Video Games as Art: Yes? No? Maybe?

All things controller driven will be talked about here.

Postby Pacino86845 on Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:58 pm

The Ginger Man wrote:
Pacino86845 wrote:I dunno Ginger, I get what you're saying about the business elements of games dominating the development pipeline, but couldn't the same arguments be made about animated films or comics?

I also think that the "infancy" argument still carries a lot of weight in defense of video games. I'm not sure games will be officially recognized as an art form of sorts, but until recently they've depended heavily on the technology available.

Arguments against video games' artistic merits that are based on the lack of the public's recognition don't stand up too well, though. We could look to the world of comics and even cartoons for reference. Comics were kids' stuff for decades, and now that we're finally in an era that recognizes art in the comic form, that recognition goes way back to the origins of the medium. I'm not saying it's a sure thing, but the same might happen to videogames, if it hasn't already started.


But you and I could produce and publish a comic on quality with Marvel or DC all on our own. Same goes with an animated film. You cannot develop and publish a next-gen game without corporate intervention.

Did you know that before any game is released on a platform, the corp that owns the platform (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) reviews the game? If they don't feel it meets their standards, you must change the game to their specifications if you want it released. Publishing corporations can have things slide b/c favors and other business related things. But an independent developer would be completely at the whim of the big 3.


Right, that's totally true. But just to carry things a little further (I'm so excited, me and Ginger are gonna make a comic!), we can consider independent game publishers/developers. Like all those flash games, you know, they might have like 5 people working on 'em. Even games you install on your PC, they might be developed by a handful of people and sold by the same people through the web. And relating your point to animated films, considering 3D CGI animated films, you and I could probably slap something together but it won't be as next gen as something Pixar dishes out.

I'm just saying that maybe the technology isn't at a point where it's easily placed in people's hands, so that you and I could make a decent 3D game that we could sell. Hmm, but maybe that's the rub right there. Videogames are totally technology dependent. The market as it is right now always wants the latest in graphics technology, and that will always be a couple of generations ahead of what regular people will have access to. I guess people would spring $20 for a trade of the first issues of X-Men, but who's gonna spring even $5 for Pacman?
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Postby TheAllSeeingEye on Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:29 pm

Pacino86845 wrote:I'm just saying that maybe the technology isn't at a point where it's easily placed in people's hands, so that you and I could make a decent 3D game that we could sell. Hmm, but maybe that's the rub right there. Videogames are totally technology dependent. The market as it is right now always wants the latest in graphics technology, and that will always be a couple of generations ahead of what regular people will have access to. I guess people would spring $20 for a trade of the first issues of X-Men, but who's gonna spring even $5 for Pacman?


You've made some great points but I have to disagree with the idea that recognition of games as a medium is stalled by the inability of the general public to produce their own games.

I'm fairly artistic but if give me a canvas and some paints i could draw you a decent stick figure. Give me a potters wheel and clay and i could sculpt you a mess. Put me in a leotard and stick me on the stage and I could happily fall on my face. There are plenty of arts out there that people could try but not many that everyone could excel at; if everyone could paint, draw, sing, dance, sculpt etc etc, so well, then art would be pretty meaningless.

As for technology, I don't think that's an issue really. As many gamers will attest, there are 10 and 15 year old games that people consider true gaming masterpieces but pale graphically in comparison to todays games.
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:39 am

Man... I never log on when the good stuff is kicking around!

Allseeingeye I was going the bring up the BAFTA's as well. Last year was the first year for the awards, I was very excited at the time... but failed to go to the red carpet as I wouldn't recognise anyone! I want rockstar gamers like over in Sth Korea!!!

Technology is the issue... video games are an interface to technology. Just try and release a 10-15 year old graphics engine into today’s market and see what happens. You'd get minimal sales and loose everything because no one will pay for bubble bubble styling (Yes the Nintendo DS is different as that is a branded console and programming your own games is unobtainable to the average nerd). That's why it's not happening.

Flash games, and PC mods are what people are making at home and they are not selling either. Every other format is fairly unobtainable by joe blow. Even mobile phone games need special licences.

I remember a couple of years ago a whole bunch or nerds got together and made a Dragon Ball Z patch for Quake 3. It looked fantastic and they spent about 2 years making it. When they released it (which was a free download I might add) it bombed and they closed the site down. Why? No one wanted it. They didn't keep the hype up and another (all be it simpler) DBZ game came out about 6 months before they released their own.

Corporations not only have the licences, resources and money they have the market research to see what people want. Sure we get a whole heap of crap, but there's more good stuff as well. The average nerd just knows what him and his mates want. If he really pushes it he'll go into some forums and chat sites and test the waters. The thing here is that even if there is interest it'll take so long for him to make that by the time he releases it online the tides would have changed.

I just want to clarify my line of thought here. Games ARE artistic, developers ARE creative, it's weather or not games are art is what’s at hand.

