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2010-06-19
Games and Art
I'm interested in hearing peoples' intuitions about the aesthetic value of games. Most people I know who habitually play chess, bridge, computer games or Dungeons and Dragons share the intuition that they value the experience of gameplay for reasons that are at least closely akin to the aesthetic. But is there one particular factor that can be appealed to that distinguishes the aesthetic value of gameplay from other types of intrinsic or instrumental value that it may possess, e.g. as a type of relaxation, a facilitator of certain types of social interaction, a pedagogical tool, and so on?

2010-06-20
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Greetings, Mark,
Aaron Smuts has done some nice work on this issue (in which as I recall the notion of interactivity plays a crucial role). You should check out the following articles of his:

"Are Video Games Art?"  Contemporary Aesthetics 3 (2005): 1-15.
"What is Interactivity?" Journal of Aesthetic Education 43.4 (2009): 53-74.



Adding to Aaron's street cred is the fact that Roger Ebert recently twittered (tweeted?) a link to the latter article.


Hope this helps!

2010-06-21
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Hi Mark

The word 'aesthetic' has a range of meanings. Which one do you have in mind?

DA

2010-06-25
Games and Art
Thanks for the references, Christy - the interactivity paper is especially helpful. I've published a piece on the topic myself in BJA.

2010-06-25
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
I think I'm going to try to be as much of a neutralist as possible about this, since I've never felt like I had anything of a general nature to say on the distinguishing phenomenological character of aesthetic experiences. So where I say "aesthetic value," please read "whatever type of intrinsic value is possessed by items that are unproblematically classifiable as artworks, by virtue of their being artworks."

2010-06-25
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Hi Mark

Re: "whatever type of intrinsic value is possessed by items that are unproblematically classifiable as artworks..."... 

So, in short, I gather "aesthetic" in your eyes means pertaining to art, as distinct from other common meanings of the word – e.g. pertaining to beauty, or (in the tradition of some 18th century thinkers) pertaining to knowledge via the senses.

So when you write “the aesthetic value of games”, you mean the value of games as art.

This being so, do you not need to specify what you understand by the notion of art?

DA

.



2010-06-25
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Well, again, I'll try my best to be a neutralist here. I don't have a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for what make something count as an artwork, and I'm dubious of any attempt to give one. But it seems to me that what makes questions about the aesthetics of games interesting is that they're usually considered either borderline cases or regarded as too much of an "escapist" pastime to qualify as art. So in the present context I think progress can be made if we just treat "art" as referring to that class of natural objects and human artifacts that are usually treated  as unproblematic instances of the concept, e.g. Victorian novels, renaissance oil painting, Beethoven symphonies, etc.

2010-06-25
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Hi Mark

You write: "So in the present context I think progress can be made if we just treat "art" as referring to that class of natural objects and human artifacts that are usually treated  as unproblematic instances of the concept, e.g. Victorian novels, renaissance oil painting, Beethoven symphonies, etc."

There were of course large numbers of Victorian novels and Renaissance oil paintings that are not regarded as art today. But let's suppose you are thinking of one of Dickens' novels - say Great Expectations - and, say, Titian's Entombment of Christ.

What do you think computer games have in common with them, and, say, Beethoven's Eroica?

DA
 

2010-06-26
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Er, well, as I sort of started out the discussion by suggesting, I harbor the vague suspicion that at least some games are regarded by those who play them as having the same type of intrinsic value the possession of which plays an important role in explaining why Great Expectations, the Eroica and The Entombment of Christ are conventionally (and correctly) viewed as great artworks. My hope was to harvest some intuitions about what the source of this value might be in these games, since I have always found such intuitions on my own part rather difficult to articulate.

2010-06-27
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
I see. The question might be, though, whether computer games have much more in common with popular "thrillers" (novels or films) than with art.  

DA

2010-06-27
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Which games? Mass market console games such as Metal Gear certainly seems to fit this description, but sedate, exploratory games such as Myst or Machinarium pretty clearly aim for something quite different.

And which thrillers, also? Tom Clancy's and Clive Cussler's? Or John Le Carre's and Graham Greene's?

2010-06-27
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox

Hi Mark

I know very little about computer games so I can't really answer your first question. But the only ones I have played seemed to strive very hard to achieve the kind of "page-turner" effect a thriller aims for - i.e. at all costs keep the player on the hook. I guess that's why they’re often called “addictive". This "page-turner" effect is, to my mind, very different from the aim of a true work of art.

Which thrillers? I don't think there's a huge difference between Le Carré, or even Greene, and the others. But I’m not an expert on thrillers either. I usually avoid them. For me, a work of art worthy of the name is something like Crime and Punishment, Le Père Goriot or Les Liaisons dangereuses

But as you rightly point out, there’s no reliable definition that might separate the sheep from the goats, so there’s really no reliable way of answering the question. Personally, I don’t share the interest some aestheticians are showing in computer games. I think there’s a number of much more important issues that the philosophy of art should be facing – but isn’t.

DA


  


2010-06-27
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Okey doke.

2010-06-27
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox

Mark,

Here some ideas that might be useful for you. I take it that the following are relevant areas in which exemplary artworks are thought (or expected) to derive at least some of their value [I'll mostly discuss examples in painting]. 


1. Profundity&Subject Matter

One way an artwork can be a great artwork is to...

i) have a profound subject matter—subject matters of great moral, philosophical, or human significance (e.g., death, war, poverty, religion, love, art, etc.). Many classic examples from art-history have such subject matters: as Derek mentioned, Caravaggio’s The Entombment of Christ, Titian’s Assunta (as well as that by Rubens), Laocoon by El Greco, The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David, etc.

ii) offer a profound insight into its subject matter, which may or may not itself be profound, e.g., the profoundly honest depiction of late 19th-century Dutch peasantry in Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters, the playful but nevertheless deeply penetrating critique of the history of painting in Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke series, the use of crass middle-class commercialism to explore in-depth the notion of a readymade in Jeff Koons’s liquor ad paintings, Richard Prince’s re-photographings of various commercial advertisements asking some very probing questions about the limits of appropriative acts in art, etc.)

Relevant Videogame Examples: BioShock, Black & White.


2. Style & Aesthetic Experience

One way an artwork can be a great artwork is to...

Afford the viewer an (exemplary) aesthetic experience largely facilitated by the style employed (including how that style connects to that subject matter).

This can range from the style facilitating the aesthetic experience largely only insofar as it's depictively realistic (e.g., Church’s Twilight in the Wilderness, Breton’s The End of the Working Day) to more stylized but still realist works (e.g., Turner’s The Slave Ship, Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow) but more importantly also covers highly stylized depictions of real/mundane objects/events (e.g., Braque’s Woman with a Guitar, Goncharova’s Cyclist, Chagall’s The Fiddler) as well as those works for which style itself is constitutive or exhaustive of the subject matter (e.g., Pollock’s No. 5, Rothko’s Untitled (Black on Grey), Kline’s Chief, Olitiski’s Princess Yellow).

Relevant Videogame Examples: Viewtiful Joe, Geometry Wars


3. Depth of Experience

One way an artwork can be a great artwork is to...

Have protracted and sustained multiple, repeat-viewings yield an increased return or at least a more or less undiminished return (e.g., Manet’s Olympia, Vermeer’s The Love Letter, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch).

Videogame Examples: Knights of the Old Republic, LittleBigPlanet


4. All of the Above

Here are what I take to be the obvious examples of artworks satisfying all of the above: Picasso’s Guernica, da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Joyce’s Ulysses, Eliot’s The Wasteland, Leoncavello’s Pagliacci, Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung, and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos (at least insofar as one is willing to take counterpoint to be the profound subject matter of absolute music).

However, I would also just as strongly take the following to be just such examples: Kieslowski’s The Decalouge, Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander, Welles’s Citizen Kane, Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, Gibbons & Moore’s Watchmen, Miller & Varley’s The Dark Knight Returns, Spiegelman’s Maus.

As such, I see no reason why there couldn’t be a prima facie compelling case made for certain videogames satisfying at least some if not all of the above sorts of value. And to my mind, the most obvious case is the video game Braid. That is, I take it that a prima facie compelling case can be made for Braid as standing right alongside the paradigmatic artworks mentioned at least in terms of the intuitively relevant sorts of value discussed, which thereby makes a prima facie compelling case for Braid being an artwork (and ipso facto that video games can be art). 

I hope this helps.

Best,

Christy Mag Uidhir


2010-06-27
Games and Art

Just some brief comment on Christy’s proposed criteria for “exemplary artworks” (listed in bold):

have a profound subject matter—subject matters of great moral, philosophical, or human significance (e.g., death, war, poverty, religion, love, art, etc.).

Most comic books and pulp fiction are about love, death or war.

(By the way re:” Derek mentioned, Caravaggio’s The Entombment of Christ, Titian’s Assunta (as well as that by Rubens), Laocoon by El Greco, The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David, etc.” Derek in fact mentioned Titian’s “Entombment” . I'm not a big fan of Caravaggio. I didn’t mention the others at all.)

offer a profound insight into its subject matter, which may or may not itself be profound

Huge problem here of course is that one person’s “profound insight” can very easily be another person’s platitude. (Think of the huge number of artists praised by critics of their time who have faded into oblivion.)

Afford the viewer an (exemplary) aesthetic experience largely facilitated by the style employed (including how that style connects to that subject matter).

