The Great Art Upgrade: Overlooked Bits Of Art/Gaming

Strong subtitle.

“Can games be art?” It’s a question I spent part of yesterday complaining about while brandishing a forkful of jacket potato. I used to engage with the debate on those terms but it’s so unhelpful – a strange grab for cultural legitimacy by association. When it comes up in such an explicit way it tends to feel like the games industry has smeared itself with makeup, stolen its mother’s heels and is trying to get into a club it’s heard is super important using a fake ID.

That’s why I was curious to read The Great Art Upgrade by Paolo Pedercini. It’s an infodump/transcript from the Art History of Games keynote he delivered back in 2013. It covers off the main points of the conversations which were taking place (and still are) in mainstream and games media but then it flips over, focusing on what art has been doing with games over the most recent decades.

It’s not the only talk I’ve read or attended which does that, but the collection of works involved is wide-ranging and well-chosen. I’ve also spent the last few days with several of Pedercini’s observations or comments floating round in my brain, gradually integrating with or reworking some of my other ideas.

“For the game industry it was a chance to snort some of that fancy art dust without accepting the responsibilities that come along with working in that special area of culture.

“And critics, game makers, and scholars like us, people in this room who know about art and know about games, failed to propose a different narrative, a narrative that highlights the richness and the variety I just outlined.”

Also it meant I got watch RetroYou’s Blue Boot a few times:

53 Comments

  1. Ross Angus says:

    More on this, please (that header image led me to believe this was an essay).

    My job sometimes allows me to reflect on the difference between art and design. For me, the difference is design solves problems. Art asks questions. They are nearly, but not quite, opposite.

    • darkhog says:

      Games can be an art form in the same way an Art Gallery can be an art form, i.e. can’t.

      Both may CONTAIN art, but neither is an art form.

      • GameCat says:

        Wait, so movies aren’t art, but they may contain art?
        Paintings aren’t art, but they may contain art?
        What is art? A peanut?

      • DeFrank says:

        I tend to agree with this.

      • April March says:

        Uh, I don’t know what you are talking about. Art galleries can be art, and a great many number of them are. Have you forgetten architecture is also one of the classic arts?

        • unit 3000-21 says:

          Not only that but designing an exhibition that isn’t just “I put some art in a room, come take a look folks” is an art form in itself.

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      SuddenSight says:

      I strongly recommend reading the linked article. Though it was a talk, it actually reads pretty well. And it isn’t really about the “are games art?” question (which is pretty boring at this point anyway) – it is more an exploration of how games can be art. Lots of pretty pictures and examples.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Design is commonly referred to as applied art. Though art is rarely referred to as theoretical design. Hmm…

  2. baozi says:

    Hey that’s Revolt isn’t it

  3. GallonOfAlan says:

    Well, to paraphrase Frank Zappa, if someone puts a literal or figurative frame around a piece of work and says ‘here is some art’, then it’s art. Whether it’s worth a shite or not is a different question entirely.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Your post and the post above puts it well. “Art” is about framing as much as “gifts” are about giving. Anything is a gift, if you give it to someone. It does not make it good or useful just because we slap the label on it.

      Same with art. Just slapping the label on it is not often enough. As with gifts, while it can be a one way social interaction, when it’s applied and beneficial for all involved, it works better.

  4. Prolar Bear says:

    This was great, thanks for sharing.

    For some reason I’ve also found Revolt kinda creepy as a kid. Eerily lonely.

  5. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    (As it’s quite long I’ll have a read of that Pedercini article when I’ve got a bit of time, so y’all know the below is written without reading the main article and hence may repeat or mention already contradicted points.)

    The first thing that pops into my head whenever the are games art thing pops up is, in this day and age of unmade beds, people smoking cigarettes containing their own dried blood, and someone kicking a tin can through a shopping centre for an entire day, what the hell is art nowadays anyway? And why does gaming want so desperately to be part of (what is to me) an increasingly ridiculous scene?

