The Art Game

"Ico" - yep, no art here...

“Ico” – yep, no art here…

Oh, the fuss which ensued when arty types MoMA announced their intent to display new-fangled vidya ga3mz as art.

Critics quailed and hand-wrung sneerily over The Meaning Of It All whilst displaying a delightful ignorance of the medium they were presuming to denounce (what else is new?), whilst gamers rushed in defence to the right of interactive entertainment to be considered on the same terms as fine art, cinema or dance.

Today, in a post on The Guardian’s games blog, Keith Stuart does a damn good job of shutting down critics and framing the debate in terms that even no-nothing, buttoned-up art critics might be able to understand.

My position continues to be thus – art shouldn’t be something which should be the exclusive province of a handful of university-educated, cosseted egotists whose every noxious emission installation is greeted with braying wonder and exaggerated importance by art critics, whose livelihood depends on perpetuating the notion of artist-as-rock star.

Look, Ma - high art!

Look, Ma – high art!

Could it be this odd emphasis on the collective assembling an end product which so vexes art critics and defies their limited abilities to assess games properly?  The likes of Shigeru MiyamotoCliff Bleszinski or David Cage aside, there are comparatively few ‘auteurist’ games designers who give critics a singular presence to hang their analysis upon.  You’re not considering the work of a Damian Hirst or Tracey Emin in isolation and perpetuating what, to me, seems like an increasingly outdated view of the solitary artist labouring over work in a studio – you’re thinking about Media Molecule, Ubisoft Montreal or Team Meat delivering an interactive experience.  How do you sift, quantify and consider the work of hundreds of individuals in a meaningful way in order to accurately assess the quality of a game?

Honestly, I don’t care if games are art.  It’s a meaningless descriptor to employ and one which seems to be employed to keep arts bloggers in page views – we’re talking trolling, here, in its purest form.

I know that when I explore the island in the new “Tomb Raider”, I’m getting an experience which I can’t get from a novel or a film and one which is entirely new and beyond the ability of the critical establishment to describe.  They’re not up to the job, frankly, and we shouldn’t be giving such irrelevancies the oxygen of consideration.

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