The notion of “aesthetic experience” is very vague indeed. There is no consensus among philosophers of art about what it might even mean. Ditto the notion of “subject matter”. What for example is the “subject matter” of a Mozart piano concerto. Is the "subject matter" of Crime and Punishment crime and punishment? And so on.

Have protracted and sustained multiple, repeat-viewings yield an increased return or at least a more or less undiminished return.

Computer games certainly encourage repeat viewings! Though it is very doubtful if they yield “an increased return” (except to the video game industry).

My own view of video games is, quite frankly, that they have nothing to do with art. They belong to the dream factory world of Hollywood movies (hence the swapping of ideas etc). I think the current interest in video games among (thankfully) a minority of philosophers of art is probably a rather pathetic attempt to make aesthetics “relevant”. Meanwhile, as I say, there are important and pressing questions being ignored.  

PS: the notion of “absolute music” is to my mind absolute nonsense. It’s high time this furphy was laid to rest.


2010-06-28
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
You know, Derek, I thought about prefacing my response to Mark's question with the following caveat:
[Nothing I say below should be read as being even remotely controversial (e.g., indicative of sufficiency, necessity, or as endorsing either implicitly or explicitly any particular art theoretical view or any specific position on the nature of aesthetic value, experience, properties, concepts, or attitudes].


Then I realized that doing so would be akin to placing a "DO NOT INGEST" warning label on razor blades. That is, anyone in possession of the appropriate concepts, the capacity for rational inference, and comprehension of basic conversational rules would easily arrive at the caveat themselves, and as such, explicitly stating it would only come across as needlessly paternalistic if not also outright intellectually insulting. My mistake.

Upon reflection I realized that the only reason I had for placing such a ridiculous disclaimer on my response was to forestall the inevitable wave of distorted, irrelevant, woefully under-informed knee-jerk lunacy that you call a reply. That's right, I felt the need to Derek-proof my response even though it neither addressed you nor directly concerned anything that you had said (I do, however, apologize for the Titian-Caravaggio mix up). Notice that this Derek-proofing isn't a compliment (at least anymore than a parent of teenager feeling the need to child-proof the electrical outlets should be taken as complimenting the teenager).

Of course, I suppose that my reply to Mark did concern you, thought albeit in a roundabout manner. That is, I felt extra motivation to attempt a helpful response to Mark when I noticed that his forum topic had adopted an all too familiar pattern:

Step One: Someone (usually someone outside aesthetics) would ask a perfectly reasonable question and expect more or less well-formed, informative, and on point replies, only to then be met with ill-formed, uninformative, and off-topic responses from you.

Step Two: That person would then quite respectfully respond with some wholly unnecessary clarification followed by a restatement of the initial perfectly reasonable question, only again to be met with more ill-formed and off-topic replies from you (usually of the following form "I know almost nothing about X but obviously the claim that X could be an F is absurd or at least is not as pressing a concern as whether Ys can be Gs")

Step Three: That person in the interest of charity and civility repeats Step Two but this time begins to show signs of frustration at having to do so. You respond by attacking some farcical distortion of the question the person asked in Step One, which is usually followed by some implicit insult or other (e.g., describing their interest or view as "pathetic", or accusing them of being philosophically ignorant or neglectful, etc.).

Step Four: That person, now exhausted, fully realizes the utter futility of the discussion, and promptly exits the forum never to return.

You aren't being helpful. You are instead actively driving folks away. While I would love to see the Aesthetics forum become a place for productive exchange (and, yes, this includes having heated, intense philosophical debates), as it currently stands, the forum threatens to be little more than an inhospitable wasteland littered with toxic Derek-Allan posts and occasional Christy-Mag-Uidhir invective. That sucks something fierce.

At the very least, I would greatly appreciate it if you did not respond to my posts. We are well past the point of the party where I have given you a host of social and conversational cues indicating that I'm not interested in what you have to say. If you want to jump on in with respect to someone else's posts, then tear it up; if they are likewise uninterested or take issue with your replies, then it's clearly up to them to let you know as much (I'll happily remain silent). But it should now be painfully clear that I do not want to philosophically engage with you at all whatsoever. You should respect that.


2010-06-28
Games and Art
Hi Christy

Ad hominem, ad hominem..

What about the arguments?

DA

2010-06-28
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
If I might be allowed to step in and act as 'referee' for a moment here, let me begin by saying that I didn't find Derek's earlier questions at all offensive or condescending -  perhaps just a bit odd on a forum where the best practice seems to be to charitably assume that your fellow interlocutors mean more or less the same things by their words as you do until it's proven otherwise. Asking for terminological clarification is perhaps an appropriate way to start a conversation with someone who is a complete ingenue on the topic being discussed, but while I make no exaggerated claims of expertize, I have published in BJA and have another paper forthcoming in JAAC...

As far as the ad hominems go, I'll take a pass, but I do think it only fair to point that Derek opened the door to all of this this when he made the rather surprising announcement about five posts into our harmless but pretty banal exchange about terminology that he was far too busy struggling with the deeper questions of aesthetics to be concerned with the topic of the discussion!

2010-06-28
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Mark,
My sincere apologies for hijacking your thread, for saying anything intimating that you shared my opinions and attitudes, and for creating a situation seemingly in need of refereeing in the first place.

As much as I'd like to be sheriff 'round these here parts, I at least should be mindful not to shoot up the saloon or deputize the citizenry without their consent, but Consarnit! I just reckon we all ought to be conversational-rule abidin' folk and it gets my dander up when a feller ain't.    

2010-06-28
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Hi Mark

Just thought I should clarify. When I said " I think there’s a number of much more important issues that the philosophy of art should be facing – but isn’t" (which I imagine is the comment you are referring to) I wasn't suggesting that I wanted to terminate the discussion. I was simply stating my opinion about the importance of the issue in question. (Actually I was half expecting you to challenge me on what these "much more important issues" might be.)

And just to be clear (this comment is mainly intended for the would-be "sheriff"): Naturally, I didn't expect you to agree with me. You obviously think video games important - and all power to you in prosecuting your case. I don't, and will continue to say so as vigorously as I choose - as I would on any other subject (always trying to avoid the ad hominem). I am passionately attached to the idea of free and open debate. Always was, always will be. That's how intellectual progress is made. Sheriffs are good for keeping the law but, if I recall, the "land of the free", like my own country, has no laws against free and open debate.

Thanks for your comment.

DA

2010-06-30
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
So where I say "aesthetic value," please read "whatever type of intrinsic ... (expand) value is possessed by items that are unproblematically classifiable as artworks, by virtue of their being artworks."

I hope it's okay if I join in this discussion? 

I like aesthetics, although I must say including computer games in this category is a new one on me, and I'm struggling to see how and why it should figure in a philosophy discussion on aesthetics, even though philosophy covers just about everything.  Also, with the greatest respect, whilst you come up with "intrinsic value" as a defining quality of artworks, what is the intrinsic value of computer games, and how does it relate to the nature of that which is aesthetic?

I would put forward the view that at least one of the necessary conditions (ie parts of the whole that defines that which is aesthetic) is the quality of being profound ..  although this part may be obscured by others: eg humour, simplicity, ordinariness, horror, obscenity, and so on. And whilst computer games possess some or all these other parts, I have difficulty in perceiving anything that is profound about them.  However, it is possible I may have overlooked something, and I may be wrong on this.

Dilys

PS  In a later post, I notice that Derek placed Graham Greene's novels in the genre of thrillers, and in this he seemed to imply they are not profound, or at least, not in the same category as great classical works of music, visual art and dance that are deemed to carry much more aesthetic and intellectual gravitas, However, although I agree this is largely the case, I would not dismiss Greene's novels, and similar others, out of hand, because there is profundity and gravitas nestled in amongst the ordinariness of its setting and prose, not that Greene's prose is ordinary in the mundane sense ...  

I've been doing a very short literature course on the modern British novel, and I must admit I find some of them a bit lightweight for my tastes, even though all of them were awarded literary prizes, **  so what does that say about literature generally, and literature awards in particular?  I guess literary tastes are changing, but I struggle at times to find anything profound in some of these sorts of works, which sort of reflects this current discussion that is linking aesthetics with computer games.  

**  [Hilary Mantel's 'Beyond Black,' Ishiguro, 'Never Let Me Go', Zadie Smith 'White Teeth', McEwan's Atonement ..  ]

I can see that Ishiguro's novel is a reflection on contemporary consequentialist morality, and the development of manufactured cloning for the benefit of the majority ..  evenso, I don't find the overall novel itself profound, although it makes a serious point ... 

How does any of this compare with some contemporary conceptual art for instance .. 

Does it imply that: 

(a) some contemporary 'works of art' are not aesthetic?

(b)  aesthetic is not a necessary condition of that which is art? 

(c) being profound is not a necessary condition of that which is aesthetic?



2010-06-30
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Here as in another discussion no one seems to be interested much in the real subject matter and form of games and art.(as distinct from the supposedly aesthetic or other experiences they give rise to and the aesthetic values that may be attached to them). This is a serious indictment of the poverty of philosophy of art.

The reality of most games is as follows:  they are designed so that the player is presented with as concentrated a series of dilemmas as possible.  The tennis player must continually decide which part of the court to play the ball, for example, which is almost always a dilemma. Similarly the video game player will face continuous dilemmas about say where to look for enemies or to shoot. The value of the game lies in this problematicity. If it does not present sufficient dilemmas, it is boring. If it presents too many or too complex dilemmas, it is too difficult. The skill in game design lies in striking a good balance appropriate to the physical and mental skills that the game calls on.

