Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Are games ART?

"Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities" ~ Wikipedia

"In psychology and ethologyplay is a range of voluntaryintrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment." ~ Wikipedia

The current definition shown above, means that everything we do is art.


Oh... end of story then. Everything is art.

The definition of art is one that is very vague here, we can see how perhaps we must limit its scope before continuing. The reason for this is that the most horrible thing imagined, all the way to puns (the most wonderful thing imagined), is an art.

The limit is already there, as there is a SET range of human activities that result in art, and despite their diversity, they are not all inclusive with every human activity. Instead art is relegated to that which has human agency (non-accidental, done on purpose), and creation through imaginative and technical skill.

So, if someone says that "there is an art to getting something done", then they are saying that there is a technical skill or imagination required. There is an art to surgery, and an art to torture. So in this aspect alone, video games and any game really is also an art.

But not only is a video game itself art, but the act of playing a video game is art.

I came upon this realization, when I tried to understand why a colleague of mine, did not enjoy sport or esports. Now I could understand that as a gamer, he did not intrinsically enjoy physical games, but he also had issues with people who would dedicate time, or be proud of doing well in a video game.

The discussion led to other topics and finally it came down to why would someone enjoy watching someone else play a game, instead of playing the game themselves. This is where I finally realized HOW I viewed games as an art, instead of the wikipedia laced definition that virtually everything we do that is imaginative or of technical skill is an art.

The reason for that is that beyond JUST technical skill or JUST imagination, Art is usually praised because of a combination of both. Art is also usually something that can be experienced, either through external or internal players.

For example: A painting is the product of the imagination and skill of the painter. To enjoy a painting, the product is gazed upon, and the person uses internal actors to understand or interpret the art. The observer uses their own ability to understand the art. In a sense, they are part of the art during this time.

Similarly, with music and video, and any product that comes complete, the act observing and using mental models to understand and become part of the art is what people do. When you read a book you imagine the story, and listening to music may create a narrative or take you through a narrative of memories. Video games fall into this category when you play them. Except you are also externally interacting with the art.

What about watching someone play a game? Well, in the case of eSports for example, the high level play is akin to regular sports, which is akin to watching a play. Actors, players, and gamers are all the same. They are performers of art. Their interpretation of the art creates an unique version of the art for others to experience. Each time they perform a play or game, you are seeing their performance of art. And their display of technical skill is an art.

So, are video games art? Yes.

So are regular games, if they involve technical skill or imagination to accomplish.

Performing these games, whether multiplayer or not is considered a performing art. This is also true of sports and Olympic events and the like.

The training and technical execution of these physical activities is an art. It is amazing to watch and can inspire all sorts of emotions. So don't think of it as not liking sports, but instead, as being unable to appreciate the art.