Great discussion I must add guys… keep it coming!
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:51 am

godzillasushi wrote:
MonkeyM666 wrote:Now you've got me thinking. If all games are manipulated by the corporations to maximise profit (yeah, I know... durrrr) and films are in the same boat, is art (in the sense of the mass media) in fear of being crushed in these formats. Is the drive for profits and that next product placement quashing the artist?


*pops in* Did somebody say EA? *zing*


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Doc Holliday wrote:Seven Samurai - it gave birth to that whole storyline about assembling a group of misfits and confronting and overthrowing the bad guys, despite seeming impossibly outnumbered. Everything from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN to THE A-TEAM owes this film.


So.... and I plan to watch seven samurai this weekend for the first time, would Final Fantasy be in the same elk?
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Postby Doc Holliday on Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:31 am

TheAllSeeingEye wrote:You've made some great points but I have to disagree with the idea that recognition of games as a medium is stalled by the inability of the general public to produce their own games.

I'm fairly artistic but if give me a canvas and some paints i could draw you a decent stick figure. Give me a potters wheel and clay and i could sculpt you a mess. Put me in a leotard and stick me on the stage and I could happily fall on my face. There are plenty of arts out there that people could try but not many that everyone could excel at; if everyone could paint, draw, sing, dance, sculpt etc etc, so well, then art would be pretty meaningless.


I think also, if its the right idea at the right time then you don't need to have technical ability yourself beyond that of a well thought-out, sound idea for the game.

thats not to say you turn up at EA with 150 words scribbled onto a scrap of paper with arrows everywhere - you need to understand the fundamentals of the market, the industry. But you can be a pure game deisgner in as much as you have what you want to see on the screen down. You would need the plot mapped out in detail, if it was an RPG, say. And you would need to make sure that what you are proposing is feasible in terms of cost vs likely revenue.

Strikes me that there are certain similarities between pitching your idea for a game to that of pitching your script. You can try and get one of the big studios (software houses) to pick it up - or you can go indie, and try to find the resources yourself on a (far) smaller budget.

I appreciate the difference in needing to get the likes of Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo onboard though - however a cursory glance across the games shelves in my local blockbusters suggests that you don't need to achieve the pinnacle of innovation to win these guys over.

I also thought this morning how similar the scenarios TGM was outlining in terms of the Suits shaping a game were to what goes on in film studios in deciding what gets greenlit, and also in literary publishing houses when determining what authors to commission and which to let go.

If anything I think the games industry already mirrors pretty closely the corporate obstacles that other art-forms have to overcome.
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Postby TheAllSeeingEye on Thu Feb 01, 2007 8:38 am

MonkeyM666 wrote:Technology is the issue... video games are an interface to technology. Just try and release a 10-15 year old graphics engine into today’s market and see what happens. You'd get minimal sales and loose everything because no one will pay for bubble bubble styling (Yes the Nintendo DS is different as that is a branded console and programming your own games is unobtainable to the average nerd). That's why it's not happening.


I really do have to disagree with you there. Graphics and game engines, while an integral part of todays gameplay, will always be second fiddle to the concept and gameplay. A great example of a very popular modern game that doesn't need a super fast 3D engine or 4 quad cell processors, is Lumines. That game will run on anything and it's very very popular. Almost as popular as Tetris on the original gameboy, (which incidently is the second highest selling videogame of all time; Super Mario Bros on NES holds the first spot), you can find Lumines on PSP, PS2 and XBOX 360. You could make the same game on NES or an old C64 and, in terms of play at least, it would be identical. Yes the modern ones have nice colours and music, but it's the gameplay which sells it.

Flash games, and PC mods are what people are making at home and they are not selling either. Every other format is fairly unobtainable by joe blow. Even mobile phone games need special licences.

I remember a couple of years ago a whole bunch or nerds got together and made a Dragon Ball Z patch for Quake 3. It looked fantastic and they spent about 2 years making it. When they released it (which was a free download I might add) it bombed and they closed the site down. Why? No one wanted it. They didn't keep the hype up and another (all be it simpler) DBZ game came out about 6 months before they released their own.


So does something creative require sales to be classed as an artform? Are there not people out there who paint for the love of painting? Cook for the love of cooking, (since cooking IS an artform), sing for the love of singing?

I've helped out on some half life mods and halo mods not because i wanted to be paid for my time or strike it rich; i just wanted to make something. When people do these things, it's the idea of making something new that's appealing. Artists don't necessarily paint to make money, though they can, they paint because it's what they do.

Corporations not only have the licences, resources and money they have the market research to see what people want. Sure we get a whole heap of crap, but there's more good stuff as well. The average nerd just knows what him and his mates want. If he really pushes it he'll go into some forums and chat sites and test the waters. The thing here is that even if there is interest it'll take so long for him to make that by the time he releases it online the tides would have changed.


You will see big names attached to alot of games but they are simply the publisher. If you have a good enough concept your idea can be picked up; a good example of this is Worms. That was a home made project which the publisher realised they could sell. I can't remember now but I think the kid who made that game was 14 years old or thereabouts. In many ways games are similar to writing; you can write your own novel but you need a publisher to put it on the shelves.

