Computer Games-- any comments?

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Jan
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Postby Jan » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:23 pm

Film is photography plus movement plus sound. You can do it, I can do it, the Lumière brothers could do it in 1895.
Computer games of similar value are much more difficult to produce.
This is currently done almost exclusively by technical specialists.
There is nothing inherently anti-artistic in computer games, but it is not yet the preferred form of serious artists because of its complexity.
I presume you can show me some great art from Silicon Valley before you equate it with Los Angeles?
Believe it or not, education and background has something to do with art.
By full education I meant something other than a specialized education.

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Postby alexanderthesoso » Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:52 am

The original dragon warrior was art. In so much as a dad telling a bed time story to his child, casting the child as the hero of the swords and sorcery tale, and letting the young one drift off with such thoughts in its little noggin. That was a video game circa 1987. Video games have for a long time told a story, and brought you along for the ride. Less and less has to be done on the part of the imagination of the player, but video games have ALWAYS been art. Failure to see that is YOUR failure, not the media.

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Postby alexanderthesoso » Sat Jun 21, 2008 1:05 am

also

The question is whether a computer game could create that same kind of emotional experience using something unique to computer games.

what? Recorded sound, and recorded images, and putting multiple images together to simulate movies are all individual arts. So i guess, unless a movie can use something that is unique to a movie, it can't be art?

How about games that have story lines that change based on the actions you take. They are a sort of choose your own adventure novel, in which your choices dictate the path and the story. In fact, many of these are much harder art than your average novel, because of the differences, and because of the fact that you must place the reader in a more active role.

Games can combine beautiful artistic images, wondrous sounds, intricate and full storytelling, and they put it all together in one.

How is this NOT art? Can you come up with a single decent reason games are not art?

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Postby Jan » Sat Jun 21, 2008 6:03 am

You mean me, Kevin or Brian?

Personally, I never said they can't be art, I said they aren't.

There are artistic images, wondrous sounds, intricate and full storytelling in VAN HELSING. Putting it all together in one is not my definition of art.

video games have ALWAYS been art. Failure to see that is YOUR failure, not the media.

I'm such a flawed person. Please respect that.

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Postby kevinkirby » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:40 pm

A game is an artwork, of sorts. But the playing of a game won't necessarily function as the presentation of art.

Even so, much art can be conveyed to the players of a game which incorporates artwork. But to design a game solely as a means of artistic transmission?

Well, the game itself might be rendered unplayable; or it might be an unpopular game concept to begin with. Art which already limits itself to a select audience of game players, if the game itself is a dud, will wind up reaching an audience of about zero.

Which may or may not be a good thing.

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Postby BrianSiano2008 » Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:25 am

alexanderthesoso wrote:what? Recorded sound, and recorded images, and putting multiple images together to simulate movies are all individual arts. So i guess, unless a movie can use something that is unique to a movie, it can't be art?


But what's unique to motion pictures is _editing_. Montage. The arrangement of moving images and sound in a sequence. All of the rest derive from other arts (photogra[hy, painting, theater), but _editing_ is unique to films. And as we've seen, its use has created moments of genuinely moving art.

How about games that have story lines that change based on the actions you take. They are a sort of choose your own adventure novel, in which your choices dictate the path and the story. In fact, many of these are much harder art than your average novel, because of the differences, and because of the fact that you must place the reader in a more active role.


That's not a bad place to start. Sure, one can say that branching's not unique to computer games, given those "choose your own adventure" novels. But games allow the user to exert a degree of interaction on the story. Speaking loosely, that's what makes computer games unique and different from movies or books.

But it does seem that games elicit a different emotional involvement than other arts do. I mean, I can watch a drama and care about the characters-- probably more so than people I actually know. But the "interaction' is limited to simply watching them. But even while games offer greater interaction, and greater involvement in certain ways (strategizing, tactics, figuring out where the story goes), there doesn't seem to be the same involvement I get from watching a drama like _The Sopranos_. Unless, the game includes dramatic scenes that are, well, like mini-movies.

I don't have any serious opinions on _why_ this is. So I'm open to suggestions. Jan's don't strike me as being based on anything more than snobbery. But _are_ computer games limited in some way? It may be that computer games need to use bits of cinema to achieve art-- after all, cinema requires elements of other arts to succeed as art, so maybe I should drop the "intrinsic to the computer game" stuff.

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Postby Moderator » Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:40 am

I've been following this thread but, given that I don't play video games, haven't had much to offer until now.