    If we ignore the silliness of modern art though, I think a big thing for something to be art is it should induce emotions, but that’s too broad a definition (i.e. I don’t mean in terms of “all horror games are art because they induce fear” or “any game inducing happiness through fun is art”) and I can’t find the right way to word it. But by how that definition works in my head a lot of games would be art.

    The other definition I like is this:
    link to youtube.com

    Last point in my big waffle: I mentioned fun, but traditionally art is not something you have fun while appreciating. Maybe that’s a reason games don’t get considered art? Michael Bay films aren’t art after all. (Or are they…)

  6. Rizlar says:

    The Allan Sekula quote in there is fantastic. That whole lecture is fantastic!

  7. solro says:

    Art is amorphous but artists are snobbish.

    A toilet isn’t art, but it is if you sign it.

    A car isn’t art, but it is if you stick it in the ground (or weld a bunch of metal to it and drive it out to Burning Man)

    Games aren’t art, unless it’s a game made by an artist.

    It’s kind of like a cult…anyone in it can do anything and it is art, anything outside of it cannot possibly be art.

    • Scurra says:

      Well that’s nonsense. Or is it art?

      For me, it’s moderately easy. If something is made to challenge your prejudices, then it’s probably art. Hence, as noted above, Michael Bay movies aren’t art. On the same lines, Jack Vettriano’s Singing Butler isn’t art, but Tracey Emin’s My Bed possibly is; One Direction aren’t art, but Pulp possibly are; Call of Duty isn’t art, but Deus Ex possibly is. [Clearly that’s a gross oversimplification of a ludicrously complex subject. I am not claiming that I am definitively right, just that it’s my position.]

      In passing, I would also add that I don’t think that artists are necessarily any more or less snobbish than anyone else; that’s like saying that “Muslims are terrorists” because the common trope has now defined them as such.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Art isn’t a measure of quality. No matter how bad Michael Bay movies or Call Of Duty are, they were still the result of a creative process.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          “Creative process” is a phrase begging to be defined. Isn’t everything everywhere the result of a creative process? If no process created it it wouldn’t be a thing, would it?

  8. eggy toast says:

    Is a woman shoving marshmallows into her vagina art? Or another woman sitting in a chair doing nothing?

    I don’t think so, but some people insist that those are both art.

    What about a 12 hour looping movie of a stationary subject? Or a piece of metal discolored by urine?

    Gamers arguing about whether games are art exposes how truly grasping and humiliatingly insecure the entire Gamer demographic is. *Anything* can be art, in the 21st century, if you call it art. Some people will disagree and say that a pile of used Kleenex is not art, but that doesn’t mean it’s not shown in a gallery somewhere or that the person who piled those Kleenex doesn’t make a living calling themselves an Artist.

    • Caerphoto says:

      Well like GallonOfAlan said above, if someone makes something and says it’s art, then it’s art; it’s entirely separate from the matter of quality, especially since ‘quality’ is pretty subjective anyway.

  9. eggy toast says:

    An artist I knew once said “I make art to communicate things I don’t know how to say to people I don’t want to talk to,” and under that rubric games certainly can be art, though it would be dishonest to pretend that every game is actually trying to communicate something, as opposed to being a flashing lights reaction machine.

  10. Stootachtig says:

    I wrote an essay on this not too long ago, hilariously the first problem I got was “what is art?”. Which pretty much has been a discussion for the past two thousand years. So nope, not gonna try to solve that.

    My Next Big Question was: Why would games not be art?
    Much easier..

  11. Jason Moyer says:

    Every time this discussion comes up it reminds me of one of my favorite Douglas Adams quotes:

    “I tend to get very suspicious of anything that thinks it’s art while it’s being created.” – Douglas Adams

  12. RaoulDuke says:

    Corrupted Re-Volt is amazing, but the discussion of whether games are art or not is now eliciting this response from me by default: *blows raspberrry*

    • Rizlar says:

      The sad thing is the question isn’t even what that lecture is about.

