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Ico, Rez and Super Monkey Ball


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Some of us can be really ignorant. Is football art? No. Can football be art? Yes. If you put all the best players in the world in a stadium and let them play a match where the ball never touches the ground, it rains goals and people's mouth are wide open of the exitement and appreciation -- football will become art.

Don't be so ignorant and look at the criteria. Videogames by definition are not art. But some of them are indeed art. The argument that you play games to win is bollocks. I play them for fun -- sometimes that means winning, sometimes not. I play Rez 100% for the fun and kick it gives me and for nothing else. I played Ico to complete it. Not to win, but to see what other beauty was waiting for me behind every door.

I could walk trough the castle of Ico just to watch the scenery and lighting.

Finally, interactive things are art as well. Some of you might want to check out the New York Musea of Modern Arts. Modern arts are moving. And what is the difference between games and a movie? Disney movies are composed out of many frames, they draw every single frame on a drawing board. Which is art. Then they put all those frames after each other and the result is a one or two hour movie. For games, it is exactly the same. If its a good game, the player experiences exactly the same as the director expected him to experience when he designed the game.

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what i don't get is that when someone says, games aren't art, they seem to think that this implies they don't require intelligence, which is rubbish. they're still not art though.i don't need to be able to understand a movie to appreciate it, or i might have a different interpretation to someone else. you don't need to understand tone or composition to enjoy a painting just as you don't need to be able to read music to enjoy it or appreciate it.

Then if you would be right, which I am not sure of, videogames are still art for many people -- people like you and me who have completed the game.

Secondly, still the game would be art. Take the artwork of Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. I have huge wallpapers of those in my room because I love to watch at those drawings day in day out. Definately art. Now, I also have the priviledge to play those games and see that art in motion. However, for those games I mentioned I do not consider them as art. However, in the case of Ico, playing the game is as good as the limited edition cards, the box art and still images.

That is why I consider Ico as a true piece of art -- it is a moving painting.

Everything about the game is artistic. From the camera angels, to the relationship between Ico and Yorda to the beautiful architecture of the castle to the fantastic use of lighting, serene silence and the use of music troughout the game. I just cannot see and do not want to see why that can not be considered as art.

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Would I be right in interpreting your main points as:

1) Enough with the overuse of those three games as creative reference points already

2) Stop assuming that everyone agrees with you when you call them art

3) Show us some different games which could be considered art

?

That's pretty much the crux of it, yes.

Seeing Sonic 2 in RGB-O-Vision has pretty much altered my perception of games as art.

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Everything about the game is artistic. From the camera angels, to the relationship between Ico and Yorda to the beautiful architecture of the castle to the fantastic use of lighting, serene silence and the use of music troughout the game. I just cannot see and do not want to see why that can not be considered as art.

but is the gameplay art?

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Actually (and I know this doesn't give us a new reference point, and some of it isn't too great aesthetically), but I'd go for the gameplay experience of Frequency as being the closest thing to videogames-as-art I've played recently. As a non-musician, the constrained artistic experience of building up those songs, and the zone state it puts you in is as satisfying to me as good art.

Although I have a lot of respect for videogames artists, I don't think the fancy concept drawings that get collected in coffee table books come close to being (serious) art.

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but it could still be considered art.

what i don't get is that when someone says, games aren't art, they seem to think that this implies they don't require intelligence, which is rubbish. they're still not art though.i don't need to be able to understand a movie to appreciate it, or i might have a different interpretation to someone else. you don't need to understand tone or composition to enjoy a painting just as you don't need to be able to read music to enjoy it or appreciate it.

Point 1: Would it? Are all movies all automatically art? What about porn? Or gun movies or crap kung-fu features? You see, you could easily make a crap movie out of Ico- just film someone playing it from start to finish. Would that still be art [to the same extent]? Especially with all the restarts? I believe the game depends on you playing it to convey much of its subtlety. In fact, what you're describing basically says "it's automatically not art because it's a game", which IMO is (find a suitable, non-ranty term...) a prejudiced notion (in the most literal sense). You've made your mind up about games as art and no number of counter-examples will shift you.

Point 2: I think I mixed my points, which leads to your response. I believe that it is necessary to beat a game (where it's linear) to fully appreciate it, just as it's necessary to read a book to completion or watch a film to the end, or listen to a bit of music right the way through to fully appreciate it. Any game which is really worth it salt should allow a non-player to do this (although most games don't, which is probably the reason why games remain niche, but that just means they're not great art, not that they're not art).

