Thursday, 18 September 2008

arty games

Naomi Alderman, in the Guardian,has been discussing whether video games should or might be considered "art"... She makes some interesting points (although I refuse to consider Myst as art; it was just dull).
But, she seems to think games should have "easy" settings so they can be accessible to all, and that this would allow games to truly be considered art. Now that is a terribly 90s way of thinking: art should be accessible.
Much of "high culture" is certainly not accessible, you need to spend time in a medium to learn to appreciate much of it. In some cases, it's almost necessary to be educated about a work of art before you can appreciate it. Of course, this isn't true of all art, but accessibility is not everything.

Ergo, if games are too hard for you to appreciate properly... PRACTICE! One of my favourite games, Yoshi's Island, I think could easily be defined as a work of art, and it is certainly one of the best examples of a certain type of game. To fully enjoy and appreciate that, do you know how many times I "died"? How many times my fingers failed leaving my lizard friend plummeting to his doom? That's part of the experience.
It may be that other art forms do not rely on giving you some kind of direct challenge to see them fully, but that's part and parcel of what a game is. What's the point if you can't lose?

There are games which seem to be looking for an "art" tag, REZ springs to mind, but they are often laboured and not great experiences as games. I really wanted to like REZ, but like many a beautifully designed bar, it's looks are accompanied by average techno, which kind of spoils the experience. Had the sonics been as cool(and techno CAN be cool) as the aesthetics, I'd be claiming that as "art" too.

In music news, music definitely can not consider itself art until we can distinguish music like the new Fujiya and Miyagi album (probably art) from things like the upcoming Britney comeback album (definitely not art, probably shit). They can't BOTH be music... Oh, and so the news was there's a new Fujiya and Miyagi album and it's pretty good if you like knowing krautrocky stuff...

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