Games are art

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その者、東の遠つ国より 海を渡りて現れり
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Before i start i just want to say as always that everything i will write here is not a fact is just my opinion, if you disagree it's okay, i respect different opinions.


I really think i have an unpopular opinion, a lot of people think that games age poorly and that games have a expiration date, I don't agree with this things, i want to reflect about this here.

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One day i saw one person saying that Virtua Fighter 2 aged really poorly, so i thought this... at the time of the release VF 2 was fun, but now just because a lot of years passed and we have modern games it means that VF 2 is not good anymore? it means that VF 2 don't have value anymore? i don't agree with this things.


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Some people think that Shenmue aged poorly, so games will only be good at the time of release? a lot of years will pass and the game will not be good anymore and will lose its value? for me of course it will continue to have value, Shenmue will always be a good game for me. Shenmue was released in 1999 and i played the game from beggining to the end for the first time in 2015 and now i'm a Shenmue fan.

When Shenmue III released people said that the game ignored 18 years of evolution, people said this just because Shenmue III have the same style of gameplay as the previous games in the series, it is wrong to make a game today with a different gameplay? in my opinion of course not, it is just a different style, different games and styles are good for the game industry.

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Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 was released in 2010, in 2021 i played the game again after a lot of years without playing and i enjoyed my time with the game, i had a lot of fun with this game in 2010, the game won't change so when i decided to play in 2021 i was sure i was gonna enjoy the game again, and this is what happened because to me games are art.

Resident Evil 4 was released in 2005, at the time i enjoyed a lot, if i play today i know i will continue to enjoy, the game won't change so i know i will enjoy again, modern games will not change this for me, better graphics will not change this for me, time will not change this for me.

SEGA released VF V Ultimate Showdown this year, i have the first version of VF V for PS3, if i play this version now i know i will enjoy again, the game will not change, at the time i enjoyed playing this game and time will not change this for me.

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SEGA released Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis, this means that the classic PSO2 lost its value and is not good anymore? i played New Genesis and i'm enjoying it, but i can say for sure that i will always love classic PSO2 and time will not change this.

Old Tomb Raider games, i enjoyed at the time and i know if i play today i will enjoy again, the gameplay of the old Tomb Raider games are harder, especially about jumping to another place, but the games didn't changed so i know i will enjoy again. i could go on and on but i think i made my point here.

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There are so many old games that i want to play for the first time and i will probably enjoy them, for example i never played Parasite Eve for the first Playstation, i know this game is from 1998, i just want to play and have a good time with the game, this is my mindset and i love old games, i even think old graphics are beautiful for example Donkey Kong Country for SNES, beauty really is on the eye of the beholder in my opinion.

Music is art, movies are art, books are art, mangas are art, animes are art, drawing is art, painting is art, and games? games are art and can resist the passage of time? for me definitely yes, games are art and don't have a expiration date.

To end my post i want to share here a good video about this subject, i agree with a lot of things this person said.

No, it's not "dated". It's art


 
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I don’t have a lot to add other than that I just replayed No More Heroes again for likely my 4th or 5th time, maybe even more. Both versions of 1 and 2 I got from Limited Run include interviews with Suda51 and in one of them he comments on how people enjoyed the retro aesthetic, and how people playing them for the first time now might think of both as retro themselves, but there’s some fun in that.

I plan on going through 2 again as well and think I’ll enjoy it again as much as I did the first. It’s one of my favorites and just one example that good games remain good regardless of what comes after.
 
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The line between art and product is interesting when it comes to video games.

For note, I consider VF2 to be easily in my top 10 of all time as the impact it had on me at that time was vital. But I'd be lying if I said it's the ultimate VF game as VF4 and VF5 trounce it in every way imaginable. The gameplay is more refined. The graphics are better. The animations are smoother. There is no denying that VF4 and VF5 are better in every regard and show true evolution going forward as the hardware progresses. But then, why is VF2 so important to me even after all these years? Why is it still beloved by me even though I know VF4 and VF5 are better products?

Is it nostalgia? Is it the artistry?

