Why Video Games are Art | The Beauty of Play, and How 'Fun' is not the Opposite of Art - revartsgaming.com

Why Video Games are Art | The Beauty of Play, and How ‘Fun’ is not the Opposite of Art

The Game Overanalyser
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Are video games art? An in depth analysis explaining why videogames are art, and why it is important we spread the message. The fact that video games are art seems self-evident to many, but games are still dismissed as lacking in artistic merit , due mostly to their emphasis on play and fun, but in this video, I try to get underneath why that view is misguided.
This video tries to definitively answer why videogames are art.

Historically, art has always been a performance of some kind, and games fall firmly into that category. Games are about meaning, emotion, purpose, storytelling, abstract systems and imitation. These attributes cover many of the definitions of art conceived of by art theorists through the ages.

Why games are art ? Are Videogames Art?
Games are art in more ways than one.

You still have many who say videogames are not art, and they are right. Many games are not art just like there are books and movies that are not art. Just because some games are not art, does not mean all games are not art, or that some games can’t be.
This video tries to definitively answer why videogames are art.

The art of play involves expression creativity and flair, and we live out stories through our actions. An artform has rules and historical lineage, just like games. Games are art because we engage with and discuss them in meaningful ways, and they effect people deeply.

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The Game Overanalyser

Roger Ebert games
The film critic Roger Ebert once said that games can never be art, because they fundamentally detract from the authorship of creators, have win conditions and, are about fun. But to say videogames are not art is to make a premature judgement in my estimation.
Why are games art? Becuase they fulfill all the criteria for art in accordance with any number of different definitions, and so to relegate it to not being art is to say that art doesn’t exist at all. There are art games that deliberately want to take fun away from the player, as well as games that have been preserved in museums. I go into this in the video.

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66 Comments

  1. Great video. But please re-record and re-upload it with a better audio. So that it can be more enjoyable to watch. Thanks 👍

  2. 12:14 – Please make this video or if you have already made it then please reply me back with the link to it because I couldn't find it

  3. I love this so much. I cannot agree more but i could never explain it so perfectly.
    My two cents is; plenty of video games are beautiful works of art but plenty of others are not of quality. I compare games to reality tv vs tv Sagas. Kardashians vs Stranger Things if you will

  4. A point to analyze: music, poetry, literature, sculpture, architecture, are all forms of art previous to the development of market as the medium of circulation and realization of labor-value under industrialized capitalism. Films appears some time before than video-games, and everybody sees that movies are more "historically-naturally" attached to the logic of capitalist market. In this sense video-games appears, historically, under the conditions of a developed capitalism in all the world, and because of this, under a strong logic of merchandise, instead of the aesthetic, emotional, and cultural conditions of poetry emergence in society.
    Maybe this serves to understand why an art form like video-games has found so much difficulties to be conceptualized in this way, and instead has been forced once and again to develop strictly as merchandise, and merely as a realization of labor-value on capitalist market.
    Sorry for the poor English, I'm from Argentina and have no time right now to check the translation. 😉
    Nice video, BTW.
    Regards

  5. Thank you very much ! I always try to explain how video games are art (or at least how they can be art), especially to adults who are always saying "video games are violent blabla, young people shouldn't play video games, it makes them violent too, uncultured, blabla" even though they don't know anything about it and barely heard of it, and you explained it so well ! I'm not an expert, and I never owned a video game, but friends lent me some, (Zelda botw for example) and I watched gameplays (detroit become human, and others) and I know that video games are a wonderful medium to make art (Gris, Journey, Samorost, etc are great examples)
    So thank you so much !
    (PS : sorry if my english isn't perfect 😅)

  6. Eweryhing is art in some wa.Even living is art

  7. I see games as art, but I also think it's ok if we see them as Sport or Trash, too. Kind of like how Federico Fellini and David Lynch can make art in the same medium as Michael Bay. Anyway, great video! I can see why your channel has gained so much traction in the past year.

