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Made in us
Tzeentch Aspiring Sorcerer Riding a Disc





Orem, Utah

I've recently been thinking about the ways in which games might be considered art.

- To start out with, I need to say that they obviously contain art. Novels, sculpture, paintings- these are all very well established mediums for art. But the question I have is about the whole to which these separate pieces contribute. Do they come together (like in film) to create a single work of art, or are they all separate pieces of artwork with something else connecting them?

- And if playing a game is art, is the player the audience or artist? Are the rules more of a medium, or are they the artwork itself?



So the first question is- Are games art or are they not?

And if they are, what are some examples of really good art games?

 
   
Made in ca
God-like Imperator Titan Commander





Halifax

Sweet, philosophical discussion! Time to roll up my parchment and start swinging for the fences!

I think that games can be art where the designer/director has a particular theme or message they're trying to get across. Just because it does it badly, or the message is trite, doesn't make it any less art.

Games are art, and one fantastic example of game as art is, I think, Carcassonne where you essentially build a picture according to a competitive set of rules. Much like the walls of Carcassonne itself, the players are working against each other and yet still produce a unified expression of that competition.

   
Made in gb
Been Around the Block





Isn't the definition of art something that which is completely useless?

Therefore as games generally have no use, are they not by definition art?
   
Made in us
Freaky Flayed One






Rob Lee wrote:
Isn't the definition of art something that which is completely useless?

Therefore as games generally have no use, are they not by definition art?


Well, to say the least, I don't think we can have any meaningful discussion on this topic unless we can even define what we are talking about. Namely, answer the question, what is art? Or, what should art be?

If the criterion is "uselessness" well, then technically couldn't garbage be art? If it's something that, say, can't be recycled and can't be reused, then it becomes art? Seems a bit farcical to be honest.
   
Made in gb
Fixture of Dakka




UK

The definition I've heard is that its something that causes a person to have an emotional reaction to the created work.

However in general most modern definitions of "art" are so light and wishy washy that basically anything can be interpreted as art. Which is why so many artworks one sees in places like the Tate Modern are often every day mundane things or even just total trash (quite literally) and yet have an explanation of interpretation which justifies them as (often valuable) artwork.

Even down to things like cat litter trays and a selection of dirty coffee mugs.




So yeah sure games can be art. Heck there's the famous "art of war" document (which I have to say that, upon actually reading, was not quite as fascinating in the way I thought it would be). So yes there is an art to war and an art to wargames that goes beyond just the modelling and painting side of things. Though not all may appreciate it and many might spend years arguing out the specific niche in which they define the art.

A Blog in Miniature - now featuring reviews of many new Black Library books (latest Novellas) 
   
Made in us
Freaky Flayed One






 Overread wrote:
The definition I've heard is that its something that causes a person to have an emotional reaction to the created work.


Well, if "emotional reaction" is the criterion, that opens up a vast amount of things to being "art."

Is then a machine gun art? Certainly some would see it and feel fear, or awe, or "power."

If I somehow caused an earthquake, say through fracking or something, would the resultant landscape then be art? I've done a work, that work has provoked fear, despair, anguish etc.

Maybe that is the case though...

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/10 20:32:21


 
   
Made in us
Tzeentch Aspiring Sorcerer Riding a Disc





Orem, Utah

I honestly didn't mean to figure out a definition for art in the first place. In the past, any time that art has been too clearly defined, artists themselves have rebelled against it, and the rabbit hole just never stops.


I don't think I can put my own concept of art into few terms, but I think I can describe it using terms from another work of art.

Has everyone here seen the film "Inception?" If not, you should.


The film has an elaborate magic system that deals with dreams, and the protagonists' goal is to put an idea into someone's head with a strong enough connection that they will think it is their own idea. You can't do this by just telling a person a thing (as in an essay) you have to give it a cathartic weight that drives the concept home.


The whole film is a metaphor for the art of film (a lot of the dream rules are film rules as well- they even follow three act structure when planning the dream).

This includes the way that Inception itself works- the connection to a foreign concept on a deep, emotional, cathartic level that provokes further thought, and possibly redefines the life for the audience character.

That is what art is all about. Art is a means to allow an audience to connect with a (foreign) concept on a deep level.

This can change a person from the inside (for better or worse). Usually this is in subtle ways that will mostly reinforce our existing ideas, but some truly monumental works have changed the history of nations by putting ideas into people's heads (Voltaire is often credited for starting the French Revolution).