Even Shenmue, for as much as I consider it an artwork, still runs into this conundrum. Some would say Shenmue II is better in every way than Shenmue. But others swear by the first game over the sequel. In many ways, the sequel is a better product. The fighting system is more refined. The graphics pushed the DC to its limits. The game is bigger in scope. The storytelling is arguably more streamlined (again, arguably)…but people still swear by the charms of Dobuita and that first game even with its perceived flaws.

This is where the concept of art and product gets blurred for me. Especially when it comes to franchises. Franchises evolve over time. They take ideas and better them with every new instalment. Does that make them product or does it make it art? I certainly believe that Shenmue is a work of an artist....that's my personal take. But it is still a valid argument to be had. Also, who is to say "products" can't be art?

As far as the dated criticism goes? It's one that I tend to hate and think is a fairly cheap and lazy critique in general. It's the same when someone says this movie's effects are dated or what not. All art is a reflection of the time it came from. Art is not a living organism and unlike human beings it can't update with the times. It's a static reflection of the time from which it was created. As such that is a big part of the charm of art. It allows us to reflect on the time that has come and gone. It can also allow us to see how we have evolved since then. It being a product of its time doesn't necessarily make it bad. It just is what it is. It's how things were done back when and to compare a product from way back when with anything current is largely unfair.

This is why people HATED George Lucas retooling the original Star Wars trilogy...they didn't care if it was "dated" or "had a need to be updated"...they wanted what they knew and loved the first time around. That's the danger when you treat art as if its a living organism that needs to reflect the current times or at least I feel that way. But then again, gamers piss their pants in glee over most remakes so who am I to say what people want or what people consider product or art?

That's the thing...I don't think gamers really know what this medium is. I don't think the gaming press has a clue either. I don't even think developers really know what it is. Some clearly believe in the art of this medium while other treats it like product. Honestly, it's the one medium where I think everyone is largely confused as to what the hell it is in general.

But again, this is all a can of worms...but I do tend to find the dated critique to be very lazy criticism in general.

As for me, I do believe that games can be art. But yeah, the conundrum between product and art is an interesting one.
 
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I do not think the word dated has a place in the video game space. Maybe it is because I am not a native speaker and in my language the literal translation of dated is not suitable to describe a game anyway.

Is genre a or a gameplay concept really dated just because it is not mainstrean anymore? I do not think so. Games are bit more complicated than let's say a cpu. the statement that let's say the intel 486 cpu is very dated compared to Ryzen cpu is totally correct.

But games are not that simple. As long a gameplay concept is still fun and works well even today the game is not dated just because it does do things in a different ways then the mainstream.


Is the modern way with the big but empty worlds really better than having a smaller world that is more realistic. A world were time is important? A world where NPC react to the stuff ?

I do not think so.

They dated argument is just a meaningless blanket term . Most gamers use it as code for I do not like the game but I am too lazy or too stupid to explain why.

It is just hilerious.

There are better ways to describe way not to like certain type of games which is totally ok of course.
 
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Hiki

Hiki

その者、東の遠つ国より 海を渡りて現れり
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In the video i shared the person explained perfectly the word dated and i agree. English is not my first language but even where i live a lot of people say that a game aged poorly and is dated. The word dated for me is for food and other things that really have a expiration date.

For example imagine for a moment that you bought bread for you, If you don't eat the bread and the bread ends up past its expiration date it will no longer be a good food for you to eat, people even put the food in the trash when this happens.

A lot of people don't say this about Mozart, Beethoven and other composers of classical music, and why this people don't do that? because this people view Music as a form of art. A lot of people don't say that Mona Lisa is dated and aged poorly, and why a lot of people don't say that? because they view paiting as a form of art. A lot of people don't say that The Lord Of The Rings books are dated, and why a lot of people don't say that? because they view books as a form of art.

But with games sadly a lot of people view in the opposite way, people really think that games are dated and age poorly, feels that people only see games as products, products with expiration date and i really don't agree with this.

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For example The King Of Fighters series, just because now we have KOF XIV it means that KOF 98 is not fun anymore and not a good game anymore? i have a different mindset when i play games and specialy when i play old games, my mindset is that i just want to play and have a good time with the game, people like to compare games a lot, i don't do that, if i play KOF 98 right now i know i will enjoy again because to me it is art.

I even have a friend that prefers 2D games than 3D games, she prefers old games than new games, beauty really is on the eye of the beholder in my opinion.