  8. Could you tell me please in what is the name of the game the at shown in the 6 minute. I am searching quiet sometime.

  9. As some one who is a striving artist
    I find games can be in its own thing and can be considered as Art
    I see it as a big canvas how you are able to create something of that game through your own experience
    They are made with visions people who sees a big picture and visually shows it to us players through thier creation and let us experience it for ourselves and in our own pacing

  10. Art to me is something beautiful that conveys a deeper meaning. Speeches are art.

  11. Anyone who thinks games aren’t art clearly haven’t played Red Dead Redemption 2

  12. Is a toy art of course it is cuz you have hired artists design that toy so you can hold it in your hand

  13. Oh my gosh why doesn't this have millions of views, people need to hear this!

  14. Great video, definitely lacks the views it deserves!

  15. Regarding the question of how (or even if) a movie (or any other noninteractive medium) can point the finger at its audience, I’d argue that it IS possible, albeit extremely rare and difficult to pull off. The best example of this is probably the film Funny Games, which uses the tropes of horror and suspense films (especially those in the “home invasion” subgenre) as a means of pointing the finger at moviegoers who happily watch said films as a means of entertainment. Just as Spec Ops plays with the conventions and themes of military shooters to implicate the player, Funny Games goes out of its way to point out that it’s pretty messed up that people actually enjoy passively watching scenes of torture and sadism, rather than seeing them as legitimately horrifying.

  16. Id rather have fun gameplay mechanics than a deep story. If i want that then i go watch a movie. I only like them if they are very artistic (like DEM)

  17. Games are not Art, Games are way more, it's something more unique than Art.

  18. Ran on your video while seraching material for my own video on the same subject. Your ideas is really strong and it affected my opinion. Yea, video isn`t beuatiful, but you have evolved throut the time. Well, thank you for your work, it really helped me and i`ll try my best to don`t just copy your thoughts, but also filtering it through my mind. P.S. sorry if my eng is bad, hadn`t wrote on it for a while

  19. When games can emotionally move you without the use of other mediums and only does something a video game can do, that’s when it becomes an art. Spoiler for the shadow of the colossus – the scene at the end when Wander is being pulled by the fountain and the player is completely in control and it becomes the player’s choice on how long they want to resist, that’s when games become art. The narrative and music are there to drive the player to that one moment, and in that one moment, the game does something only video games can do, it puts you in control. You aren’t watching Wander fight… you are fighting with him. Games can be art. I have been moved by a games visuals, music, and narrative, but playing that sequence in SotC was the only time i was moved by gameplay.

  20. Spec ops the line is such a great game, one of the only games I consider to be art.

  21. Spec ops the line is such a great game, one of the only games I consider to be art.

  22. There are video games, and then there is video art

  23. To me all the games are art, but there’s some of them who are make with only a purpose: make money, and when the art becomes a product it can’t be called art anymore.

    In my school we talked about it in art class some years ago, and to me the definition of art is: put out a phrase that can’t be explained in words.

  24. Just found your channel and I'm loving your work. Great video on a hard to articulate subject. Bravo.

  25. Humans have this necessity of classifying everything neatly for our minds to cope with it. And I think in this case we’ve fallen on this paradigm again.

    Why frame video games as art? Art itself is a human concept. Made up for classifying this human need for expression. But “art” has become this boundary in that everything inside is of higher moral value. Everything searches the “artistic” value. Video games —as the name suggests— are essentially always games. And I think calling video games only “art” is taking away the “game” part of it.

    For me, I’d prefer calling video games “artistic games” only because there’s not really a word for this hybrid between games and art. And that’s the real conflict here.

  26. All this talk of "fitness indicators" and the evolutionary purpose of art really misses the mark. What we find beautiful or fun may come from biology but it is reductive explain art in these terms. A painting can be beautiful even if it is visually ugly, a game can be engaging even if it's not fun, a story can be meaningful even if it doesn't make sense.

  27. To me art is something that you find meaning in.

  28. The thing about it I hate is when people think that something has to be emotional or have some kind of profound message to be 'art'. If you like a game and it added to your life doesn't that make it 'art'? after all isn't art all about the individual and what people get out of it? so if someone likes a game and thinks it is art but it isn't unanimously praised as art does that mean they're wrong?