Why do we like to play games? Because they are like life - only with the boring parts left out. Life too is a series of dilemmas in every activity, but usually there is a lot of background routine involved. If you're writing an essay, you don't just face essay-writing dilemmas, you also have to do things like do research and search for files on the computer etc etc. And so it is with all normal everyday activities. Games strip out the boring parts and are designed to as closely and continuously exercise our problemsolving skills and faculties as possible.

So far, I suggest, so broadly obvious.

What's the connection with the arts? Well the primary connection is not with all the arts, but with the dramatic arts - with drama. Games are drama.

The essence of drama is that the protagonist faces a dilemma, and the drama traces how he deals with that dilemma - this is the fundamental structure of all drama, which mirrors life. Hamlet obviously faces the dilemma mainly of to kill or not kill Claudius, and the play traces the stages and scenes of his decisionmaking. And drama also strips out the boring parts. Actually s.o. like Hamlet in real life may have thought many thousands of lines and hundreds of hours about his murder project, but the play strips out the repetitive parts and the less relevant parts, and tries to cut to the central parts of his debate about his dilemma.

[Of course, drama traces all kinds of decisionmaking and dilemma-facing, from the decisions like those of Lear wh. may be made in a few seconds, to others wh. may take many years. It constitutes one of the most valuable bodies of knowledge we have about decisionmaking. But no academics of the arts have much knowledge of, or interest in, this].

Is the connection between the games and dramatic arts important -how we deal with dilemmas? Well, if you asked either sciences or most philosophers or indeed most academics, the answer would be probably "not much."

The reality if you tot it up is that the average person in our society spends well over 12 hours a week watching some form of drama  and then you could probably add a few hours for watching sport. And then you could add hours each night, while their unconscious brain forges dramas in the form of dreams.

It's important.

2010-06-30
Games and Art
Reply to Dilys Marsden
Oops!  I have only just read all the contributions to this discussion, and whilst not wishing to add further acrimony,  I have to say that on the question of computer games and its relevance to aesthetics,  I'm with Derek on this one, although I'm willing to be enlightened by those who disagree, inasmuch there may be something I have overlooked ..  

Dilys

 

2010-07-01
Games and Art
Reply to Mike Tintner
Hi Mike

Your post was an interesting attempt to elevate games to the level of art. But here are a couple of key points I think you need to reconsider:

You write: "Life too is a series of dilemmas in every activity". Is that all life is?  Sounds a very limited account to me. I think life's much more complex and many-sided than that.

You also write: "The essence of drama is that the protagonist faces a dilemma, and the drama traces how he deals with that dilemma - this is the fundamental structure of all drama, which mirrors life."

Is that the essence of drama? Even take Hamlet - who perhaps suits your argument best of all. Is Hamlet really just a rather inadequate problem-solver? I know this interpretation is often placed on the play, but it sounds much too simple to me. Indeed, if that were all he was, one would surely wonder how Shakespeare made a tragic figure out of him. More likely to be rather comic - a sort of silly ditherer.

Life, like art, is much more than dealing with dilemmas.

DA
 


2010-07-01
Games and Art
Reply to Dilys Marsden
Dilys writes: "I would put forward the view that at least one of the necessary conditions (ie parts of the whole that defines that which is aesthetic) is the quality of being profound .."

Yes, I think this is right. Of course profundity is not easy to define, but I think we know when it's there and when it isn't.

Many games can be complex and difficult but are they ever profound? Even chess - perhaps the most "intellectual" of games - can hardly be called profound, can it?

On the other hand, many works of art can quite reasonably called profound - and this can even be so when they not really complex or difficult.

DA

2010-07-03
Games and Art
Reply to Mike Tintner
Dear Mike.

I'm not on the same wavelength as you regarding your parallels with video games and art or aesthetics.   I can understand that games are a drama of sort when distanced from the hard realities of life.  However, I think that what drama achieves is something subtley, but significantly, different, in that whilst it achieves *distancing by virtue of its medium (a play performed upon a stage, an artist's visual interpretation that is hung on a gallery wall ..) rather, it hones in on those fundamental essentials of life that we cannot explicitly articulate ...   rather we often can only engage with these things when it is expressed within this dramatic (distancing) medium, so that we can relate it to our own experience and those of others, and, this quality I feel is lacking in video games, but, I am willing to be enlightened on this, because there may be something I have overlooked.  However, this is how this argument appears to me.  

*Bullough, drawn on Kantian theory ...  meaning that our attention is engaged by the very fact of its abstract nature ... which is effectively the essence of a thing ...  Do you believe that video games have anything that is similar to Bullough's distancing theory for instance?   

Is there, for instance, a distinction here between thrills, and that which is profound?    Those things which touch us deeply, and which are ineffable, and which can only be expressed by something else beyond it ?    In this sense drama and visual art, abstract dance and music are cathartic emotions.   I can well imagine that video games can be cathartic in this sense, but I'm not at all sure if they are on the same level with art, drama and music, although I may well be wrong on this.   Our understanding of the world is changing, and perhaps our perceptions need to change also ... but on the question of video games and art, I have yet to be convinced of this.....  although I'm willing to keep my mind open ... 

Dilys













 

2010-07-03
Games and Art
Reply to Mike Tintner
The essence of drama is that the protagonist faces a dilemma, and the drama traces how he deals with that dilemma - this is the fundamental structure of all drama, which mirrors life. Hamlet obviously faces the dilemma mainly of to kill or not kill Claudius, and the play traces the stages and scenes of his decisionmaking. And drama also strips out the boring parts. Actually s.o. like Hamlet in real life may have thought many thousands of lines and hundreds of hours about his murder project, but the play strips out the repetitive parts and the less relevant parts, and tries to cut to the central parts of his debate about his dilemma.

[Of course, drama traces all kinds of decisionmaking and dilemma-facing, from the decisions like those of Lear wh. may be made in a few seconds, to others wh. may take many years. It constitutes one of the most valuable bodies of knowledge we have about decisionmaking. But no academics of the arts have much knowledge of, or interest in, this].

Is the connection between the games and dramatic arts important -how we deal with dilemmas? Well, if you asked either sciences or most philosophers or indeed most academics, the answer would be probably "not much."

The reality if you tot it up is that the average person in our society spends well over 12 hours a week watching some form of drama  and then you could probably add a few hours for watching sport.

And then you could add hours each night, while their unconscious brain forges dramas in the form of dreams...  but do they also have poetry ?  

Surely, once you strip away the eloquence of drama's prose and poetry ... what remains is the strategy of modern management speak ...  What parallels does video games have with dramatic prose and poetry that is witty and profound, humorous and deeply moving ...  ? 

Okay possibly not absolute managment speak ... (although some form of ... and without the poetry ....  perhaps !)   Perhaps poets ought to conceive some poems about the dreams of video gamers ?   Perhaps they already have ...  but that is poetry, and video games is video games, even though tis also dreams ...  

Dilys





2010-07-03
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Derek,

My point was to analyse *principal functions* of games and *dramatic* arts, not to give an exhaustive account of them in 10 sentences.

They have related but also significantly different functions - games *set* you problems/dilemmas to solve - so to speak, create chunks of life for you to participate in. The dramatic arts *reflect* how individuals deal with the various dilemmas of their lives - reflect life for you to watch.  Games are not art. The arts, though, often take games as their subject - there is a v. considerable movie and literature of sports and other games.

{Here tangentially is why the philosophy and the academy of the arts are so impoverished .- they sit around and vaguely comment on whether works are *art* or valuable (without having any viable explanation of what art is),  and analyse relatively trivial aspects of how works of art operate, without analysing in depth how they really, centrally  *function*. There is v. little if any academic work that is any use at all to an artist - the person who actually has to know how art functions. And if you don't think philosophy can achieve much that way, look at Kuhn who  with the discovery of how paradigms in a broad way govern sciences' functioning - majorly changed and shaped how both science and our culture think about themselves].

You then write: first quoting me: "The essence of drama is that the protagonist faces a dilemma, and the drama traces how he deals with that dilemma - this is the fundamental structure of all drama, which mirrors life." Is that the essence of drama? "

Oh yes, it most certainly is. Do you write dramas of any kind? If you write them, you will realise that that is exactly how they are structured. More or less every scene in Hamlet is another section of his ongoing, evolving debate.

I suggest you read some work about drama which is really useful -   work written for dramatists - read scriptwriting and playwriting books.  They're in many ways crude, but they will tell you vastly more about how drama functions than any academic works about the arts.

They may phrase it variously - but they will all tell you that the protagonist faces a dilemma/challenge about wh. he is conflicted. and then proceeds to deal (or not deal) with. (There may well be more than one dilemma of course - one leading to another to another).

Not to understand this is not to understand drama - and not to understand how drama has evolved over 2500 years, to embrace the dilemmas of an ever greater range of types of individual, of an ever greater range of sexes, ages, sexualities, ethnicities, classes, and other social groupings, in an ever greater range of sectors of society, industries, and walks of life - has evolved to give an ever fuller picture of the panorama of the human drama from birth to death. If you're concentrated on arguing about the value of a tiny percentage of drama and literature - an extremely few  canonical works, -  this extraordinary richness will pass you by.










2010-07-03
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Some further clarification of the relation between life, games and art (dramatic arts) - because games are *not* art.