I also believe that you often need a prior knowledge of the medium to really understand a work of art at depth- for example, someone looking at a riverside scene by one of the colourists could describe it as "serene" without really getting into how this serentity was created (which is for me the intellectually interesting part of a painting, looking at the clever things the artist has done). Likewise, someone could play Rez and find themselves "in the zone", but without prior knowledge of the genre or games in general, they couldn't describe how it achieves this.

If you can't appreciate games in the same way as other forms of creative expression, that's fine, but as this topic shows, there are many people who can.

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[i said:  that's why we say things like "the art of conversation."]

Nice of you to use a figure of speech as an example of 'art'.  Any more shining examples you'd like to raise before you get ignored completely?

the way we use language says a great deal about the current definition of a concept or word.

your view is very narrow. i insist that not only are games art, but the player's movements are, as well. anything organized by conscious beings is art, and this includes modern dance, tricks you do on a skateboard, chinese tea ceremonies, the way in which you wave a pom-pom, hindu ritual gestures, and the movement of the vic viper. it is the interaction of the artist and the perceiver (the developer and the player) that give videogames such a unique and interesting artistic potential. perhaps it is the unusualness of this relationship and the incompleteness of a game without it that prompt people to say that games are not art. i say that view is too narrow.

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[Games] were definately not made to be art -- but they can achieve that status.

a lot of truly valuable art is not made to be art. the best paintings are made by artists who simply need to keep doing it, to express themselves. do you know what we call art that is made to be art? pretentious. we probably don't have a lot of examples of art that is made to be art because pretentious art is not often celebrated and ususally fades away. it lacks passion and sincerity. so to say that games cannot be art because they are not made to be art is not a working argument.

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Indeed, but perhaps at this stage we have a very narrow perception of games art? Van Gogh was shunned in his day by the established. Could the same be happening now? Is the subtle being overlooked in favour of the staggering?

what use is it to speculate on what future generations might think of today's products? does that really help to determine anything's value? of course we cannot know. future generations' values, especially for art, depend on historical and cultural changes that we cannot possibly foresee. more importantly, we should judge today's products for ourselves, not through the eyes of other people who don't even exist.

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If Rembrandt would crossstitch the most beautiful picture on a napkin ... If an artist used glued napkins to create a stunning sculpture ... Use your imagination! That's what art's all about.

but that misses the point! that's not a napkin, it's something else done with the napkin. d-side asked "is a napkin art?" if i find myself in a diner, pick up a napkin, and suddenly say, "wow, these napkins have a really interesting pattern! i find this very appealing!" then not only is the napkin art, but it is good art for me. do you know what that makes all napkins? art. do you know what that makes all napkins that i have not remarked upon in that way? mediocre art.

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the difference is that you play games to win.

who says? i don't play games to win. i play games to play games. for example, if i play a game of chess with a stranger and he plays solidly until mid-game when suddenly he overlooks a current (one move away) threat to his queen... if i am aware that this is a mistake (and often i will ask, because it can be pretty obvious), i will insist on alerting my opponent and allowing him to replay the move where he had made the oversight. chess to me is not about a competition of who wins, but more like a study of who has the better strategy and look-ahead ability. if i let a mistake into the chain of events making up the game, it is like an infection or a blemish. it ruins the experiment and tarnishes the truth of the game. the result as well as the game itself becomes illegitimate.

when i play a game like ico i do it slowly and reverently. i am not in a hurry to win. why would i go back to ico if i played it to win? it can only be "won" in one way and surely it will be the same the second time through. no, the truth is that i am "winning" the entire time that i am playing the game.

if i play ikaruga i don't care about winning; i care about perfecting my play so that it most fits the game. again, i am talking about my art as the player interactingwith the developer's art. the two are merely halves of an otherwise incomplete whole; with the interaction between my playing and the developers' design, the game, the art, emerges as a whole. this is what i am talking. i think a game like ikaruga exemplifies it as you play again and again, trying to perfect the art of the whole.

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It's different I think. The stadium a football match is played in, could be considered art (especially if you look at the stunning architecture of some of those buildings). The gameworld the game takes place in, could be compared to this stadium. The shirts could be designed by a master tailor and be considered art, just like the textures put on your gamecharacters. The rules themselves (which define the game) are not art (although even that is debatable) I suppose. But a videogame is more than just the rules. It's the world, story, characters etc.

you're missing the point. well, not his point, but you aren't satisfying my point, so i'm going to argue with you, if that's alright. a full game of tiddly-winks, whatever that is, is indeed art. a game of football is art. not just the stadium as a piece of architecture; the game is art, including its elements: the coach's strategic decisions, the physical ability of the players, etc. it is like an inevitable, experimental (i mean that the game is an experiment, not that this is an experimental type of art) piece of art that works itself out organically, in nature. similarly, a videogame's gameworld is just the architectural element of the game design. it is only a piece of what is only half the game--the developmental half.

