Friday, June 22, 2012

Beyond the Narrative

Art, if it truly IS art, has an intrinsic value beyond its thematic depiction. Whether it be a painting, a novel, a piece of music, or, yes, a game, there is some way that these various media give (or at least *CAN* give) glory to God. As an amateur critic of gaming, I've often seized on the narrative of a particular game as the reason for its moral worth (or lack thereof), even as I never neglected to critique the technical aspects of a game, as well. But if narratives are the only "real" reason games are worth our time, then we're probably better off sticking to novels. I'm quite convinced that there is some way in which particular game play systems are themselves an art. I've written about this before, and I've cited Ratzinger's "Spirit of the Liturgy" in my defense. I'd like to know what other people think about this. Are gameplay systems themselves an art form?


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Anon said...

You seem to be suggesting that art must give glory to God, and I have to firstly say I intensely disagree with that. Regardless however of that defenition. I think you find the rest of my comment insightful. I say this because if you believe that games can be art in the abstract sense that I set below, it will have surely be able to satisfy your definition (if that is what you claimed).

It needs to pass two tests: First is that there must be a distinction between art and craft. In other words, a table may be extremely well made, but (if we are using the definition that it must glorify God) it might have to be adorned with angels(?). Sorry I'm not very good with that definition haha. Anyways, the term "art" has to be equipped with a set definition has to work. Secondly, and you brought this up, the medium may have to be art in its own right so videogames can't be art if they simply hold visual or a narrative artistic merit. So if user interaction sets videogames apart from the other mediums, how can user interaction be art?

One of the absolute most breathtaking games I have ever played, and until the industry changes, will ever play is doubtlessly that game entitled "Passage." This game answered that last question I posed. It strips itself of nearly all visual, auditory, and narrative merit, and as it doubtlessly has artistic merit* (in the more abstract sense) we are left to conclude that it was on the merit of user interaction that guaranteed its place as art. I can't say anything else without spoiling the game, but you just gotta play it.

*I suppose I shouldn't use the word doubtlessly, especially since art has no set definition, but, well, even delving into (what I interpreted to be) your definition it satisfies what art is.

So tldr: Google "Passage," download it (its a pc game), and play. Oh, and sorry if my comment made no sense, that happens sometimes!