Friday, December 30, 2011

Since You Ask

Are video games art?

The answer I usually give is "I'm so tired of that question," which some might argue is no answer at all. But I respond that way because long ago I learned an important lesson about questions, and it goes like this:

"The question is not the question, the question is the questioner." In other words, answering a question is about more than simply providing a solution, it involves looking to what motivated it in the first place. "Games as art" has a lot to do with a generational gap, and the passing of creative torches, and no well-reasoned argument can make a dent in such large, emotional movements.

But if you're interested, here's what I think.

Are video games art? Well, let's first recognize that "art" is a word, and, like all words, it's meaning is a fluid, relative thing. You could pull down a dictionary from the shelf and find a listing for it, but dictionaries do not tell us what words *should* mean, they tell us how words are used among current speakers (and as such, they are regularly revised with the linguistic ebb and flow.)

So when you ask if games are "art," I need to know what you mean by that.

Are games a valid form of expression? Yeah, they are.

Can they make you feel things, can they make you cry? Can they move you, change the way you see the world,  give you new perspective on the events of your life? I'm here to tell you, on behalf of a generation that grew up with games in our homes, that they can.

And when you look back on your life, can games be an integral element that shaped who you are for the better? Yeah.

And if those things are not art, then what a stupid thing "art" must be. What a meaningless distinction, what a sad, unimportant little idea.

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