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Are Video Games Art?


Within the animation community, most people I know are progressive thinkers who already acknowledge video games as art, but the next time somebody tries to claim that video games aren’t art, as Roger Ebert recently did, direct them to this article by Grant Tavinor. It is the most exceptionally well reasoned argument I’ve read in favor of video games being treated as art. Tavinor makes clear that not all video games are art, nor do they all try to be, but that “to establish that video games are art does not rely on establishing that all video games are art.” He also eloquently takes apart the criticism that video games cannot be art because they have rules and competition. Tavinor writes:

Sure, previous works have not involved competition or rules of the kind seen in video games, but with every new art form that evolves there are likely to be new typical features. With the rise of film for example, the art of the moving image came about, and as a result film has an artistic nature quite different to previous forms of art…We are faced here with the kind of debate that follows from any number of studies of the world. Our experience of the world is always incomplete, and when we experience something new-be it something newly discovered, or newly invented-it can happen that the concepts with which we categorise the world need to be modified to reflect the new discovery. Video games may be just such a case in prompting us to revise our understanding of what an artwork can be.