Sessler's Soapbox: Adam vs. Ebert - Games as Art

Posted: April 20, 2010
Sessler's Soapbox: Adam vs. Ebert - Games as Art
Adam discusses Roger Ebert's article about how video games can never be art, and why he thinks the argument is somewhat pointless.

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  • local711

    "Any school of criticism that sees a literary work as an object, claiming to describe what it is and never what it does, misconstrues the very essence of literature and reading. Literature exists and signifies when it is read and its force is an affective one."

    This quote applies to this discussion, if we assume that literature is considered to be an art form.

    Posted: October 10, 2010 2:37 PM
  • Elderscrolled96

    Sessler is right. Video games are art. We see games like Limbo, Oblivion, Halo Reach and in all ways they are art. Im not saying that video games are the best kind of art, no. Opening a book and reading it is more art. Movies, drawings, books, and video games are art. Basicly the definition of Art is anything that is created by man that can be critiqed by some one and Video games are just that. I rest my case as I am a artist to and I hope that someday I will be even more of an artist.

    Posted: October 9, 2010 8:47 PM
  • JarodwT7

    I would refer anyone who is willing to go and read my comment on Roger Ebert's original journal entry, but to sum in as few words as I possibly can...

    a physicist would look at the latest mathematical equation encompassing all the laws of the universe as a work of mathematical art, yet someone less informed would see the same thing as just a long confusing string of numbers and symbols and see no art in it whatsoever. who is right? both of them! the physicist is seeing the sum of all existence and is life in the universe not a work of art that it would bring into being people such as Roger who has a differing opinion then a fan of video games? Roger Ebert is absolutely correct in saying video games are not art, but he is right for himself alone, and anyone who agree's, but he would be completely wrong to someone who disagree's. point being is the old saying that art is in the eye of its beholder!

    one could argue consensus about an individual creation that it is or is not art, but even given the majority who believe that it is not art they are right for them, for the minority who believe it is, then it is but also it is right for them alone.

    I am no psychologist but I would put up an argument that the emotional effects of anything you hear, see, taste, or touch is an expression of a universal art which you as the individual has the absolute unequivocal right to label it as art. you would be absolutely correct in that assumption for yourself. but the one who disagree's with you is also absolutely right for themselves.

    To someone out there, an empty soda can on a sidewalk is as viable an art form as any Picasso painting. at the same time Adam states that art is static, and he is absolutely right for himself and anyone who would agree. I for one utterly believe that a game like Shadow of the Colossus is a true work of art, and if anyone disagree's with me I will remain just as correct in my belief as you are for yours.
    Bottom line is that there is no more appropriate statement then art is in the eye of its beholder! so yes Roger and Adam are both right, disagree with them and you are right as well because there are over 6.6 billion potential personal opinions that can either agree or disagree and there will never be a universal consensus as to who is right or wrong! there is my two cents!

    Posted: September 26, 2010 11:38 PM
  • hopcorn20

    alberts a scummer

    Posted: July 17, 2010 11:39 AM
  • hopcorn20

    alberts a scummer

    Posted: July 17, 2010 11:29 AM
  • absoul11

    Okay maybe the games arn't art, but games have art around them. Concept artists, the bosses, levels, and graphics could all be art. Besides, Ebert is a film critic. Why care what he has to say about something he doesn't truly know about. After all, movies were once a geek thing so it won't be long before games will be as popular or, more than movies. oh, and last I checked, movies don't have a big event like E3.

    Posted: June 19, 2010 2:03 PM
  • someone-special

    video games can be art, art is all around video games given the vast beautiful environments and character designs, video games can emit emotions like sadness, joy and fear,
    Just by the art direction taken, even so Roger Ebert is a stuck-up film critic NOT a video game critic, so why should we care what he has to say?
    Video games ARE art and he does not see that its his loss, but,

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion in the end.....

    Posted: June 8, 2010 6:52 PM
  • Kratier

    video games are not art, they are products,

    the only people who want to try to push video games being art are publishers who are making money off of it.

    there are pictures of naked underage girls being called "Art", the photographer is not in jail because he called it "art".

