research update

Date: 3rd November 2014

Are video games art? For such a small question, the answer is not so simple. Research today is based around this question. There will it seems always be arguments for and against. But the question has to be taken seriously when people in educated positions and respectable institutions begin to accept the stance that video games are indeed art. As this journal entry exhibits.   Both arguments for and against art are discussed from educated points of view. It also interestingly looks at how we interact with art, especially in the present. It argues that art is not a set form of anything. The below quotes are interesting sections of the journal that raise important points. However, the articles promotes video games as art. Stressing the point that sometime in the near future video games will be held in the same stature as paints, novels and films.

– Video Games being taken seriously:

” . . . key form of video games’ validation is cultural and aesthetic. Contrary to Roger Ebert’s assertion that “no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets,” video games are increasingly being taken seriously by degree-bearing academics and less-credentialed fans alike. At least one major cultural institution — the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. — has already staged a major show, The Art of Video Games . . .”

– Are Video Games Art?

“”For the first time we have gamers raising gamers,” the exhibition’s curator, Chris Melessinos, told reason at the time. “From this point forward, you are going to see a greater, more rapid appropriation and acceptance of video games as anything from art to a worthwhile pursuit.””

– How does Art become Art?/What makes Art Art?/Why are Video Games not seen as Art?

“Following Plato, Ebert argued that “art should be defined as the imitation of nature” (emphasis in original), that it is “usually the creation of one artist,” and that games — unlike painting or literature — have rules and winners, thus disqualifying them from consideration as artistic expression . . . Ebert (who died in 2013) didn’t just give video games a big thumbs down, but two thumbs smack in the eyes. “Why are gamers so intensely concerned, anyway, that games be defined as art?” he asked, exasperatedly name-checking great competitors in chess, basketball, and football. “Bobby Fischer, Michael Jordan and Dick Butkus never said they thought their games were an art form….Why aren’t gamers content to play their games and simply enjoy themselves? They have my blessing, not that they care. Do they require validation?”

– How we interact with art . . .  and games?

“As the University of Tulsa’s Joli Jensen stressed in her 2003 book, Is Art Good for Us?: Beliefs about High Culture in American Life, what we call “art” is not a set of fixed forms, media, and genres. It’s an ongoing conversation in which all of us question and explore our place in the world through the production and consumption of an ever-increasing array of creative outlets. “It is important,” Jensen says, “that we fundamentally respect the tastes and choices of people who are choosing forms different than our own. We should stop thinking that we’re talking about something essential in each cultural form rather than constantly renegotiating what is good or bad, authentic or commercial. Thirty years from now today’s commercial culture will be ‘authentic’ culture.” Which brings us back to Roger Ebert’s pissy impatience with gamers and their grubby desire for validation. It wasn’t so long ago that film studies was dismissed as “some bullshit on the side,” a trivial object not worthy of serious scrutiny. The same goes, of course, for most forms of popular music, comic books — now sanctified for grownups as graphic novels — and even novels themselves.”


“Video games are entering a remarkably fertile period in which creators and audiences alike reflect more consciously on what they’re doing and what it all means. Now that the initial official backlash is mostly in the past, the genre is ripe to be explored fully and without apology or even explanation. We should all be on the lookout for the gamer version of Madame Bovary or Moby-Dick. It won’t look like a novel and it certainly won’t read like a novel, but like all great art, it will perform a similar function of engaging us in an open-ended conversation about our past, our present, and our future.”

Date: 7th November 2014

This journal entry is interesting in it’s own right. It does not look at Video Games as a single piece of art work but as a collective piece with multiple contributions. Collective piece of artwork. The question of what defines art is considered. Why Video Games if looked at by ‘traditional’ definitions of art cannot be consider as art. Robert Ebert, is naturally mentioned in this debate. It seems it is difficult to get away from his opinion on the subject. The journal reverts back to Video Games considered a collaborative art and modern examples of this.

– Article answers the question what is art:

“So what defines art again?  In his book Art and its Object , British philosopher Richard Wollheim distinguishes three approaches to defining art: the Realist, where aesthetic quality has an absolute value independent of any human view; the Objectivist, where it is assigned an absolute value that depends on general human experience; and the Relativist position, where there is no absolute value, but a fluid one that varies with different human experiences.”

– Why Video Games cannot be considered art/How art becomes art/Why art is seen as art – Why not games/How we interact with art & games:

“Roger Ebert set off an intense debate among members of both the film and video games industry . . . by stating that video games are fundamentally inferior to film and literature as an artistic medium and that video games could never move “beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art.”  Inherent to Ebert’s position in his basic definition of art, which is contained in his declaration that “Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control”.”

In contrast – Are Video games art?:

“. . . noted dark fantasist Clive Barker, who in addition to writing short stories, novels, plays, and films scripts also illustrates his books, paints, publishes his own line of superhero comic books . . . Barker first entered the medium of video games with his 2001 release, Undying, and again . . . Jericho . . . Baker is very enthusiastic about the potential for video games to have artistic merit by allowing their creators to collaborate on a multitude of design elements . . . Moreover, video games as a medium offer a combination of old and new aesthetics for consideration.”

Date: 08 Novomber 2014

Comments from people in the film and television industry accrediting video games for the pieces of art they are.

This article discusses how video games are over taking the film industry. How once Video games tried to emulate the movies but now it is very much the other way around, as Andy Serkis, who – as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings co-founder of The Imaginarium said in the article. Peter Gornstein, global cinematic director at Ryse: Son of Rome developer Crytek says how the problem of the uncanny valley is now a thing of the past, this is largely due to the vast inprovement in design. How can it be said that video games have not the right to be called art?

As the article finished rightly, Serkis says, ” . . . Video game technology and video games are acknowledged by Bafta now, and are rightly getting credit for what they are, which is extraordinary pieces of art.”

The Smithsonian, the worlds largest museum and research centre based in Washington DC openly declares how video games have captured and enthralled people for many a years and how this new exhibit at the Smithsonian views them as serious pieces of art. Chris Melissinos, leading figure in the Java community and exhibit curator discusses the exhibit in this article. From the history of video games to modern day gaming.

Further research I conducted found that this exhibit was one of the most successful and visited exhitis in the history of the musuem. Bringing about more than 23,000 visitors in it’s opening week and more than 680,000 in the six months that the exhibit was running. What does this say about Video Games as art? Surely there is something there?

The Art of Video Games exhibition is still running on a 3 plus year tour across the US.

Games Committee Chair Harvey Elliott talks about 2014 outstanding progress in the Games industry. Labelling as a creative medium. – (Video links) &


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