Games as Art Redux

Awhile back I was on a "video games as art" kick. This video made me reevaluate my premise a bit:

Previously I found it entirely possible for video games to be art, since the only hurdle I perceived, and that a majority of other thinkers perceived, was interactivity. The thinking was that that hurdle was largely arbitray. Video games are like photography, once our experience bias dies off there will be no bar to them being recognized as an artistic medium.This argument isn't invalidated, but it must be revised.The largest hurdle for video games being a valid artistic medium is capitalism.No, I'm not claiming that the other, established and recognized forms of art aren't capitalistic, just that video games, for the most part, are MORE capitalistic, to the point of being almost completely run by capitalistic influences.

Art is generally at least partially developed independently of the audience. Some audience consideration may, obviously, apply but for the most part the artist is, first, catering to their own view of what "should be".The artists skill, or luck, at gleaming popular interests and desires influences the success and recognition of the work, but this is rarely the primary goal.Marketability is definitely a factor (generally post hoc), but isn't the primary concern of the creation itself. The work exists prior to marketing factors.

Most video games are made by committee, with only a vision of potential marketability. They exist to maximize profit, first. Because of this they are consciously sculpted to appeal to the largest audience possible, they are shaped with a conscious eye to human psychology, and demographics. From the beginning they are purely capitalist inventions. Any form of expression is purely secondary, and often just a further means to monetize the work by consciouly appealing to the the largest targeted crowd. Marketing precedes the work.

Yes, this reasoning is present in all of the other, recognized, arts. But generally works created as a marketable commodity first, and all artistic worth being tertiary if a consideration at all, are considered "low art". Highly manufactured "pop music" is a good example of this, as are "commodity novels" such as much of the annoying "young adult supernatural romance" field, and other "assembly line" books, this is also true for "popular art".None of these fields would be considered as "artful" as more the more rarified (and less marketable) works of established artists.

Most so-called "triple A" video games are more comparable to a cheap romance novel than to the works of Tolstoy. We consider the former to be valid aesthetic expression, while the former is merely trash. The romance novel may amuse us for a short time, but Tolstoy provides grist for thought and introspection. Tolstoy teaches as something about ourselves, the works point beyond themselves. Generally the corporate approach to creation prevents this, they merely represent themselves for the ends of creating more money for a giant corporation (not necessarily even the creator). They have no creator, as such, and thus no "soul" (Yes, I too hate that term, but its the only one that comes to mind).

Art is a conversation between the artist the audience. It exists in the interplay between intention and interpretation.As such there is an element of serendipity contained in the definition. With corporate "arts", such as "video games" this element is completely lacking, since the whole medium is about controlling the interpretive aspect. Most video games are about "consumption" and not contemplation.

Obviously these new observations aren't meant to be universal, but they are still generally widly applicable to the larger part of the industry. I also apologize for the roughness of my content and language, it has been a fair amount of time since I've attempted to sound intelligent, so I'm out of practice.


(As a quick, off-topic, note: why does the internal blogging client on Blogger insert 7,000 superfluous "span" elements? Let's call this "span spam". I would post an example, for some reason Blogger won't render ">" or "<" properly, either. Furthermore, for some reason I can't even change the font of the total post. Which renders this service a bit more than useless.)

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