  29. Art is what I call Outer Wilds, a game that guides players through the story just by our curiosity and just that with a beautiful soundtrack.

    Obs: the less you know about the game, more beautiful and unique your experience will be.

  30. Currently developing a thesis on this for my philosophy or art class 🙂

  31. If The Last of Us isn't art then neither are books or films.

  32. Just as traditional paintings, modern movies, novels and so on. Video games occupy hundreds of different genres and tackle many subjects that have surfaced throughout history.

    The creation of a video game may also be considered an art, just as building a house or creating origami.

    The act of playing a game is not really an art because just like viewing a famous painting or movie, one is simply expirienceing the work of the artist.

    Unless taking the time out of your day to expirience something is considered, in itself, an art.

    Personally I believe art is subjective. If it makes you feel… anything, whether it would be happens, sadness, anger. Then the artist has completed what they set out to do.

    Even if it wasn't their true intent.

  33. 7:19 Ironic how he starts talking about Plato and the first shot we see is Link running out of a cave

  34. Drawing-Art
    Sculpting-Art
    Writing-Art
    Music-Art
    Design-Art
    Add a programmer to merge it all together to bring to life a vision of a collective of different artists and suddenly it is not art?

  35. I think it’s pretty clear video games aren’t art. I agree this argument is perpetuated by the need for validation. It’s big in the circles of those who may not feel comfortable or confident in their life choices. Video games are wonderful entertainment. They are products. They don’t speak to universal truths. They can’t stand on their own. They lack timelessness.

    The need to create this superficial argument is similar to sports reporters feeling the need to call themselves journalists. It’s a desire to feel more important and validated.

    There is no instance in the game creation process which is similar to the engagement in creating a sculpture or painting. It’s not created from the nonverbal right brain. If anything, it has a better chance of being the antithesis of art.

    Art doesn’t need a direction. Video games do. Yes, everything i just said may have a counter argument. In the end, it’s mental masturbation in search of validation. Is Bioshock art? No. Is it a great game, yes.

    Anyway, it’s my two cents. Enjoy your passions and don’t be ashamed. To me, art in some ways is self evident. Video games are not. They are something to be explored and enjoyed.

  36. Games are Art but Game Developers aren't Artists. They're too obedient to the companies they work for to be thought of as artists. If a company employed teams of Painters to paint paintings but they were told to follow the general narrative and never rock the boat and they acquiesced to that (acquiesced is probably a generous word here) you wouldn't really think of them as artists. You'd just think of them with people with a skill.

  37. This is a really interesting and well thought out video. Nice work

  38. It has character development, world building, a uniqe design. That is an art

  39. Having choice can make experiences more valuable instead of cheapening them because people can feel that these experiences are results of their choices, they have agency, not mere observers of a "high above" artist who is "holier" than them, basically, games are less elitist than "art", so it can be argued that recognizing games as art is good for art. And about 'fun', which is a synonym for "entertaining": let us look at The Godfather, one of the best films ever. Is it art? Most people will probably say yes. Is it entertaining? Well what is it based on? A book, which is a thriller. What are thrillers? Philosophical assertations? Yes The Godfather is not only entertainment, but it is basically and essentially a crime thriller, it is essentially "entertaining". Really, how many films are produced with no entertainment value in mind, if any? How many fiction books are published without any entertainment value in mind? More than films, but not a great deal. Are Shakespeare play entertaining? Of course. Isn't Don Quixote, considered to be the greatest novel by many, including authors, entertaining? Indeed. What is the issue of with fun for critics regarding games? Pretension or prejudice?

  40. Maybe I'm not in the norm but a video game has Never moved me like art, photography or fillm has.

  41. When we play a video game, we become Players, we are no longer individuals. Art doesn't require that we take a certain role, but the design of every video game is 100 percent dependent on Players. Art does not demand we become viewers of it for it to exist and appeal to anyone. Games are Not art.

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