” I’m no video gaming expert, but with 50 other physical attendees and many more over live stream, I vow to learn how video games can be better understood within an art context, as they’ve been the new art frontier for some time. Why are they less recognized in the art world than, say, video art? The obvious and overwhelming plus to video games are their interactive capabilities. How does this quality relate to artistic and exhibition practice? And the big question for museums: how can it be effectively assimilated, or creatively reappropriated, to engage audiences?
The day begins with a discussion about the role of video games in our society, culture and politics. James Paul Gee kicks off by introducing Plato’s criticism of painting and writing: both were frustrating, the philosopher said, because they couldn’t “talk back.” Gee suggests that Plato would have liked the interaction of video games, adding that, “Video games are art in that conversation is art.” Gee’s ambition to afford video gaming the same credibility as literature is outlined on his website, where he offers this rather radical assertion:
Books are a powerful technology. They can lead to aggression and violence (witness the Bible, the Koran, and the Turner Diaries in the wrong hands). Nazi Germany was a highly literate society. Games, so far, do not have this much power, but some day they may.
There is, however, a strong point to his argument that, unlike books, video gaming’s strengths are in its immersive, discovery-oriented interaction and its possibility for collaboration. Video games like Spore encourage players to understand the statistical underpinnings of the game design in order to improve their play. This type of game changes the role of the player from passive consumer to active producer by successfully merging science (game theory) with art (game design). A curator from the the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art asks Gee what role the art museum plays in regards this infinite video game space. For time being, the question remains unanswered. ”
Read more from Claire Breukel as she reflects on the game as an art form in her article ‘A Critical Discussion on the Art of Video Gaming‘.
And check out this TED Talk from Kellee Santiago – Are Video Games Art?
But what about games in an education context? I’ve got some more ideas coming soon. for now, check out this infographic for some fast facts and ideas…
And see our page on the blur between art and gaming in ‘The Most Artful Video Games‘. There’s a great clip on this post from the Idea Channel that presents an interesting argument for video games being art…sometimes.