      It covers off the main points of the conversations which were taking place (and still are) in mainstream and games media but then it flips over, focusing on what art has been doing with games over the most recent decades.

      Every comment here that goes off on one discussing what is/isn’t art just illustrates his point, that all the interesting stuff that is actually going on is being overlooked for some superficial, meaningless desire to label things and be seen to be mature. Which by this stage is fairly pointless and utterly boring.

      If we actually want to talk about art, great! Let’s do it. This lecture is a fantastic jumping off point. But no, that’s not actually what any of these ‘urgh, this is/isn’t art’ commenters want to do. They just want to label things because –

      Actually it’s probably because they aren’t really involved in the art world, don’t really know about it and have no interest in engaging with it. Which is fair enough. But they could at least read the transcript of the thing they are supposed to be commenting on.

      • eggy toast says:

        I’m laughing in your face if you are positioning ” involved in the art world” as opposite to “likes arguing about pointless labels”

        If you honestly think the former doesn’t spend a massive amount of time and energy on the later you are certainly insufferable.

        • Rizlar says:

          No, I’m saying perhaps the reason people prefer not to engage with the content of this lecture is because they aren’t really interested in art. Which would be fair enough! And not surprising, considering how insular and up it’s own arse the art world can be.

  13. cpt_freakout says:

    That was a good read, thanks. To everyone still holding on to the discussion: don’t, it’s pointless. Maybe the lecture wasn’t very clear on its position (I thought it was, but it just seems to have provoked more of the same), but I agree with its basic sentiment, in that it’s much more fruitful to think about games beyond personal significance or visual systems. This means asking questions that are completely out of the usual logic that drives games writing, examples of which I think Cara Ellison’s pieces are some of the best we currently have. She poses questions of identity and (cultural) context to objects that we are used to conceiving of as ‘naturally’ resistant to them because we can only think of ‘fun’ and ‘graphics’ and ‘storytelling’. Sure, there are games that are more suited to such questionings than others (eg Hotline Miami), and we definitely won’t get anywhere by thinking about some forgotten Age of Empires clone, but for games that remain iconic it would be more than fruitful.

    I’m also thinking of a piece I recently read by Leigh Alexander on how the image of Sonic the Hedgehog was always just some corporate trick, and in it she spends quite some time saying how maybe it wasn’t a good game anyway. The issue there is that the connection to the extreme fandom of Sonic is left unexplored; for me, the more interesting question (much more interesting than if it was a good game or not) is why the hell would Sonic become an icon for all these weird teenage fetishes and fantasies? Just exactly what does the image of Sonic represent that it has developed so, and how does that representation tie together the context of its production, its reception, and the game itself?

    I think those are the kind of questions that will bring some of the particular knowledge that videogames produce out from the reductive (but not necessarily bad) field of industry-focused writing we’re all used to since like forever.

    • Rizlar says:

      You both ninja’d my response above and made much better observations while being more polite. Thank you.

  14. almostDead says:

    I don’t understand the relevance of a question like ‘are games art?’.

    To me it just sounds like people want their hobby to have more importance than it currently does. A way of trying to impress the girl in your expanded friend group that you want to date, or your parents at the dinner table.

    Is a yes from the right talking head or critical mass, the point of this exercise, or just tax breaks?

    • NathanH says:

      The linked article agrees (and so do I):

      “In conclusion, here’s the problem: all these approaches and questions I just posed did not matter in the games vs art debate. Because that exciting, pedantic, fractal, never-ending dispute we call “art” was never the point of this debate.
      The point was to Upgrade the cultural status of videogames as a whole: as a medium and as an industry.”

  15. Dewal says:

    Aw yiss, a question I love.

    First, I think we can all agree that art is supposed to be the result of a creative work.

    But I think we can “oppose” (sometimes they overlap) two types of creative process in the conception of an object.

