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August 19, 2014, 10:50:17 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignHow something that has design in it's name can be considered an art?
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Author Topic: How something that has design in it's name can be considered an art?  (Read 2825 times)
TheLastBanana
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« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2013, 08:28:45 PM »

yeah that's true and i don't like how these "games as art" discussions often boil down to "meanings" and "messages".
I guess I can sort of see where you're coming from. I don't think art necessarily has to have meaning, so of course it doesn't have to be the defining factor that separates art from... whatever the opposite of art is? Some of my favourite movies and games have been purely for the sake of entertainment, and I don't think that makes them any less art.

That said, you can't deny that people will always try to interpret art, regardless of whether or not it has any intended meaning. Even if you didn't mean to include one, people are going to find a meaning or a message. It seems kind of odd to just dismiss that. If people are going to look for a message anyway, it makes sense to me to look into how best to convey one that you actually believe in rather than leaving your audience to (mis)interpret your work. Of course, if you're not intending to include a message, then nobody's forcing you to do so, either.

Like, if somebody were trying to prove that games aren't art using "lack of meaning" as their sole point of evidence, then I understand why you'd say that, but it seems like a legitimate thing to discuss when we're just discussing how to improve games. They don't have to have meaning, but that still can have meaning.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2013, 08:35:07 PM by TheLastBanana » Logged

Accent
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« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2013, 06:10:19 AM »

About "a story is a game without interaction": I encourage you to check this out, as soon as it's back up...

As was obvious from the start of the thread, we are falling back on the tired questions that basically serve no purpose: "what is art", "what are games", etc.
It's fitting that there was recently, and it's still happening I guess, this debate on formalism. My take on it is that, like with pretty much everything, trying to label games will only add useless barriers. Like Graham said, "games are whatever you want them to be."

I think we are going nowhere in this discussion since the beginning lol

I think a more interesting line of questioning would be to examine games individually and try to find out whether they manage to accomplish what they set out to do, how closely they match their perceived intentions (and how such perceptions vary between players) and what each individual experience evokes (ie. discuss meaning in the sense of "whatever's conveyed", not necessarily a "message".)
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« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2013, 06:17:10 AM »

Accent, I think that's very interesting too. If I'm not mistaken, this is a semiotic study of games. Maybe thersus can correct me on this one.
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2013, 07:05:40 AM »

yeah that's true and i don't like how these "games as art" discussions often boil down to "meanings" and "messages".
I guess I can sort of see where you're coming from. I don't think art necessarily has to have meaning, so of course it doesn't have to be the defining factor that separates art from... whatever the opposite of art is? Some of my favourite movies and games have been purely for the sake of entertainment, and I don't think that makes them any less art.
i'm not talking about a dichotomy between "meaning" and "entertainment" necessarily and i'm not dismissing the idea of meaning. i'm just pointing out that "meaning", or more specifically a "message" of some sort doesn't necessarily equal "art" as in "high art." what's the message of a piet mondrian painting?

you could even argue that "messages" can be kitsch if they're too banal, obvious or forced. that's an aspect that is missing from many threads like this imo.

tho i think the reason why games as art debates boil down to meaning so often is that games have been good at being "abstract" for the longest time and now people want to test if they can be expressive too.

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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2013, 09:03:34 AM »

what's the message of a piet mondrian painting?

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I construct lines and color combinations on a flat surface, in order to express general beauty with the utmost awareness. Nature (or, that which I see) inspires me, puts me, as with any painter, in an emotional state so that an urge comes about to make something, but I want to come as close as possible to the truth and abstract everything from that, until I reach the foundation (still just an external foundation!) of things… I believe it is possible that, through horizontal and vertical lines constructed with awareness, but not with calculation, led by high intuition, and brought to harmony and rhythm, these basic forms of beauty, supplemented if necessary by other direct lines or curves, can become a work of art, as strong as it is true.

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Unlike the Cubists, Mondrian still attempted to reconcile his painting with his spiritual pursuits; and, in 1913, he began to fuse his art and his theosophical studies into a theory that signaled his final break from representational painting.

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a close examination of this painting begins to reveal something of the artist's method.[original research?] Mondrian's paintings are not composed of perfectly flat planes of color, as one might expect. Brush strokes are evident throughout, although they are subtle, and the artist appears to have used different techniques for the various elements.