Life is a series of dilemmas about how to live our lives.

Games are heightened, concentrated versions of normal life - presenting concentrated series of dilemmas, designed to exercise the relevant faculties very intensely (more intensely than is usually possible in normal life activites). **

Dramas are reflective pictures of humans (and v. occasionally animals) dealing with the dilemmas of their lives (incl. games players dealing with the dilemmas of playing games). Dramas are also heightened intensified pictures of such problemsolving, focussing on the main points of decisionmaking.

Dramas have one v. interesting further property - to what extent has this been properly explored theoretically?. Dramas get the viewer to **re-enact** how other individuals deal with dilemmas - to put themselves inside the protagonist, as well as view them from the outside - and gain first-remove life experience.

This is also a major function of dreams - to enable us to enact dealing with problems in our life, purely imaginatively, without real life consequences.

**N.B. Problemsolving here should not be regarded as an abstract, purely intellectual affair. It is always a *corporate*  business, an integrated brain-and-body affair - and very physical as well as mental.



2010-07-04
Games and Art
Reply to Mike Tintner

Hi Mike

An interesting post. Some points in reply:

You write: "Games are not art."  I agree. (Yes I am being a bit cheeky and taking you somewhat out of context.)

You write : " they sit around and vaguely comment on whether works are *art* or valuable (without having any viable explanation of what art is),  and analyse relatively trivial aspects of how works of art operate..."

I think you are right in many cases.. A large proportion of contemporary aesthetics and lit.crit. fits this description fairly well. 

On your general point that drama is about dealing with dilemmas, I'm afraid I still have to disagree. I think it's much too narrow a definition. What does that make tragic heroes? Inadequate problem-solvers? Let's take a case that might seem to suit your position quite well - Macbeth. What is Macbeth’s “problem”? That he wants to be a king? That he listens to witches? That he listens to his wife’s advice? That he has an overactive imagination and sees ghosts as banquets? That his original idea of killing the king was fine but he botched the job?  All of the above?  

To my mind, none of this even goes close to explaining the dramatic spell of Macbeth. Macbeth's "problems" are certainly part of the drama, but the basis of it lies much deeper.

DA


2010-07-07
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Dilys: but do they also have poetry ?   Surely, once you strip away the eloquence of drama's prose and poetry ... what remains is the strategy of modern management speak

Dilys,

If you want poetry, why not try poetry? If you want drama, (& I'd be v. surprised if you don't watch a good deal of one kind or other), what you will get is not simply "modern management speak", but how a vast range of different types of individual in different walks of life speak and think, (including modern managers). A reasonable facsimile of their speech and thought.

How they debate their central dilemmas. And their typical styles of speech in their activities. How parents talk to children, and vice versa. Managers to subordinates, and vice versa.

How an adolescent in identity crisis, like Holden Caulfield, actually speaks and thinks. [A whole type of personality captured in just the first opening line of Catcher in the Rye]. How a modern equivalent like Harry Enfield's adolescent in his TV show, speaks and thinks.

This is extraordinarily valuable.

If you try and reduce this to something else  - criticise it because it is not some confused idea of high culture, per some confused philosophy of art, you are missing the riches of drama.

Interestingly, I was just reading McLuhan's reaction to somewhat similar criticisms a while back of the new mass media, because they were not like -&even corrupting -  supposed high art:

"Radio, film, TV pushed
written English towards
the spontaneous shifts&freedom of
the spoken idiom.
They aided us in the recovery
of intense awareness of
facial language & bodily gesture.
If these “mass media”
should serve only
to weaken or corrupt
previously achieved levels of
verbal & pictorial culture,
it won’t be because
there’s anything inherently wrong with them.
It will be because we’ve failed
to master them as new languages
to assimilate them to
our total cultural heritage..."

Drama primarily captures speech, thought, dialogue - and if movies, "facial language & bodily gesture. " To criticise it for not being poetry is to fail to master not so much, per McLuhan, the "language" of drama,  as drama-as-image[s]. What drama does is to hold up a highly selective mirror *and* recorder to people - thus creating both visual and sound images of their speech and thought . No other [non-artistic] part of our culture does this. [Other arts, like that of comedians, do it, though in somewhat different ways].



2010-07-07
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Derek,

Your question stimulates a fascinating idea for me -  I'll just put it down briefly, maybe develop it another time.

It's as follows: you don't know how to *view* the play. I doubt that anyone in academe does. You're trying to read/analyse/distill it into something else - something "deeper"  - into some verbal formula that you can make the subject of an essay.

You/we/our culture doesn't know how to view images and Macbeth like most plays is a complex image.

If you look at a visual image - let's take the Mona Lisa - in a sense, almost anything you can *say*/*verbalise* about that image is irrelevant. Because the image itself is the thing. Writing verbal essays about almost any image - and its supposedly "deeper" content -  is practically useless. The best thing you can do is something that has only become possible in the last few years. Take a visual program and outline/highlight any features of the image itself to make your point - outline say what makes the smile distinctive. As a good novelist-dramatist like Henry James would say, "don't tell me, show me." [I'm not saying, literally nothing useful can be said in words about images, just not much]. The same applies to music. Verbal philosophical/literary analysis of music is usually pretty pointless. But now we have music programs, that enable you to analyse and highlight features of the music image itself.

So for the first time in history, proper analysis of the images of art can begin. Culturally, right now, we are at the changeover of an entire epoch. The book of writing or print has been replaced by the movie book, pace the tablet/ipad - and the image has been enfranchised and made extraordinarily cheap as text was enfranchised by the printed book. We can and will as a consequence become image-literate or mediate for the first time. At the moment, culturally, we are still image-illiterate or "immediate."

I start with these more graphic images, because a play is a more subtle kind of image, (if we're thinking of it in manuscript vs. movie form). But it's still an image.

And for Macbeth like every drama, "the play's the thing." Not your or any philosopher/academic's analysis, but the play itself.

So  if you look at Macbeth - [let's just take up to the murder] - basically the play as a whole - the dialogue as a whole -  scene after scene - is the thing. And you'll find that the play [up to the murder]  *is* largely the debate about the dilemma - "Macbeth" is almost all Macbeth's debate about his dilemma of whether to kill his king -  Claudius' praise and recognition of him, his wife's urgings, the witches' predictions, his own inner debates - they're all part of his evolving debate pro and con killing, all factors pro and con.

And note: all of these speeches of people and inner debates would or could in principle have been part of the real Macbeth's, or a real usurper's, actual total debates.

So the big deal is the play-as-a-whole's rendition of the protagonist's whole debate, wh. typically includes both their own inner debates, and their debates with those around them, who are usually actually, or effectively, urging them pro and con deciding one way or other about the dilemma.

That's the achievement of the dramatist - the whole total debate - all 1000 or however many lines of it -  remove parts, or distil it, and you lose the achievement - just as if you were to focus on only one part of Mona Lisa's face - the eyes or lips,say - you would lose the whole achievement of the total expression captured.

You can certainly highlight parts -  I'd highlight how Macbeth is caught between being a "man" by killing, and being human and a loyal subject - but the key thing is the debate itself as a whole.

And what we now have the ability to do through technology, is compare other comparable murderers' debates. Compare how they proceeded to the point of murder, and what thoughts moved or didn't move them. Compare the man who murders his king without a second thought, with Macbeth who is tortured about it, with Hamlet  who is tortured he can't do it. Compare actual dialogue in actual movies. You'll find there are loads of such collages on youtube - not systematic, serious stuff, yet, but pointing the way, to the radically new forms of image analysis and comparison that will be born in the academy of the arts.

We will have to develop new faculties to understand all this - - to be able to think of plays as wholes. We will have to acquire the faculties of the artists themselves. After all, if you're writing Macbeth, the whole play is indeed the thing - all of those 1000 or however many lines are integral parts of the debate you're capturing - just as every line in an artist's portrait is part of the sitter's expression. If the dramatist/artist changes just one dialogue or visual line, they may screw, or severely impair the whole work. So to truly understand drama or visual art, we must all acquire that sensibility/ overall framework.

No, you can't simply equate all plays with protagonist's debates about their turning-point dilemmas. Certainly, there's more to them and some place more emphasis on the typical lifestyle of the protagonist. But my original concern remember, was merely to compare the central functions of games and drama.



2010-07-07
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Yes, just to crystallise one part of what I was saying:

you - or philosophy and the academy of the arts - are looking at drama and the arts principally from the POV of the *audience/reader* (with time to analyse). And you're asking: "what does the play mean to me, and what is its effect on me, and what should I take away from the play?" (Me,me, me, is that all you can think of? :)  )

Wrong (or extremely secondary) POV.

To understand a play or work of art, and how it functions, you have to look at it principally from the POV of the ARTIST.  And you have to ask how it all fits together, why it's all there? Why did the artist choose to include those events (or those lines on the face of a portrait - and that expression at that point in time rather than later) and not others?

Why, for this drama, did the artist choose all  these events - these actions and thoughts - from all those in the total stream of life leading up to the focal decisions-and-actions of the play? (And did he miss anything out? Should he have incl. anything else that he/y ou might have considered?)

Take Macbeth [first half] and I suggest how it all fits together is pretty obvious. Shaks. wanted to show you how Macbeth came to - decided to - kill Duncan, (er did I say Claudius before?!)  And the scenes he shows you are the key scenes in what both conflicted Macbeth and yet finally convinced  him to do the deed - the key back-and-forth's in his ongoing debate.