    Firt, there’s the design, the engineering. It’s the creative work that will tend to make the object as fulfilling of its purpose as possible. Is this chair comfortable, does this vase contain fluids well, does this sculpture or portrait actually resemble the target (for most of history, portraits were the only way to have a picture of someone and I don’t consider art the act of copying something in front of you, if it’s all that you do – I’m not considering the composition of the scene that could be done ahead of the actual painting). (Does this game runs well ?)

    And then the art, the “intent” that you can put in your work. I want this chair to look modern, I want this vase to be beautiful, I want this painting to evoke something (an emotion, an idea) to the spectator.

    This way you can oppose an ID photo against a picture from Ansel Adams (had to google that), the simple record of a conversation against a piece of music, the minutes of a meeting against a novel, a youtube video of a cat against a movie. And thus, the medium is not the art. Taking a photo is not art, writing is not art, recording is not art, filming is not art. It’s what you make of it.

    A game, is not art by itself. But I think it is from the moment you purposefully worked on its aesthetic, worked on the game sounds, the music, the story… And the same way comics are the combination of pictures and story-writing (on which you add a continuity in time) and movies are the combination of comics and music, with animation and better transition between the pictures, I would say that game is the same as a movie in which you add Interaction. And the same way you can walk around a sculpture to see it from every angle, you’re going to play the game to try to see everything the authors have created, see the end of the story, discover the environments, hear the music, etc…

    And saying “games are for entertainement, they can’t be art”, I would say “well so are music, stories and movies”. It’s not because the initial function of an object is entertainement that it’s all that it will be and can’t be used in other ways.

    Another point which I think is important to make, is that something being “art” does not say anything about its quality. If I decide to spit paint on a wall, saying that its an expression of my inner disgust in society, I am as well a fool than an artist, and so are the people that will be interested in what I do.

    And to add something about “The Great Art Upgrade” article, I think the author spend quite a lot of time not actually talking about what games are. Most of his reflection seems to be about “how are you going to put games in a museum” and “what pieces of art where made about games”, which is far from the point. I can’t put comics, movies or musics in a museum, and I could do a sculpture inspired from a movie, it will be a sculpture and would not be relevent in a debate about “is movie-making art ?”.

    Thank you for reading

    • Dewal says:

      And seeing there’s a lot of people wondering about why even ask the question “is game art”, I’m going to answer that too.

      Putting something in the category “art” give you the ability to talk about the subject more deeply.

      You’re never going to debate about a hammer, except for the basic question “is it good, does it work ?”. But if someone frame it, says “it is art” and announce there is a meaning behind it, then you can discuss about it, think about what is the message. You can even ask yourself meta-questions about it, like “why the fuck would someone frame a hammer”.

      It’s the same about video games. Most games are art, because you see people talking about the messages they can send to the players, about the quality of the story, the music, the emotions it gives. You won’t think about a game of cards or a match of tennis and saying “Wow, this yellow ball really made me think” or “I really loved the story of this game of whist, even if it sent a powerfull message of sexism and violence”.
      But you can with videos games.
      Not all of them (I wouldn’t call Pong art), but a lot of them.

      And that’s it. Saying that video games aren’t art would be taking away the right to discuss others things than the fun you had playing them (which is the initial purpose of a game).

      And it’s not that it’s an important debate, but if someone came to you while you’re eating an apple and said “Apple are not good for you, you should eat fruits”, wouldn’t you try to correct him about the matter, explaining to him that apples are a fruit like any other ?

      • joa says:

        That just seems to be admitting that games can contain elements of other art forms — when you talk about story and music and the emotional response that brings — but are not art in their base forms.

        The pure ‘gamey’ elements — as exemplified by something like pong, or chess, or cards — are not about communicating ideas but about providing a challenge to the player.

        • Dewal says:

          In my eyes, there is a fallacy with the argument “games just contain art components without being art itself” : games, just like movies, are not just a compilation of varied components. They’re a combination.