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I suppose the main reason I think of games as like art is the way I try to treat reviewing them these days:

Look at the thing absolutely dumbfounded as to how to critique it.

Describe key compositional features (main play mechanics in this case).

Get into the interesting details (at this point little tricks and clever things and interactions and contrasts start to become more obvious to me)

Describe more and more little things (main themes should be obvious by now, say panic or visceral satisfaction or peace and quiet, go back and rewrite a bit so that the critique is angled towards these)

Summarise main themes and the main ways the thing conveys these in final paragraph.

dude, just talk about what it is like to play the game, about how it feels. you don't even have to tell me who the characters are or what it's about or any of that. don't talk to me about the game as if it were a movie script; review it like it's a game. what is it like for you? that's it. i read a lot of game reviews, and almost all of them do it totally wrong.

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dude, just talk about what it is like to play the game, about how it feels. you don't even have to tell me who the characters are or what it's about or any of that. don't talk to me about the game as if it were a movie script; review it like it's a game. what is it like for you?

That's what I mean... the main theme for a game or movie or painting or whatever, to me, is how it "feels" - panicky, maybe, or curious or powerful or half-assed or whatever. I comment on how the game manages to do that where appropriate (say, the way Metroid's drip-feed of abilities and the trick near the end of Zero Mission manage to add so much to the game's feel). It's just the structure of the approach which is similar, I don't prattle on about tone and texture when reviewing a movie or characters and narrative when reviewing a game (generally).

I mean this sort of thing (Cute touches a-go-go).

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in that little review, you basically broke down the game into its magic system, control physics, music, etc. and commented on each of them. the review just doesn't talk about aria as a game. it talks about it as a collection of elements.

i recommend that you read this feature. it isn't very focused, and in many ways it isn't so much a game review as a kind of editorial rant, but it tells me so much more about the game than your review.

there's this piece called "bow, nigger" from state (i can't find it! the link died.) about jedi outcast that is probably better, as it is more of what i would like in a review--at least, it exemplifies the spirit of a review as i would like it. as a full review, you might consider it incomplete, but.. i don't know. it's more a piece of writing.

my gripe about game reviews is that you could just make a format sheet, a form that has boxes for graphics, music, control, and, at the end, fun!, and the reviewer could just fill them out. game writing is stuck in a rut, and that's what it looks like. writing like the two examples above is, i think, infinitely more interesting and useful.

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I know what piece you're talking about, and it is aces. I'll admit my review's quite crap and unfocussed really... but unfortunately I don't have any better ones. Except my Gradius Advance one about challenge, but that in retrospect has some unfortunate grammatical shortcomings (i.e. double meanings in the first few paragraphs' opening sentences).

Edit- that IC review is great. It's got a chatty style which basically talks about what the player enjoyed about the game. Asides like:

This is an airtight little bit of exposition: Soma declares that Julius’ power was way, way shackled. As gamers, no matter how hardcore we are, we know that Julius was one hell of a tough boss, and one accompanied by the game’s only noteworthy piece of rock music, even if we beat him on our first try. So we know, for sure, if Soma says -- and says so surely -- that Julius was taking it easy, that if Soma really does become Dracula, and Julius comes back to the throne room to see Soma, Julius will, without doubt, win. He is, after all, a Belmont, and Belmonts kill Dracula, because that is their destiny.

...are fantastic. They're the sort of analysis I picked up from art criticism in high school, but more personal and interesting. That's what I guess I should be putting into reviews more.

Edit- but, I do tend to write with one restriction that guy lacks- I try to write without spoilers and try to write about the game in fairly loose terms. It's hard to be enthusiastic about what makes a game great without giving specifics, and it means falling back on things like describing the gameplay as "tightly structured" rather than talking about clever things that happened in the game (the Metriod: Zero Mission twist which emphasised Samus' vulnerability and dependence on technology, and the fact that it is the suit, not her, which is the real death-dealer).

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I know what piece you're talking about, and it is aces. I'll admit my review's quite crap and unfocussed really... but unfortunately I don't have any better ones. Except my Gradius Advance one about challenge, but that in retrospect has some unfortunate grammatical shortcomings (i.e. double meanings in the first few paragraphs' opening sentences).

it's not quite what i'm talking about, but that is a lot better. i really like how you used challenge, which you found to be the game's essence, as a point from which you could describe each of the elements of graphics, music, control, etc. that's not lazy writing. and later there's some good stuff that is really about the game itself.