And when you see the drama as the artist/dramatist, you won't have much problem seeing the play as a totality - all the scenes, all the lines together -  the total debate of the protagonist. And you won't need, as you do when you look from the POV of the reader, to distil the play into some take-away reader's "message".

In case it's not clear,I'm suggesting a v. radical new approach to the arts - for the whole academy. Increasingly popular creative writing courses are just one of the factors pushing us to that revolution. Ultimately there should/will be only writers/artists-readers/viewers. That's the inevitable logic of the internet - and a vastly truer and more productive logic.

2010-07-09
Games and Art
Reply to Mike Tintner
Dear Mike,

I am challenging the concept of video games as art on the basis that they do not possess the  quality of being profound, which as I understood it was the point of your argument,  I questioned whether you thought video games possessed this quality, and how you might justify this belief.   As such, I don't quite understand your response to my post which takes it out of context, and turns it on its head, because I have neither criticised the qualities of poetry or drama, and I'm not sure what gave the impression that I had?  
 
On the contrary, I asked whether you believed video games possessed Bullough's aesthetic 'distancing' qualities, which is a sort of dramatic distillation of the human condition in terms of our interaction with and response to certain moments and events that can relate backwards and forwards in time and place.   I accept drama and poetry for the richness of their interpretation and thus representation of life captured in essence.  Drama and poetry and all art forms can be humourous, terrifying, playful, or they can simply reflect the ordinariness of life, and will often combine all of these qualities, although the point of all art forms is their ability to engage us, and reach our innermost feelings in some way that also relates to universal others, and which I would suggest is manifested by the quality of being profound.    I would also suggest that one of the main reasons for art's existence, is that it possesses symbolic qualities that represent that which is ineffable, and as you imply always relates to something beyond that which can be verbalised ... and possibly beyond the artform itself .... Nonetheless, we can understand that which cannot be spoken, or at least to share an affinity with some part of it ..   As such, in all of this  I had assumed the ball was in your court in terms of explaining how video games might possess these sorts of qualities.  

By the way I take your point about the arts and the internet, and whilst I see the huge advantages it offers in its ability to exchange ideas/knowledge, this in itself is only one small part of the dynamics of its creative whole, which does not in itself resolve the question of whether or not video games possess the quality of being profound in some way.


Best wishes
Dilys


PS  you might be interested in BBC Radio 4 programme (listen again facility - 6 days left to listen) on Grayson Perry, Creativity and Imagination. 

 

2010-07-09
Games and Art
Reply to Dilys Marsden
Dear Mike,

In essence I'm not criticising video games for not being 'high art', rather my challenge is that they are not profound in the way that dramatic presentation of humour, terror, or mundanity can be profound.  And if you are focusing on drama, or any art form that is live performance, is it coherent to explain video games as possessing the same sort of creative aesthetic dynamics that exist between the performers and audience, the particular venue, and the particular moment ..  which in itself is a peculiar sort of aesthetic energy that is capable of manifesting a sort of aesthetic magic or poetry, the nature of which is profound .. ..  ?

Dilys  

2010-07-10
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Dilys,

Seems to be no communication here. I've twice said: games are not art. So I'm not interested in whether they're "profound."  I'm interested in what they show us about a) normal life and b) drama in all its forms, (as reflecting life) -   and the central focus of all three is humans dealing with dilemmas - problematic decisions. That is of profound importance - because humans' success in life depends on this.

My central philosophy of art is that they reflect and discover the world, pretty much as the sciences do, albeit on a different, complementary level, but without (as yet) the formal method. And when you think like that, what is important about either art or science is what they have to show you of the world. The main thing about any scientific theory or work of art is - how true is it? The question of "how profound is it?" - "does it deserve five stars or three or two stars?" is a sideshow - and actually not one that any philosopher or academic of art is in the least qualified to pronounce on, since they still don't know what art is.

2010-07-10
Games and Art
Reply to Mike Tintner
Mike

You write: " The main thing about any scientific theory or work of art is - how true is it"

But it's tricky isn't it?  What does truth mean in relation to art?

We can test the truth of a scientific proposition by experimentation. How do we test the truth of art?

"Truth" seems to mean something different in these two cases, don't you think? There are even philosophers of art who deny that we can even use the term sensibly in relation to art.

DA

PS I notice some relevant articles on today's Art and Letters.
http://www.aldaily.com/
I haven't read them yet. 

2010-07-18
Games and Art
Reply to Mike Tintner
"What's the connection with the arts? Well the primary connection is not with all the arts, but with the dramatic arts - with drama. Games are drama.  Mike Tintner


Mike,

This is an odd self-contradictory sort of claim!  Dramatic art is by its self-explanatory definition art, and, as such, how can something have and not have connextion with the arts?  Do you mean the visual arts, because this is not what you have said here? 

Dilys

2010-07-18
Games and Art
Reply to Mike Tintner

Dear Mike,

1) "Some further clarification of the relation between life, games and art (dramatic arts) - because games are *not* art."    Mike Titner ..  

As you have stated, you have twice said that games art not art, and yet ..   surely the contradiction is self-explanatory in explaining something as "dramatic arts"?  If you are comparing games to the dramatic arts, then by definition you are comparing them with the arts - specifically that of drama - but of the arts nonetheless.

2)  "Dramas get the viewer to **re-enact** how other individuals deal with dilemmas - to put themselves inside the protagonist, as well as view them from the outside - and gain first-remove life experience."  Mike Titner

I would disagree with the term "re-enact" , which is (I believe) something that can be applied to video games (ie role playing) but which (according to my understanding) does not apply to dramatic art, at least not in the way you imply.  There are many more complex dynamic strands that constitute the finished production, and that's only one particular production of which there are many.   I guess your response is that inviduals sitting in front of their computer screens are also individually "re-enacting" their particular role-playing.  However, I believe their role-playing is  linear compared with the multiple interaction that is involved in the production of a play.  

First of all my understanding is that the audience is not so much involved in re-enactment as a subjective interpretation of the play, which in turn has been (hopefully .. sensitively) interpreted by its producer, and then the actors themselves, all of whom are interpreting the original playwright's interpretation ...  Moreover, each performance is unique in itself according to the mood/wellbeing being of the actors, and that of the audience (ie how they respond to the performance) and even the venue itself are all interconnected parts of the fluid dynamics involved in the making of a play. Plays are continuously evoIving, and whilst I can see there are elements of drama that may apply to intelligent computer games, I have yet to be convinced they are the same sort of things.   I am aware that visual artists are now using enhanced computer visuals to create artwork, and I can at least understand the logic of anyone putting forward a case for computer games in terms of its artwork, although I don't think this is something you are arguing for here. 

I agree that life sometime is a "series of dilemmas", although it is also much more complex than that.  Whilst games involve decision making and strategies, similar to doing crossword puzzles or management training they are not comparable to dramatic art. 

Somewhere in this thread you have compared sporting activities with dramatic art, whereas I would suggest that whilst watching a game of sport we can appreciate the drama of the game, and the aesthetic beauty of the competitor's graceful athleticism,  but whereas computer games attempt to re-enact this experience,  dance, poetry and drama present an aesthetic interpretation of  the dynamism and magic of that which is mostly ineffable, and I suggest it is this quality that is absent from computer games.   

Whilst drama can be cathartic I can understand that computer games can also be cathartic, but not in the same way.  I suggest that your explanation of computer games describes only one or two strands that may be comparable with dramatic art, but so far no more than that .  You refer to poetry as if it was something apart from drama, which strictly speaking in terms of classification it is, .  although in the sense that there is often a power and beauty in the text of the plays themselves,  drama can be a form of poetry in itself, and of course there is poetry in Shakespeare's texts and ancient Greek drama, and so on.   

You also put a case for the importance of reflecting the ordinariness of people's lives, and I absolutely agree in the sense that this is something the arts have been doing forever.  For instance, some of Seamus Heaney's most powerful poetry is about the most simplest of domestic moments.  However, the structure of dramatic art is such that it captures an essence of a moment or a situation in such a way that we can relate it to our own experience or that of universal others.  Sometimes it is intended to shock us out of our complaisancy, sometimes to make us laugh at ourselves or others.   Plays can be a vehicle against political or social oppression.  As such, I have yet to be convinced that there is a coherent case for comparing computer games with dramatic art. 

Last but not least, whilst not wishing to cause offence, unless I have misunderstood your point, I cannot see what is revolutionary about studying the aims of the playwright, its historical and political context, and so on.  How can anyone study plays/literature otherwise?    Isn't this what scholarly literature has been doing for some time?  That said, even whilst we take these sorts of things into account, and whilst it does affect how we view a play, we will nonetheless each interpret any production subjectively, which is a psychological given.  

Best wishes,
Dilys








2010-07-18
Games and Art
Reply to Dilys Marsden

Mike and Dilys

Hope you don’t mind if I butt in here with a point that the conversation happened to remind me about.

In despair about defining art, philosophers of art have occasionally resorted to the idea that there is really no such thing as art in the general sense – only different “arts”. One example of this is a book by Peter Kivy called Philosophies of Arts ("Arts" plural). Kivy tries to argue that the different arts are different phenomena – not different kinds of art.

Personally, I find this approach very unconvincing. It strikes me as an attempt to have one’s cake and eat it too. Typically, the arguments use the term “art” quite freely (“literature is an art”, “music is an art” etc) but dodge the task of defining it through the claim that, after all, there is no such thing as art!