          The music and aesthetics will often respond to the story, which itself interact with the gameplay. And it’s the combination that make the game. There is art in the good combination of the appropriate things between them to serve a common purpose, I would even say it’s at the foundation of what art is.

          And following this argument, Chant is just poetry with music, Theater is stories with acting, Cinema is theater with music and painting/pictures.
          But they are considered independent forms of art.

          I am merely basing my argument on what is already considered art by the mainstream opinion and saying that, by these criteria, Video Games can be art.

          • targaryen26 says:

            a

          • targaryen26 says:

            oops sorry for the “a”. a bit new to these forums.

            i really agree with your comments here dewal. you really hit the nail on the head with these observations. there is only one thing i would like to add which is the fact that we use the term “game” to describe a stupidly broad range of things. take for instance an rpg like dragon age or a story driven shooter like metro 2033 or the last of us. these games are basically interactive narratives. the goal is the immerse the player in very specific story driven scenarios and sometime to offer a sense of choice and consequence. these games i would say are trying to achieve a kind of holodeck experience for their audience. immersion in a fictional world, role playing, etc. importantly the mechanics in these games are very much secondary. they are simply the means whereby the player interacts with the fictional world. they are not an end in and of themselves. i would describe this is as one end of a spectrum. at the other end you have games that are entirely mechanically driven where the mechanics are very much the purpose of the game and the fictional layer that sits on top is thin and relatively meaningless. in fact the best games of this sort can be entirely abstracted into their mechanics – think of chess for instance. on the other hand a game like dragon age, or better still the walking dead telltale game, if you remove the fiction you’re left with almost nothing. there are many games inbetween as well. i think strategy games are a good example. there is a kind of balance between the fictional layer of something like company of heroes or starcraft and their mechanics. i think this is important because games that are what i would call “real” games like chess that focus on their mechanics cannot be art, no matter how well balanced or elegant their mechanics are. chess is wonderful in many ways but it is not art. the same goes for many sports. they are games with rules and competition among players however whatever drama occurs on say a football pitch is not something planned out by an author for the purposes of artful expression. on the other hand games in which the mechanics have meaning beyond their own systems have the potential to be art.

          • joa says:

            Dewal, I think you’ve missed my point a little. In the case of cinema, while many art forms are involved, the way these are bound together — through editing, which is the key to cinema — is an art form in itself because of its expressive power.

            The thing binding together the artistic elements of a game, gameplay or mechanics or whatever you want to call it, is not an expressive tool of communication, but a way of challenging a player’s physical dexterity or intellectual skills. It’s a different animal.

          • Dewal says:

            Yes I agree, gameplay/rule creating/gamefeel (and all those things relative to games) are not considered art. We’re closest to design or engineering here (even if… I think the line is thin there), creating a way to play a game that feels coherent with the contents of the game. But, for the case of musics, story and graphics, they are all bound together the same way they are in a movie, intertwined and connected through the gameplay.

            I could take the exemple of boss fights among others. You get to a place and you meet a character, both having stories and context of their own which must have been introduced earlier in the game. The boss have a meaning : you know “him”, you know why you must fight it, you may as well want to fight it, given the story is good; the design of the place (hello there Architecture / 3D Modeling/Sculpture arts !), its look, decorations, atmosphere, lighting, everything is crafted in accordance of the feel the authors want you to get when you meet the boss. And the boss himself will have a look coherent with the story and the deep impression they want him to give. The music will often be epic, to galvanise the player and making him understand how important the fight is, and will sometimes even change in the middle of the fight in order to underline what’s happening. All of these are truly combined in one and only purpose, to follow the will of the author(s) and express what he wants it to express.