As for getting games out there, that is getting easier. Microsoft are running their XNA program now so you or I can make our own games on XBL Arcade - if you make something good enough they'll even publish it for you. I understand there's also things in the pipeline to resurrect Yaroze! on PS3 so that's another platform opening up.

As for whether games are art or not, well, IMO if it takes skill to make it and receives appreciation from the people who look at it/read it/watch it/eat it/play it then it's an art.
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Thu Feb 01, 2007 10:49 am

I really do have to disagree with you there. Graphics and game engines, while an integral part of todays gameplay, will always be second fiddle to the concept and gameplay. A great example of a very popular modern game that doesn't need a super fast 3D engine or 4 quad cell processors, is Lumines. That game will run on anything and it's very very popular. Almost as popular as Tetris on the original gameboy, (which incidently is the second highest selling videogame of all time; Super Mario Bros on NES holds the first spot), you can find Lumines on PSP, PS2 and XBOX 360. You could make the same game on NES or an old C64 and, in terms of play at least, it would be identical. Yes the modern ones have nice colours and music, but it's the gameplay which sells it.


I should have included PSP in my post as well and NDS shouldn’t I :oops:. Ok, ok… portable formats are different because people expect a certain level from portable gaming. I’m speaking in general terms anyway… and this is a Ubisoft title (I don’t know it was internal idea or pitched) not a personal release. I personally think that gameplay is a part of the whole these days. People have had enough of the pretty game (and movie for that matter) that has nothing behind it.

I agree that gameplay is more important ultimately, and it’s a vital part of what would help classify games as art (the same way film is) but we’re talking about as a whole and my statement using 10 year old graphic engines still stands. We are talking about games as art, not what sells.

I wouldn't bring up top 10 sales of all time lists as back then what was the competition? It's a different world with a drastically different market to when Tetris and Mario first came out. That’s another reason why this is hard to discuss. Any data that we’re referencing is often old. It's a computer/technology based industry and that means that many references need to be updated regularly. This idea of games as art is only relatively new…

So does something creative require sales to be classed as an artform? Are there not people out there who paint for the love of painting? Cook for the love of cooking, (since cooking IS an artform), sing for the love of singing?

I've helped out on some half life mods and halo mods not because i wanted to be paid for my time or strike it rich; i just wanted to make something. When people do these things, it's the idea of making something new that's appealing. Artists don't necessarily paint to make money, though they can, they paint because it's what they do.


No, that’s not what I’m saying…you don’t need cash to prove that it’s art, but something does need to get outside of someone’s bedroom/website. That’s not the issue. I think that we all agree that games can be very creative and artistic it’s the actual classification of it being art we’re discussing.

You will see big names attached to a lot of games but they are simply the publisher. If you have a good enough concept your idea can be picked up; a good example of this is Worms. That was a home made project which the publisher realised they could sell. I can't remember now but I think the kid who made that game was 14 years old or thereabouts. In many ways games are similar to writing; you can write your own novel but you need a publisher to put it on the shelves.


I hope that this is true, but I really don’t know about it. The publishers must get thousands of ideas a year. It would work the same as the movies or tv… it’s not what you know but who. Ginger or someone else may be able to clarify that as I only know definitely about film and TV.

As for getting games out there, that is getting easier. Microsoft are running their XNA program now so you or I can make our own games on XBL Arcade - if you make something good enough they'll even publish it for you. I understand there's also things in the pipeline to resurrect Yaroze! on PS3 so that's another platform opening up.


I haven’t heard about this, but it’s great if it works. That just cements what I said in an earlier post about the need for advancements in technology for gaming to get more freedom and artistic licence. Where imagination isn't restricted by tech specs... like, I guess, with the latest gen consoles. This will ultimatally lead to a point where there is no argument about art and video games... it will be a fact.

Will you be making anything for it Allseeingeye?
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Postby TheAllSeeingEye on Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:59 pm

As The Ginger Man said, it takes more than one person to properly make a game. It's usually an amalgamtion of several talented people.

Ideas on paper are pretty pointless since they're 2 a penny.

What a publisher wants isn't necessarily a good idea, they want people who can come up with the idea and make the game happen. Alot of publishers welcome submissions from budding studios and have open doors at shows like ECTS in London.

As for my plans. I intend to have a mess with the XNA tools but it's finding the right people to collaborate with.
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Postby The Ginger Man on Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:15 pm

MonkeyM666 wrote:
You will see big names attached to a lot of games but they are simply the publisher. If you have a good enough concept your idea can be picked up; a good example of this is Worms. That was a home made project which the publisher realised they could sell. I can't remember now but I think the kid who made that game was 14 years old or thereabouts. In many ways games are similar to writing; you can write your own novel but you need a publisher to put it on the shelves.


