I’ve always liked the quote, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it!” One of the biggest issues I have with the whole “Games as Art” debate is that in 10 years no one will even care.
Alright, I know that is a helluva statement to make, but let me clarify it. How many children do you know don’t play videogames? Let’s take that a step up, how many teenagers? How many twenty-somethings? Depending on who your general social crowd is, I’ll bet you don’t hit a significant group of non-videogame participants that you know until the 30’s or maybe even 40’s. Even then, they may not be in the majority.
Ta da! Videogames are mainstream. Notice the almost overnight irrelevance of Jack Thompson. Sure, we have the occasional obnoxious legislator trying to pass some bill or another, but it almost always passes in and out of the news. Some random news commentator desperate for attention may ride out the tired trope of evil videogames and protecting children, but it’s about as original as writing an article on Rock ‘N Roll and the decadent influence it has on youth.
The entire concept of what is and what isn’t “art” is fairly nebulous, but if you care about a videogame being “art” you have little to worry about. Anything that is mainstream eventually produces dedicated artistic endeavors. There are numerous games (Which I am intentionally not going to name. Can you guess why?) that are already considered “art” by the videogame community. Outside of the videogame community why would anyone care? The rantings of Ebert on the art-worthiness of videogames are about as relevant as a dog’s opinion of a squirrel. A passing distraction that causes a lot of commotion and barking but will never get.
As for me, I could care less. I don’t worry about how artistic a game is before I play. I am here to be entertained. This is not a different standard. Movies, books, and music are all things I enjoy but I feel no need to support anything for reasons beyond my personal interest. My personal opinion is that videogames are entirely better off without adding some artificial layer of snobbish elitism to them somewhere. Do we not already bemoan innovative games that don’t sell to big budget titles? Doesn’t that sound like the stereotypical struggle of the artistic endeavor already?