"...a form of cultural necrophilia."

Illustration for article titled ...a form of cultural necrophilia.

I'm hesitant to even bring this up because I find the "are games art?" debate useless at best, but Eric Zimmerman makes a good case for how it's a more damaging fixation than a purely tiresome and annoying one. "Obsession with the question 'are games art?' is a form of cultural necrophilia," he argues, suggesting that the popular enshrinement of the term "art" damages art itself, as well as our ability to properly consume and appreciate it.


It's sort of hyperbolic and ridiculous to call cultural criticism of any form "necrophilia," sure. But it's also one of the better metaphors for how far into the ground this debate has been driven at this point. One passage that I found particularly persuasive:

The question of whether games are art implies that art is a valued and important category – the exclusive club that every cultural producer desperately wants to enter. That makes games the nerdy kid at the front entrance, held back by the velvet rope from getting inside with the all of the beautiful people.

I'd like to let you in on a little secret: What's going on inside the art club is a bunch of old farts hanging onto the past. What's happening outside is much more interesting. "Art" is no longer the highest classification by which all culture should be valued.

We are living in an era where – to give one example – design as a category has far more cultural juice than art. Games should not aspire to be art! That's backwards. Art should aspire to have the cultural reach and relevance of games.

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