Games as Lit. 101 - Counterpoint: You Can't "Win" Art -

Games as Lit. 101 – Counterpoint: You Can’t “Win” Art

Games As Literature
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Counterpoint is back! Can competition co-exist with art? Or does the very nature of video games as “games” doom the medium to carry no artistic depth? Let’s find out.

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Jimi Bonogofsky-Gronseth – [email protected]


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  1. I don't think EVERY game is art. But some are for sure…

  2. there is something to consider here, any video game is a place that holds many many art forms that sometimes get overlooked from the music to the world to the scenery to even the little details that the designers make . it is absurd not to call whatever those people make  "art" ,nowadays even the most basic human models in  video games can be more "artful " than any sculpture an artist can come up with 

  3. I would argue that game design in itself is a form of art. You mentioned that Pacman was made purely to provide a challenge to the players but to do so its designers combined elements they deemed fitting and put thought into the importance of the game's elements so that the game would never really become boring. I would say another good definition of art is something that can be finished but never be perfect (as in: no form of it is ever objectively better than another) and game design sticks to this perfectly.

  4. "The second you get the controller, something turns off in your heart, and it becomes a sport." ~ Obvious Non-gamer The second I get a controller, something turns on in my heart, because unlike any other medium, my heart 'n soul actually has a part to play in the whole mess. The story could not go on without it's approval of each and every button pressed.

    In the words of one of the most badass characters in JRPG history, "My life is a chip in your pot. Time to ante up."

    This episode is a work of genius, and I don't see how Spielberg or anyone worth noting could watch it and deny your points as less than 100% accurate. This video should be a logic-slap to the face for anyone who thinks they know video games as just a toy… if only it had more views. It really should.

  5. Games used as art isn't actually that new. For example, the game Senet was about destiny (it was believed you won it because of divine providence) and Snakes and Ladders is about vice and virtue. Thus, I'd say they've been intertwined for a long while. We've just been realizing their artistic merit more lately.

  6. Isn't the whole purpose of art is to convey a message? So, at the end of the day, no matter how much gameplay there was that interfered with the story, you still got your message across, so it's still technically art?

  7. Can you win all games? Winning a narrative-driven game seems to be analogous to winning a novel. You reach the end. That's not a victory, just a conclusion. Some games do have strict victory conditions (multiplayer competitive games) but those are generally not the focus of this series. It's possible to "lose" a single-player narrative game, but that only requires the player to reload/restart – it's a challenge on the way to the conclusion. Sure, no written text slaps itself out of your hands and says, "Re-read Iago's opening soliloquy – you can't continue until you get it" but if that were possible, I'm sure an author would do that.

  8. Spielberg commenting on games is rather shallow when he has made games. The Dig and boom blox just to name two famously associated with him.

  9. Old media haggling the new. Nothing thst didnt happen.

  10. Someone probably mentioned this already, but the web series, "Extra Credits" made two videos which may be useful.
    Narrative Mechanics – How Missile Command Tells a Story
    Snakes and Ladders – How the Meaning of an Ancient Children's Game Adapted Over Time

  11. So disheartning to hear something like that from Steven Spielberg, considering he did a lot of work for video games.

  12. There’s also another factor of the argument that “art doesn’t have competition in it, otherwise it is a sport” that already has great flaws. There are sports that are already considered artistic, and competition has been added to the art medium for a long while.

    If the arts can’t have competition as a part of it, then what would the sports of ice skating, gymnastics, and synchronized swimming? Those sports have a level of intentionality in the choices of costume/uniform design, music, and the specific movements that lead to meaning something more.

    Besides, the element of competition has been a part of art for a long time. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and other artists needed patrons to make their art, and there were only so many people who could afford paying for art. As such the artists needed to ‘compete ‘ with each other to be asked to make something for a patron. Granted this type of competition isn’t the same as working for points, but it is still a form of competition within art.

    Competition being added to art is still happening nowadays. There are dance competition for people to dance against each other in, there are battle of the band competitions, and even the Oscars for the realm of film is a form of competition. Even with that competitive element added to those art forms, they are no longer art because of them.

    What video games are able to do is allow the element of competition to be a part of art in a new way. I’m currently playing a mobile app game where there is competition between the players, but the competition makes sense for the narrative of the game. The NPCs of the game are in a competition between each other, and that narrative touch helps add meaning and purpose for the competition between the players.

  13. Spec ops the line uses the idea of the win state to directly effect the player in a way I don’t believe any other art can do. Because YOU do these things without even considering to stop, it’s our desire to win that spec ops calls into question

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