Can Games Be Art? BORING. Let's Ask The Harder Question: Can Art Be Games?

Illustration for article titled Can Games Be Art? BORING. Let's Ask The Harder Question: Can Art Be Games?

I thought we put the stupid "can games be art" thing to rest when games critic Jimmy Brindle revealed that games can never be art so long as games fail to embrace flaccid penises. Real Art, unlike video games, is defined by flaccid penises. But now that the issue of 'can games be art' has reared it's ugly head again, it was time for game developer Sophie Houlden to take a stand and force us to look at the real question that people should be asking instead: can art be games?


The result is a freaking hilarious satirical blog post that makes fun of the way critics claim games can't be art—by turning things around and saying that art doesn't seem like such a big deal in comparison to games. She writes it as if she lived in a bizarro world where art had to prove itself to games.

The Musée de Louvre is a place in Paris. Every year over 8 million people visit the place, often to view art. Now, that's not as many people as are currently subscribing to World of Warcraft or anything, but it's still a lot. And people are beginning to wonder if art is beginning to have a similar cultural importance that games enjoy.

So, do pictures like Whistler's Mother or that one with the dreary-farmer-couple have a place alongside classics like Final Fantasy 7 or thatgamecompany's latest masterpiece ‘Journey'?

Like any reasonable person would do, Sophie tries to get some first-hand knowledge about art so that she can make better judgements about it. She decides to buy a print, but then things turn silly as she finds out that art doesn't work in the same way games do.

Now reader, if you want to see your friend at their most frustrated, all you have to do is ask them to help you use art. "You just have to hang it on the wall, that's all!" Emily tried to explain, but this was totally outside my range of experience. "But how do I interact with it?" I asked, "You don't interact, you just look at it!"

Now I do like my friend Emily, but how was I supposed to know that? What came naturally to Emily was a chore for me, the art didn't even come with any instructions or tutorial. It seems art is easy for people like Emily who grew up with it, but I fear regular folk like you and me will forever be out of touch.

Having situated the art on a wall in the living room, I asked Emily if there was a special way to look at it to make the art work. "No, you just look at it." she explained, clearly as frustrated with the experience as I, "Like a TV?" I asked. The look on Emily's face then became that look you get when you're at risk of losing a friend, so I quickly said "Oh never-mind, I think I've got it figured out." and stared at the lifeless picture, pretending it gave me a similar sense of emotion I got from actually exploring the beautiful landscapes that developers craft for their games.

The clincher comes at the end, when she talks about the things games do that make it impossible for art to aspire to be as good at games, so art is inferior.

Mostly, though, this post highlights many of the missteps that art critics make in judging the artistic value of games. And Sophie does this without treading into tired ground about what art is and all that jazz. It's just incisive humor that makes you think. Thank for god that; I can't be the only one that is tired of reading so many similar arguments about art and games.


Really, you should read this in its entirety.

Can Art Be Games? [Sophie's Blog]


Kuanhung Chen

By definition "art" serves no practical purpose. The moment you can use it for something it is classified as "craft". So no, you cannot play with art. This definition is being taught as the most basic in intro art classes.

This definition is essentially why Roger Ebert said video game cannot be art. If you can interact with the game (which is the point), it cease to be art.

But I think our definition of "art" is different from textbook definition.