People attach a degree of gravity to the word 'Art' as if it is somehow this ultimate sign of validation of a medium (whether it be music, film, television, games, etc, etc) and that any creative endeavour should aim towards such free expression but need to recognise that it is not the medium thatís important itís whatís being said/conveyed that counts.
This to me is where the beliefs of the Roger Eberts of the world fall down. Certainly one can question the validity of the choice of a medium as to whether itís the appropriate conduit/means of distribution for the message, given that as Mcluhan rightly points out, all mediums possess their own strengths and weaknesses in terms of how we engage with them (thereís a massive difference between reading a book and imagining a story Vs watching a film of the same story for instance). But one canít question the message itself save on it's own terms.
As I said earlier on Iím not convinced that either Dear Esther or 30 flights couldn't work equally well as films, principally because neither of them actually really leverage the very thing that makes games unique experiences from films, namely the interaction and feedback loop between you the player and the game world. For all intents and purposes they are machinima pieces that require you to press the move forward key occasionally to trigger the next sequence. An act no different than turning the page when reading a book.
Thereís really no question in my mind that a game can be Art, the question is only whether a game is the appropriate format through which to express the message one wishes to convey.
I like Spec Ops in terms of what itís trying to do. I think itís a little heavy handed in what itís trying to say, and perhaps misses more often than it hits however what it very clearly does do is leverage the core interactive nature of the medium of games to put across its message by empowering you the player at key points to actually shape the experience and outcome in some form. Certainly it equally funnels you narratively at points as well, but the key thing is it would be hard to replicate the complete experience of Spec Ops in another medium, bar perhaps a choose your own adventure book.But then I have a similar impression about a lot of fans of Spec Ops, and I know you really like that game, so I don't want to push this line too hard. It's quite a tricky subject, given that I have not played any of these games, and wouldn't be interested to.
Again harking back to Mcluhan if the medium is the message in terms of distinctiveness, then whatís the message of games if not about interaction and player choice?
*cue studio audience laughter*
Games are interactive media, Television and film are not. Turning on or off the remote doesn't qualify in terms of interacting with the actual medium, in the same sense as using a 360 controller or WASD to navigate a game level.Trite silliness aside when it comes to Dear Esther and such things (I was about to say interactive entertainment but that would cover TV as you have to turn it on! Nevertheless you know the sort of thing I mean) I think they're worth discussing and don't mind them being highlighted or praised. I generally have mixed reactions to them. I thought the Passage was neatly done, I hated the path, I liked Gravity Bone and didn't particularly enjoy 30 Flights of Loving. It's pretty arbitrary and I think they are a lot more dependent on the mood I'm in than I am with games. Kind of in the same way that I have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy certain books or films.