CONTROVERSY: Should Video Games Be Considered Art?

Do video games constitute art? I, personally, think that they most certainly do, because of the fact that they can tell brilliant stories (a la Bioshock), they are visually stunning (a la Halo 3), and many of the music that goes into the game is of AAA quality (a la Halo games (again)), or 5 star, or whatever the term is for music.

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I wouldn’t say Halo is a 5 star game.

I wouldn’t call it controversial, Most people i know consider a good game to be art.

I am of the OPINION that Art isn’t defined as a painting or model or a play.
Art is something that displays the creators love, time and effort put into the work. it doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be the norm, but you can see part of the creator in Their works.

also halo 3 doesn’t fit my definition of art. :tongue: (edit found it)


i agree with @DisposaDwarf with this, art is more of a thing that displays the creators love and what they think of the said artworks focus. (<<my opinion) so yes i think video games constitute art xD

This could only be considered ‘controversial’ by those ignorant pricks who keep screaming about video games making serial killers, even though the studies they keep forcing the U.S. government to perform say they don’t.

Dwarf Fortress is art, that’s for damn sure. I don’t enjoy it too much by itself (mostly due to the artstyle, it actually makes my eyes hurt, even some of the tile packs), but the game is so incredibly deep and complex, layered richly with the loving ideas of its creators and designed to be so grand that nothing could deny that it is a masterpiece to be envied by the likes of any artists out there.

Personally, I think Bioshock’s stories are kinda ‘meh.’ The first one is really good, the second one was just beating a dead horse, being basically the exact same as the first one with a few annoying extra mechanics, and the third one, Infinite… I hated the story of Infinite. It was just random and confusing and delivered badly, and the ending… gah, that was awful. Not going to go into specifics, I could go on for hours.

I was just putting controversy to gain traffic. And I wasn’t saying I consider Halo art. I love the games, but they aren’t universally recognized as “art”. I think that the graphic and sound design are certainly top-tier, but the story isn’t the most enthralling.

i consider something as art, if it has an ability to evoke an emotional response from me… that could come from any medium (books, film, games, my kids chalk drawings)… :wink:


Saying that music makes a game art, in my opinion, is null because… music itself is already art by itself. Putting it in a game doesn’t make the game art too.

But I agree with Steve, it should evoke an emotional response. By the way, Steve, I know you’re a father, but how do you find so much time to get away from your kids to grace us with your presence?


i think its a combination of requiring little sleep, and being constantly plugged in (somewhat of a necessity, given my profession)… plus, i know my presence is reassuring for @Geoffers747

but if you look closely, you’ll see im rarely around for a solid 3 hour window in the evenings… have to get my playtime in with the kids… :wink:


And these tend to make the BEST GAMES (for some values of BEST). (cite references: Braid, Bastion, System Shock 2, Don’t Starve, Little Inferno). I had to stop that list at 5 or it would NEVER END.

I like this - I don’t often pontificate on ‘what makes art’ but I might add “it makes me think in a way that changes me”.

How many people need to consider something art for it to “be” art? One? Three? 51%?

I’m going with “One”.


The difficulty in this question lies not within video games, but in the definition of art.

Art as definition is a grand vessel for uncountable agendas and if a “piece of something” is art or not changes throughout time, location and audience.

My position is that every video game can possibly be art.
The reasoning is that, as long as any written text, any painting or photography, any movie with or without sound, any theater play and any given music can potentially be classified as art, then a video game must be treated the same.

The argument that “normal” art is not controlled by the consumer, already has been rebutted by countless interactive art displays.

But because there is real money on the line and there are many organizations that have a tight grip over their respective area of art and that can make or break an artists career it will take quite some time until video games will receive more widely spread acknowledgement as art.

I couldn’t have nap naps without you!

Back to the topic at hand though … Should they be considered art?

I’m gonna keep this as short as possible (and no this isn’t one of those times where I say I’ll keep things short and end up with a massive wall of text).

I personally feel art can be a very personal thing, and very interpretive, so I would agree with [quote=“SteveAdamo, post:7, topic:2281”]
if it has an ability to evoke an emotional response from me


Having said that, I feel video games are a rather different medium to every other one that can be considered ‘art’.