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If i Play Pokemon Red for Game Boy right now i know i will enjoy again, time will not change this for me.

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I have this Onimusha Collection essentials for PS2, 3 beauties works of arts that i know that if i play again i will enjoy again, no matter how much time passes I know I'll like it, CAPCOM can release a perfect Onimusha 5 tomorrow for example and i will continue to think that this trilogy is a beauty work of art.



Like i said in my other post there are so many old games that i want to play for the first time and i will probably enjoy them, for example i never played from beggining to the end the classic The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time, a lot of people even say that this is one of the best games of all time, i never had a Nintendo 64 so i didn't got the chance to play this game at the time, but i have plans to play all Zelda games and i will probably enjoy.

My point is that a good game will always remain a good game because games are art, people are not obliged to like every piece of art but to say it is dated and aged poorly? i don't agree. If 10 years from now I play Shenmue again i know I'll like it, time won't change this for me and this is one of the beauties about arts in my opinion.
 
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I've actually been thinking the same lately, and I definitely agree.

but I don't really think it has much to do with games not being recognized as an art form.
I've also encountered the same opinion about art in general,

Some people say that they don't watch movies or listen to music that wasn't recently released or if it past a certain decade/year.
i.e not fresh/expired.

It may not be to the same degree as games, but it seems that the same concept unfortunately applies to the other art forms as well.

But then again, it depends on who you ask.
Different people, different mindset, different opinions.
I believe the most frequent one would be :

If it's new or recently released, then it must be the best thing ever, and if it's old then it must be boring and oudated,
and if you like something that is "old" then it must be only because of nostalgia.

Why is that newer is necessary better and older is necessary worse? Why can't it be the other way around? And What time got to do with it? ...

In this case that food analogy fits here well.

One of the things that I noticed most with games is - Graphics
While people always cared about graphics, I don't think there has been as much obsession over it as it has been since the last decade/last gen consoles/pcs.

4k? 60fps? rtx on/off? whatever..

Why graphics are became so highly important? Why some people judge the game based only on the way it looks?

Less and less people mention "It's fun to play" , "It has good story and characters" or "it has great level design"
and more "It looks amazing" "it's good because it's on Ultra and 120fps on my new PC"

endless comparisons of resolutions and fps, consoles vs consoles, pc vs consoles and all this madness.

Wouldn't you agree that the games are more than just the graphics?

What about story/characters/gameplay/level design. etc.? I would argue that graphics are the least important of them.
Why and when graphics became so much more important than the other elements?

It's not that graphics are not important at all, it's always nice to play in highest settings possible and enjoy the picture quality.
But, in my opinion, it is not what games should fundamentally be build or be judged on, there are so much more fundamentally to games then just graphics.

And if we go back to the food analogy, would it be ok to say that if a cake looks good then it also must taste good?
again just my opinion.

Obviously, if you take older games they will be technically inferior to the current generation but does that necessary makes them worse?.

This year I played Deus Ex for the first time. A 20 year old game, and I enjoyed it so much. Well, obviously it had low poly models and low res textures.
but everything else was just amazing! It became one of my fav games, despite being relatively old.

I don't know maybe some people just enjoying advances in graphics and that what they all care about.

And then, there's a different view on what evolution in games is, some want games to move toward realism, but that doesn't mean that everything should.

There are no rules that say that Mario should evolve to look like a real Italian man and not as a cartoon character.

Different doesn't mean worse or better, modern or outdated, it's just means it is different.

It's ok to not like certain game genre or gameplay elements, but that doesn't makes them outdated or worse, it's just different.
 
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@Radar You got a point. Thanks to the internet the tech nerds have infiltrated standard gaming world and terms liker resolution and frame rate obsession has become mainstream. Youtube also played a big part in that regard with channels like digital foundry. It is sad but luckily it quite easy to ignore if you are not into that stuff.

of course we all play games for different reasons but I personally put atmosphere/story and the actual game design above everything elese. That's why i have no issues with old games . Because the important stuff in games I like do not age at all. So it is easy for me to enjoy games. Even if they are rather old.
 

Mittens2317

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I wouldn't consider them art. Because they're not just art. But they are part of "the" arts.
 
