Are games art?

The definition of “art” is one of the most forum-spamming subjective debate topics of all time. In terms of gaming forums, somewhere beneath “Does God exist?” and “The PS3/Wii/360 sucks!” you’ll almost certainly find “Are games art?”

Of course, when attempting to determine if something is or isn’t art, we’re confronted with the much broader question, “What is art?” Since the 20th century, the definition of art has come under serious scrutiny. Pioneers like Cezanne, Duchamp, and Picasso pushed the boundaries of acceptability and completely overturned the classic (think Ninja Turtle names) methods of expression and representation. Photography and film broke onto the scene and, like the work of the previously mentioned artists, were not immediately accepted – in fact, they were trashed.

Video games are undergoing the same critical scrutiny. The Pac-Man all-stars have grown up and started making games of their own, and the perception that games are kiddy toys is changing.

But what does the art community have to say about games? We’ve all seen the lengthy flame wars and GDC rants – we know what the industry thinks. Cliffy B is like, totally an artist. That’s why we didn’t interview any game designers. With our short documentary, packed with our own commentary and opinions from the public outside of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), as well as our written commentary and input from SFMOMA employee Rachel Torrey, we hope to broaden the gaming community’s understanding of this difficult topic. Watch the video below, and for the rest of our written content hit the next tab to the left.


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