Video games are of course a coming together of so many things to produce something that is usually visually and aurally great (pick any of the titles already mentioned in this thread), and as such are the product of many artistic things.

Should they be considered art? Well I’m not so sure, but that is a ridiculously massive discussion.

You take any of these elements and mash them together, but it takes work and talent to compose a piece of work from them. To reduce this to the absurd, System Shock 2 would have been laughable with the Laurel and Hardy theme as its background music.

As a mathematician, I accept that only a single counterexample is necessary to disprove a postulation (said postulation being “No video game is Art”).

I’ve given 5 above, I’ll do better:

VideoGame, ∃ Person such that Person considers VideoGame to be Art.

∴ all VideoGames are Art.

Even Desert Bus.

Now, that is hand-waving to the extreme, but I defy you to find a counterexample.

No :cake:.

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As a Sociologist, I accept exceptionally long convoluted answers, and sentences where I perhaps know 40% of the words, and cannot unfortunately accept the notion that if one person finds a game art, that said game, and by extension all video games, are art.

The problem lies within what constitutes art, I will preface this by saying firstly, my knowledge in this particular area is not as large as I would like it to be (in fact it’s embarrassingly small), and secondly we can all blame @system for everything that follows.

So, art. Well I think the problem is the actual definition of what is art. It is argued, convincingly I feel, that art is something that is deemed to be authentic, and should be difficult to understand. Just because something is aesthetically pleasing does not make it art. It should be something that is produced for the questioning and betterment of society and culture.

However a lot of what is produced in contemporary society is done so with profits and sales in mind - economic success is paramount. Authentic art which is then authentic culture should be something that allows room for imagination and independent thought, and as soon as economic motive creeps into its production, art loses it’s authenticity.

A lot of this also ties in with debates surrounding taste and capital, of which I cannot unfortunately comment on.

To cut a long story short, the majority of video games are products of an industry that focusses on profits and sales. Rarely are games created that are difficult to comprehend, or are avant-garde, they are primarily all following well established schemas for maximum enjoyment and profit.

You give the example of Desert Bus, but what is there about Desert Bus that makes it art? I would argue absolutely nothing. It is the product of creative and artistic actions, but it is not art.

Anyway, I’ve gone on far too long about sh*t nobody cares about!


You say that, but look at how many video games have invoked responses in other artistic areas, such as literature, drawings/paintings/sculptings, fan made audio tracks, and movies. These are certainly not unimaginative, and they can each have their own storyline. Would most people consider books art? Most likely. Would most people consider drawing/painting/sculpting to be art? Absolutely. In fact, when I refer to “art”, I am most often simply refering to visual creations such as drawings or paintings. [quote=“Geoffers747, post:14, topic:2281”]
something that is deemed to be authentic

See, the problem is that most video game developers don’t make games with money in the forefront. In fact, many of them, the majority, I would say, simply make games for the joy of making games. Take the Stonehearth developers, or Mojang before Minecraft went big, or Klei Entertainment, the developers of Don’t Starve. There is not NEARLY the volume of money in indie game development as there is in AAA titles, and indie games are the breeding grounds of experimentation and passion for the artistry that they create. Many indie games, I would say, constitute art.

Another thing is that most painters/ typical “artists” cannot do what the hope to do without economic sustenance. The professional artists make art for money because they want to spend all of their time making their art, and they also want to be able to live in a modern society. If they made no money, they would not survive. It’s the same way with video games. Some companies, such as EA and Activision, are involved in the gaming industry simply for the money, but there are hundreds of other companies that create wonderful stories and worlds for us to walk through and experience. The fact that each person creates his own experience with the game makes it far more personal than other types of art.

Back to the point, if the want/need to make money off of art makes it no longer art, then any artist who sells what they make or charges people to see what they make, is no longer an artist. Economic motives have been brought into the equation, even if they are slight, and that makes an artist simply another person who makes things that may or may not be attractive to people.

That concludes my retort.

EDIT: Another thing that I thought of is the game Cube World. It is entirely freeform, and binds the players only by the it’s laws of physics. While it’s true that there isn’t much storyline to it yet, it is still completely open to the player’s mind’s eye as to what they want to do in the game.