    Ill repeat once again ,video games are a product, people pay to PLAY them. The publishers want to push video games as art so prevent any sort of regulation and laws being imposed, such as being forced to launch COMPLETE GAMES, and SUPPORT THEM with patches, updates, and online hosting.

    Right now publishers like EA are turning off online support 1 year after their games are released, and microsoft turned off normal xbox online support .

    A publisher would LOVE for their product to be called art, because at that point, they could claim "this is my art, its how it is, i dont need to do anything more, i dont need to fix the errors because ITS ART."

    Posted: May 29, 2010 2:02 AM
  • Grumoka00

    The best words I have heard used to describe art are quite simple. Art is "beautiful science". It is the deliberate use of a medium that affects thought, whether it be rational thinking or emotion.

    Since I view art this way, YES, games are art. But it is different from most peoples view of the word.

    A hockey player sets up his teammate with a perfect pass, and all along the bench are whispers of "That's art right there".
    But the banker in the stand doesn't think that, he simply views it as an impressive athletic feat. At no point does the word art enter his brain.

    In the same way, a person well versed in the video game world picks up a new title, puts it in, and says "Wow, this is impressive, this is art."
    And the banker, playing the same game, puts it in and says "I really enjoyed playing that." Again, at no point does the word art enter his brain.

    My point is that video games can be works of art, but only because of my views on both the games, and the definition of the word.

    And now I will hug myself and leave the old man alone, because let's face it, we could all use a hug.

    Posted: May 27, 2010 7:42 PM
  • ZeroKadaver

    Alteration is not interpretation, Games are not art. FIN. In the same way tattoos only involve an artist so does gaming but neither are art and both die with their owner.

    This isn't even mentioning your calling software art which is just beyond crazy. That algorithm is just so beautiful right? RNG's OMG? Please people don't belittle the mastery of mathematics and computer science with your three letter word especially when your so called art is a mechanization of a corporate entity that wants to take your money.

    Artists have patrons but they aren't sponsored by Doritos or else 'The creation of Adam' would have a bowl of salsa with Tostitos in each hand. Those who wish to counter with an argument on film (corporate sponsorship) should consider that the director aka shot caller doesn't gain directly from a sponsorship and that the art created is distributed much like the sales of Salvador Dali's famous lobster phone.

    Posted: May 22, 2010 11:49 AM
  • GamerMorgaine

    Ebert's point that video games can't be art because artwork is static doesn't take into account performance art. Yoko Ono met John Lennon at a preview for a gallery show of hers that had people hammering nails into the wall and climbing up on a ladder to read a note she'd glued to the ceiling. One of her most famous art pieces is an act called "cut piece" where audience members are called to cut a piece of her clothes off.

    Movies are art because there's a whole vocabulary to discuss them as such. The video-game equivalent of phrases like "Mise en scene," don't exist yet, but that doesn't mean they won't someday.

    Posted: May 11, 2010 8:30 AM
  • crowdsourceme

    Defining what counts as art has been around for a long damn time. Aesthetics (the philosophy of art, philosophy of defining art, etc.) as a school of thought has been around for almost three hundred years. Personally, the best definition you can get is "Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions."

    I think in addition to this you must want to make it Art, at least in most cases. By this definition most games would not be Art. However, they can be.

    I think one of the best examples of Video Games as Art is Shadow of the Colossus. The way is looks, the way the story is told, and the way it makes you feel makes it Art.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Posted: May 2, 2010 12:09 PM
  • Cathartic Denoument

    IMHO, (as opposed to being "static) Art is more along the lines of what Cliff Bleszinski described as "what makes a good game", when he presented the Gears of War 3 trailer on Late Night w|Jimmy Fallon.

    Resonance - "if you walk away from a game...and you start thinking about it, thats a powerful thing..."