I hope that this is true, but I really don’t know about it. The publishers must get thousands of ideas a year. It would work the same as the movies or tv… it’s not what you know but who. Ginger or someone else may be able to clarify that as I only know definitely about film and TV.


I wouldn't say thousands, but publishers get a fair amount of ideas a year. Every developer w/ a game but w/o a publisher will pitch to every publisher available. But it's not so much about "who you know." Is a developer competent, easy to work with, guidable, cheap....these are more important than who you know. A Dev's idea might not be viable, but they might be a good fit for an internal project.
So knowing someone might get you a meeting, but it won't secure you a publisher.

Which, aside from licesened games, you don't get many paper pitches...meaning "here's my idea on paper...do you wanna make my game?" You get a game in developement or a protype, along with miles of design documentation...and you decide based on that.
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Postby Nachokoolaid on Thu Feb 01, 2007 4:39 pm

After reading all of this thread and most of the links within, I think this is one of my favorite threads in the Zone. Too bad I didn't know about it before the Zonies. So many good posts in here.

While I don't think games are always art (like films), many times they are, and we are seeing that more and more I think.
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Postby godzillasushi on Thu Feb 01, 2007 4:48 pm

Nachokoolaid wrote:While I don't think games are always art (like films), many times they are, and we are seeing that more and more I think.


You basically just said in one sentence what they tried to say over 4 pages. :D
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:01 pm

godzillasushi wrote:
Nachokoolaid wrote:While I don't think games are always art (like films), many times they are, and we are seeing that more and more I think.


You basically just said in one sentence what they tried to say over 4 pages. :D


Too true....:)
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:04 pm

TheAllSeeingEye wrote:As The Ginger Man said, it takes more than one person to properly make a game. It's usually an amalgamtion of several talented people.

Ideas on paper are pretty pointless since they're 2 a penny.

What a publisher wants isn't necessarily a good idea, they want people who can come up with the idea and make the game happen. Alot of publishers welcome submissions from budding studios and have open doors at shows like ECTS in London.

As for my plans. I intend to have a mess with the XNA tools but it's finding the right people to collaborate with.


Cool... when I get a 360 I'll look out for it. What kind of game would you like to make?
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:11 am

Mr. Eye.... I'm just wondering what games you would put forward to be considered as video game’s first pieces of art..

Mr. Ginger... and who ever else... same question to you all.

I’ll re post my games for consideration… maybe if we get enough interest we'll have a poll and classify the Zone's first Video game piece of art... maybe :wink:

MonkeyM666 wrote:Final Fantasy 7 (The cinematic story-line and constant pacing make it as good as any epic film)

Final Fantasy X (abstract and self explorative together with breathtaking imagery)

Katamari Damacy (pop art, and pure original design)

Shadow of the Colossus (it’s just an amazing looking game with a very simple and slightly sad story)

I can’t really think of any others, but these are the one’s that I have played and know a bit about (Shadow of the Colossus I’ve only played a demo).

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Postby Doc Holliday on Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:08 am

MonkeyM666 wrote:Mr. Eye.... I'm just wondering what games you would put forward to be considered as video game’s first pieces of art..

Mr. Ginger... and who ever else... same question to you all.

I’ll re post my games for consideration… maybe if we get enough interest we'll have a poll and classify the Zone's first Video game piece of art... maybe :wink:

MonkeyM666 wrote:Final Fantasy 7 (The cinematic story-line and constant pacing make it as good as any epic film)

Final Fantasy X (abstract and self explorative together with breathtaking imagery)

Katamari Damacy (pop art, and pure original design)

Shadow of the Colossus (it’s just an amazing looking game with a very simple and slightly sad story)

I can’t really think of any others, but these are the one’s that I have played and know a bit about (Shadow of the Colossus I’ve only played a demo).



Two answers to that - firstly if by art you mean exactly that, then I go with PONG (with Pac-Man being the first example of pop art for the medium).

If by art you mean some exceptional piece of work - a gaming equivalent of Shakespeare say - then I think the medium has yet to produce something on that level.
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Postby godzillasushi on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:14 am

Doc Holliday wrote:If by art you mean some exceptional piece of work - a gaming equivalent of Shakespeare say - then I think the medium has yet to produce something on that level.


It was called Ocarina of Time. And it is flawless and wonderful....
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:16 am

LOL.... godzillasushi stands by Ocarina like Theo stands by Kee.





















Majora's mask was better :P
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Postby Bob Samonkey on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:28 am

godzillasushi wrote:
Doc Holliday wrote:If by art you mean some exceptional piece of work - a gaming equivalent of Shakespeare say - then I think the medium has yet to produce something on that level.


It was called Ocarina of Time. And it is flawless and wonderful....


What about Ico?
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Postby godzillasushi on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:34 am

Well Ico is too short. If you feel its the best of the best, then you made a pretty good choice. I just dont think its better then OoT. And approving of Majora's Mask is blasphemous! It had a good story, but it was not good enough for a Zelda game. Geeze monkeys....
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:41 am

:P Just sturing the pot.