The black lines are the flattest elements, with the least amount of depth. The colored forms have the most obvious brush strokes, all running in one direction. Most interesting, however, are the white forms, which clearly have been painted in layers, using brush strokes running in different directions. This generates a greater sense of depth in the white forms, as though they are overwhelming the lines and the colors,

Most early abstract stuff came from a philosophic and spiritual origin, unlike modern abstract stuff who are abstract for the sake of it.
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ILLOGICAL, random guy on internet, do not trust (lelebĉcülo dum borobürükiss)
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« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2013, 09:20:55 AM »

yeah i know that but a grounding in philosophy is not a "message"
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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2013, 09:26:42 AM »

Fair point, in a "common sense".
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« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2013, 09:45:31 AM »

i'm using message in the specific sense of a relatively unambiguous, straightforward meaning that is embedded directly in the work. mondrian was inspired by religion and his work deals w/ religion but the "message" of a mondrian painting isn't that "god is great" or whatever.
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Alec S.
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« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2013, 10:13:11 AM »

yeah that's true and i don't like how these "games as art" discussions often boil down to "meanings" and "messages".

Why you don't like that? And why do you think that this situation often repeats from time to time?

And another question for Alec S. How can something meaningless (for the observer) evoke any emotion?

yeah that's true and i don't like how these "games as art" discussions often boil down to "meanings" and "messages".
I guess I can sort of see where you're coming from. I don't think art necessarily has to have meaning, so of course it doesn't have to be the defining factor that separates art from... whatever the opposite of art is? Some of my favourite movies and games have been purely for the sake of entertainment, and I don't think that makes them any less art.

That said, you can't deny that people will always try to interpret art, regardless of whether or not it has any intended meaning. Even if you didn't mean to include one, people are going to find a meaning or a message. It seems kind of odd to just dismiss that. If people are going to look for a message anyway, it makes sense to me to look into how best to convey one that you actually believe in rather than leaving your audience to (mis)interpret your work. Of course, if you're not intending to include a message, then nobody's forcing you to do so, either.

Like, if somebody were trying to prove that games aren't art using "lack of meaning" as their sole point of evidence, then I understand why you'd say that, but it seems like a legitimate thing to discuss when we're just discussing how to improve games. They don't have to have meaning, but that still can have meaning.

CA Sinclair pretty well summed up my point about meaning in art in the above post.

There's an Edgar Allan Poe quote which I think is relevant.

" For my own part, I have never had a thought which I could not set down in words, with even more distinctness than that with which I conceived it...There is, however, a class of fancies, of exquisite delicacy, which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language."

Art can have a concrete "meaning", but it will always be less than the art as a whole, as art has the ability to convey what can't be put down in words (Even in a purely word-based medium, there is plenty "between the lines").  It's why many artists won't explain what the meaning of their art is (case in point:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkIQy0iblQE).  Because it can't be explained without removing some basic essence from it.  The fact that art can be interpreted differently by different people can be part of that essence.
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Accent
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« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2013, 10:29:56 AM »

Art can have a concrete "meaning", but it will always be less than the art as a whole, as art has the ability to convey what can't be put down in words (Even in a purely word-based medium, there is plenty "between the lines").  It's why many artists won't explain what the meaning of their art is (case in point:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkIQy0iblQE).  Because it can't be explained without removing some basic essence from it.  The fact that art can be interpreted differently by different people can be part of that essence.

Exactly.

In a somewhat related way, I think it's very interesting to examine Super Hexagon in the context of this discussion. How do you explain what Super Hexagon is about? How do you relate what you feel when you play it? You simply can't. The game is so pure and intense that it's pretty undeniable that it has a 'meaning' (again, I'm using that word to refer to all the emotions and feelings and ideas and opinions that you get out of it, not just a "message" or a "morale") - but it's also highly probable that this meaning is different for every player. Jenn Frank wrote about how, to her, it evoked concepts of life itself, and I think that was shortly after her mother died, so that's a strong meaning but it's also one that's obviously very personal, and that's what makes games, and art in general, interesting to study and make.
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« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2013, 10:49:54 AM »

Accent, I think that's very interesting too. If I'm not mistaken, this is a semiotic study of games. Maybe thersus can correct me on this one.
Yes, but more than just semiotics. Actually, there's plenty of fields to study within games:
The obvious semiotics, where we would study the significations of the perceived phenomena when playing games;
Aesthetics, which would be a philosophical analysis of beauty in games.
Anthropology, where we would study the cultural impacts of the games in society, and cultural references of society inside games.
Sociology, where we would study the interaction of people within games and mediated by games.

