The US National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has added videogames to its list of artistic projects eligible to receive federal funding. Starting now, potential developers can apply for grants of up to $200,000 dollars provided they use the money to create a game for non-financial gains, and they avoid rehashing the “videogames as art” debate every damn time they're invited to hang out.
Recently, the NEA revealed it had renamed its old Arts on Radio and Television category to The Arts in Media – making grants that were once exclusive television, film and radio pursuits open to interactive technologies, as well as satellite and internet media.
The specific qualifications for the grant read:
Projects may include high profile multi-part or single television and radio programs (documentaries and dramatic narratives); media created for theatrical release; performance programs; artistic segments for use within an existing series; multi-part webisodes; installations; and interactive games. Short films, five minutes and under, will be considered in packages of three or more.
To be clear: this is free money to develop free games that are of legitimate value to society. We're talking about games that train kids avoid landmines or war simulations that help soldiers get some shut-eye, not games that revolve around tossing birds at pigs or ones that revel in dick jokes (even though they may have a degree of artistic merit themselves). Those who dream of developing the latter should probably stick to pursuing the normal avenues for entering the game biz (i.e. hoping, praying, blackmail, bribery, etc.), while anyone who feels their ideas are noble enough to deserve federal funding for 2012 have until September 1st, 2011, to apply for a grant.
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