So, if that is art, then we can judge art on two obvious levels:

1- The concept that the art is portraying. Clearly, not all ideas are of equal value (which is a point that the film makes).

The concepts being portrayed do not have to be things you can easily summarize, and they often are about evoking thoughtful questions rather than delineating answers.

It should be noted that the concepts that a work portrays aren't always put there intentionally (which is why we have critics calling certain works "racist" or "sexist" when the artists who made them did not intend it).


2- The craft itself used to engage the audience. A poorly written story with shallow characters isn't changing nations.



So the best works should be some that have interesting concepts that are delivered to us in engaging and intersting ways. And the worst art is stuff that has a terrible message portrayed through banal means.

Of course, this definition does contain some grey areas- especially in works where the craft is very poor, or where the concepts aren't intentionally present.




So... is that a definition of art that we can work with?

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2019/04/10 22:06:00


 
   
Made in us
Awesome Autarch






I think you just need to skip the definition of art entirely. Having grown up in the arts...there is one blatantly common trend amongst a large portion of the art and artistic world and that is: contrarianism. Any single definition spawns a world of artists who vehemently strive to outpace, undermine or disregard, bla bla bla.

On a very base level? I'd say yes. I genuinely feel that tabletop wargaming is essentially like making a small film. You've got the set, the cast, the producers and the (sigh) financers...putting on a show for entertainment, just perhaps unscripted it. We would undeniably classify most film (or stage plays) as some form of art. This, however is a purely personal approach - though I believe it mirrors the "spirit" of tabletop gaming. Regardless of the cries of gatekeeping, and "forcing your hobby on others", etc., tabletop wargames are intended to be played with painted miniatures on painted/finished terrain. That's very much why it's a hobby and not just a game.

The driving force behind getting into wargaming for me (and most people my age) was seeing pictures of the games in White Dwarf. The aesthetic appeal brought joy to me, and thus, as a 12-13 year old I wanted to replicate it.

This kind of stuff was absolutely stirring as a kid:
Spoiler:


You can't go from box o' sprues and some paint to the above without some art getting in the way.


 
   
Made in us
Thrall Wizard of Tzeentch




I don't think art has to have a message. I actually like many examples of abstract art. I also think games are art, though they're usually bad art.

Many people like to point to all the art that can be stuffed into games as the reason for them to be art: the story, the music, the 3D models, etc. But I think that misses the point. If all you can show is that a game is a collection of art, it is no more artistic than a closet full of paintings.

For me, a game itself is good art when the gameplay itself has artistic merit. Any definition of games as art that doesn't clearly include Pong or Tetris is garbage.

Of course, playing a game isn't art any more than watching a movie is art, though either act could be made into art, just like a dirty coffee cup.

Edit: I just realized this wasn't about video games. The same ideas apply. Throw Checkers and Diplomacy in there instead of Pong and Tetris.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/11 02:37:43


 
   
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





Games are something better than art. They are games.
   
Made in gb
Regular Dakkanaut




Performance art. And boy have I seen some performances...
   
Made in gb
Fixture of Dakka






"There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Gombrich

Art is something created by an Artist. Next step, define an Artist ...

I remember something Dara O'Briain said in one of his sets once, about computer games being art - and that they're the only art form where the art work itself doesn't let you experience the whole work if you're not good enough. Anyone can look at a painting, watch a play, TV show or film, read a book or poem, etc. But to fully experience a computer game, you need to play it, and be good at playing it, otherwise the work itself, denies you the full experience. Some of that can apply to tabletop games, too. Most obviously in Legacy games (for example, if I'm awful at Blackstone Fortress, I'll never find out what's in that envelope), but in any game; if we're all useless at Arkham Horror hen we'll never get the endgame, that sort of thing.
   
Made in de
Inspiring Icon Bearer






If enough pretentious asses gather together and declare games art, games are art.

Art is nothing but craft elevated to another level of recognition by gaining a layer of cultural meaning not inherent to the physical (or digital, if that difference is meaningful to you) object. The object itself is not art and merely a physical (or otherwise, as before) reminder of the meaning it is understood to carry.

