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  1.  (10591.1)
    I have to write a paper about video games and interactive artworks. I am looking for any good reference articles/non-fiction writings about the effects of gaming (positive or negative) and the about the use of computer generated/interactive fine artworks.

    I know Whitechapel is full of well read intellectuals who have a particular taste for the electronic so I thought maybe some of you might have some interesting recommendations. Thanks!
    • CommentTimeApr 3rd 2012
    By "effects of gaming" are you referring to the hotly debated topic of gaming and psychology (ie. do they make you violent?) or are you shooting for a broader, cultural impact story (such as how video games have inspired people to do all sorts of crazy art or not-so-art projects). The former is a crazy-deep rabbit hole of popular controversy, while the latter is primarily a collection of amusing anecdotes.

    Though I try and keep my thumb on this sort of thing, it's more in a "what's new in the world of gaming today" rather than the sort of broad discussion you are looking for. I will keep my eyes open, though, and will post anything interesting I come across.
  2.  (10591.3)
    Extra Credits seems to be doing, in video form, what Scott McCloud did for comics theory. It's fascinating, solid analysis of the medium as a whole both structurally and culturally. I highly recommend it.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2012
    There isn't much critical writing on that theme yet really. Most stuff tends to concentrate on the history of the industry, business models in the industry, or the psychological stuff.

    Pervasive Games might interest you, it's a wider topic that includes things like Alternate Reality Games and so on, but there's a quite a lot in there you might find inetresting. Good chapter on ethics as well.

    Pause and Effect is specifically about interactive narrative, and so it covers things like hypertext and improv theatre. I found it pretty heavy going, it drifts quite far away from my comfort zone as a coder but you might find it's what you're after.
  3.  (10591.5)
    I've not really read any academic work on video games worth reading. I get sick of hearing either gushing over-analyses of classic games, or academics who are utterly ignorant of the medium trying to prove that it's all mindless and mentally destructive. I actually read one person claiming that video games can't contain metaphors. Probably one of the most absurd statements about games I've ever read.

    Sorry, this isn't a helpful comment - it would be cool if you could do a good job of it, I'd love a good read on the subject :D
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2012
    Speaking of things that can be attributed to Penny Arcade, the Penny Arcade Report is a pretty good resource for well thought out articles about the industry. A particularly good article I found out about via the Report was this one, which details the story behind the Mana Bar, an Australian gaming themed bar (including some amusing anecdotes about having to prove video games are art to the Queensland government).

    I second the recommendation of Extra Credits, by the way.
      CommentAuthorHEY APATHY!
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2012 edited
    Thanks everyone, the more I can read the better. Hope this stuff keeps coming.

    Two other interesting things I found were an academic paper on the effects of video game violence here (not a leisurely read though, it's very dry but basically some researchers did tests that show video games have positive or negative effects depending on the content, for example violent games only affect parts of our neurology that react to violence; hence games could also be designed to have positive affects on other specific brain functions, ...) and an article here about a school that is using specialized games designed for educational purposes in the classroom.

    I also found this modern art exhibition at the American Smithsonian but I have admit nothing in the video really convinces me that games are art (even though that's what I'm trying to prove)
  4.  (10591.8)
    It might be worth considering what you're using as your criteria for "art." Personally, I tend to look at a few different things: does a work appeal aesthetically to the senses in a way that can be described and discussed? Does it express a creative vision? Does it share a message or story that is readable by an audience? That's sort of a rough litmus test for what I would consider artistic quality, and I don't see any reason why a game couldn't excel in some or all of those categories.

    EDIT: Wait, here, have an Extra Credits episode. It's called "Art is Not the Opposite of Fun," and it gets at some of these ideas, albeit kind of obliquely, as "games are art" is a starting point for the argument rather than a conclusion they're working toward.
    • CommentAuthorlomopop
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2012
    I think video games can be considered art, they just have different aesthetic goals from, say, painting or sculpture. As games develop a set of aesthetic goals or standards, new games challenge those goals/standards. You can see this already in games like Journey or Flower and Flow which appeals strongly to our emotions through their environments and, at the same time, challenge the notion of what it means to be a game. This doesn't seem very different from conceptual art which also appeals to our emotions while challenging the very notion of art.

    Here's an article which argues that games fit into all of the main theories of art.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2012
    Games certainly *contain* plenty of art, even if people don't think the sum total results in art. Pick up any book of a games concept art work for example. Or listen to some modern game soundtracks.
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2012
    Here's a couple of blog posts about how video games aren't art, to provide some alternative views. Of course, I strongly disagree with the conclusions they have reached, but they are well presented and worth a read:

    Roger Ebert on why video games can never be art


    Film Critic Hulk on why video games aren't currently art.
      CommentAuthorHEY APATHY!
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2012 edited
    @ KeeperofManyNames- Thanks for links and yeah the definition of "art" is a huge project in and of itself, I've enough readings on that subject to keep me busy for twenty years. My paper is going to be used to convince arts councils and gallery curators to invest in a project so themes like "socially significant, intellectually challenging, within the vocabulary of fine arts and art history, philosophical, political and culturally enriched" have to go into the definition.

