“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!
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 Miyamoto, Cliff 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the work of a Damian Hirst or Tracey Emin in isolation and perpetuating what, to me, seems like an increasingly outdated view of the solitary artist labouring over work in a studio – you’re thinking about Media Molecule, Ubisoft Montreal or Team Meat delivering an interactive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.
Filed under Gaming, Geekery
Pussy Riot – Russian Art Punk Superheroines.
Clearly, I’ve not kept abreast of world news – if I had, the treatment of Russian art-punk collective Pussy Riot by Darth Putin would have moved me to write this post previously. Your usually scheduled daily helping of power metal, Christopher Nolan worship and complaints about video game storytelling will be along anon.
Anyone reading the Guardian‘s story on the issue – feminist art punk band play impromptu performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ The Saviour and things go south rapidly – with a long enough memory may recall the Riot Grrl movement of the early nineties, where similarly politicised indie kids used all kinds of situationist techniques to underscore their musical rage but didn’t face the prospect of seven years in jail, as far as I recall.
How things change. Or don’t.
I don’t suppose I should feel any surprise that Vladimir Putin‘s zero tolerance response to criticism of his
dictatorship presidency is to round-up the geeky art students responsible and sling them in the clink, but the brazenness of his actions is sufficient to raise an eyebrow in the West, where our freedom to yell slogans and strum two chords is mostly protected and unlikely to get us into any serious trouble with the law.
Seriously? A trial with a potential jail sentence of seven years for playing a few songs in a church? It’s fair to say that those of us who have reasonable freedom of speech, assembly and dissent in our countries don’t realise just how fortunate we are when we see people protesting on TV and being arrested (or worse) as a matter of course.
I’m going to try to follow this case for future reference – now that the celebrated Twitter Trial in the UK has been sensibly settled in favour of the daft bugger whose off-the-cuff tweet mobilised South Yorkshire police and the head of the DPP against him, it behoves us all to keep an eye on those in power who would seek to use the full weight of the law against any and all criticism of their decisions.
Never trust a politician, kids.
Splendidly nifty TrekArt by Dylan Meconis, whose ‘Heroine of the Hour’ blog is here – originally found at the always awesome SuperPunch compendium of joy…
Awesome Chinese Avengers Mash Up Art Get!
Behold! Comic Book Resources’ “The Line It Is Drawn!” weekly art challenge, which this week got artists to imagine latter-day heroes in other time periods. Pictured above, Michael “Mic?” Magtanong’s take on an Imperial China Avengers line-up.
Me likey. Me would read muchly.
Eurogamer picked up on an interesting discussion between the splendid Charlie Brooker and arts aficionado Ekow Eshun on Radio 4’s Today programme which gets into that old chestnut, “Are Games Art?”
Image via AeroPause.com
The conclusion seems to be no, games don’t yet manage to attain the status of being art, but this isn’t the firmly slammed door that it might first appear.
Ignoring the voice which always accompanies the debate from the gamer side – ‘I don’t care if games are art or not‘ – it appears that Eshun believes that a great percentage of books, movies and music don’t qualify as art either, and that being entertaining isn’t exactly a crime. A refreshingly level-headed assessment, I think you’ll agree.
For my own part, I know that I’ve switched my affiliation almost exclusively from films to games when it comes to action and adventure: would you rather see “The Expendables” or play “Battlefield Bad Company 2”? Have you seen a Hollywood sci-fi movie which had a tenth of the atmosphere woven into every corner and scene of “Metro 2033”, a game which approaches the hallucinatory brilliance of the original novel?
There’s definitely a cross-pollination between the two forms – as Brooker states, Hollywood routinely apes the aesthetics and conventions of games and what is the “Modern Warfare” franchise if not the greatest action adventure film that Michael Bay never made?
Imagine how good games are going to be when they’re not beholden to Hollywood for stuff to rip off – when the medium has the confidence to go beyond it’s influences and use interactive storytelling to provide entertainment experiences which are not simply ‘shoot this, dodge that’ but something more meaningful – a fusion of novelistic storytelling, cinematic spectacle and gaming immersion in a convincing virtual world.
God, imagine what Stanley Kubrick could have done with that tool-set?