If you read Penny Arcade(1), and you might, then you've probably seen Tycho and Gabe's response to Ebert's response(2) to Kellee Santiago's TED(3) (and Kellee responded to Ebert first(4), so it's possible you've seen that
as well.). I am trying to give an impression of layers, here, but it's more akin to everyone trying to talk at once. We're in a crowded room, and Ebert yelled the nerd-equivalent of 'fire', and this is the kind of discussion that results.
Before I go any further, Tycho and Gabe and Kellee are correct. Kellee says that games are art, and they are. Tycho and Gabe are correct in that it's something of a non-conversation. Ebert is usually eloquent and sharp, but his remarks regarding games are cloudy and imprecise. The definition of art has always been murky; it relies entirely on dividing endeavors between what is and what isn't itself.
We love these divisions, but they're little more then conceptual guidelines that allow us to communicate. Video games check many of the boxes that we mentally conflate with art, just in a different way then we're taught to consider them. What is and what isn't art is a useless conversation, because practically speaking, almost every creative endeavor is art of a type. We make things and expect them to have an impact on those that engage with them. That's art.
I guess I'm more interested in those divisions then going further with the debate up top. There's the art-not art, then the high art-low art, then the literature-not literature, canon-non canon... you know, these are mostly useless divisions we use to make us feel better about the things we engage in. They exist to give a meaning to activities that are mostly hobbies. Important, maybe critical hobbies. Hobbies that do
have inter-discipline differences. But instead of describing them by what they do, we title them based on how we want to feel about ourselves when we engage in them.
I watch films, and films are art. I watch films that are art, and the films that you watch are not. My hobby is important and I am made more meaningful based on its pursuit. You play games, and games are not art. My consumption makes me more meaningful then your consumption makes you.
That's it. It's just marketing.
This actually has a direct link to most of the articles.
- I think this is right.