I respect and admire both Jonathan Jones and Keith Stuart, whose responses to ‘Are games art?’ surfaced again today. Jonathan’s is ‘what a bizarre and irrelevant question to ask…very little art is actually art’ and Keith’s is ‘does it really matter’? I agree with them both. I don’t want to dismiss the question, which has allowed us (gamers + game-makers) to wrestle a lot of interesting points into the open. My own take on the question is here – we’ve moved on a lot in the three years since I wrote it and I now think I come across as unduly pessimistic.
Anyway, the heavyweights have this one covered, so I’m just going to pick up the crumbs. ‘Games’, ‘art’ and indeed ‘are’ are all handily multi-purpose words. ‘Are games art?’ is often a stand-in for a much more specific question. For your convenience, I have answered some of the common ones below.
Can games be intelligent, beautiful and important? Sure.
Do we still need to read books? Yes.
Are games bad for you? A bit.
Has five hundred hours of Starcraft made me a better person? It made me quicker-thinking, shorter-tempered and gruntier. Your mileage may vary.
Is there too much shooting and killing in videogames? Definitely.
Is there too much shooting and killing in other media? Yes, but it’s not as bad.
Can I talk about games at a dinner party hosted by middle-aged adults without feeling a little embarrassed? No, not yet, apparently.
But what Gone Ho- I said not yet! Give it another five to eight years.
Will videogames save the world with their paradigm-changing rhetoric? Yes, to about the extent that cinema did, i.e., quite a lot.
Is Minecraft overrated? No, but we’ll get there.
Is Flower better than Macbeth? No.
Is Flower as good as Macbeth? No.
Is Peggle as good as Kubrick’s 2001? The answer is here.