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Revan

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While games could definitely be classified as 'art' (being a creative expression and application of skill and imagination), I think games are more enjoyable when their artistic elements are in service to their main purpose, which is to entertain. I don't think it should be their primary responsibility to offer profound messages at the expense of being fun.
 
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Only games I consider legit fine art are Ico series
Evil Twin, Killer7, Grim Fandango are abstract
Metal Gear Solid, Yakuza are cinematic
Shenmue, D2, Syberia are hybrid cinematic/fine art
 
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This is a subject to which I have given a fair amount of thought over the years. FWIW I don't think (video) games are art, but I'm fine if they're considered such for all intents and purposes.

Regarding media becoming dated, I think it's legitimate and a lot of you are dismissing it by straw-manning any claims of things being dated as lazy criticism. Let's be honest, it sometimes is lazy criticism but there definitely is such a thing as something being dated.

All media rely on some form of technology. The more technologically reliant, the faster/easier it is for things to become dated. Games date faster than film, which dates faster than other visual arts, which dates faster than writing etc.

One way things become dated is the technology itself goes out of use or is replaced by something else. When the new technology becomes the standard, the older tends to become dated. This is true for objective things like special effects to screen resolution as it is to trends which catch on do to appeal but may be fundamentally subjective. Likewise as mediums evolve people figure out the language of the medium and there becomes a de facto way of presenting things. In the early days of film they would just set up the camera in a wide angle and film a scene like a play. It took time to figure out things like editing, even basic techniques like shot/counter shot which we take for granted today. While we could argue it's all a matter of convention, that convention has more effective use and going backwards would be fundamentally jarring to modern audiences and be less effective at conveying the film's message.

Even literature can be dated, only it evolves with language which is slow, so it appears to stay the same for a long period of time. It's the reason why high school students loathe reading Shakespeare even though he's modern English. He writes in a poetic style that was trendy for his time, uses a meter (iambic pentameter) that was meant to sound natural for dialogue (based on faulty reasoning) but sounds anything but, and was written at a time when language and spelling wasn't standardized. As English conventions matured so did the writing. It's why it becomes more difficult to read things the older the text gets. Going back to Chaucer or earlier is literally reading a different language.

Since games exist on hardware that is constantly becoming obsolete its much more apparent and rapid on how they age. Yes, sometimes it's just based on gameplay trends that come and go, but a lot of it is based on technical limitations or techniques that just get replaced with something better.

My point being that things are "dated" when the conventions used by the medium create a barrier of entry for the audience to appreciate the actual content.
 
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Video games require the most amount of artist than any other medium. With that said, calling something a work of art is always going to be subjective. Some pretentious goof splashing random colours on a canvas is technically art, being an expression, but it's crap compared to a well done drawing.

Same with video games: Shenmue, Metal Gear etc. can be described as a work of art whilst Bubsy 3D is a bunch of crap - despite being a work of art.
 
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This thread reminded of this Penny Arcade comic from years and years ago (especially the last panel):


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Then I suppose my contribution would be that I consider games to be art. Like anything, there's a spectrum to consider and not all games are created equal. To use film as an example, The Godfather is "art", whereas I don't think anyone is making any arguments that The Fast and Furious movies are "art" (though, blah blah "subjective" blah blah). So of course that line of thinking can apply to games as well (similarly to what @Nathanial Essex stated above).

With games I suppose there are a lot more variables. There's literally the visual art aspects, such as creating character models, environments, animations, lighting, etc. The auditory aspects, such as music, sound design, and voice over. The story aspects by the Narrative team, and then the gameplay aspects from game designers, which also involve figuring out how to design gameplay and player agency within certain parameters within the story, or even reinforce what's going on in the story through gameplay. (And don't forget contributions from programming, UI/UX, etc.)

So there's the 4 different "components" that can make up a modern video game (visual, auditory, narrative, gameplay). Film has at most 3 of those, books have 1 (generally speaking). I'm not arguing that games are "more" art because of that, because I think there's also something to be said for being unbound and having absolutely no limitations when one author is writing a novel.

