Can Art be Games?Posted: November 30, 2012
The Musée de Louvre is a place in Paris. Every year over 8 million people visit the place, often to view art. Now, that’s not as many people as are currently subscribing to World of Warcraft or anything, but it’s still a lot. And people are beginning to wonder if art is beginning to have a similar cultural importance that games enjoy.
So, do pictures like Whistler’s Mother or that one with the dreary-farmer-couple have a place alongside classics like Final Fantasy 7 or thatgamecompany’s latest masterpiece ‘Journey’?
To tell the truth, I’m not very well versed in art, having spent most of my life dedicated to more serious pursuits such as skateboarding, playing computer games and hanging out on twitter. I had always assumed that ‘art’ was something for a different generation. So to get a better understanding I ordered an art from the internet, to give it a go.
What I got was a framed ‘print‘ of a painting (what that means is that it’s not actually the source painting, but a copy of it. Much like how the games you play rarely contain their source code). I’m told that there are many types of art, but this is by far the most popular.
“I had always assumed that ‘art’ was something for a different generation. So to get a better understanding I ordered an art from the internet, to give it a go.”
Unfortunately I had trouble soon after I unpacked the thing. The default display was kind of nice, a picture of a pretty landscape with children playing under a tree… but that was all there was to it! The screen was entirely frozen, unresponsive to touches and I couldn’t find any switches to turn the thing on. I thought perhaps the battery had run out but couldn’t find any cables to charge it with.
Clearly not a good start, I had wanted to get a good idea of art on my own, but ultimately I had to give in and call over my friend Emily for help.
Now reader, if you want to see your friend at their most frustrated, all you have to do is ask them to help you use art. “You just have to hang it on the wall, that’s all!” Emily tried to explain, but this was totally outside my range of experience. “But how do I interact with it?” I asked, “You don’t interact, you just look at it!”
Now I do like my friend Emily, but how was I supposed to know that? What came naturally to Emily was a chore for me, the art didn’t even come with any instructions or tutorial. It seems art is easy for people like Emily who grew up with it, but I fear regular folk like you and me will forever be out of touch.
Having situated the art on a wall in the living room, I asked Emily if there was a special way to look at it to make the art work. “No, you just look at it.” she explained, clearly as frustrated with the experience as I, “Like a TV?” I asked. The look on Emily’s face then became that look you get when you’re at risk of losing a friend, so I quickly said “Oh never-mind, I think I’ve got it figured out.” and stared at the lifeless picture, pretending it gave me a similar sense of emotion I got from actually exploring the beautiful landscapes that developers craft for their games.
After Emily left I checked on the internet and it turns out she was right, you really do just look at it, that’s all!
“pretending it gave me a similar sense of emotion I got from actually exploring the beautiful landscapes that developers craft for their games”
Where was the engagement-building interaction of games? Where was the sense of teamwork and community you get from multiplayer games? Where was the emotional investment you can only get from stories and characters that actually involve you, a real person?
I had no sense of accomplishment from looking at the art (hanging the thing on the wall didn’t even unlock an achievement!), and ultimately I didn’t feel like I had improved as a person. I mean, I see pretty pictures all the time so why would one more affect me the same way an engrossing game does?
I think if we inspect art, it certainly has its uses. I won’t deny that my wall looks more interesting now that I put an art on it… but does art compare to games? No.
Perhaps I’ll reconsider if some art comes along that could make me cry (like the part of Final Fantasy X-2 on the thunder plains where Yuna sung with a ghost murdered 1000 years ago, or Kingdom Hearts II when Roxas has to face his end and becomes forgotten by everyone he held dear). Ultimately though, I don’t think art could ever have the emotional impact that games do.
–This article thanks pretty much entirely to this.