I really enjoyed playing both, I just feel like everyone always forgets about Majora's Mask.

I just thought of another game... I haven't played it but I LOVE the first game and know that a considerable upgrade of extra graphic detail, gameplay, and story.

God of War 2....

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I don't know if it's art but hey... it may as well be looked at.
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Postby godzillasushi on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:45 am

MonkeyM666 wrote:I really enjoyed playing both, I just feel like everyone always forgets about Majora's Mask.


I think everyone forgets on purpose. It was just soooo mundane. I remember it though, believe me. A bad Zelda is still a great game.

I dont get why the argument has to be about shooters and adventure RPG stuff though. F-Zero GX is a great example of art. The tracks are so unique and special. Racing games should be considered as well.
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:50 am

I'm happy to have more input... I think that it's just there are more examples with adventure and shooters.

I said Katamari Damacy ... that's not a shooter.

I'm going to have to revisit Majora's Mask, I honestly don't remember it being that bad. :oops:

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Postby godzillasushi on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:56 am

Its not that it was bad.....just not quite up to par. I loved the story and the gameplay was fairly good. But the temples were average and there werent a lot of them. The cinematics were fantastic though. It was just overall an average Zelda. TP, WW, LA, LttP, and OoT are all much stronger IMO.
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:01 pm

I've been playing The Minish Cap. That's not a bad addition. I'm not up to the second dungeon yet but it seems fun and reminds me of A Link to the Past. I love it just for that.

Have you heard about the DS release Phantom Hourglass? WW styling but with the touch screen. It looks bloody marvellous.
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Postby Bob Samonkey on Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:05 pm

godzillasushi wrote:Well Ico is too short. If you feel its the best of the best, then you made a pretty good choice. I just dont think its better then OoT. And approving of Majora's Mask is blasphemous! It had a good story, but it was not good enough for a Zelda game. Geeze monkeys....


I ment on the level of art. Not great gameplay. (Which it had too)
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:08 pm

I haven't played it so I can really comment Bob...


Some screen grabs I've seen look cool though.
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Postby TheAllSeeingEye on Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:43 pm

Great games worthy of consideration:

1) Ocarina of Time; simply the greatest game ever made.
2) Tetris; simple but addictive
3) Final Fantasy VII; first 3D outing and an absolutely engrossing game from start to finish.
4) Pikmin; can't explain it, but it's just genius.
5) Metal Gear Solid: Great story, great action, first game to feel like a movie.

***********

Now, don't get me wrong, i'm not saying that's a list of my all time favourite games; although Ocarina of Time is number 1 for me. What i'm trying to list is a series of games that, when i played them for the very first time, i felt like i was playing something new. You get what i mean? I mean, Gears of War is a superb game and kicks ass royally, but, it's nothing new at the same time. It's hard for me to explain. Anyways..that's my five for consideration.

On a final note, if i were to pick my top ten games of all time, 6 of those games would have been produced by Shigeru Miyamoto. 3 of them would be Zelda titles.
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Postby The Ginger Man on Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:47 pm

Bob Poopflingius Maximus wrote:
godzillasushi wrote:
Doc Holliday wrote:If by art you mean some exceptional piece of work - a gaming equivalent of Shakespeare say - then I think the medium has yet to produce something on that level.


It was called Ocarina of Time. And it is flawless and wonderful....


What about Ico?


Ico is brilliant. Great game.
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Postby godzillasushi on Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:52 pm

TheAllSeeingEye wrote:Great games worthy of consideration: 2) Tetris; simple but addictive 4) Pikmin; can't explain it, but it's just genius.


I couldnt disagree more with those choices. Tetris is beyond basic in every way shape and form even for its time. Addicting, yes, but no way is it art. And Pikmin....maybe, but then we get into characters being art rather then the game as a whole.
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Postby The Ginger Man on Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:09 pm

TheAllSeeingEye wrote:Great games worthy of consideration:

1) Ocarina of Time; simply the greatest game ever made.
2) Tetris; simple but addictive
3) Final Fantasy VII; first 3D outing and an absolutely engrossing game from start to finish.
4) Pikmin; can't explain it, but it's just genius.
5) Metal Gear Solid: Great story, great action, first game to feel like a movie.


I want to argue a few of your choices here and bring up a new point of discussion.

1) Ocarina of Time: What elevates OoT over Mario 64, when both games elevated their respective franchises to the same level?
2) Tetris: No arguments here. Probably the BEST example of VG's as art b/c it stands entirely on its own w/o any external support.
3) FF VII: FF VI is waaaaaay better (not to mention, my pic for favorite game of all time)
4)Pikmin: Haven't played it...no comment.
5) Metal Gear Solid: You say its the first game to feel like a movie...I think this takes away from the argument of VGs as art. This goes back to the original article that brought many of us into this thread.

Do VG's ape film too much? This is the wrong question. A better question is this: Does copying an artistic source make the copy artistic? Perhaps it does, within the same medium. An identical copy of a painting is just as artistic as the original. But across mediums?

