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Are Video Games Art? No, but not for the reasons Roger Ebert thinks 
Posted on October 3, 2010 at 05:45 AM.
I'm not sure when this got started, but I've followed the "games as art" argument for a long time. I have always found it fascinating because it was like watching squirrels fight. One attacks the others tail when he's not looking, the other leaps and runs up a tree while the aggressor hides behind another trunk, then they begin the process anew and nobody makes any progress.

Recently the following blog by Roger Ebert was pointed out to me- http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2010/04/video_games_can_never_be_art.html

While I rarely agree with Ebert's thoughts on the film industry, I thought we might get some insight into the controversy. Being a film critic, I thought he might be able to finally put the argument to rest because he, of all people, should understand what art is.

But he did not. He goes on and on about rules and the history of art, comparing cave paintings and cinema and Michelangelo.

In short, I find the entire argument idiotic because the premise is completely off.

To call video games art, you must call cinema art, you must call television art, and you must call books art. None of them are. I know this is throwing some of you off. It isn't that Citizen Kane, Lost, or The Lord of the Rings aren't art... they clearly are, but in all three of those cases, the art in question is the same. Only the medium differs.

Canvas is not art, it is only a medium for paint. The artist combines paint and canvas to create art. Thus, cinema, television, books, and indeed video games, are not art, but a medium.

Story telling is an art which can be used in any number of mediums, including video games, just as a beautiful painting can appear on a cave wall, a canvas, or the ceiling of a chapel.
Comments
# 1 Dazraz @ Oct 3
The problem is 'art' is often defined by those in the upper echelons of society. They believe that their art can only be truly appreciated by a select few who have sufficient intellect to understand a meaning much deeper than us mere mortals could ever wish to understand.

For me, art can be anything that is created with a skill & a passion. Be it by a single individual or as a team. Paintings can be representative of reality or imagination. So can videogames, movies & music.
 
# 2 str8artist @ Oct 3
Art is a form of expression. Acting, Painting, Movies, dancing, video games are all different forms of art.
 
# 3 NoDakHusker @ Oct 3
The fact that he mentions "rules of art" shows he knows little about what art is. There are no rules when it comes to art, it's a form of expression as str8artist said.
 
# 4 shadthedad @ Oct 3
Everything we do is art worthy. It's all about the spirit of excellence and the passion that goes into said activity.
 
# 5 stlstudios189 @ Oct 3
art = effort +passion+emotion
 
# 6 mnus03 @ Oct 3
Questions about art so often never get anywhere because the discussion always reverts back to the speakers opinion on something's quality. Like something needs to reach a mysterious goodness to be art. At least ebert admits this straight out but it doesnt make any sense. You always hear people scoff and say "that's not art" but it would solve a lot of problems if they would rather say "that's the worst pieces of art ive ever seen" or simply "that's a piece of ****". But he's just a grumbling old man whose identity has been staked on taste and someone like that will always think taste=truth, they just cant help it. And that in my opinion is the only reason art can't be defined like Dazraz said because to do so would impede on a couple of stuffed up, musty old, already dead, chimney hat critics tastes.
 
# 7 Eski33 @ Oct 3
I say that if movies are considered art, then video games should be considered art. The only difference in many of today's games compared to a movie is the fact that the audience has control over what is happening in the story.

I have seen "real" art and much of what I see in museums is not appealing. A naked statue of a guy's head resting on his hand is art? I red painted circle on a white canvass is art?

Games today have outstanding music, solid voice acting (with some games having outstanding voice acting such as Uncharted) and the stories are engaging. I have seen my wife cry while playing FF because the story was that immersive.
 
# 8 TreyIM2 @ Oct 3
Video games are a form of art just like movies, books (storytelling types), and even some TV shows. Many of the people up here have already broken things down so I won't further the length...and Dazraz has a very significant social point about what is deemed art. Ebert's thoughts fit what Dazraz is talking about as Ebert feels that he is a high intellectual figure and video games could never be intellectual, at all. No, never...heh
 
# 9 TreyIM2 @ Oct 3
Oh, and music is art, too.
 
# 10 adembroski @ Oct 4
@fcabansky: I appreciate that you're the first person who's comment to my blog actually proved that you'd read it, it wasn't about semantics.

The primary point I was making is that the medium does not define art, which is the entire premise of the debate. Is the medium of video games art? No, it is a medium capable of supporting story telling.

It's not arguing semantics to shift the argument onto the right track. Ebert has made an argument against Video Games being art, but I doubt he would say that story telling is not an art. If story telling is indeed art, then Ebert needs to explain why video games are not a valid medium for story telling.
 
# 11 Eski33 @ Oct 4
I guess I should have asked? Does it matter if video games are defined as art or not? I stick with my original post but in the end video games are a form of escapism and whether defined as art or not, I will waste countless hours enjoying them.
 
# 12 Merker @ Oct 5
An excellent point well made.
 
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