    The same thing can be said for other, more generally accepted works of art.
    After having walked away from it, if it starts making you think about it & it manages to stir a certain, unique feeling or emotion within you - if it starts to RESONATE with you - then its Art.

    With "games" (*Interactive Entertainment*), its a compilation of many diverse works of art, coming together & enhancing each other's aesthetic function in order to create something greater.
    If you think about it, that IS art.
    When a professional chef prepares for & cooks food, the chef needs certain ingredients to make it all come out well, tasty, & even aesthetically pleasing to the eye - which counts as ART.
    Take out a particular ingredient & it won't turn out the same way, or as well as it should have had.
    The same thing can be said about "games".
    Take out a particular piece of art (may it be the music, the imagery, or what have you), and it will be an incomplete work of art. All those works of art need to come together in order to form a "videogame".
    Every small cog of art needs to be present for the (bigger) machine of art to function properly as it should - to be the machine of art that it is.

    So yes, the Interactive Entertainment medium that we presently call "videogames" IS Art.

    And who knows..
    ..maybe once we find an alternative, more appropriate name for "videogames", it will start receiving the general respect that movies & other mediums have received.

    Posted: April 29, 2010 10:54 AM
  • TripsterBlister

    ha. Ha right on Adam. A serious side of you. Interesting.

    Ok yes I would agree with you completely games are not art but there are componenets that staticly themselves are beautiful or haunting or inspiring but overall as a product they are not traditional art.
    You want disturbing watch sleepaway camps ending. That still * shiver * just freaky
    Yeah I used to love coming attractions too but he is straying out of his domain if he just has to talk about games to films that just sucked. Can he pinpoint the backers and the producers and directors and scriptwriters maybe and say hey nice source material but you just ruined the genre. No just that games don t deserve movie treatment.ugh.
    Lets see. Fallout dead space. Might make for some intruging stories/films.

    Why not flip the table on him. Please Hollywood films are not games. Stop treating us to your horrible licenses and leave our games pure and full of quality.
    Sounds just as asinine from that side doesn t it.

    Posted: April 27, 2010 6:29 PM
  • killerwaffles93

    I agree with adam ebert has a good point but I believe what angers people most about it is the negativity he has in his article gamers dont see him as just sanying video games arent art they seem him saying that video games suck so he has good arguments but he is more attacking video games than anything.

    Posted: April 27, 2010 8:47 AM
  • PrometheanArsonist

    Mr. Sessler makes a great point: works of art are static and unchanging. I would dare say that video games have surpassed art, or at least, separated themselves entirely. In the sacred hall of history, what artist has ever been able to produce an illusion of intelligence? Art works, as beautiful and as terrifying as they may be, can never represent the very spark that separates our matter from the rest of the physical universe. Artificial intelligence is itself a beautiful tapestry of numbers, algorithms, and self-instruction; a parody of thought-motivated action. Let art be art. This is something new.

    Posted: April 25, 2010 11:55 AM
  • TEH-Artisan

    If you are a nerd then of course game can be art. Like sosiopaths who can feel that killing can be an artform. It all deppends on who is looking into the rabbit hole...

    Posted: April 25, 2010 11:46 AM
  • KayleL

    I define art as a product that was made to invoke emotion through observation. I think video games could very much fall under that category.

    The reason why it's important to establish that video games are art is because it should have rights like other art forms. Like how literature, film, and classic art gets funding while video games don't. Video games political commentary can not be recognize, etc.

    Posted: April 25, 2010 7:29 AM
  • jbee02

    the concept of art and what are is, it is a very vague thing. It covers books, films, paintings, music digital animation, food, photography even war and combat. Ever heard of martial ARTS or phrases like the ART of war. Art is a very vague and broad concept that can be applied to many things. Video games may not fit what many would call contemporary arts, but how can something like video game that involves so many components of art not be considered art.

    Posted: April 24, 2010 6:38 PM
  • captain3xtreme

    Roger Ebert is just an old man suffering from a form of technophobia in my opinion.

    Posted: April 24, 2010 2:00 PM