DA


2010-07-18
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,
Kivy argues no such thing and explicitly says as much in the preface to his book: 

"In no way am I urging, on philosophical grounds or any other, that the traditional task of defining the work of art is either impossible or exhausted as a philosophical enterprise. Nor am I recommending that it be given up for any other reason. What I am recommending, or gently suggesting, perhaps, is that at least some of us give it a rest and try to study the arts, as philosophers, in their differences rather than in their sameness; that alongside the philosophy of art we have philosophies of arts" (p. x).

2010-07-18
Games and Art

Ah! killed by a quote!

Actually, I vaguely remembered he said something like that. But I still stick to my guns because it's mealy-mouthed, isn't it?  What exactly does this mean:

 "... gently suggesting, perhaps, is that at least some of us give it a rest and try to study the arts, as philosophers, in their differences rather than in their sameness; that alongside the philosophy of art we have philosophies of arts"

I'd call that trying to have it both ways, wouldn't you? Having one's cake and eating it too? And remember, he's still quite happy to title his book "Philosophies of Arts", and then, if I remember correctly, discuss each of the "arts" separately in separate chapters - which is hardly "gently suggesting".

By the way, I'd welcome a discussion of Kivy's book if you like. I think it's equivocal and question-begging (in keeping with the above quote) and it might be worthwhile identifying just why.

Nice to hear from you again, Christy.

DA

2010-07-21
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Just thought I'd add a PS to the above.

If I recall correctly - and I imagine Christy will correct me if I don't - Kivy also tries to argue that there are "representative arts" and "non-representative arts".  Visual art and some (not all) literature fall into the first category, music and the remnant of literature into the second.

So we not only have the problem of defining "arts" without a definition of "art" (see above); we are also faced with the additional dilemma of distinguishing "representative arts" from "non-representative arts" without a definition of art (or arts).

The obvious problem with all this is that one is making use of the term "art" while at the same time suggesting it has no meaning. Kivy, as Christy was kind enough to remind me, says he is only "gently suggesting" that, and only wants "some of us give [the traditional task of defining the work of art] a rest".  But that sounds like special pleading, doesn't it - as if one were saying "Yes, I know my position is vulnerable but please don't criticize it because, really, I am only gently suggesting it - and only for some of us."


DA







2010-08-04
Games and Art
Reply to Dilys Marsden

Dear Mike,

I think I have already made the point that it has occurred to me that art is always pushing at the boundaries and challenging our ideas of what is/is not art, and on this basis alone I believe philosophy of art has to first examine the case of games as art before dismissing it out of hand. Moreover, for those of us who reject the concept of video games as art, how do we reconcile this view with Duchamp's readymades, Tracey Emin's bed, or Damien Hirst's dead shark in a tank ? As a result of finding out more about this ongoing debate I would like to add a postscript to my last post.

First of all I had not realised that games as art has been the subject of an ongoing debate for some time, and in order to find out more about this I happened to come across Aaron Smuts paper on this topic that made some good points.  [Are Video Games Art, Contemporary Aesthetics.]  http://www.contempaesthetics.org/newvolume/pages/article.php?articleID=200  Secondly, when reading your argument, and also Smuts, they reminded me of Dewey's challenge to the view that aesthetic experience is exclusive to the domain of art.

Aaron Smuts, and you also, reject the notion of analysing 'What is Art?' on the basis of necessary and sufficient conditions, although I am at a loss to understand how else we may know that which a thing is in terms of its essential nature and its constituent parts. How may we examine or analyse anything at all if we know not what it is we are examining?  Nonetheless, in spite of Smuts' rejection of necessary conditios he appears to make use of them with his ' historical, aesthetic, institutional, representational, and expressive theories, some of which have *some* connection with Dewey's argument, in some respects, although not all.  

You and Smuts both make claims for the importance of everyday experience, although unlike Smuts and Dewey you overlook aesthetic experience as a necessary condition of art.  Okay, Smuts doesn't label it as a necessary condition, but that is effectively what he is doing!   An important point that Dewey makes about aesthetic experience in our everyday lives, the nature of sport and intellectual achievements in science, mathematics and so on, is that not all of this experience can be coherently claimed as art.  Whilst Dewey qualifies aesthetic  experience as a consummation of experience ..  (which is a similar claim in some way to S.Langer's music/emotions, Philosophy in a New Key )  he says that: "The difference between art and science is that art expresses meanings, whereas science states them.  A statement gives us directions for obtaining an experience, but does not supply us with experience.  If science expressed the inner nature of things it would be in competition with art, but it does not.  Aesthetics, art, by contrast to science, constitutes an experience."   [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]  At the same time, with regard to your earlier comment that art/science are seeking the same thing (ie truth) alebeit by different routes ..  this concept has often occurred to me also, although the notion of Platonic truth as knowledge is something that is rejected by Dewey.  My comment on this is that whilst I accept that truth as the thing in itself, is a slippery notion in terms of culture, politics and so on, and also whilst having empathy with many of Dewey's pragmatism, I nonetheless also hold to the concept of Platonic knowledge as truth, and thus the essence of being.  However, I suppose the argument here is whether it is humanly possible to have knowledge of the thing in itself, and how do we recognise it when we see it/experience it?  But, I am digressing somewhat and taking us off the main points concerning how video games may be linked with artworks ..  Oops! 

Your claim is that video games are linked with the dramatic arts rather than the whole of art itself, and I can see the connection you are making.  However, Aaron Smuts links games rather more with film and animation that incorporates dramatic art, and of course the developing film/video technology.  I believe this is video games strongest claim, and one which is worth examining further.   

Smuts puts forward a case for the aestheticism and the complexity of the designers of games, that overlap with the production and nature of film.  He also makes the point about the nature of art when it is at a cutting edge and pushing at the boundaries, so that in the process of developing a new method of art many will fail at the task, and that this has proved to be the case with most emerging artforms; only the best of its kind survive and go forward to develop its innovation even further.  Moreover, Smuts claim for video games is not so much that it is good art, rather that it merely deserves to be linked with/called art.   "Overall I argue that while many video games probably should not be considered art, there are good reasons to think that some video games should be classified as art".   Should this make a difference to our perception of this current debate?  I believe it should. As already stated Smuts' claims linking the status of video games with that of chess and sports has some empathy with Dewey's argument concerning aesthetic experience and art, but not in every respect, and this requires much more space for close analysis than is appropriate for an on-line forum.  

I hope I may have convinced you and on-line others that I have moved more amenably closer to the notion of *some aspects* of video games as art ..   At the same time, because I have no real experience of video games, I feel I am not qualified to pass judgement on the sort of sophisticated games to which  Smuts and others refer.    However, it would be interesting to hear what others may have to say about Dewey's argument and some of the claims being made for video games.  

Best wishes
Dilys
  


2010-08-04
Games and Art
Reply to Dilys Marsden
Aaron Smuts, and you also, reject the notion of analysing 'What is Art?' on the basis of necessary and sufficient conditions

Oops!  More correctly this should read:  "Aaron Smuts, and you also, reject necessary and sufficient conditions as a means of analysing 'What is Art?'

My apologies!

Dilys

2010-08-09
Games and Art
Reply to Dilys Marsden
RE: "Oops!  More correctly this should read:  "Aaron Smuts, and you also, reject necessary and sufficient conditions as a means of analysing 'What is Art?'"

Hi Dilys

It's worth bearing in mind, I think, that the question "What is art?" can be taken in two different ways. It can mean: (1) "How do I tell if object X is art or not?", or it can mean (2) "Given that there are objects we call art, what is their common property?"

The first question, to my mind, is a waste of time and quite unanswerable - though aestheticians have worried it to death for years and continue to do so.

The second question is, I believe, both very important and answerable - though oddly enough it is often ignored.

Given that this is the case, though, one will never be able to prove that video games are not art - since this is a question of Type 1. But, really, that's cold comfort for the video games proponents because by the same token one can't prove that video games are art (or indeed that anything is or is not art).

All that one can really hope is that there enough people around who have a genuine love of art, who recognize it when they see it, and who know that where video games are concerned, the question is not even worth asking. I predict the issue will have run its course in five years or so, but until then we'll just have to grin and bear it, I fear. A pity though, because it's just another distraction from the kinds of issues in the philosophy of art that really matter.

DA

2010-10-11
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Dear Sir

I'm in the rare position that after following an MA in philosophy I am currently employed as a game-designer. (mainly board-games but with some pc-game projects in the making).

The question you raise is one often heard among game-designers and gamers alike. To people involved in making games, reaching a certain degree of aesthetic value is a goal we strife for in most if not every aspect of a game. A game however is not a piece of art as we would call Picasso's 'Guernica', Greco's 'The Burial of the Count of Orgaz' or any of Rothko's works. Nor is it alike any work of literature, any piece of sculpture, fashion or music. Whether we distinguish between representative and non-representative art, Art with the big "A" or subculture art, art that is recognized as such for the craftsmanship of its (single) creator, or art that is recognized as art for its unique aesthetic appeal, a game will still be different from any of these forms as art in one very unique aspect. A game will never has the direct purpose of being aesthetically pleasing or shocking, first and foremost, a game is made to be played, and to be enjoyed while playing it. In that way a game is more akin to a hammer or any other tool then it is to a statue or a painting. The hammer can be aesthetically pleasing, but only in a few rare cases maybe that was never intended to be its sole purpose, a hammer is made to be used as a hammer, it can be made more beautiful so that its owner will put greater value in it, but in the end it will still be hitting the same nail, the quality to which the hammer fulfills that purpose is the real value by which the hammer will be judged. The same goes for a game.

