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Are video games art? Show more Show less
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The debate over what counts as art has raged for centuries. Famous artists we know today were once under scrutiny for their art. Today the debate now includes a new art form: video games. So are critics right to say that video games are not art, or is there more to them than meets the eye?

Video games are not art Show more Show less

Video games are not meant to elicit an aesthetic or emotional response from a player. They are instead a media which seeks to sell itself to as many people as possible, just like any mass-produced, off-the-shelf product. A car may look aesthetically pleasing, but it is still just a product meant to drive a person from point A to point B. A video game is the same.
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Video games are products

Products are meant to sell, not to elicit an aesthetic or emotional response. Video games are mass-produced and fly off the shelves to serve consumers' desire for entertainment. Art seeks to appeal to aesthetics and emotion; video games seek only profit.

The Argument

Art is aimed at pleasing others with its aesthetic value. An artist seeks to elicit emotion from a viewer and does not care if its message reaches the masses or if it reaches only one. Profits are not an artist's primary goal; as long as their artistic vision reaches someone, the artist is happy. A video game developer, however, wants their game to reach as many people as possible; the more people who are pulled in by the game, the more sales the video game makes. Video game developers don't care about artistic vision; only profits.[1] Video games are products which are mass-produced, meant to sell and turn a profit. More thought about what will click with the masses goes into a video game's production than how complex a story it can tell or how breathtaking its graphics can be. And although developers do strive for both, it isn't for the sake of art; it's because gamers expect captivating stories, exceptional gameplay, and the best graphics possible. These aspects of a video game are meant to sell a product, not someone's artistic vision. An artist does not sit down and pour their heart and soul into video game assets; developers research what sells, and that determines what "art" goes into their games.

Counter arguments

The people who put their artistic efforts into creating a video game want their art to be appreciated by as many people as possible. True, the game is a product which is meant to sell, but so is a significant percentage of art. Like the video game creator, an artist may also choose to mass-produce their art because 1) it will make more of a profit and 2) it will reach and be appreciated by more people, as opposed to sitting forgotten in the storage of an art collector.[2] Being mass-produced and sold as a product does not invalidate an artwork as a work of art; an artist does indeed want to express themself, but needs to make a living, too. The creators of video games are the same. With all of the time, effort, tech, and budget that is put into creating a video game, a profit needs to be turned in order to compensate the artists and programmers for their work. This does not mean that the creators of a video game did not intend to express themselves artistically; there may be a deep, underlying message in the game's story, or an aesthetic purpose behind the chosen art style. Why use cell-shading as opposed to realism? What story are the creators trying to tell? What feeling or atmosphere are the creators trying to convey? Art is self-expression. It is also a means of living for many artists. Video game creators are no different than artists of other mediums in this regard.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Video game developers only want to sell their video games, while an artist wants their art to be appreciated. [P2] Video games are products, not art.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Both artists and video game developers can wish for their art to be appreciated as well as turn a profit. [Rejecting P2] Video games are products, but they are also art.

References

  1. https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/news240106kojimaart
  2. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mass-produced-commercial-hotel-art
This page was last edited on Sunday, 26 Apr 2020 at 16:42 UTC

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