EDIT EDIT: Thanks for adding some controversy, @Geoffers747! This thread is now fun!

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i like :cake:

now, back to my macaroni art…


Well, that’s the point of Discourse isn’t it? As long as it’s not offensive, it’s good to generate some discussion! :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll just start that by saying the argument I gave above is drawing from the ideas of the Frankfurt School - in particular Adorno & Horkheimer’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment” and the notions of the culture industry, and ‘enlightenment as mass deception’.

When I am saying that it

I am not referring to as you mention above, anything that is made as a result of a game, or referring to the artistic endeavours you have illustrated, and I am in no way saying that these are unimaginative. What I am drawing upon is the idea of ‘culture’ at one time being the product of individuals that resulted in the betterment and progression of themselves and society.

It is argued that with the emergence of mass society however, culture became a consumer object like any other, and allowed for the commodification of culture - meaning that rather than it being something we produce, it is now predominately something we consume.

Back to the point, of course these things you outline are artistic and creative, but perhaps the argument lay in the definition of the word art.

Indeed, these things are art, and I would include books in this as well, but they are perhaps what would be called aesthetic art, rather than say, fine art - or the type of art I am talking about, that which is produced for the progression of culture.

And when I am referring to authentic art I am referring to art that is produced by an individual free from certain dictations, I’m not to clued up on authenticity so probably should have avoided mentioning it!

Again, when I said

I am drawing explicitly on the arguments around the culture industry, in that these things are mass produced for the consumption of the market, they are uniform and unoriginal. Following on from this, triple AAA titles such as CoD (it’s the favourite to hate right?) could not be considered ‘art’. They know they have economic success, they know the franchise is loved and consumed to ridiculous amounts, and as such produce it on a yearly cycle to make as much money as possible. Now, I am not saying that it is not artistic, of course it is, the time effort and energies that go into making such a game into reality is massive, and it is of course an artistic product. But it is not ‘art’, or ‘fine art’ in regards to this argument.

Indie games are of course a slightly different ball game, and it is naive to say that you should make a game free from the constraints of capitalism, that’s never gonna happen, costs will be incurred and these costs need to be paid for. The issue I suppose lay in the value of that game, and what it offers.

Anyway, these arguments are just one’s I’ve drawn on to get a bit more discussion, they’ve been recognised as being pessimistic about the whole thing, and have been critiqued and built upon over the last 70 years.

Dealing with your last part:

I would disagree - it is freeform in the way that you could argue it is a procedurally generated sandbox type game. But, you are bound by the laws of the game. It’s the illusion of freedom - you are free to choose from the choices presented to you. But that’s a whole other argument.

Just wanna say, I love games, I love playing them and appreciate the time and energy that goes into realising the games we get to play, so I’m not detracting from what it is people do because damn it the products are incredible! I’m just pontificating for the sake of discussion :smile:


I think that art is something that people can enjoy thanks to their senses, sight for paintings, sculptures, architectures or hearing for music and so on, but for videogames it’s necessary the skill to play in order to enjoy it and it makes a big difference to other forms of art.
Now if we assume that games are art then who is the artist? The developers may be the answer but a 3d model or a story are art without the need of being part of a videogame and are part of already existing forms of art (sculpture and writing); what if the answer of my question is the gamer? As i said at the beginning the player is required of a basic knowledge in order to play as the artist must know how to use his tools to create art, from this point of view the game isn’t art but a tool in the hands of the player that grant him the ability to express himself in the gameplay which is the final product of the artistic process.
Now the only question is: the player want to express himself (being an artist) or play (being a gamer)?
And this depend on who the player is and by how much freedom is given to him by the developers who are the artisans that create the tools for the artist.
I think that as for now gaming is not an art (at least not in most games) but it doesn’t mean it can not be in the future.

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to me you guys just sound like you ate a dictionary and just spat out pages and then read the words. no offence. i have read a 900 page book, and yet i can not read that. onto the topic, i like your macaroni art steve.

Everyone here has valid points and expresses them perfectly fine, I don’t see the problem.