I can't agree that video games qualify as art, or even an art form. Too much of the experience of a video game is under the player's control, which removes the artistic elements of say a film -- which is a completed work, delivered to your doorstep (if you have Netflix) by the production team.

A video game may have wonderful images and graphics, and it may even tell a halfway decent story -- but the fundamental aspect of any video game is to create as many different variations on the central theme as possible -- not to focus on any one of them as representative. A video game is more analogous to a sporting art form than to a true art.

(There are sports that qualify as artforms -- ballroom dancing, ice skating -- but the competitiveness of such an event removes it from being an art -- something that is appreciated primarily for its aesthetics -- into one that is appreciated for its competition. And, it should be noted, that artistic sports generally originated as the artform. But would it be fair to consider what a child does as they learn to skate on a frozen lake somewhere in upstate New York to be an expression of art, or just simply a good time???)

Essentially, however, the purpose of the game is not to tell you a story or show you a pretty picture (though it may do both), but it is to have you compete against yourself or others in a kind of sport that is supported by an assemblage of artwork. I think of a video game as Dungeons and Dragons on the screen -- it's an interactive game even though it may have some aspects of artwork involved. But I doubt anyone here would consider a round of D&D to be an expression of art. The game provides the framework, not the artistic interpretation.

(And, yes, there are always exceptions and I grant some may exist here.)

Because of the interactive nature, I'd hold that while some video games are artistic, they are not an art form...nor are they, themselves, art even though artwork may be an element of the presentation.
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Postby BrianSiano2008 » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:24 am

Barber wrote:A video game may have wonderful images and graphics, and it may even tell a halfway decent story -- but the fundamental aspect of any video game is to create as many different variations on the central theme as possible -- not to focus on any one of them as representative. A video game is more analogous to a sporting art form than to a true art.

Essentially, however, the purpose of the game is not to tell you a story or show you a pretty picture (though it may do both), but it is to have you compete against yourself or others in a kind of sport that is supported by an assemblage of artwork. I think of a video game as Dungeons and Dragons on the screen -- it's an interactive game even though it may have some aspects of artwork involved. But I doubt anyone here would consider a round of D&D to be an expression of art. The game provides the framework, not the artistic interpretation.

Because of the interactive nature, I'd hold that while some video games are artistic, they are not an art form...nor are they, themselves, art even though artwork may be an element of the presentation.


I'd disagree, if only because the games I like to play tend to be first person shooters. And while the analogy to sports holds for multiplayer FPSes, you also have the "single-player experience" which is closer to playing through a story. I mean, when I played _Bioshock_, I wasn't trying to beat it in faster time, or to do better than anyone else. It was a chance to have an experience.

I think there is art in creating these experiences, but it's analogous to the artistry of a set designer on a film. There's an art involved, but it's not the same dramatic art as directing the film.

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Postby Jan » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:29 am

I gotta agree with Steve.

Brian wrote:Jan's don't strike me as being based on anything more than snobbery.

Too kind. Sorry I couldn't come up with any PROOF that most computer games are commercial products with the emotional appeal of a Tom Clancy novel translated into C++. (The only exception I'm aware of is Harlan's game, which is still not art by any stretch.) The problem is not that there is anything inherently wrong with the form, it's all about the current technological, economical and social state of the society they are produced by and for, which is what I've been trying to get across to you.

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Postby alexanderthesoso » Mon Jun 23, 2008 1:22 pm

No emotional attachment? I've seen dozens of Legend of Zelda related tatoos on people, for instance, more than I've seen of any other novel, movie, ect. Theres a classic story about Final Fantasy Seven. A main character, Aeris, is killed off in the game. Some of the people playing it were so distraught over this that SUPPORT GROUPS were formed for people playing the game that became overly emotional. Patches were created to remove the death scene, and put her back in the game. The fact that you are controlling the characters' actions makes one MORE emotionally invested in the characters.

As for being not art becuase you have control... The viewer of any form of art will ALWAYS modify the way the art is being received, through their own emotions, their own past, way of viewing, what parts of the artwork they focus on. This is brought to an Nth degree in a game. Think of it as the art of worldbuilding. Someone has built an entire world, and given it to you to explore. What you do with it influences how you see and percieve it, but that world is art.

As for competition, most games these days are not about simply building up a score. They are about slowly moving through a story. The game action is showing how things were done as you move piece by piece through the story. even those with no story given have a story.

play this game.

http://intihuatani.usc.edu/cloud/flowing/

trust me.

