive mediums with artistic claims. I don't think this would be a bad thing at all either.
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Or, that is, a subjective conception of an objective phenomenon. Anything that is an abstraction of human feeling, thought or behaviour is art. Thus, painting, scuplture, acting/drama, music, etc. are all arts. What is subjective is determining what comprises an abstraction.
Video games are art IMO, since they are not always empty entertainment. I think for a younger person, they can have a formative effect on value systems/thinking and not in a bad way. It's like comic books in a way. One reason they are popular is because to youngsters especially they open up new avenues of thought/reasoning.
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One example I saw opened at early dawn, after a starry night. The avatar wakes up, gets out of bed and goes outside to a beautifully drawn landscape of a countryside with the night just brightening into day, and a sound-background of someone breathing slow breaths, as if on a cold morning. You can walk the figure from screen to screen, and control the breathing of the character - a deep inhalation will detach sparkles from the landscape and draw them towards you. As they reach you they disappear with a delicate tinkling. On-screen instructions suggest that you 'wander around and breath the landscape in'.
As you go from screen to screen, the scenery gets gradually lighter, as if the sun is rising. The sense of peace and beauty is captivating, particularly the very immersive sense of both hearing and controlling the breathing. It becomes a very personal experience. The last set is a quiet grassy glade beside a pool. As you breathe in the landscape here, you are interrupted by a very large and detailed monster rising from the pool, and wrapping you in its tentacles. A fast-paced bass-heavy dramatic soundtrack kicks in, and on-screen prompts indicate that waggling the joystick or mashing the buttons as fast as possible will allow you to escape. If you fail (and it's pretty hard), then the monster eats you. If you succeed, you run away as the monster explodes. Either way, the game ends, you are told in large letters that you either won or lost, and a score is given based on number of sparkles collected, speed at navigating the screens, and so on.
It's possible the creator of this was trying to make a point about games game design.
However, the point is that this really has to be art. You can argue whether it is good enough to qualify, but it certainly has all the hallmarks of traditional art, from mastery of form, aesthetic appreciation, a dialogue or point made to the viewer, forming part of a broader dialogue within society, etc. etc. etc. I can't see any reason not to count it as art.