Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Another gaming blog
videogames this time: Brian-Mitchell Young presents: jccalhoun Popular Culture Gaming, a blog with not-so-frequent posts. In the middle of a long rambling one concerning games-as-art (january 16th 2003, no permalinks), doing a certain amount of kicking in open doors etc, he had a point:

This is why it seems that the question, “Are videogames art?” should be thrown out. There are other questions that are more pertanant. Why does it matter if it is art? What does it get the gaming community? Who benefits from calling it art and why? All of these are questions that need to be asked when one tries to argue the “Is it Art?” question. It does not seem that much if anything is gained by videogames being classified as art. [My italics]

Who benefits is always an important question. Academians certainly benefit. Define games as art, and they can suddenly be studied in different contexts. The designers benefit. Art doesn't just give them respect, but real money, not to mention protection through the legislation designed for works of art and different from the more anonymous mass-produced text belonging to a more public domain. The audience benefits. When you call it art, active criticism isn't just desired, but also expected, and on a different level from popularity ratings. This is a first step towards greater diversity, and it opens up for different demands from the audience - demands to quality, to inventiveness and to formal and expressive beauty which so far has only been glimpsed randomly.

The question, I think, isn't so much why we should not call games art, as why should art be so narrowly defined, and why is it defined by such a small group of people? For that, I recommend studying the works of Pierre Bourdieu.

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