When Age of Sigmar was first released, I thought of it as art. The designers had crafted something that went entirely against well understood principles of game design for the genre, subjected the actual game design to reduction and abstraction in the extreme, and handed large parts of necessary game design to the players who should complete the process before and during their games, again and again each time they met someone new which disallowed for conventions to set in. At least for a time. More importantly, the game grew a community of vocal supporters that praised the liberating design of the game in spite of genre convention. To me that appeared to be very artistic in nature, and the only question that remains is: is it still, now that GW has moved away from this design and left fans of the original version with little of what they used to praise?

By contrast I don't see a game like Bolt Action as art. There's is appreciation for the craft, but the game and game mechanics are generally not understood to be more than just that, good game mechanics.

Nehekhara lives! Sort of! 
   
Made in us
Tzeentch Aspiring Sorcerer Riding a Disc





Orem, Utah

By the way, thanks everyone for taking this thread seriously. I'm really enjoying the discussion we're having here.



Elbows wrote:I think you just need to skip the definition of art entirely. Having grown up in the arts...there is one blatantly common trend amongst a large portion of the art and artistic world and that is: contrarianism. Any single definition spawns a world of artists who vehemently strive to outpace, undermine or disregard, bla bla bla.


Part of me wants to say that my definition resists contrarians (because the center of every contrary piece is a meta concept that my definition of art is incorrect- which is interesting because it contradicts the core premise that the artist is attempting to put forward).

But I do think my definition wavers a bit against art that is completely abstract and all about the execution (like a lot of classical music). I want to go so far as to say that "this is pleasing" is a concept (which would put those pieces of art into a category of "high execution and low concept."




Elbows wrote:
On a very base level? I'd say yes. I genuinely feel that tabletop wargaming is essentially like making a small film. You've got the set, the cast, the producers and the (sigh) financers...putting on a show for entertainment, just perhaps unscripted it. We would undeniably classify most film (or stage plays) as some form of art. This, however is a purely personal approach - though I believe it mirrors the "spirit" of tabletop gaming. Regardless of the cries of gatekeeping, and "forcing your hobby on others", etc., tabletop wargames are intended to be played with painted miniatures on painted/finished terrain. That's very much why it's a hobby and not just a game.

The driving force behind getting into wargaming for me (and most people my age) was seeing pictures of the games in White Dwarf. The aesthetic appeal brought joy to me, and thus, as a 12-13 year old I wanted to replicate it.

This kind of stuff was absolutely stirring as a kid:
Spoiler:


You can't go from box o' sprues and some paint to the above without some art getting in the way.


- On your last point, I completely agree that miniatures sculpting, painting and terrain making is all art. The question remains as to whether games are things that contain art, or art in and of themselves.

And what you bring up does make me wonder. With video games, I'd say that the artists are the game's creators. Just like in film or theatre, you have a bunch of artists and technicians working under a director, and they curate the experience. Even in improvised street theatre (where audience participation comes up) the artist is still controlling the final experience.

But with tabletop games, the end audience is supposed to be a participant on a whole other level (notwithstanding someone can play with bare plastic or hire a painter). That is a massive amount of control over the final aesthetics of the game that is completely relinquished to the audience.

And we've all seen someone who has made an ironic force. Like Pink Cryx, My Little Pony space marines, or Chibi Kingdom Death (that last one was me). The audience can off road the curated experience in ways that they can't with a video game (or choose your own adventure book).



Pink Horror wrote:I don't think art has to have a message. I actually like many examples of abstract art. I also think games are art, though they're usually bad art.

Many people like to point to all the art that can be stuffed into games as the reason for them to be art: the story, the music, the 3D models, etc. But I think that misses the point. If all you can show is that a game is a collection of art, it is no more artistic than a closet full of paintings.

For me, a game itself is good art when the gameplay itself has artistic merit. Any definition of games as art that doesn't clearly include Pong or Tetris is garbage.

Of course, playing a game isn't art any more than watching a movie is art, though either act could be made into art, just like a dirty coffee cup.

Edit: I just realized this wasn't about video games. The same ideas apply. Throw Checkers and Diplomacy in there instead of Pong and Tetris.


-Ok, I agree with you. I think that "it contains art" applies to museum collections, and I don't think the collection itself is art, but something that contains art.

But you do have a point about abstract games. I think that if I accept that Classical Music or Dance are art (when they aren't 'about something' then a gameplay experience should work on the same level.