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Postby Moderator » Mon Jun 23, 2008 2:24 pm

Or maybe I don't see it as art because I've done some work with the folks at Blizzard and Sierra.

But, even so, it's not just the interactive part, it's the nature of the "composition". The interactive nature doesn't now make it performance art, it still doesn't qualify -- in my mind -- as an art form or as a standalone artistic category because of the fundamental intent behind the work as well as the way the experience unfolds.

Yeah, maybe I'm trapped in an older definition of "art", but I'll go back to my D&D example as to why I can't see it that way.

There are elements of artwork involved, but the whole does not qualify simply because elements of the whole are art forms.

I'm getting the argument you're making, and there are legit points you're making. But, again, if I look at the nature of what is being created I'm having trouble reconciling Pong, Pacman and Donkey Kong with an art form, no matter how sophisticated their progeny may be.
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Postby Jan » Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:56 pm

A main character, Aeris, is killed off in the game. Some of the people playing it were so distraught over this that SUPPORT GROUPS were formed for people playing the game that became overly emotional.

Uh-huh. Well, that seems to be an exception and tells us that a work of entertainment has done its job, whatever that may be. Emotional responses to entertainment (including computer games using narration, like FF7) may even be as strong as someone's reaction to losing his/her Tamagotchi. However there is no ulterior motive behind eliciting those emotions, and they certainly aren't complex emotions or raise any questions, apart from "Where can I download the patch?" People are manipulated into getting attached to characters in order for them to care about what happens to them and to buy the sequel. We have certainly seen the perfection of entertainment in the last few decades.

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Postby alexanderthesoso » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:30 pm

Barber wrote:Or maybe I don't see it as art because I've done some work with the folks at Blizzard and Sierra.

But, even so, it's not just the interactive part, it's the nature of the "composition". The interactive nature doesn't now make it performance art, it still doesn't qualify -- in my mind -- as an art form or as a standalone artistic category because of the fundamental intent behind the work as well as the way the experience unfolds.

Yeah, maybe I'm trapped in an older definition of "art", but I'll go back to my D&D example as to why I can't see it that way.

There are elements of artwork involved, but the whole does not qualify simply because elements of the whole are art forms.

I'm getting the argument you're making, and there are legit points you're making. But, again, if I look at the nature of what is being created I'm having trouble reconciling Pong, Pacman and Donkey Kong with an art form, no matter how sophisticated their progeny may be.


Reconcile radio commercials with Mozart. Both are musical media intended to convey information of a sorts. One is art, the other, many would say is not, although we are getting disturbingly close to "Demolition Man" where those old jingles were the top 40 hits.

Not all games are art, no, but its a media that is capable of being art, depending on the circumstances. Would you agree with that?

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Postby alexanderthesoso » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:32 pm

Jan wrote:
A main character, Aeris, is killed off in the game. Some of the people playing it were so distraught over this that SUPPORT GROUPS were formed for people playing the game that became overly emotional.

Uh-huh. Well, that seems to be an exception and tells us that a work of entertainment has done its job, whatever that may be. Emotional responses to entertainment (including computer games using narration, like FF7) may even be as strong as someone's reaction to losing his/her Tamagotchi. However there is no ulterior motive behind eliciting those emotions, and they certainly aren't complex emotions or raise any questions, apart from "Where can I download the patch?" People are manipulated into getting attached to characters in order for them to care about what happens to them and to buy the sequel. We have certainly seen the perfection of entertainment in the last few decades.


Thats really very very cynical. Theres a sequel to the movie My Fair Lady. I haven't seen it, but I want too, becuase reading Pygmalion, I became rather attached to the characters. Does that make Pygmalion not art? And Shaw a master manipulator. Okay, well, he was, but does that make him not an artist?

And you are assuming. Assuming that that didn't create questions, or an opportunity to learn. Might was well say that Old Yeller didn't create questions, or an opportunity to learn.

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Postby Jan » Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:22 am

Thats really very very cynical. Theres a sequel to the movie My Fair Lady.

If only I had known that.

I haven't seen it, but I want too, becuase reading Pygmalion, I became rather attached to the characters.

Good for you.

Does that make Pygmalion not art?

:?:

And you are assuming. Assuming that that didn't create questions, or an opportunity to learn.

Narrative entertainment, along the way, can raise questions and create opportunities to learn that may even be important for simple-minded people, kids and so on. But what is intended as entertainment (FF7) is not art.


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