            And there are so much examples, I could not give them all here. But to give weight to my argument, I want to cite two games that are art in the way only game can : The Stanley Parable and Spec Op : The Line. I don’t want to spoil any of them, but both these games will make you think in ways that couldn’t be possible without their interactivity.
            The first one is a truly meta game, where the game force you to consider choices in all video games, where even if you decide not to follow “the rules” nor the story, you are forced to act in the limits given by the authors. And I think it is the best counter-example to the quotation of Roger Ebert which say that games can’t be art because they lack authorial control. They actually have, the authors just have to plan in advance the ways you will be able to interact and the consequences of those interactions (which is even more impressive).

            The second one, apart from being a mediocre game in its whole, give you two or three choices during the play. These choices, you won’t even know that you have them, and people will most of the time play like they always does. And then you talk with others, look videos on youtube and think “oh fuck, what have I done. I didn’t had to do that” and you start considering with “guilt” the actions you took in a game. And to be able to make you do a thing and then think about the thing you did, which is only possible in games, I think it’s a very powerful way to convey a message and absolutely qualifies games as being art.
            (And I quoted Spec Op : The Line because it ‘s a very atypical game, but most RPGs often give you choices and confront you to the consequences of them, and it can be done very intelligently)

            So yeah, I think I got your point. But I just think that games are the combinations of different forms of art, adding its own depth to it which is interactivity, as much as cinema is and in an even more complex form.

          • joa says:

            Fair enough, Dewal, you make some very good points. Certainly the choices available to the player, and the results of those choices can have an expressive power. However I think many games don’t use player choice for this effect, instead using the player choices as a test of skill and a challenge to the player. Not that there is anything wrong with either — but the latter I would say is different from art (not in a bad way).

          • Dewal says:

            I gave you two strong examples of games where choices are important, but that’s not the only way for games to be art.

            The same way you have to sit through a music or a movie to have the piece unfoil before you and get the whole experience the author wanted you to have, a game is stories, graphics and music that will unfoil along your play.

            It’s not random pieces of different art that you can play whenever you want, with a “click there to see this scenery” “do that to hear this music”. Even the most basic platformers or one-way FPS will show you their content little by little in wrapped coherent packages. “Here you are in this place, with this music, this atmosphere, these graphics in the background, this kind of enemies, you only know so far of the story. And if you want more, if you want to hear the rest of the story, if you want to discover new places, get new experiences, you need to continue playing and beat me”.
            Like I said earlier, when you look at a sculpture or even visit a monument, you don’t get the whole experience right away. You need to move to see the art piece from every angles. Games are just these very big virtual monuments where you need to punch enemies to discover the next room, books where you have to solve an enigma to get to read the next chapter, or movies where you have to jump at the right time to see the next scene.

  16. dsch says:

    This is an important intervention in the debate, but insufficient.

    It is certainly important to recognise the inadequacy of the journalistic rhetoric about games and art, as if either of those are stable categories and art is an ideal to which games aspire. And it is also certainly important to list the ways in which games and art already intersect. But it is insufficient if this argument is taken, as some here seem to do, as a terminus of critique. Art is to some extent inseparable from the way it is talked about, and an aesthetics of reception (‘Rezeptionsästhetik’) is at least as important as an aesthetics of creation, and so how we talk about games and games as art is an important part of games as art. We can argue, of course, that the very idea of ‘art’ as ‘high culture’ and so on is historical and historically determined within a system of politics and economics, but this makes the question of how (not whether) games can be art all the more urgent as it can take a defining role in the changing position of art itself. To this extent, simply cataloguing and describing the existing intersections of games and art is not enough. It is to the credit of the article that some of the items on the catalogue already recognise this implicitly as answers to the question “Can art be games?” rather than “Can games be art?”

  17. RARARA says:

    “Video games are art! Please take my hobby seriously! Wait, what are you doing? Literary criticism? Oh fuck off, stop taking video games so seriously. It’s just fun!”

  18. kwyjibo says:

    What’s even more embarrassing is when the art world so desperately wants games’ cred.

    link to web.archive.org

    It’s a game! Come on, review us in PC Gamer, it’s a game! It’s at least 7/10!