AndrewGPaul wrote:
I remember something Dara O'Briain said in one of his sets once, about computer games being art - and that they're the only art form where the art work itself doesn't let you experience the whole work if you're not good enough. Anyone can look at a painting, watch a play, TV show or film, read a book or poem, etc. But to fully experience a computer game, you need to play it, and be good at playing it, otherwise the work itself, denies you the full experience. Some of that can apply to tabletop games, too. Most obviously in Legacy games (for example, if I'm awful at Blackstone Fortress, I'll never find out what's in that envelope), but in any game; if we're all useless at Arkham Horror then we'll never get the endgame, that sort of thing.


I actually disagree with O'Brian on that. I think that Modern literature (poetry especially) resists allowing just any reader to experience it. If you haven't read enough of the literary canon, you aren't going to get anything out of Finnigan's Wake. But you can still read all the words up to the end, so it isn't the same thing.

But games certainly resist the reader in different ways. After Braid and Bioshock, it is hard to argue that videogames are not an artistic medium. And from there, we can extend the definition to at least some tabletop games where the experience is highly curated (like "This War of Mine the Board Game, Mansions of Madness or Kingdom Death: Monster).

Tabletop Hobby Games have a less curated experience than those games do. Is there any barrier to extending the definition of art that far?

Also- I wonder if we're including sports in our definition. Are the rules of football art, or is a football match?

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2019/04/11 15:12:12


 
   
Made in ca
Painting Within the Lines




t.dot

Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author's imaginative, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.

Until the 17th century, art referred to any skill or mastery and was not differentiated from crafts or sciences. In modern usage after the 17th century, where aesthetic considerations are paramount, the fine arts are separated and distinguished from acquired skills in general, such as the decorative or applied arts.


Are tabletop games art?

Technical mastery of strategy and tactics is an (applied) art form.

The creative arts of modeling to create your models/army/table/terrain is an (aesthetic/creative) art form.

The ability to interact in a respectful, meaningful way with complete strangers is an (social/communicative) art form.


In much the same way, can a game of football be art?

Strategy of the draft, putting the right players in the right positions, determining the appropriate play and how/when to execute certain maneuvers.
Much like a video game, a film, or a tv show, a game of football is entertainment to its viewers. That too is art.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/11 15:15:48


   
Made in us
Freaky Flayed One






 odinsgrandson wrote:
Part of me wants to say that my definition resists contrarians (because the center of every contrary piece is a meta concept that my definition of art is incorrect- which is interesting because it contradicts the core premise that the artist is attempting to put forward).

But I do think my definition wavers a bit against art that is completely abstract and all about the execution (like a lot of classical music). I want to go so far as to say that "this is pleasing" is a concept (which would put those pieces of art into a category of "high execution and low concept."


Well, I would hope that you would not label my "take" as contraian, or "radically skeptical" if someone might prefer. But, I can't imagine that a meaningful conversation could arise if we aren't all talking about the same thing. I mean, imagine this absurd example:

Person A: "Are cats dogs?"
Person B: "No, of course not, why would you even think that?"
Person A: "Well, dogs are things with 4 legs and cats also have 4 legs."
Person B: "But having 4 legs isn't what makes a dog a dog."
Person A: "Well, now I am not sure we agree on what makes a dog a dog."

Now, absurd as that this, think about this with art. You ask, "is X art?" There is likely a way to define art in a way that could plausibly include or exclude any particular thing, X included. And so, without (at least) an operationalized definition, the endeavor likely falls down to simply just subjective opinion. You say X is art, I say no and never the twain shall meet.

I mean, there is a way to take your definition and apply it to nearly anything and it is "art." If "art is a means to allow an audience to connect with a (foreign) concept on a deep level" depending on how we operationalize "connect," "concept," and "deep level" we are going to arrive at necessarily different conclusions.

So, really, when one throws a ball, for example, this action does connect me with "deep" concepts about the nature of motion and time (as in, 4D non-Euclidean spacetime), notions of causality, contingency and necessity. Or, of course, it could just be that I am trying to put trash in the garbage can. Intentionality, as alluded to, seems it must play a role, as AndrewGPaul points out. As well as what Rob Lee point out, that if there was "another use" then is it art, or a craft? What makes The Fountain "art" and not just a urinal? And what Overread point out, about some sort of emotional reaction must be part too, or else, who would care what it was at all?

All this is to say that art is going to (seemingly necessarily) have very complex, nuanced, subjective valuation attached to it.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/11 17:01:33


 
   
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





We're starting the sandwich discussion aren't we....

