hm...i don't know, but i think this thread was quite interesting and it could really lead somewhere... probably, the other one
was just spawned a bit too early, cause we haven't found no clear common definition or characterization of art yet, which could be applied to games later on. to discuss the practical side, there really must be a clear understanding first of the field we're talking about... but the term "art" is extremly fuzzy, like this thread demonstrate quite well. someone may claim that art even doesn't exist, others think everything in a human life is art, including architecture, design, cooking, just everything in culture... the varity of possible definitions couldn't be larger than that, really. - so, it would be necessary to make up a common, fixed "feature list" first, for the sake of the practical discussion. i don't expect that we will find a superior, universial definition of art, but a broad ranged categorization is already sufficient here, i think.
(it's simpler to see all this more as technical problem than as a philosophical one. that's why i like these techy terms here...)
i've thought about it for while, and came to this:
in german exists a categorization for music which defines three (overlapping) groups: E-, U- und F-Musik
. i thought, this would be quite a fitting system to separate games in a similar way. to make it clearer, here some examples for how it works for music, first:
1. F-Musik. Funktionale Musik ~ functional music:
-> army music, ringtones, to some degree curch music, 'Happy Birthday' like songs, to a certain degree music in games and film, audio in advertising spots, trailers, jingles, background music in a bar, to a certain degree club/dance music...
2. U-Musik: Unterhaltungs Musik ~ entertainment music:
-> popular music, light music, commercial POP music, music business, radio, mtv, folk music, traditional music...
3. E-Musik. Ernsthafte Musik ~ serious music:
-> demanding, not commercially motivated music. art music, some forms of classical/jazz/... music, experimental things, improvisations...
and now, the same thing applied to games:
1. functional games:
-> education, simulation, training, communication, documentation games. brain train. wii fit. too some degree skill-based arcade titles. some MMOs. (caution: also known 'Serious Games', not to be confused with cat-3)
2. entertainment games:
-> the vast majority of all popular, commercial games: fun -> games. battle games. puzzle games. games for hardcore gamers. casual games too. high-tech, photorealist and physics simluation candy. most MMOs.
3. art games:
-> art. not necessarily "fun" games. indie games like 'Gravitation', 'Passage', 'Façade', 'Mondo Agency', 'I'm OK', 'The Graveyard', 'Knytt' and others. demanding, hard games, games about games, games as metaphors, games as a deeper experience, without highscore goals and so on. - some RPGs... (??)
these 3 categories are just one possible way to split up the problem and declare some spots, if someone comes up with a better "grid", that would help too. probably, there exists a similar categorisation in literature and film, but i don't know...
(btw: i'm not a big fan of categorisation, especially not as a way to define value, but it certainly helps to see and talk a bit clearer... and these categories doesn't say anything about value either way. art isn't "better" than entertainment, or the functional cat.)
so, this thread is mainly searches for a the differention between entertainment and art games, if i use this three categories, right? so it's probably best to to analyse some concerete examples first, to make the difference more clear... i'm aware of the fact that there's a vast gray zone, especially between the entertainment and art poles, so, it would probably better to find the most extreme examples you know in order to compare them better...
for some people 'Super Man' might be art, as a cultural monument of our time... that's valid, but the main aspect to discern the categories is - like i already tried to say - how much the observer gets involved in the work. art only happens if the player/recipient/observer really participates, if he gets (inter-)actively involved, because, it is always him, who (re-)creates the art. he must become an artist himself as well, in some way. he must get active, and try to understand the work in his own way. in my opinion, art is never an object, but all objects which are created by an artist to invoke a feeling or a thought or certain type of experience through the medium of choice could be called "art objects". so, in the case of 'Super Man'', people may see it as art (they certainly will in 100 years), but the creator's main concern obviously wasn't to make his "clients" think or feel further. the product mainly intends to entertain them. hence, it's clearly cat-2: entertainment.
entertainment is about the consumer-experience, which is mostly something passive, here. it seems to me that entertainment is mainly about consuming. "fun for money". in tech-terms: it is about INPUT, but art is about input and OUTPUT. - you can relax to entertaiment music, you can have fun with arcade games, you can have intense experience in a good hollywood movie, but that doesn't necessarily imply that it is art. it's hard to say, but the type of involvement is different between art and entertainment, because art probably goes much further... instinctive "hard fun", relaxing melodies, simple happy-end stories with nice eye-candy convey rather short-termed value, and have the clear purpose to entertain for a defined period of time. they mostly address simple, more shallow emotions, uncompelling themes...
art must have something that wakes you up as an active individual
person. hard to tell with words (and with my english, hm), but you probably know what i mean... art isn't about decoration, or relaxing or pure amusement, more about the essence. (amusement can be the central part of art too (-> hedonism), but then, that kind of art would tell something about the authors point of view, it's not only a product for amusment, it's a way to communicate something). - entertainmnet games can have brutal content. taken as art, it would then speak about violence by showing something particular which refers to more general topics... art is more like seeds which you have to grow, it's alive, but entertainment is more like fruits, products to consume.
(btw: i'm really not much into art or something... but i want to make games! and i'm more interested in games as whole, in the computer medium in general. just that you don't mean i wanna make the ultimate art game or something, i just think it's worth the discussion. i'm really for diversity, and find these "art games" very interesting to play. even more than bigger titles... and art in games really seems (unlike to film (designer <-> director)) only possible in the indie world at the moment)
unresolved brain_dump: so, to discuss the parctical side, how the design would be affected by the desired emotion/expression/message of a potential "art game", it would be important to compare the well-known design rules of entertainment games to the unknown rules for game design of art games... - at the end, games are a very technical medium, and intuitive creation is quite difficult here. code is such a stubborn, brainy matter, so that the art probably happens in first place within "outside-game media", like: concept/idea, plot/story/text and with audio-/visual assets... this is only one possible strategy, is see.
but it would be still interesting to understand more about the other topic, if and how games could be art, because of their gameplay, the realtime actions. if that would be the main content, not the story (like in PRGs), the pre-constructed concept/idea/rules (like in 'Passage'/'Gravitation'), or the audio visual assets (like in many games). a game where really the playing would be art. the gameplay/interactivity... art is often created spontanoulsy, but to make games with their central mechanics that way it would need either very advanced multimedia/CODE skills or some kind of simplifed tool, maybe...
(sorry for unclean mammut-ness