Although a lot of debate is going on about what function and purpose a game fulfills (something which I believe to be different for every game within a spectrum of possible purposes a game can fulfill - educational - recreational - habitual - ...) it appears clear to me that a game cannot take the role that we, albeit traditionally, reserve for classic forms of art. Most games that are designed from a desire to create a work of art in the more traditional sense tend to be horrible and overall low-appreciated games.

How do we appreciate art? We look at the craftsmanship of the creator, we judge it upon its social value, its historical value, its appeal to our sense of what is beautiful and in some cases even based on its appeal to our sense of what is ugly. When confronted with a work of art we sometimes even judge it based upon how we feel about it in a moral way, especially with recent works of art, whereas older works of art often gain extra value for the moral value they had when they were produced instead of the moral value they would hold in a contemporary context.

When talking about the artfulness of games we tend to use the same categories of judgment and see if we can apply them to the game in question. Using these categories on a game does not acknowledge the difference between a game and any other object. Most of the times a game is made aesthetically pleasing for a very different reason, an economic one. The first complex computer games were long lines of coding that only computer literate people could understand and read. They would see a line of text to which they would have to reply with an integer that held a value within the game, thus choosing a continuation and progressing in the game. Although still popular with a very small part of the populace, for people that wanted to sell games it was very soon clear that these kind of games would never reach a large market. The gaming industry wanted to find a way to draw people to their products. And thus it came up with (poor choice of words for the lack of better) the concept of immersion. By making a game into an entire experience, appealing to multiple senses, it became easier to market games as a recreational and later even as an educational tool.

The gaming industry borrows many techniques from many different fields to reach this level of immersion. The most noticeable techniques come from the traditional forms of art, literature and painting/sculpture. Games introduce goals and motives for their players by using techniques from literature, introducing game levels and accomplishments to make it easier for players to feel involved. To give an example from real-world literature: It is easier to feel involved in Dante's travels through the stages of the underworld/heaven if you feel like you are traveling with him (reading the book) and unlocking/discovering the stages at the same time he does, then if some literature professor (not accounting for his verbal skills and possibly charming wit while standing in front of the aula) gives you an overhead slide of these stages and tells you what Dante's Inferno is all about. In much the same way visual representation is used to make the player feel more involved or to facilitate the player in the way he wants or is supposed to experience the game. Other techniques come from the fields of psychology/economics and mathematics. Modern psychology and economics is often used by the gaming industry to find ways to make a game stand out (branding, packaging and presentation are the factors most influenced by this). Economics and mathematics are quite often also a part of the game itself, which is usually referred to as the game-rules and game-play. And I believe it is these last two things which should be categorized and judged in conjunction with others if we want to treat games as art. We do not judge a painting by the eloquence of its words, nor do we judge a poem by its subtle shading. At least not by that alone.

Modern forms of art have continued to defy our understanding of aesthetics and of the judging criteria we apply to them. In a way, if we want to see if games are art, or could be valued in the same way as art we will need to broaden our view once more. There are a lot of ancient games that are still popular to this days, the most notable are probably chess, go and a lot of local varieties of card games (such as the belgian 'manielen', 'poker' in all its forms and shapes, 'quattro', 'find the joker games', etc...) These games have not always undergone the 'marketing strategy' of the current gaming industry. Yet they are often referred to as 'art', sometimes individual games sometimes the game as a whole. It is easy to see here that what we value as art here is rarely their visual attraction, a chessboard and its pieces may be little works of art, but that does not make the game played with them a form of art. When we refer to these games as art we do it for what we call their game-rules and game-play. Basically the rules of the game and how they translate to actually playing the game. This is a category a lot bigger then just the rules written out on an A4, or the heaps of coding and algorithms found in computer and video games, although that is where the core of its value is to be found. These two categories are often what determines the true value of a game for its audience, which in my case is the player. At the moment those two elements are also the two most important elements within the gaming industry when it comes to getting recognition from peers. The E3 awards for example always emphasize games that break open the conventions of game-rules and game-play. While games rarely get critical acclaim on their looks alone, the opposite happens all too often. One of the latest games to be awarded a coveted price at E3 featured an old woman at a graveyard, which the player had to walk up to the grave of her husband where she would sit down and would listen to a piece of Rachmaninoff together with the player after which the player had to walk her out of the graveyard - game finished. 

If we are ever to determine the value of a game and label it as art, then I believe that the first thing we should do is to formulate a method by which we judge these two categories. This would encompass defining them, defining their relationship, use factors such as simplicity and complexity, variability. But it would also have to account for the relation between these two categories and the categories we already know, visual representation, storytelling, moral content or maybe better: moral reception with the audience, craftsmanship displayed by its makers and the overall experience of playing the game, not of watching or seeing the game. Poems we read, paintings we watch (not see), games we play.

On a different note, I do not believe that games should be judged on their value related to their function. "...But is there ... (expand) one particular factor that can be appealed to that distinguishes the aesthetic value of gameplay from other types of intrinsic or instrumental value that it may possess, e.g. as a type of relaxation, a facilitator of certain types of social interaction, a pedagogical tool, and so on?" (from the original post) Medieval paintings had a function just as much as certain games have today. Ancient sculptures and Greek theater had as well. Most new forms of art were born with a function within society. As time goes on they lose some of these functions and become more independent, sometimes they go back to their old functions, sometimes they don't, and once these art-forms start defining themselves it is up to the creator mainly whether they serve a purpose, or whether they just are. Games are slowly getting to the point of being more independent, more and more games are just created for the sake of just creating a game, exploring possibilities or professing a vision of what a game should be. It is thanks to, and despite the efforts of the current gaming industry that this evolution is taking place. I'm afraid if we judge a game based on its social function that we will no longer be talking about aesthetics, nor about games as art, but that we will be talking about the use and quality of a game in a more instrumental manner, just like we would about the hammer and the nails. In itself that is fine, but it would deny us the opportunity to find and recognize a new avenue of human creativity, that maybe one day could be considered part of our cultural heritage.

Everything I wrote in this post comes from a personal point of view and is not necessarily shared by other people in the gaming industry, nor the gaming industry itself.

2010-10-12
Games and Art

I found these comments very interesting. Some key bits I noted were: "Most of the time a game is made aesthetically pleasing for a very different reason, an economic one", and "The gaming industry wanted to find a way to draw people to their products," and "Modern psychology and economics is often used by the gaming industry to find ways to make a game stand out (branding, packaging and presentation are the factors most influenced by this)".

I should add (these further comments are not directed at Michiel’s post) that in my view much of the difficulty in thinking clearly about matters like this is due to the troublesome, ambiguous term "aesthetic".  Of course games manufacturers want to make their product "aesthetically pleasing" - the same way manufacturers of soap powder or motor cars or toilet brushes do.  But "aesthetically pleasing" does not equal "is art". 

At an aesthetics conference in the US, I once proposed a moratorium on the word ”aesthetic” for about ten years in the interests of clear thinking. I was only half in jest. (And to my surprise a number of people seemed to think it wouldn't be such a bad idea.)  Personally, whenever I see the word "aesthetic" or its cognates in a discussion of art, a red warning light comes on in my head. It's a perfectly legitimate word, of course, but in the philosophy of art it spreads confusion like the plague; and consciously or not, too many writers, I think, take advantage of its ambiguities.

DA


2010-10-17
Games and Art
Reply to Derek Allan
Dear Derek

I agree that the word "aesthetic" is used on several levels, both in common language, philosophy and up to a certain point in this discussion. I think it would actually be interesting to see what 10 years of debate can teach us without the use of the word aesthetic. In your quotes I used aesthetically pleasing to link directly to its use in the original post. I for one will try to refrain from its use for a while :)

It is true that the producer of any product wants his future customer to have a positive experience about the looks of his/her product. Within games however a difference can be made between what is part of the outside of the game, that which you will find in promotional banners, on shelves at the store, previews, etc... and that which is the actual game. Video games are the most clear examples for this, although even for non-video games this difference can be made. When I alluded to 'aesthetic qualities' of games in my previous post I was actually referring to the inside of the game, the actual game during play (a point I should have clarified). The most clear way to describe this would be in terms of quality of graphics, graphic design, quality of detail in models, quality of materials used, maybe even quality of plot or storyline, or the quality of the player motivators AND the quality of the game mechanics (both rules and game-play). The first level, the outside sells games, the second part gives repeat customers and maybe even "Have protracted and sustained multiple, repeat-viewings yield an increased return or at least a more or less undiminished return." (from christy and your earlier post) and I mention this to be a return in value for the player not the monetary return to the producer.

You make a very valid point however that the quality of these individual things of the second level does not make them art, and that even if they were to be considered art, they do not necessarily make the game in question art.

At the moment I seriously doubt there is any game in existence that could be considered a work of art, to be placed in a playing booth at the Louvre, MoMa, or any other 'conservatory of arts'. I do however consider the possibility that if philosophy of art encompasses the study of all human products to be a priori possible works of art then if ever a game should be considered a classical example of art, some of the games in existence today might merit a place among other pieces of art based on their historical importance for that one or more games. Of all the examples of classical art earlier mentioned in this discussion it is clear that none of them stands alone or appeared out of nowhere. For some of them we recognize their predecessors as works of art mainly because of their place in the history leading up to these or other works of art.