Defining art in a binary sense is a fools errand. There's a measure of art in everything people do. I think a lot of what complicates the issue is that people tend see art as something new or at least unfamiliar to them. Something that really reaches you and feels like it really pushed a medium forward might feel like a soulless copy of a more original work to someone more vested in the medium.

People don't often think of games artistically, but there are definitely great experiences out there. Monopoly is somewhat famously a failed attempt to express ideas through gameplay as it originally was designed with a secondary game mode to show the advantages of a more communal approach to industry. There have been plenty of other games that look to express ideas. Twilight Struggle is a good example and there's some interesting card games built around similar mechanics of needing an opponent to win.

On the most basic levels games are absolutely art and tabletop games are filled with people expressing that art and mixing it with their own. It's a challenging medium to express larger artistic ideas though, because such things aren't often pleasant experiences and games have an audience looking for fun. The prior Monopoly example buckles under the weight of the fact that "learning capitalism is bad by being ground into poverty by the system" isn't a great use of 6 hours. I do think the last decade or so has seen the medium expand to the point where there are enough "standard" games that people will start to look toward alternate kinds of experiences.
   
Made in us
Awesome Autarch






Odinsgrandson,

Good points, I think my real answer would be: tabletop wargaming is an artistic hobby. However, I don't think the act of playing the game is necessarily artistic. Everything around it can be though. I also fully understand that plenty of people have no artistic interest in tabletop gaming (something I find somewhat bizarre) and are fine pushing unpainted plastic around some shoe-boxes and are more interested in math/meta/competition than anything having to do with the aesthetics of the game. So those people, even more so, are not partaking in anything artful during a game.

 
   
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





 Elbows wrote:
Odinsgrandson,

Good points, I think my real answer would be: tabletop wargaming is an artistic hobby. However, I don't think the act of playing the game is necessarily artistic. Everything around it can be though. I also fully understand that plenty of people have no artistic interest in tabletop gaming (something I find somewhat bizarre) and are fine pushing unpainted plastic around some shoe-boxes and are more interested in math/meta/competition than anything having to do with the aesthetics of the game. So those people, even more so, are not partaking in anything artful during a game.


There is artistry in gameplay though. The trick is appreciating that not every game is an artistic one. Chess has something of an official appreciation of this; recognizing that most games have devolved into playing out fairly predetermined decision trees. There are, however, exceptional plays referred to as Brilliancies that explore creative play. I think most games have similar moments, but like most art, becomes more discerning the deeper your experience with the medium.
   
Made in us
Tzeentch Aspiring Sorcerer Riding a Disc





Orem, Utah

Obviously, it is a lot easier to define a species like dog than a more abstract concept like art.

Someone pointed out to me that the definition of art is a modern concept. Previously, we had theatre, poetry, music, paintings, sculture, etc. each in their separate spheres (which are all far easier to define by themselves).

There were some similarities about how these are consumed, and they were eventually compiled into that which we label "art."

And once we started having a sort of shared definition of art, there came to be artists who challenged (and repeatedly broke) that definition.

That's why people would rather not get into it like that. I put down the first definition I could come up with, but only because people here were asking for one. I'd be quite happy to work with whatever definition you have internalized.


But let me see if I can ask the question without requiring a complete definition of art:


One way we could look at this is: Is the experience of playing a game similar to the experience of other things that we accept as art?

And it is similar enough that we should extend the label?

 
   
Made in us
Freaky Flayed One






 odinsgrandson wrote:
Obviously, it is a lot easier to define a species like dog than a more abstract concept like art.


Well, you say that, but is it the case? Superficially, it would seem self-evident. Yet, could you tell me succinctly in what way I can "easily" tell if object X is a dog? (I.e. not something like DNA.)

 odinsgrandson wrote:
And once we started having a sort of shared definition of art, there came to be artists who challenged (and repeatedly broke) that definition.


Well, I think now we are getting somewhere (in my estimation). No one, or two, or three, or so on, apparent qualities will give us the conception of art. Similar to the way that no superficial quality of a dog can tell us about the quality "dogness" or the concept of dog. Not number of leg, not fur, not a wet nose, because we could easily see a dog without those qualties and know it's a dog that lost a leg, has no fur, who's nose is not wet.

