We Are An Art!

There have been many small steps in the past towards this goal, but I think the one giant leap has finally been taken by the Smithsonian Art Museum in the US of A – video games are art. Their soon-to-be exhibit, ‘Art of Video Games’, is, in my humble and often overly excited opinion, the biggest slice of the recognition pie the gaming industry has received in the past decade.

I, like many of my fellow video game lovers, have encountered many people who see video games as nothing more than a kid’s toy or a pointless, waste of time hobby. I’m not talking people who simply aren’t a fan of games, or have no real opinion either way, they’re just going about living their lives as they see fit – no problem there. It’s the people who totally belittle the creativity, industry and work that goes into video games and their creation. I’ll happily admit I’d rather neck a bottle of pain killers and wash them down with a pint of whiskey than suffer through a 8-10 hour presentation on Claude Monet, but I’m perfectly accepting of the huge artistic merit his work carries and the people who take time in their lives to appreciate and analyse that. Others, however, are rarely so gracious towards the same argument for video games.

However… NO MORE, my friends, no more. Now, the next time an overly pretentious person “awww”s at you because you said your plans for the night consisted of playing the new Mario game you can now smack them back down… WITH SCIENCE! You’re busy studying the next generation of art and culture. The first thing I did when I heard the news of the announcement of which games would be included was to begin leap-frogging through the designated ‘Eras’ and watching some of my favourite games of those console generations sit proudly in the list: from Pac-Man, to The Legend of Zelda, to SimCity, to DOOM II, to Metal Gear Solid and finally to Portal and Fallout 3 – all soon to be upon the walls of one of the most distinguished museums in the world, stunning.

About time we saw these two together!

I’m not saying this is going to be the magic duct tape which will fix the perception of video games globally across every person who has ever flicked their tongue at the idea that games are anything more than a “Murdering Your Fellow Humans for Dummies” manual, but there’s finally some tangible, credible evidence to the contrary. I’m excited about the prospect that this could be the beginning of the big push to video games finally being handed some of the kudos which they are long overdue. I love this industry, I love the people, I love the product, I love the process and I love the lifestyle. I love every cog that turns to bring every person involved in the machinery of video games together and I would love to be able to see the public at large, at the very least, acknowledge that it deserves more credit than it has ever had in the past.

Call me crazy, but I see beauty in this.

For the time being though, I love that the leap has been taken and in such a fantastic and seemingly impossible way. Call me a dreamer, call me overenthusiastic, hell, call me a total moron if you really feel the need to; it warms my heart to see what I’ve grown up with, what I’ve always loved and what I hope to spend a large chunk of my life on, officially titled as the art form it has always been to me. If gamers had a flag, you’d better believe I’d be flying it right now like an American who, while drinking a Budweiser at a Yankees game, just heard Osama Bin Laden had been taken out.

We’ve come this far, and setting aside temporarily the focus on the future of gaming, I’d like to take this moment to try and maintain the seriousness and reflect, ponder and smile at just how far video games have come in a mere couple of decades, and where they have reached today…

Okay? We done? Brilliant! Now, onto the even more serious matter: can somebody with Photoshop skills PLEASE make a gamer flag? I want one to put on a very long stick to take to festivals!


9 responses to “We Are An Art!”

  1. Celeste avatar

    Some awesome games in the exhibition line-up. But… no Silent Hill?

    You’re right, this is certainly a nice acknowledgement for games.

  2. Barry avatar

    It’s good that there is recognition but I don’t think all videogames should be classified as art, only some.

    Would you consider the movie Flubber or Friday the 13th part 50 as art?

  3. Barry avatar

    I’ve not got my head switched on at all this morning, I’ll go crawl under a rock

  4. AnthonyHJ avatar

    I always subscribed to the ‘games are not art, but many parts of a game are art’ mind-set.

    There will always be arguments about the nature of art, but many parts of a game, from the story to the views across game-worlds, are clearly art. Cut free from the game, the 3D worlds are art.

    As to the ‘whole package’ of a game… I am not sure it matters to me whether people call it art as long as I can continue calling it a living…

  5. paul avatar

    Barry, classing all games as Art would be like saying all Drawings are art, and if you look at my own drawings you will notice they most certainly are not.
    The answer to the question “Are games Art” is “They can be”. There’s no dealing in absolutes here which is probably what a lot of gamers have difficulty getting their head round. “Is it Awesome? Or Diabolical?”, whereas the fun comes in the grey areas.
    This is a really good first step for sure, but the ground work needs to be done by the industry but I feel we are a long way off from doing anything resembling the cultural significance and importance of Art, for one the industry seems to be regressing, which is worrying.
    If you apply Vasari (Renaissance Artist)’s biological life cycle to Games, then games are still in their infancy. The best thing about that is, we were here in the beginning and hopefully get to see it become something very special indeed.
    Fantastic article man.

  6. Mark P avatar

    Forgive me for being ignorant or whatever, but can I ask what the big deal is with games being considered art? I mean it’s not like I’m going to enjoy a game any differently because it’s considered an art form. Maybe I’m just don’t have an appreciation for art, but labelling video games as art seems like a very superficial and ultimately pointless process to me.

  7. Deltorroelsorrow avatar

    @Marky It’s about tax breaks or government funding for the industry in America I believe.

  8. paul avatar

    Mark: Totally. I think it mostly stems from gamers loving their games, and being frustrated by the condescending dismissal from peers. You ever tried conveying the evocative/emotional experiences you’ve had with a game to someone who thinks games are little more than toys?

    I think thats the root, personally, I feel no need to be recognised by the ‘Art World’, which for me since the mid nineties has gotten far too evasive, turgid, gross, self indulgent and irrelevant. So to be shunned by them is a compliment. Some of these ‘artists’ shove paint up ther backsides and crap it onto a canvas, and that’s Art?

    Another ‘job’ of art is as cultural documentation. Almost like anthropology, documenting the passing of time, trends, developments etc. So in this regard I guess ppl are starting to see the experiences they are having with games as having importance. Kinda like stand up and be counted.

  9. Simon avatar

    It’s never been a question for me. If you’d have asked me 20 years ago if games could be appreciated as art I’d have said yes in an instant, and I was far wiser then.

    The contrary is not even something that I would consider as a valid argument.

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