But as I said in my previous post, should we ever want to determine whether or not a game can be considered a work of art, we will need to work on new criteria addressing the uniqueness of games, leaving the classical categories of art, the ones Plato hated so much for being representations of representations, way behind us.

I honestly believe that everything that is unique about a certain form of art can possibly be achieved by a game as well, graphics, craftsmanship, eloquence, imaginative force, social/moral reflection, self-definition, maybe even the "overwhelming nature effect" (I forgot Kant's term for this I hope someone gets what I mean by this xD). But the catch is that if we don't want this to be a discussion about the parts and the whole (the graphics are true art, but the game is everything but etc etc...) we have to encompass those elements that are unique to games and without which we can never put all the pieces together.

Let me give one last example from the world of video-games. The game 'Diablo II' is in terms of video games an old game. Its graphics are by current standards outdated, its storyline is flimsy at best, the social/moral reference is so obvious it can be considered non-existent. Yet despite this it is a game that after all these years is still one of the most popular pc-games ever made. It is still played daily by more then 1 000 000 people across the world according to its makers. (the game requires internet to be played and these numbers are consistent any given moment one logs in to the servers to check the amount of players online.) And most important of all to our discussion, it is considered 'a classic' among games for gamers worldwide, received worldwide critical acclaim, and causing thousands of offspring games that in some way acknowledge their existence to this game.

Shouldn't we be more concerned about what makes this game (gaming experience?) stand out so much and be such an inspiration for other game-designers and gamers rather then denounce it as non-art because of its form? The latter sounds to me like the first reaction people had towards pointillism or to Beethoven's late quartets. Granted, games have a much more different form, but excluding them a priori seems awfully prejudiced to me.

2010-10-17
Games and Art

Hi Michiel

Thank you for your interesting and thoughtful post.

Just a couple of points in reply.

I would not really want to exclude anything a priori from being art. (Though I recently saw an article in a learned journal about so-called "smelly art", and I would have severe doubts about that.)  My doubts about computer games are based rather on (1) those I've seen - admittedly a very limited number but I think they probably gave me the general idea, and (2) the motivations of those who make them, which seem to have nothing to do with creating works of art and everything to do with making money.

The fact that a given game is played a lot and becomes a "classic" doesn't strike me as decisive in any way. It’s well known, isn’t it?, that games have an addictive quality and I guess these "classics' just manage to be more addictive than others. Thus, your quote from Christy (I think) that certain games "Have protracted and sustained multiple, repeat-viewings yield an increased return or at least a more or less undiminished return." does not carry much weight with me.  What would "increased return" mean in this context anyway, and how would one measure it?

I wonder why some people seem so interested in wanting to call video games "art"? I can't imagine the producers really caring. Either their game will sell or it won't. I guess they wouldn’t be unhappy if someone called it art because that might give it added publicity, but in the end the bottom line is what would count for them. Do inveterate gamers care if their games are called "art"? Perhaps it might salve their consciences a little after having spent hours and hours at the keyboard but that's about all.  Some academics seem to care. But why, I wonder?  In the aesthetics field I suspect it’s an attempt to make the discipline more “relevant” especially to young people who, after all, are much more likely to be interested in games than Dostoyevsky, Picasso, or Mozart. A similar motivation, I suspect, lies behind the current enthusiasm for so-called “environmental aesthetics”.  Personally I think such moves are pretty futile.  In the end, young people won’t be fooled. It’s the substance of a discipline that counts ultimately – Does it have real depth? Does it have something important to say?  Or is it just academic flim flam?  Some of the current trends, I think, are heading straight down the road to flim flam.

DA





2010-10-25
Games and Art
Christy....

Hear! Hear!  As a newcomer to the site I'd like to thank you for the frankness of your response.  I feel that professional collegiality and civility, as opposed to arrogance and insensitivity, should always be the order of the day...no matter the "level" of one's background in aesthetics.  From time to time it behooves us all to step back, take a deep breath, and remember that the world does not revolve around any of us, our pet theories, or our often self-inflated notions of expertise.  Thanks for your attempt to help and/or defend Mark, I thought it was quite admirable and not the least bit inappropriate or self-serving.    



2010-10-25
Games and Art

Hi Robin

I guess you are referring to Christy's attempts some time ago to enforce agreement with her point of view?

I did not see this as 'collegiality and civility' but, as I said at the time, an attempt – and a rather unpleasant one, I thought – at censorship:  I did not agree with her; I said so frankly and with supporting arguments; ergo I had to be silenced. Since I would not be silenced (who would?) I was subjected to various forms of ad hominem attack.

Generally speaking, there is far too much follow-the-leader behaviour in academe these days. The last thing I would want to do is add to it.  I believe in robust, honest, thoughtful, debate – even, and perhaps especially, when the views expressed do not toe some kind of intellectual party line.  Some people find this hard to cope with. They don't really want debate, I suspect; they want a chorus of general approval, everyone signing in tune. Sorry, I have a rather different view of intellectual inquiry.

PS If you have any views on the substantive issues under discussion I would be happy to talk about them.  The whole debate was derailed by the episode I refer to. 

DA 


2010-10-27
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Hi, Mark...

I like your invitation to to readers to share "intuitions" about the aesthetic value of games.  It suggests an open, casual atmosphere where the subject can be mentally "kicked around" with relative impunity.  Here is my current stance: I'm not a fan of the notion that games, video games in particular, are art or possess aesthetic value.  In other words, I don't want to accept games as art.  However, intuition tells me that the traditional/historical paradigmatic view of art (i.e., whatever, however art has been defined, described, viewed, accepted, rejected, promoted, produced in the past) has begun to shift rather dramatically.  I feel I can say that as a practicing studio artist coming from an interdisciplinary Fine Arts background (Art, Music, Theater, Aesthetics), with substantial work in Educational Psychology.  My art educational background also included preparation in art production, art history, and art criticism.

Several things immediately came to mind on the subject of games:
  1. It would be helpful to read/hear a first-person example or two of the descriptions of gameplay experiences that seemed "closely akin to the aesthetic."  The more functional or utilitarian aspects of gameplaying are fairly obvious.
  2. In an exchange with Christy, I believe, she directed you to a paper on "interactivity." I feel that's key to what you're investigating.  In fact, I think I might go so far as to describe it as a conceptual hinge, connecting the everyday/mundane to the aesthetic.
  3. Have you read Dom Lopes' paper, "From the Author's Perspective: A Philosophy of Computer Art''"?  It can be found at: http://www.aesthetics-online.org/articles/index.php?articles_id=40   Lopes discusses differences between "computer art" and "digital art", maintaining that computer art constitutes a new art form primarily due to its interactive nature, while digital art does not.  Further, Lopes holds, "No work is interactive unless its display can vary depending what its user does, and that means its display differs from user to user."  I have several "beefs" with Lopes on the interactivity score, but they're irrelevant here.
  4. Have you considered the "habitual" nature of gameplaying that you described?  Could the players simply be addicted to receiving internal chemical payoffs from their "use" of the games?  Could their behaviors simply be cases of obsessive/compulsive disorder?  Here's where a couple of examples of their descriptions would be helpful for comparative purposes (i.e., to see how they compare to a variety of what we call, and have called, "aesthetic experiences")
I'll stop here for now.  This is an intriguing subject, closely akin to the computer art/digital art issue where my current interests lie.  Thanks for the opportunity to discuss it!

Robin




2011-08-19
Games and Art
Reply to Mark Silcox
Hello everyone,

I apologize for not really responding to the conversation, but I had made a short list of comparisons between games and art. Many of these were named by Michael Valcke, but I'll just give you the list as it was.

  1. Games don't have authors. An artwork has an artist.
  2. Games have a purpose, a convened ending point. An artwork can be "consumed" in arbitrary time, with no decipherable purpose.
  3. Games' participants (efficient cause) are also their constituents (formal cause) and initiators (initial cause) and beneficiaries of rewards (final cause). Artists are not the ones who should enjoy their art, the public is, artists give their artworks up and certainly don't constitute them. Initiators, they are.
  4. Competition vs. Contemplation
  5. Games don't communicate. Absolutely not. Whereas art communicates by definition (nearly). Representation is a key concept in art, whereas in games it's ludicrous to talk about it.
  6. Because they don't communicate, games can't be recordings, documents of a time. Art is precisely something our ancestors left behind to show us how they saw the world (of course, I don't believe this, but it's a nice interpretation that they unknowingly did so). It has an extraordinary value as historical document. Games no. Not yet, at least.
  7. Games are all about following rules, the rules constitute the game. Disobeying the rules means pretty much that you are not playing the same game anymore. Art disobeys by definition, since it must be original, so inevitably no one has done it before. Great art has always come from those who broke the rules the most.
And about their intrinsic value-ness - I disagree that art necessarily has intrinsic value (a notion borne out of the concept of "art for art", not older than the XX century). And even so, enjoyment is not exactly the first word to describe the feeling you have from art. I "enjoy" art. I sound like a country western singer.

The other thing that brings them closer is that they are the opposite poles of interaction from the person who enjoys towards the object of his enjoyment. With art, your role is passive, with games it's active. Or maybe this was yet another difference?

Sorry to interrupt like this, but what I wanted to reply had little to do with the way the subject of this thread had gone. I hope that there is at least one thing to consider from that list.