So too is art, in a way, relational to itself, that is, not just a concept of abstraction in and of itself, but a relational abstraction of the abstract as well. Would art be art with no artist? Would art be art with no observer? The phenomena is not just the Noumena. Kant said: “a kind of representation that is purposive in itself and, though without an end, nevertheless promotes the cultivation of the mental powers for sociable communication.” I think Hegel rightly takes this further, as "Art, therefore, as a cultural expression, operates in the same sphere as religion and philosophy, and expresses the same content as they. But art “reveals to consciousness the deepest interests of humanity” in a different manner than do religion and philosophy, because art alone, of the three, works by sensuous means." (Although I would stop short of going to Hegel's end of saying that art is necessarily inferior to philosophy.)

So, artists do "redefine" art, always, because art is in conversation with itself, that is, the concept of art. As soon as you'd pin down art as a "thing-in-itself" art's rightful "answer" is to not be that at all. Art is not really a "thing-in-itself" because, there can be art about art, process art, even art predicated on absence rather than presence and probably an infinite more sorts.

 odinsgrandson wrote:
One way we could look at this is: Is the experience of playing a game similar to the experience of other things that we accept as art?

And it is similar enough that we should extend the label?


Well, if we want to approach this from a phenomenological standpoint, which would seem to have merit, and so say that what give us a certain "feeling" then yes, a game could be art. But I don't think most games even come close to this. A pass-time is just a pass-time no matter how elaborate or aesthetically pleasing it is to me. So, could a game be art? Sure. Has anyone ever made a game I could consider so? Not in my experience (which is absurdly limited).
   
Made in gb
Enginseer with a Wrench






Interesting discussion – thanks for kicking off the thread.

 odinsgrandson wrote:
But let me see if I can ask the question without requiring a complete definition of art:
One way we could look at this is: Is the experience of playing a game similar to the experience of other things that we accept as art?
And it is similar enough that we should extend the label?


With no firm definition, I agree it's a good idea to look at similarities and differences; in order to find comparable situations. Chess has been used earlier in the discussion as an example of a game that has sometimes been regarded as an artform; and sometimes rejected. The question 'Are games art or are they not?' has similarities to 'Are games sport or are they not?', and chess provides an example of a game that has been, and continues to be, treated as a sport (in the form of the Chess Olympiad).

Of course, arguing that games can be sport is not quite the same thing as arguing that they're art: games and sport are virtually synonymous terms, after all, while sport and art are not usually conflated. However, it does show that the definition of 'playing a game' can be flexible, and also allows us to use arguments that sports are art when looking at whether games are art.

+++


Looking again at the subsequent question: 'Is the experience of playing a game [or sport] similar to the experience of other things that we accept as art?'

My gut reaction is no; and I think the root of this is that I regard an artwork as having some form of intention behind it (even if that intention is intentionally obscured, obfuscated or subverted by the creator) that aims at establishing or opening something new within the audience; whereas a game or sport is a closed experience for the audience. There cannot be a single intention for the participants, by virtue of their ceding creative control – either by agreeing to pre-decided rules (in which case the intention and art is in the creation of the rules-set), or by sharing the outcome with other participants (in which case there are two or more intentions; and an uncertain outcome).

To put it another way, a game has some form of rules that limit the capabilities of the experience, in order that the experience can be understood and shared; while an artwork's 'artness' seeks (successfully or unsuccessfully) to uncouple itself from rules and limitations in order that the experience presents something novel and individual. (And as an aside, hence Elbows' contrarian artists.)

This concept of individual versus shared experience is the core of my argument, then. Both artworks and games can be viewed/experienced by multiple people, of course; but the artwork will produce a qualiative experience that cannot satisfactorily be agreed upon; while a game/sport relies on a result (or ongoing series of results) that can be objectively compared.

+++


Pursuing this further, however, reveals that my argument rests on a 'completed' experience – but the question is phrased around 'the experience of playing'. I'd certainly allow that there's the potential for art within a game – there's aesthetic pleasure in well-performed sports set pieces (equiv. ballet/dance); and in a well-performed or improvised speech in a roleplay game (equiv. poetry or theatre) – but that by imposing self-imposed limitations, the game, prevents the players from 'creating their own intention' except by accident.

+Death of a Rubricist+
My miniature painting blog.
 
   
Made in us
Tzeentch Aspiring Sorcerer Riding a Disc





Orem, Utah

 H wrote:
 odinsgrandson wrote:
Obviously, it is a lot easier to define a species like dog than a more abstract concept like art.