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it's not quite what i'm talking about, but that is a lot better.  i really like how you used challenge, which you found to be the game's essence, as a point from which you could describe each of the elements of graphics, music, control, etc.  that's not lazy writing.  and later there's some good stuff that is really about the game itself.

Yes, that's what I want to get into my reviews more, but I tend to wander off... a sort of central focus. Things like:

Why did I fight so much, to earn 99 leather armors? (We will, for now, avoid the question of why so many enemies drop leather armors.) The short answer is that it was fun. The longer answer is that I wanted to try out my new skills. The most detailed answer is the bulk of this review itself.

Which, in that AoS review, pretty much sums up why I myself played CotM happily well past the point where I had everything.

Edit- wonderful wanders off into his ideas for an online Castlevania there! I've done that a couple of times on these forums myself, I'll see if I can find them, they were a bit random...

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Edit- that IC review is great. It's got a chatty style which basically talks about what the player enjoyed about the game.

exactly! and that's what i think game writing should be, not ratings of how crisp the graphics are. i've become a really big fan of insertcredit. tim rogers is consistently brilliant at this (plus, i think his 4-player castlevania idea is tops). the more analytical writers who sound like they're doing sociology and philosophy (actually, they are), are not full of it, and they're not taking the piss. they're seriously writing about games in this heavily analytical, very serious way, and i love it. they take games seriously and treat them like you would a high-profile painting or film--they treat them academically, with excellent results.

an example that comes quickly to mind is this wind waker review.

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your view is very narrow.

and...

perhaps it is the unusualness of this relationship and the incompleteness of a game without it that prompt people to say that games are not art.  i say that view is too narrow.

I've never known anyone to get the wrong end of the stick so consistently.

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i never actually said that, infact i said the opposite.

Not entirely surprising to be honest.

Me: Ico, Rez and SMB are not the sum total of games that can be considered as art.

Guardian: You said that games can't be art.

One word: No.

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you're really into pussyfooting, aren't ya? do you actually have any opinions or thoughts about the topic, or do you intend to just imply things and then insist that you never actually said them in an effort to embarass people? do you think the reason why so many posters in this thread are confused about your position might be that you haven't declared one very strongly?

i saw that other people had assumed that you have been saying "games can't be art" and tried to avoid doing the same. it's very difficult to say anything to you at all because 1) your position is unclear and 2) you never actually respond to anyone's ideas. instead of trying to pull the carpet from under my feet, how about discussing some of the things i actually said?

you allowed the thread to move from your first point about smb, ico, and rez not being the only artistic games to a discussion about what art is and are games art etc. you asked smug questions like "is a napkin art?" you haven't said anything at all regarding my response to that question or my attempts to think through other issues. i'm not even accusing you of failing to get excited about games as art; i'm saying that you went halfway with the issue and now i have no idea where you stand or what your response is to the ideas that have been raised.

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you're really into pussyfooting, aren't ya?  blah blah blah lots of talk, says little...

Let's try again, in large bold letters:

ICO, REZ AND SMB ARE NOT THE BE AND END ALL OF 'ART' IN THE GAMES SENSE. THE LIST IS ENDLESS IN FACT, IF YOU TAKE THE LINE THAT ARTISTRY CAN BE FOUND IN ALL THINGS. I'D LIKE TO THINK THIS IS THE LINE THAT WE ALL CAN TAKE, THAT WE ALL HAVE AN OPEN MIND AND WIDE OPEN EYES. HOWEVER, SOME PEOPLE HAVE DECIDED TO PROFESS THIS IDEAL WHILST AT THE SAME TIME CLAIMING THAT CERTAIN TITLES ARE MORE ARTISTIC THAN OTHERS, DESPITE THE GROSS HYPOCRISY OF THIS SENTIMENT. I FAIL TO SEE HOW WE CAN TALK IN SUCH SPECIFIC TERMS WHEN THE BOUNDARIES ARE INDEFINABLE. I FAIL TO SEE HOW ONE CAN COMPARE AND 'PLAY OFF' (FOR WANT OF A BETTER PHRASE) THE ARTISTRY OF TWO SEPERATE TITLES, GIVEN THAT ART IS ESSENTIALLY ABOUT INDIVIDUAL PERCEPTION, RATHER THAN FACTUAL CERTAINTIES. I FAIL TO SEE HOW PEOPLE CAN ADVOCATE BROAD VIEWS ON THE ONE HAND, YET UTILISE THE SAME NARROW LIST OF EXAMPLES (THE SAME SHORT LIST THEY'VE BEEN USING FOR ROUGHLY THREE YEARS NOW) WHEN IT COMES TO DISCUSSING GAMES AS ART.

Now, is any of that penetrating, or do I have to go a font size up? I'm not sure the forum can take it, Captain.

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