Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today's Game Is Art! No, It's Not!

GameSetWatch - "Electronic Arts' Preston: Forget Art, Let's Game!"

With EA's recent push to become a benevolent overlord of game business, Jim Preston, a producer at EA, wrote up a short essay refuting many of other media's critics' claim that games are not art. His argument: "art" is many a time largely influenced by setting as to how a work is presented to people. He says if a urinal could be presented as an art by putting it in a museum, games can, too, given we build a right presentation in which they will be considered "art".

But is it only me who thinks that he is overlooking something that is the foundation of anything artistic, messages? It is my understanding that art, in its simplist form, can be said as a communication between those who make it and those who receives it. So, even if we do create a way to recognize games as artistic works, as Jim suggests, nobody will really recognize them as artistic unless they send messages to their audience, the players.

And to be honest, I have almost never seen, heard, or recognized any message in most games, if not all. (Possible exception may be Portal.) Many of whom hearts games argue there are plenty of artistic games, and Metal Gear Solid is their #1 example. I don't disagree that that game is surely a masterpiece, but of what? Sure it does include very twisted and jaw-dropping message, yet, where does that message come from? Well, it's none other than its numerous cutscene sequences, with one exception where player had to pull trigger to finish the job. So the message is not being delivered from the game portion, the interactive part*, but rather from linear, pre-recorded portion, which is by itself a movie, not game. There are tons of other examples, and, what do you know? They are all delivered by anything other than game. (Which is why I get so frustrated when delivery of the real message is hindered by long and repetitive gameplay--I'm looking at you, Final Fantasy XII.)

So, that's the essence of my argument why I don't accept today's games as art in its, game's, purest form. It may be artistic as congloremate of numerous medium, but not as "game". And there surely is a difference...

Well, that isn't to say I don't enjoy today's games. I surely do. I just want the day people realize the true potential of game to come fast. (But then again, game and narratives really doesn't go along--they're in inverse relationship. We may have to distinguish "game" apart from "interactive movie" to start seeing artistic interactive movies, which I think is what we all really want. Am I not right?)

*Here I define "interactive part" as where player's take actions pursuing objectives, which is the heart of any game.

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