I think a game striving to feel like a film loses it's artistic claim b/c it relies on pre-established art. Whereas a game like Tetris inspires awe on its own terms. Film-like games inspire awe b/c they remind you of films.

See what I'm saying?
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Postby The Ginger Man on Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:12 pm

godzillasushi wrote:
TheAllSeeingEye wrote:Great games worthy of consideration: 2) Tetris; simple but addictive 4) Pikmin; can't explain it, but it's just genius.


I couldnt disagree more with those choices. Tetris is beyond basic in every way shape and form even for its time. Addicting, yes, but no way is it art. And Pikmin....maybe, but then we get into characters being art rather then the game as a whole.


This brings up another great question. What makes a game art? The way it looks? Or its function?

The consensus so far seems to be "look." A more traditional sense of art. And why "cinematic" games get more artistic cred.

But if a game's main goal is interactive entertainment, wouldn't its artistic merit be based on emotional connections caused by player-game interaction? Therefore making Tetris a perfect example of video games as art?
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Postby The Ginger Man on Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:28 pm

All that being said. I think the best examples of games as art would be:

Tetris
Pac-Man.

Both are shining examples of originality and substance over form, which I believe is key to the VGs as Art argument.
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Postby King Of Nowhere on Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:36 pm

I hear - art.
I think - pretentious.


Music =art
Film = art
Theater = art
video games = art
Tetris = pure genius

I appreciate that a lot of work goes into even the poorest of games ,thus art does not always mean good

if you look at a shit painting it's still art ,right ?
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Postby papalazeru on Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:57 pm

Not necessarily KON.

As a wise man once said,
"Art reaches its greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make."

So whether it looks like shit or not is in the eye of the beholder.
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Postby Theta on Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:00 pm

Right now?

No. Hell no. But they're getting there. The possibilities have been laid out, mostly by people like Wright and Miyamoto. But nobody's cracked the potential yet.

There are two problems:

1) Gaming is not about creating an experience...it's about creating an environment to have an experience IN, and trying to direct that experience. This is a double edged sword which ties to my next point.


2) A lot of video game writing is derivative at best and fucking horrid at worst, and although they've gotten close, nobody has yet managed to turn this to their advantage.

Zelda's a good example; you can explore a vast map and it rewards you for doing so, but the game itself is ultimately on rails; you can't go beat Ganon first or complete the dungeons in any order.

The key problem here is that game writing thinkss having to have clear-cut objectives goes hand-in-hand with a clear-cut moral structure. There's no such thing as a complicated video game hero, at least in that the complication will affect the gamer's choices. I think if we had that, or a game where good and bad were far from clear...video games would enter art.
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Postby King Of Nowhere on Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:12 pm

so we've got the people who are saying Hell yeah ,its all art.

the others are saying it'll never be art until we have a simulated reality.

for simulated reality to exist we have to believe that we could be in one right now.

I'm not quite ready to think of myself as 2mb of algorithms ,so All video games are art ,no matter how good/bad they may be
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Postby papalazeru on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:24 pm

Theta wrote:Right now?

No. Hell no. But they're getting there. The possibilities have been laid out, mostly by people like Wright and Miyamoto. But nobody's cracked the potential yet.

There are two problems:

1) Gaming is not about creating an experience...it's about creating an environment to have an experience IN, and trying to direct that experience. This is a double edged sword which ties to my next point.


2) A lot of video game writing is derivative at best and fucking horrid at worst, and although they've gotten close, nobody has yet managed to turn this to their advantage.

Zelda's a good example; you can explore a vast map and it rewards you for doing so, but the game itself is ultimately on rails; you can't go beat Ganon first or complete the dungeons in any order.

The key problem here is that game writing thinkss having to have clear-cut objectives goes hand-in-hand with a clear-cut moral structure. There's no such thing as a complicated video game hero, at least in that the complication will affect the gamer's choices. I think if we had that, or a game where good and bad were far from clear...video games would enter art.


I don't think turning games into films should be called as art because thats basically whats happening. I think certain games have much more playablility and some which have taken things to the Nth level but I'm not sure whether I could call it art yet, mind you, getting the invincibility cheat on Goldeneye was an example of art in itself.

I believe the way to turn computer games into Art would be what "Brain Training" is all about - increasing certain cognitive powers yet making it fun to do. I think the best way forward would be with subtlty - if you could make someone smarter and increase their brain activity as well as making it as fun as Mario, that would be art.
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Postby TheAllSeeingEye on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:28 pm

The Ginger Man wrote:I want to argue a few of your choices here and bring up a new point of discussion.

1) Ocarina of Time: What elevates OoT over Mario 64, when both games elevated their respective franchises to the same level?
2) Tetris: No arguments here. Probably the BEST example of VG's as art b/c it stands entirely on its own w/o any external support.
3) FF VII: FF VI is waaaaaay better (not to mention, my pic for favorite game of all time)
4)Pikmin: Haven't played it...no comment.
5) Metal Gear Solid: You say its the first game to feel like a movie...I think this takes away from the argument of VGs as art. This goes back to the original article that brought many of us into this thread.