Well, you say that, but is it the case? Superficially, it would seem self-evident. Yet, could you tell me succinctly in what way I can "easily" tell if object X is a dog? (I.e. not something like DNA.)


Obviously, our hard and fast definition is the DNA one. Otherwise, I can tell you that anything that can breed with a dog and have viable offspring is a dog.

This does mean that the species difference between "wolf" and "dog" isn't true to the reality behind them (dogs are really just domesticated wolves that have been bred in various, sometimes bizaar ways).


 H wrote:

 odinsgrandson wrote:
One way we could look at this is: Is the experience of playing a game similar to the experience of other things that we accept as art?

And it is similar enough that we should extend the label?


Well, if we want to approach this from a phenomenological standpoint, which would seem to have merit, and so say that what give us a certain "feeling" then yes, a game could be art. But I don't think most games even come close to this. A pass-time is just a pass-time no matter how elaborate or aesthetically pleasing it is to me. So, could a game be art? Sure. Has anyone ever made a game I could consider so? Not in my experience (which is absurdly limited).


That's fair. I definitely don't feel like I have that type of experience with every game I come across.

I think there are a few exceptions that I have encountered:



This War of Mine is one that I go to because it clearly is kind of straight forward about it. There are a lot of narrative and game elements employed to help players feel the despair of the situation, and ultimately they do. There's a certain amount of 'fun' that the game isn't- out of respect for its subject matter. The gameplay is all worker placement, so the gameplay does a lot to discuss much a human can take and still accomplish something. Featuring a story about non-combatant victims of war is very interesting in the context of a tabletop board game (a medium through which combat is very commonly glorified).

Kingdom Death: Monster. That game is a beast in so many ways. The way that the setting unfolds, combined with the feelings of brutality that the game exudes really come together nicely. There are a lot of themes that it explores (the setting follows some types of dream logic).

Stuffed Fables is about as deep as a Pixar film, but the experience is very similar. I don't think it is an argument for game art being great, but I do think that films are art, so it does seem to fit.

I haven't gotten very far in Gen7 yet, but I get the feeling it is going in a similar direction (we're exploring societal themes, and the consequences of encouraging certain ways of thinking).



Those games are all highly curated experiences that are very different from the experience of a tabletop wargame (which is kind of the direction we've been taking here). In that sense, I think the above games all have that "Intent" that you spoke of, which I think a normal game of 40k lacks. While tabletop gaming is definitely surrounded by art, I'm not sure that the games are art in and of themselves.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/04/12 18:21:26


 
   
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 odinsgrandson wrote:
Obviously, our hard and fast definition is the DNA one. Otherwise, I can tell you that anything that can breed with a dog and have viable offspring is a dog.

This does mean that the species difference between "wolf" and "dog" isn't true to the reality behind them (dogs are really just domesticated wolves that have been bred in various, sometimes bizaar ways).


Well, I was not clear enough in my line of questioning here (forgive me, but in my defense, I am an idiot). What I was "really trying to" show, was that in many cases, just a visual inspection of seemingly apparent properties could easily mislead us to one conclusion or another. Concept: dog is not exactly DNA: dog, since if that were the case, how could my 3 year old, who has no conception of what DNA even is, identify what was a dog and what was a cat? No, there is something there which is "abstract" but our modern empirical mindsets are largely conditioned against such things.

This is largely the "state" we are all in with relation to art. It's always a subjective valuation, because we cannot enumerate the (functionally) infinite manifestations of what might relationally strike us as "art." We can't say definitively what grants something "status: art" because art is actually in the relation between [artist : object : viewer]. In fact, it might even be that relation. One could likely conceive of it as a sort of gestalt, or if you prefer a more philosophical bent, Hegel's use of "geist." In new-fangled "sciencey" terms, perhaps "art" is the (an) "emergent property" in that [artist : object : viewer] relation/ship.

EDIT: Bleh, why can't we disable smileys?

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/12 20:45:13


 
   
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West melbourne, Florida

Games are games. They are not art.

The game can contain art, as what was pointed out in the OP.

Playing a game can be an artful ( skill with harmony ). But this isn't the art we are talking about.

You have to be careful with the word art, as it's definition has been corrupted by post modernists.

Objectively, Art is a selective recreation of metaphysics based on the artist's values. The purpose of art is to show the world "these are my values" in concrete, physical terms. Art is not there to teach or propagandize.