  19. phyrexiancure says:

    couldn’t you say that art is basically a medium for expressing ideas that wouldn’t normally be accessible through our norms of communication? that trying to define art other than this is an attempt to give it metaphysical value?

  20. Baffle Mint says:

    So, after reading that essay, I’ve come to the conclusion that, no, games can’t be art.

    Or at least, not without kind of sucking.

    An issue I have with quite a lot of art over the last… well, at least the last century is that it kind of doesn’t need to actually exist.

    Mario Battle No 1 “is a mod of Mario Bros from 2000 with all the enemies removed.”

    “Dead in Iraq is a digital performance and a memorial to the fallen soldier in Iraq that takes place inside American Army’s servers. The artists logs in the well known recruiting game and every time his avatar dies he types name, rank, and date of death of an actual soldier, short-circuiting the reality of war with the propagandistic depiction of the first person shooter.”

    Those are both thought-provoking ideas but, well… how many of you are going to go out and actually play Mario Battle No 1? How many of you are going to look up the actual results of “Dead in Iraq”? And if you do play Mario Battle No 1, is doing so going to provide a notably different experience than you got from just reading a brief description?

    I notice that maybe 90% of art games or game art can be broken down into two categories:

    1) Games which are purposefully awkward, glitchy, and generally hard to play. It’s like Super Mario, but it erases itself from your hard drive when you lose a life!

    2) Games which half-heartedly staple metaphors to very standard gameplay (I’m looking at you, Braid!). If you think about it, Donkey Kong Jr. is a haunting metaphor about caring for an ailing parent!

    And sweet lord Jesus, would I ever like to see more stuff that breaks out of those two molds.

    From the article:

    “These white clean rooms, where civil and educated people hang out. I’m personally not interested in creating work for these institutions, because I’m not interested in entertaining the mainly privileged people who hang out in these spaces.”

    Tetris brought heavy abstraction to an audience that has never ever had time for Mondrian or Mark Rothko. Maybe let’s think about how that happened.

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      I think the question, “can artsy games be fun?” is just as meaningless as whether or not games can be art in the first place.

      I’ll start with a detour about Andy Warhol. I went to the Andy Warhol museum once. Most of his stuff is pretty boring (to me). I mean, he literally painted soup cans. And not exciting soup cans, either. Just soup cans. Sure, this might be “art,” but it certainly isn’t “fun.”

      But I am super glad I went through every room in that museum. Because hidden – unbeknownst to me – in one of those rooms was the silver clouds. For those who didn’t click the link, it is a room filled with silver balloons. And in the corner there is a fan that blows them around. That is it. And I *love* it. It is fun just standing in that room. I mean, it’s just balloons! I loooove balloons! So this is also art, but is *is* fun.

      The same can be said of games. One of the commonly cited “art” games is Passage. I remember playing it shortly after it came out. It was alright, but it wasn’t really “fun.”

      But jumping to the conclusion that all art games are boring is also wrong. If you scan through the linked article, they discuss so many fun games. Shadow of the Collosus for its interesting visuals. Braid as an exploration of time and space. Spec Ops The Line as a deconstruction of modern shooters. These are “fun” games that have been seriously discussed as pieces of “art.”

      The point made (perhaps obliquely) in the article is that these labels don’t really matter. There are games that do interesting things. Some are fun, some are not. Labelling them as “art” or “not art” is just something curators do when they feel pedantic. Instead of trying to validate all games or give art a rigid definition, we should just talk about games we like and don’t like. Talk about stuff that is interesting, even if it isn’t fun. Because the label isn’t the point, but the discussion is.

  21. alms says:

    Mr Pedercini’s “I’m so clever …and handsome”.

  22. J.Scheisse says:

    In a 100 years, fat, limp-wristed fuckity shit MCPoofaces will store original carts of Super Mario in their vaults and sell them at auctions for a billion dollars, and then they will have always been art.