Are Video Games Art? Do Games Make Good Movies?

GBGames has some commentary on Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert’s review of the movie, “Silent Hill” and statements that games are not art.

I have not seen nor played “Silent Hill”, but I have seen and played “Doom” and watched “Resident Evil” (which I quite liked).

I find Ebert’s comments quite silly, actually. Games don’t make great movies, not because of art, subject matter, or anthying else other than who makes the movie.

Movies are made from screenplays by hundreds, if not thousands of people. The screenplay and the storyboards are the blueprints for the film. The filmmakers are the artists and craftsman. The game is just the inspiration for the screenplay and storyboards.

The reason “Doom” wasn’t a good movie is not becuase it was based on a video game, it’s because the screenplay was terrible, the direction was uninspired, and the acting was second-rate at best and the story was completely unoriginal.

But, it certainly was not worse (art or otherwise) than movies that were not based on games, such as any of the “Nightmare on Elmstreet” sequals.

Now, as to whether a game can be art. Again, this is silly as well. As GB states, art is in the eye of the beholder. While I didn’t personally enjoy “Myst” as a game, I thought the game itself was very artistic, if not down right beautiful. I remember the first time I played “Balder’s Gate”. I was blown away by the artwork making up the world in that game. Certainly, if you took the map “artwork” by itself you can’t deny that that’s art. Background music? Art. Storyline and narrative? Sounds like a book or screenplay. Again, art.

Now how about the reverse. If movies are art, then the “Star Wars” movies are certainly considered some of the most popular works of art ever. What about the scores of “Star Wars” games released by Lucas Arts? Art?

What if Orsen Wells decided to base a movie on a game? I bet it would be just a tad bit better received by Roger Ebert.

3 thoughts on “Are Video Games Art? Do Games Make Good Movies?

  1. I see what your saying and I agree. I think art is the creation of any object or media that evokes meaning, emotion and thought in the beholder. Therefore to me almost anything is an art form. With respect to games and film, I believe that games must evolve more along the “artist” lines of film.

  2. >I believe that games must evolve more along the “artist” lines of film.

    I sort of agree. I think it would be great for games to evolve as far as art. But, I also wonder if we have a misplaced fixation on this. Some of the best games ever made had nothing but vector graphics and bips and bleeps for sound.

    I like artsy games, but artsy games don’t necessarily make great games.

  3. There is a difference, though, between artsy and art. Art doesn’t mean a pretty picture (look at most modernist paintings) or a nice song (Philip Glass’s music is pretty much atonal, and I believe he wrote one symphony that was 9 minutes of silence), but a meaning given to human endeavor. Games are just combinations of pictures, music, and stories. The idea that games can’t be art is as ridiculous as saying the statue of liberty isn’t art, just because it’s a building in addition to being a statue.

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