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Thread: Can computer games be art?

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  1. #1
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    Default Can computer games be art?

    Played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas last night, which is amazingly fun (much more so than the bloated, stoopid Vice City). Set in Straight Outta Compton era LA, it's extraordinarily rich in observation- one of the characters (Ryder) is clearly Eazy-E, perpetually blunted, hunched up behind shades, nasty and spiky. The music is fantastic, one radio station seems to play nothing but James Brown and his funky people (Think, I'm Coming etc.), and you get Cypress Hill's How I Could Just Kill A Man too.

    But is it art? Many have pointed to the satirical or ironic qualities of the GTA games- a humorous shake-down of unrestrained capitalism. While this is true to a degree, it doesn't seem to really address their essence as games rather than fictions. Games only attain a real cultural importance after they are released, when the audience responds to it. I think if the mileu they create is consistent and provocative enough, it gives a chance to revisit, to reinvent cultural histories. For instance, and this is only a small reinvention, but a G-funk re-lick of The Message suddenly sounded impassioned and vital rather than just a lazy retread, when I was driving around (ahem) my 'hood.

    So computer games are inherently non-auteuristic, but this gives a consequet problem that they keep on pandering to the same violent, macho thrills. How can computer games break out of this comodifying cycle, I wonder?

  2. #2
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    Not to jump the gun on this (since this is my first foray into this entire subverse) or anything, but that question's pretty much over

    yep. they totally are. one of the big questions (still antinomial if you ask me but no one does) is whether they're more interesting in virtue of the narratives they have and that you participate in, or whether the mechanics of the game (the interactions, the engines, the nature of the genre and all) are more interesting. S'a big whole debate in video game academia, the narratologists versus the "ludologists" (ludo = game, apparently. don't know latin here, i'll stick to greek thank you very much).

    matteo bittanti (http://mbf.blogs.com/mbf/) is one dope foolio on the subject, the folks at www.insertcredit.com are also fairly visionary in their approach to these gems. much younger set than some of the blogosphere's greatest, and it shows, but damn if they hearts aren't in the right places.


    incidentally, katamari damashii (aka katamari damacy) is a wonderful video game that is very artistic. it's absurd, funny, gorgeously designed, very simple and absolutely entertaining. you're a tiny little spaceman pushing a ball trying to gather up material for your father to re-make the stars with. oh man it's great.

  3. #3

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    Of course, Out Run was High Art. Particualrly in the arcades, on the machines that swerved like a real car.

  4. #4
    be.jazz Guest

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    I retain a fondness for the insanely difficult (at least, for me as a kid) "Night Stalker" on Intellivision II. At the end, you faced an *invisible* robot.

    As for the thread's question, it seems fairly obvious to me that they can be works of art. There are the cinematic aspects (graphics, design, sound) but also the more purely gaming ones (gameplay) which allows games like "Tetris" or "Pac Man" to be great works of art, in a way.

  5. #5
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    my mates got that new gta. we were up till 5 last night playing it. i dunno if its art but its definitely fun.

  6. #6
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    There was a really funny quote once from Utah Saints which was quite similar- "I don't know if computer games are killing music, but they certainly delayed the release of our last single".

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    Of course, Out Run was High Art. Particualrly in the arcades, on the machines that swerved like a real car.
    1181242142228-e1422635711476.jpg

  8. #8
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    Definitely, they can be art. First, video games here have graphics. These can be compared to paintings or movies (since video game graphics often move). While some video games might not actually hit a level that would qualify them as art (not even bad art) at least some of them would seem to be adequately similar to paintings, drawings or films in ways that would qualify the visual component as art.
    Last edited by kevinoak; 28-10-2019 at 10:31 AM.

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  10. #9
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    Forcing video games to compete on the terms of other mediums like movies take all the fun out of them, but I remember playing that The Last of Us and thinking how brilliant the story telling and voice acting was.

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