The Games as Art Debate – Is it Over?

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Tate

There’s been a much debate, between erudite intellectual types as to the merits of video games as a form of art. Roger Ebert, famously, sits as the most vociferous opponent to the medium being considered high art. It’s something that could be debated endlessly and tirelessly from both sides.

Tate Britain, the National Gallery of British Art, may have put an end to the debate – as they’ll be hosting an event to showcase the finer side of gaming this Friday, March 5.

They’ll be showcasing videogame, low-tech parlour games as well as other interactive experiences. some of the games they’ll be displaying are Chime, Rez HD, Samurai Shodown Sen (Wha…? Why?), Flower, Heavy Rain and…um..DJ Hero

It may surprise you to know that I side with Ebert on this. Art is created by the artist – to stir up emotion or provoke thought, trying lead you to an inevitable conclusion, as envisioned by the artist. Introduce interactivity, malleability in the narrative that’s no longer really possible. Art is created by an artist. If you change it, you become the artist – and the art lies in the playing. The game is no longer the art.

Of course I don’t mean to detract from videogames or the people that make them – Gaming is arguably my favourite entertainment medium and while videogames involve lots of art, employing artists and designers, the games themselves are not representative of high art.

I know what I like, but is it art?

Last Updated: March 2, 2010

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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