GamesBeat

Don’t just say games are art, show it

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

We get it already. Games are art. Now quit making such a fuss over it. It's an old argument that needs to die. Seriously. We're all sick of it. Enough already!

Besides, this constant preaching isn't achieving anything. In fact, I would say it's done more harm than good. How?

Because it depicts us as being insecure about this all-important subject.

The question of whether games are art has been debated for years. It's a topic that pops up frequently on message boards and in the press with titles like thatgamecompany's Flower being held up as prime examples supporting the argument. I think Journey is the better example, though, since it isn't constantly shouting "HEY, I'M AN ART GAME! APPRECIATE ME!" like Flower, but I digress.

The point is, plenty of people have supported the pro-art rationale — more than was ever necessary. But they haven't managed to accomplish anything except articulate our collective thoughts. Never have I seen any good come out of the movement, like someone saying they've been convinced of the artistic merit of games. I've only seen agreement.

 

And that's why we write about the topic, isn't it? To get the non-believers to see the light. We haven't succeeded in that regard. All you ever read in the comments section of those articles are predictable heaps of praise that talk about how the author is right and anyone who thinks otherwise is foolish. Maybe you see some heated arguments on the subject but never any converts.

It's not hard to see why, either. The problem is simple — and no, it's not because these articles are always kept to video game-centric sites. The problem is that when we continually try to convince others that games are art, it gives off the appearance that we're doubtful about our own claims. We come across as needed to receive approval from outside sources before we can confidently believe our propaganda. It's ludicrous.

Journey 1

Take a look at any post from film critic Roger Ebert that touches this debate, and you'll see thousands of players coming to gaming's defense. And you'll also see a ton of forum threads and articles countering his position — some with hostility, even. Honestly, guys, it's ridiculous. All that hubbub over the statements from a man who doesn't even play games. This is why no one takes us seriously.

If you truly believe games are an art form, don't just say it, show it. There are some good critiques out that that make a damn strong case, even for the most seemingly simple games. Start professing our medium's artistic merit through intelligent introspective. Be a critic for once. We'll actually stand to make a difference that way. People take notice of good, thought-provoking writing, after all. And we might gain a few converts or more exhibitions like the one currently at the Smithsonian. We won't know until we try.

And hey, if that means I don't have to see another games-as-art thread, then all the better.


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