Well, there's a lot of things we could discuss about games without having to rely on "are games {x}?".
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TheLastBanana
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« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2013, 11:03:23 AM »

When I say "meaning"/"message", I'm not talking about an explicit, straightforward thing that you're trying to say to your audience. Perhaps that was poor wording on my part. It can be something that can't be put into words, and it doesn't have to be some ham-handed moral or truth that you're trying to express. Everyone is obviously going to interpret your work differently, and I'm not debating that. Honestly, I think we're pretty much arguing the same thing.

My point is that, as the artist, you play a role in how people are going to interpret your work. Case in point: Beckett's Endgame is a play without a clear "message." Some argue that it's meaningless, some argue that it's about meaninglessness, and some argue that it's a metaphor for chess. That said, you would have a very hard time trying to interpret Endgame as being a play about sisterhood. Clearly, in writing the play, Beckett made decisions which would guide the audience away from that interpretation and toward other ones. While making a game, you'll have to make similar decisions, and that's what I'm interested in.

There's a lot of discussion of how people have interpreted games with simple mechanics like Tetris, Super Hexagon, Space Invaders, etc. That said, a lot of this discussion is from the point of view of a consumer of games rather than as a creator. My question is not whether these games can be interpreted differently — I'm aware that they can — but how we, as creators of games, can use the unique tools we have in games to guide those interpretations. I'm not advocating beating your audience over the head with some "message." A lot of games do that, and it's tacky. That's why I'm asking how we can build meaning into a game without doing that. Honestly, I think we're arguing the same thing.

I agree with Accent in that talking about this with specific examples would probably be more fruitful than debating this on such a conceptual level, because this seems to just be turning into an argument in which we're misunderstanding each other, haha.
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thersus
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« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2013, 11:58:00 AM »

I agree with Accent in that talking about this with specific examples would probably be more fruitful than debating this on such a conceptual level, because this seems to just be turning into an argument in which we're misunderstanding each other, haha.

This is one of the worst problems! On the same seminar I cited earlier, I saw to phds discussing about whether we should call comics in portuguese as Histórias em Quadrinhos ("stories in frames"),  Banda Desenhada (a pt-PT term meaning "Drawn Band"), or comics itself. You see, its all a matter of which word should you use, but all of them are just variations on the same theme, so we should rather use any of them and stop discussing that... not try to make an 1984 based world, where we diminish our language to avoid ambiguity and creative/intelectual freedom.

Sometimes, this kind of discussion turns into a theist-vs-atheist kind of thing, where reason is dropped and we base ourselves solely on our personal beliefs.
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« Reply #43 on: April 22, 2013, 12:19:24 PM »

YES! No word can ever be perfect. The best thing to do is just to admit that even if designations aren't optimal, as long as they "work" (ie. they all evoke the same concept to everyone in the discussion), it's inefficient to argue about their "theoretical" or "etymological" signification.


My question is not whether these games can be interpreted differently — I'm aware that they can — but how we, as creators of games, can use the unique tools we have in games to guide those interpretations.

That's precisely what I find most fascinating in game design right now. And this line of thinking is so rare, there is so much to do... I mean, most games are content with evoking a very small spectrum of meanings, so obviously it's a long way until we get a relatively good understanding of how to guide interpretations towards a wide variety of concepts. But we are making progress! When you look at Pippin Barr's games, they talk about very small events of everyday life, and it can sometimes seem anecdotal, but really each of them is about experimenting with a tiny part of 'game design grammar'. We'll get there!
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« Reply #44 on: April 22, 2013, 12:26:04 PM »

Also, one thing I've realized while making games, is that even when I know I have this goal of doing intelligent and non-gratuitous design, it's super easy to forget about it as you dive head-first into the process of actually making the game, and just get into a loop of "what I'm making is cool and I'm making it because it's cool". Which is fine, but I don't think that's the way to make games that are successful wrt that ambition of focusing on meaningful design. You have to stay very critical about everything you add to the game, and constantly evaluate the relationship between your game's elements and the synergy that they all create when put in motion together. It's super important to remember to take a step back and to find a way to look at what you're making with a cold head.
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