So no, a game is not art.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/13 13:39:40


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So no, a game is not art.


Some Games are.
   
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Lake County, Illinois

Yes. I think your movie analogy is right on. A movie is a work of art, though it contains other art (script, performance, special effects, lighting, etc). The way in which one combines elements to create a game is I suppose it's own art.
   
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Orem, Utah

 H wrote:
 odinsgrandson wrote:
Obviously, our hard and fast definition is the DNA one. Otherwise, I can tell you that anything that can breed with a dog and have viable offspring is a dog.

This does mean that the species difference between "wolf" and "dog" isn't true to the reality behind them (dogs are really just domesticated wolves that have been bred in various, sometimes bizaar ways).


Well, I was not clear enough in my line of questioning here (forgive me, but in my defense, I am an idiot). What I was "really trying to" show, was that in many cases, just a visual inspection of seemingly apparent properties could easily mislead us to one conclusion or another. Concept: dog is not exactly DNA: dog, since if that were the case, how could my 3 year old, who has no conception of what DNA even is, identify what was a dog and what was a cat? No, there is something there which is "abstract" but our modern empirical mindsets are largely conditioned against such things.


I actually suspect that it is less "abstract" so much as "hard to put into words." There are lots of aspects of cats that we use to identify them- mostly head shapes and body shapes/muscle structure. As a sculptor, I have used these shapes to portray "cat" before. It is also very useful to portray "dragon" (cat anatomy is the most common basis for dragons).


And I don't think that our modern minds are conditioned against it, so much as "most of us don't know the words used to describe the thing that our brains can do instantly." Like, we're smarter than we think.
I'm sure that there are biologists who could give us the range of measurements and specifications that define a 'cat' or even a particular subspecies.

The intuitive system does sometimes fail us (for example, we often confuse harvestmen for spiders). On the other hand, the empirical approach also can become confused (for a long time, many scientists were convinced that Great Pandas were not True Bears, but DNA shows that they are).



I categorically reject the notion that all questions cannot be answered.



- However, the question "What is art?" clearly cannot be answered in the same way, and most academics have long since given up on making an answer that could possibly please everyone.

Perhaps the question isn't whether a thing is art, but what happens when you approach it as art. Most people wouldn't think of the IKEA installations as art, but you CAN analyze them from that perspective (and you break down the visual rhetoric involved). Some people might try to say that propaganda and commercials are not art, but I find that to be naive (Candide and Triumph of the Will can both sparked nations to violent action).

So what happens if you analyze a game in the same way? Are the results interesting?

I think that if games have a real advantage it is in causing the players to think and act in certain ways. There's an opportunity for a different kind of sympathy for the characters because players can be put into their shoes in a way that is impossible in other mediums.

But what does that do?

So far, I'm quite convinced that curated, cooperative board games are art. I'm less certain about competitive games (but I feel like I'm missing something).

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/24 15:24:08


 
   
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Hanoi, Vietnam.

I looked up the Cambridge University Press definitions of art, and I have to say I don't think the definitions are inclusive enough. My own definition for something to be considered a work of art is, "anything that is intentionally created with at least part of that intent being to bring about a sense of appreciation of the skill that was required in said creation." As you can see, my definition is very broad and easily includes all games. My definition also doesn't prejudice against things that are created primarily for scientific or functional purposes, which most definitions tend to do, and which I think is unfair. Really, the only things my definition exclude are things that are created unintentionally - because I don't believe in accidental art.

Obviously, my definition doesn't go any way towards helping identify what constitutes good art.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2019/04/25 02:49:43


 
   
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Orem, Utah

Your definition matches what most people seem to think. I've heard that anything people create that goes beyond practical function is art.

So a hut that is built simply to have a roof above your head is not art, but once the creator starts making choices about color and shape that aren't completely functional, you get into the realm of art.

Of course, there are artists who rebel against this with "Driftwood Art" or other types of "found art" as well as very non-deliberate processes to create art (a guy throws paint into a plane engine and it spits it out in a random pattern onto a canvass).


Some folks simply use the concept of "anything that can be analyzed as if it were art is art enough for me." In this way, I think games are art. S good msyvh has tension, a narrative arc and a final catharsis. The players are actors who are both playing parts and themselves and acting as their own audience (although there is sometimes a separate audience as well).

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/25 15:47:42


 
   
 
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