    @ lomopop- thanks! that is a great refernece paper, it is going to be useful

    @ Morac also thanks both sides of the argument are certainly useful too
  5.  (10591.13)
    Ah! If you're doing anything with curatorial work, you should definitely include the fact that video games go quite well with snacks. Because if there's one thing I've learned as an art historian, it's that other art historians love cheese. Seriously. Go to any fine art show you like, and there will be cheese.


    That might be one of the few times I've ever disagreed with FILM CRIT HULK, and I'm honestly still struggling to come up with coherent reasons why he's not right. It's tough to argue against the big green guy.

    Ebert, however, is pretty incoherent in that article. The idea that you can't win art, for example, is hilarious to anyone who's ever studied works like Bernini's fountains in Rome. Those popes were in a battle of symbolism with Louis of France and they intended their art to bloody well win. But then, I often have trouble figuring out just why Ebert is so well respected to begin with... he really doesn't have half the eloquence and stylistic flair of someone like FILM CRIT HULK. What? Yes, I'm serious, why?
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2012
    @Keeper: Yeah, I have bones to pick with Ebert more often than not. I don't read his stuff with any regularity for just that reason. Still, I hold that in this case it is better to have read it and dismissed it than to not have read it at all.

    As far as Film Critic Hulk's write-up goes, I think he does an excellent job of arguing his case. I mostly disagree with the definition of art he uses to argue the rest of the article. Both of the articles use a very film-centric definition of art, and though games and films have a lot in common, there's enough of a difference that treating them the similarly is a mistake.
  6.  (10591.15)
    Yeah, that's the one sticking point I have with his article. It's funny, actually--he's clearly a Formalist Critic through and through, and his method of defining art seems to really stick to exactly what the new critics were saying a century ago. In the context of his argument it sounds like a film-centric criticism but it's actually a mode of theory that was applied to prose and poetry. (And, I suspect, was initially used to discount things like Film, which wouldn't have been seen as thematically significant enough to be true art.)

    Still, everything he says works perfectly within a new critical reading, so I can't complain too much about that other than to say that it has the same limitations of any new critical reading. Well, and there's the problem that formalism was never meant, as far as I know, to be applied even to "fine" art--it's a literary criticism, and maybe games can't be analyzed from a lit crit perspective, especially if their merit is being argued in the context of a gallery space.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2012 edited
    Film Critic Hulk's basic proposition, that Capital-"M" Message is not, and currently cannot, be the primary goal of games (as, to be a functional game, the primary goal must be the gameplay itself) is an interesting one, but I'm unconvinced that this automatically disqualifies something as art.

    Take, for example, automobile design. True, the most basic goal of a car or motorcycle is to get its occupant from point A to point B, but along the way, that car becomes an environment which the user inhabits and with which they interact (architecture), it can be a space for listening to music, and the vehicle itself can be design with a theme or Message in mind. A classy, refined luxury sedan is the living soul of Elegance, while a big-engined, fastback pony car is the howling spirit of Freedom. Take architecture, which is like automobiles, except it doesn't go anywhere or do anything (unless, of course, it's shown up on BLDGBLOG), and tell me there's no Message to the Eiffel Tower, or the Chrysler Building, or even the Burj Khalifa (just because it's an ugly, stupid message, doesn't mean it isn't a Message). Practical purpose doesn't have to negate artistic expression - one is not the opposite of the other.

    To me, anything with a Message included anywhere in its DNA is art - an expression of an idea. If it takes paint, stone, or coding to express that idea, so what? Games can include things like writing, music, voice acting, architecture (in the form of level design), and cinematography, and the player has access to all these forms of art... through the game they are playing. I don't think gameplay or game mechanics nullify those other forms of art, I think the simple inclusion of those other forms makes games into art, even if the game itself has no strong Message of its own. I have no idea what Tetris' Message is, but then again, I have no idea what the Mona Lisa's message is, either.

    I've cried over video games. I've reached out toward the screen and cried "No!" I've been frightened by them, and I've had to hit "pause," set the controller aside for a moment, and think about what "I" "just did." I've reacted the same way to a movie or TV show, book (visual or audio), or comic.

    Speaking of that last bit: I think we can all agree that comics are art. Comics' defining artistic feature, at least according to Scott McCloud, with whom I happen to agree, is the gutter, the period between panels during which the reader fills in what they think happened from moment to moment. The writer and/or artist give us the basic beats, the most interesting images, and the dialogue, but we are expected to figure out how the rest of it all went down. How exactly did Superman dodge that bullet, or how long did it take The Crow to walk down the hallway, grinning and reciting Shelley all the while? That's up to the reader to figure out.

    How different, then, are games? We know we've just finished an objective in our favorite FPS, and we know we're eventually going to complete the next one. That story has been written by someone else. What happens in between, though: Which weapons do we use, do we take the bad guys out quick and quiet or with extreme explodey prejudice, how many of our allies make it to the other side, what do we take cover behind... That's up to us to figure out.

    Same principle, I think. One just requires a little more time, and uses different parts of the imagination (not, I stress, more or less, one way or the other).