Do VG's ape film too much? This is the wrong question. A better question is this: Does copying an artistic source make the copy artistic? Perhaps it does, within the same medium. An identical copy of a painting is just as artistic as the original. But across mediums?

I think a game striving to feel like a film loses it's artistic claim b/c it relies on pre-established art. Whereas a game like Tetris inspires awe on its own terms. Film-like games inspire awe b/c they remind you of films.

See what I'm saying?


To address your comments in order:

1)That's a really good question. I nearly put down Mario 64 in my list since it was an absolutely amazing game. Like i said, if i were to list a top ten of games i love, Mario 64 would be in there. I agree that both games elevated their respective franchises, however, the reason why i rate OoT higher than Mario 64 is that the experience in Zelda is much more enjoyable and rewarding. Mario, for all it's beauty, isn't particularly hard or challenging. Zelda on the other hand was such a huge leap ahead of it's previous incarnations not only graphically, but in terms of scale, story and gameplay; to this day i don't think i've played a game as immersive as OoT.

2)My thoughts exactly on tetris. What makes it such an amazing game is that it's available to play on near enough anything. It's simple but addictive.

3)FFVI - I'm not arguing it's not the better game. FFVII was, as far as i can recall, the first true outing for an RPG series in 3D. It had all the feeling of a FF game but looked stunning. This could be another, game apes a movie, comment but hell, i'll say it, it made me think i was playing a cartoon. I paid an absolute fortune for FFVII when it came out on import and took 2 weeks off work with a 'bad back' to give that some playtime.

4) Everyone should try Pikmin. It's a great title that is often overlooked.

5) I would disagree with your point regarding making a game similar to a movie detracts from its status as art. After all, is cinema not aping theatre? Yes it's acting but we're talking about mediums here. They were called teleplays at one time. Certainly if a game can tell a story, entertain you and make you think, it's deserving of a mention. Besides, if movies are art, and you have a videogame that runs like a movie, isn't that closer to art than everything else?

Your point about movies is a valid though. I think what we are seeing now is the beginnings of an amalgamation of the big screen and the computer screen. I imagine that, one day, (though it's still quite a while away), there'll be no real difference between the two mediums.

While i hate to use terms like "Interactive Movie" it's certainly something that some of the bigger movie directors/producers are looking into. Isn't Peter Jackson and Wingnut opening an interactive studio?

Also, let's not forget that technology is pushing to the point that we are getting photo realistic images in our games. That's a huge leap past what Pacman was. It won't be long before game visuals are indistinguishable from real video; have you seen CRYSIS at all? I remember talking to a friend about going back in a time machine to 1984, (one of those conversations where we'd all smoked and drank a little too much), and showing our younger selves something like Gears of War. It'd seem like magic. If we could say that, in 20 years time, graphics will have improved at the same rate they've improved at since 1986, can you begin to imagine what we'll be seeing?
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Postby TheAllSeeingEye on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:31 pm

Theta wrote:Zelda's a good example; you can explore a vast map and it rewards you for doing so, but the game itself is ultimately on rails; you can't go beat Ganon first or complete the dungeons in any order.


What you're talking about, experience wise, is more like the MMORPG's that are getting more and more attention. You're talking a perpetual real time environment with your character in it.

Games like Zelda have to be structured because otherwise they'd be over in 5 minutes. If you applied the same principal to movies, they'd be pretty boring.
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Postby Theta on Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:25 am

papalazeru wrote:
I don't think turning games into films should be called as art because thats basically whats happening. I think certain games have much more playablility and some which have taken things to the Nth level but I'm not sure whether I could call it art yet, mind you, getting the invincibility cheat on Goldeneye was an example of art in itself.


Here's what I'd like to see: a morally ambiguous FPS.


Had I the budget, the outline of the game I'd write would be a riff on the cliched "aliens versus humans" plot, with a few crucial differences in mechanics. I don't mind placing it publicly because this is simply cobbled together from parts of other games (and war movies) to prove a point, that it IS possible.

For example, had I my way, each map you'd play a different character (alien AND human) with a different viewpoint and motivation in the conflict. The maps would be very detailed, containing information that will help you advance in the game as you swapped characters, but also information that details the human and alien societies and why they're fighting.

Preferably this would be tied together with some form of overworld, allowing you to explore previous maps from a different perspective (and also with different weapons, abilities, etc.)


As for the writing details, basically I want the gamer to, at all times, be uncertain as to whether this war has a point. Preferably this would occur in-game; for example, one character could be an alien "peasant" trying to evade a human death squad out to wipe his village completely off the map. Another mission could occur with a human prisoner of war trying to save his colleagues from being tortured.