Then on the other end, do we dismiss early games (1960s-1990s) from being art because they're not "cinematic" and/or story driven like some of the games of the past 10-20 years? Or can we appreciate that there's a lot of thought and skill that goes into making these games feel good to play? I'd argue that they're art as well. (And yes, there are purely gameplay driven games made today, but I'm just presenting the most "involved and complex" type games to make, if that makes sense)

@hmjohnny makes a few interesting points I didn't really consider with older games. I would argue that older games worked within the limitations they were given, so you can date and categorize them during the era from when they were released and have that knowledge going in. For example, if someone studies art history, music history, etc, there are distinct time periods that historians have agreed upon that have enough similarities to define as an "era". However, one of those era's is usually the same amount of time as the entirely of the existence of video games, if not longer!

And as a quick example how quickly things have moved, the time from the Atari 2600 to Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast was about 22 years. The time from Soul Calibur to today was also almost 22 years. Compare how Metal Gear (1987) looks compared to Metal Gear Solid V (2015). So there's not really anything equivalent in the entertainment industry. Any movie that doesn't use CG or is in black and white generally ages pretty well, or at least much better than games. So I can see how earlier games can be dismissed much easier than earlier movies, though I don't entirely agree with those who do.

Then another can of worms is how players are playing experiencing the older games. Emulators are not the same as playing on original hardware for a multitude of reasons. Older pixel art was meant to be played on CRTs and is unique to video games as far as I know. Controllers also informed the game's control scheme. For these reasons I'd argue it's much easier to get the original experience of a movie from transferring it to a blu-ray than it is to play an older game on an emulator or emulated re-release.
 

Mittens2317

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Best way to look at it is that nothing is art by default. Art is transformative and requires both context and an audience for it to be judged or declared so.

Therefore video games are not art, but a video game can be art.
 
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Guppy

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The way I see it, one would deem art something that is good in its creative expression of ideas. If movies can be considered art, so why not video games too as they, specially modern AAA ones, contain every single component of a movie, from acting to camerawork and writing? I mean, a banana duct taped to wall in a NY art gallery can be considered high art, but a game in which your avatar wakes up naked along with others in a stranded island, fighting for survival essentials, terraforming his surroundings for shelter and economically thriving with other same-minded players, or murdering each other to claim the top of the food chain to oneself, a game about the human existence itself is not good enough to be art?
 
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No, it's not "dated". It's art
What people mean when they say that games are "dated" is in terms of their functionality. Shenmue on the Dreamcast, for instance, is dated by how intrusive the load times are, or how clunky the controls are. You can say that these are intentional design decisions meant to give the player time to meditate or whatever, but at the end of the day they are quality of life issues that stem from the technical side of game design. If a film contains a scene that was shot out of focus, or had really bad editing, or was exposed incorrectly, we would consider those flaws in the exact same way. It's worth pointing out that this has nothing to do with an "expiry date", many games released far earlier than Shenmue function far better.

FWIW I don't think (video) games are art, but I'm fine if they're considered such for all intents and purposes.
Someone already posted the Penny Arcade comic but I'll simply say: Spec Ops: The Line.
 
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red

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i've been to an art show where an artists used digital techniques to create a game, which were displayed on a big screen as interactive art. i just remember thinking it looked pretty terrible. it was either the frieze art fair or at the tate modern(?).

you do have the DADA statement that anything can be art but for me art is mainly painting and sculpture, created with a certain intention..im not a big fan of photography and i definitely don't like video art.
digital art is still quite new, it's got its place but i wouldn't like to see it in art galleries.

but having said all that, it's just my personal opinion. the "important" people in the art world, like gallery directors/owners and collectors have the ability to manipulate art trends, simply by collecting or displaying certain types of art. so who knows what will be classified as art next.

.. also from what i've learnt, a lot of art critics are not brave enough to criticize bad art (or the billionaire collectors), so the super rich are mainly in charge of what is classified as high art.
 
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Some things age poorly. Goldeneye 007. Old clunky resident evil games with pixel blob monsters.
 
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Some things age poorly. Goldeneye 007. Old clunky resident evil games with pixel blob monsters.
Art can age poorly (comedy as a genre most immediately comes to mind) but that doesn't make it not art. IMO the things about Goldeneye that have aged are the technical things like the framerate more so than the design choices like the controls. It's also arguable that the emulation and modding communities have preserved the "essence" of Goldeneye by updating those things. It's a real ship of Theseus situation.
 
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