I think you'd have both a fun game, as the mechanics and goals will change constantly (it's not just blast-the-alien), but it'd give you something to chew over. Certainly it's straightforward and clear enough that it would greatly impress the middlebrows. We can build from there.
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:22 am

The Ginger Man wrote:
godzillasushi wrote:
TheAllSeeingEye wrote:Great games worthy of consideration: 2) Tetris; simple but addictive 4) Pikmin; can't explain it, but it's just genius.


I couldnt disagree more with those choices. Tetris is beyond basic in every way shape and form even for its time. Addicting, yes, but no way is it art. And Pikmin....maybe, but then we get into characters being art rather then the game as a whole.


This brings up another great question. What makes a game art? The way it looks? Or its function?

The consensus so far seems to be "look." A more traditional sense of art. And why "cinematic" games get more artistic cred.

But if a game's main goal is interactive entertainment, wouldn't its artistic merit be based on emotional connections caused by player-game interaction? Therefore making Tetris a perfect example of video games as art?


Just quickly... if games are ever to be classed as art it will be because of the whole package. Not just graphics, not just audio, not just game play. It's the only possible way.

Maybe to help clarify what is classed as art lets have a look at film. What films are actually classed as art? Citizen Kane, Psycho, The longest Day, The Third Man... there are many examples of what I would consider cinematic art in a classic sense. What classifies these films (or any for that matter) as art? If we can break down that, we can break down the games that we're putting up for consideration.

I am beginning to think that we may actually decide on some games that we class as art in this thread...
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Postby TheAllSeeingEye on Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:34 am

For a game to be art it should bring something unique or original to the gameplay. While graphics and audio are undoubtedly an important part of the mix, gameplay is always the integral component, Without gameplay, what you have is a very nice looking realtime movie.
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Postby godzillasushi on Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:49 pm

TheAllSeeingEye wrote:For a game to be art it should bring something unique or original to the gameplay. While graphics and audio are undoubtedly an important part of the mix, gameplay is always the integral component, Without gameplay, what you have is a very nice looking realtime movie.


But there are limits to this. Gameplay is something that will reach a limit where everything is based off something else. The Wii may be giving life to it, but FPS's will be the same control scheme on the system eventually. You can call the Gears cover system unique. But in the end, I can also say it came from Kill.Switch. I think if the gameplay is good, its a great part of the overall artistic package. But audio and visual both should be taken over gameplay when it comes to art. Assuming the gameplay is solid at worst. Halo has some fantastic music and I have trouble arguing its gameplay as anything special. But the created world is art in my eyes.
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Postby The Ginger Man on Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:37 am

godzillasushi wrote:
TheAllSeeingEye wrote:For a game to be art it should bring something unique or original to the gameplay. While graphics and audio are undoubtedly an important part of the mix, gameplay is always the integral component, Without gameplay, what you have is a very nice looking realtime movie.


But there are limits to this. Gameplay is something that will reach a limit where everything is based off something else. The Wii may be giving life to it, but FPS's will be the same control scheme on the system eventually. You can call the Gears cover system unique. But in the end, I can also say it came from Kill.Switch. I think if the gameplay is good, its a great part of the overall artistic package. But audio and visual both should be taken over gameplay when it comes to art. Assuming the gameplay is solid at worst. Halo has some fantastic music and I have trouble arguing its gameplay as anything special. But the created world is art in my eyes.


Ooh. I have to seriously disagree with you here, GS. This is where video games become a new form of art. TV, Film, Paintings, Comics...these are all receptive forms of art. Meaning, someone else makes it...you look at. So visual and audio are the most important...b/c they are the only 2 ways the audience can interact.

But videogames are interactive. It is their sole distinguising trait. Someone makes it...you take control of it. By placing audio/visual over gameplay, we're allowing ourselves a limited view of art...not letting it evolve. Which ties to my earlier point: If we're classifying games as art b/c they look like movies, we're not really adding anything new to the artistic field...

Gameplay absolutely must come first. It is what makes video games worthy of this discussion.
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:40 am

<nods head>

Indeed...
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Postby TonyWilson on Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:54 am

Really interesting thread. Just a quick question. Do those who consider videogames art think Chess is art or Backgammon? What about Risk?
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Postby tapehead on Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:57 am

Who authored those?
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:58 am

Ummm.... no. They're games but I see where your going with this. I think that it's the overall package of music, graphics and the every important gameplay are what pushes VG's into the art circle. Board games are strategic and luck based but not really art.

That's IMO mind you.
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:59 am

TonyWilson wrote:Really interesting thread. Just a quick question. Do those who consider videogames art think Chess is art or Backgammon? What about Risk?


Ummm.... no. They're games but I see where you’re going with this. I think that it's the overall package of music, graphics and the ever important gameplay are what pushes VG's into the art circle. Board games are strategic and luck based but not really art. That's IMO mind you.

Maybe the the creator of Chess was an artist though.... hummm... I'd go with that.
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Postby TonyWilson on Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:59 am

tapehead wrote:Who authored those?


Ha! :D

The french director Albert Lamorisse invented Risk.
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