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September 24, 2021, 04:47:05 PM

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TIGSource ForumsPlayerGamesVideo Games, High Art, Roger Ebert & the Cultural Ghetto
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Author Topic: Video Games, High Art, Roger Ebert & the Cultural Ghetto  (Read 8606 times)
Adenor
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« Reply #100 on: September 09, 2021, 03:30:52 AM »

I recommend the book Games: Agency as Art by Thi Nguyen. Although I don't think it portrays all that games can be as an art form, because it focuses solely on the ludological aspect and ignores the fictional one, I think it makes a good case for games as a unique art form. Like how music is a crystallization of sounds, literature is of stories, and visual art is of what we see, games are a crystallization of what we do, AGENCY. Think of Papers, Please. It portrays what it is like to be a border-crossing immigration officer and all the anxiety from being in his shoes. Fiction is not necessary, the game can be abstract where the agency isn't clear in a real-world sense (like Pac-Man), and that's what a "pure game" is. But I think that mixing it with fiction like how Papers, Please does it makes it more meaningful because it's tied to the world we inhabit.

This is a good thread about the book: https://twitter.com/add_hawk/status/1278371157117267968?lang=en
« Last Edit: September 09, 2021, 03:36:41 AM by Adenor » Logged
Adenor
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« Reply #101 on: September 09, 2021, 03:54:54 AM »

As for "high art", I don't think games qualify. It doesn't mean that games aren't as valuable, but it's because of the barrier of having to interact with them in order to experience what they have to offer. This goes back to the distinction of object arts and process arts, as Thi Nguyen explains:

Quote
Most traditional artworks are object- centered. When we make aesthetic judgments in response to them, those judgments are ascriptions of aesthetic properties and qualities to the object itself. It is the novel itself that is clever or thrilling; it is the painting itself that is graceful or dramatic. Games, I’m suggesting, are process- centered. When I make aesthetic judgments in response to a game, I am ascribing aesthetic properties and qualities to my own processes— to the actions and activities that I perform in response to the game.

...

The object arts are well- theorized. The process arts, on the other hand, are everywhere, but they are undertheorized and undervalued, especially by the art world establishment. I think the process arts likely include social dances, including group tango and square dancing; social eating rituals, such as fondues and hot pots; cooking; and perhaps urban planning. Note that these activities are usually not considered part of the fine arts. They are, at best, usually considered liminal candidates for art status.

...

Often, there are aspects of both object art and process art entangled within an artwork or an art form. But, even then, we tend to emphasize their object art aspects.

And the reason for this lack of recognition for process isn't just random, it goes back to a quirk in the human brain. Chris Crawford explains it really well in this article: http://www.erasmatazz.com/library/course-description-2018/object-versus-process.html

"High art" is reserved for object arts, simply because generally, people value objects more than processes. It's just how it is. But games are still very popular and very well loved more and more each generation. It's true that our biological nature dictates that most people care more about object arts, but I think that games can teach us to "see" systems and processes more, and that they will become more valued with time.

I also personally think that there is more value in mixing object (fiction) and process (gameplay) in games. That's what Papers, Please did so well. I think that enables games to be more meaningful. It's not by alternating fiction and gameplay, like introducing a cutscene every 10 minutes of gameplay, but really integrating them together into one.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2021, 05:08:16 AM by Adenor » Logged
michaelplzno
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« Reply #102 on: September 09, 2021, 07:35:27 AM »

@Adenor

Crawford, who made his point way too long, simply that the dichotomy between object and process is not black and white, did make a good point. Games are not entirely processes, there are often times when a game is just a video or a still piece of art. For example, if we are to create a great environment in a game, or even a stature inside a game, it is more object than process.

Another example, performances are considered art, like a ballet. Perhaps a ballet is even high art? Also a video may be high art, I've seen video art on display at major museums. (Not that being in a museum is the metric ofc)

It would be hard to say that eating a meal is art, particularly the way I eat, as that is firmly process, but if we did a play where someone is eating a meal it could be considered art right? Even if the actors in the play improvise how they eat each performance, we would still consider this art. For surely a statue of someone eating is art right? There is the intent of the artist which means that in fact some art is possible. So why can't a process that has the intent of the artist, and a synthesis of both logic and emotion, can't be art?





Edit: there was an "art" instillation in Harvard square that was a bunch of seesaws that light up when you use them. Of course all the kids out there were laughing and having fun. Would you say that isn't art, even high art? Now would the seesaws sill be art if no one touched them and played with them?

Edit2: we can interact with objects, just like the coffee table in the clip I sent, even though it is usually verboten in the art world, if we make an art object that is to be played with what would you call that situation?
« Last Edit: September 09, 2021, 07:52:16 AM by michaelplzno » Logged

Adenor
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« Reply #103 on: September 09, 2021, 10:08:58 AM »

@Adenor
Games are not entirely processes, there are often times when a game is just a video or a still piece of art. For example, if we are to create a great environment in a game, or even a stature inside a game, it is more object than process.

True. It's definitely not black and white. But process is what's always there in games. Objects can be added or not, like the game can be completely abstract and devoid of any fictional representation.


Another example, performances are considered art, like a ballet. Perhaps a ballet is even high art? Also a video may be high art, I've seen video art on display at major museums. (Not that being in a museum is the metric ofc)

It would be hard to say that eating a meal is art, particularly the way I eat, as that is firmly process, but if we did a play where someone is eating a meal it could be considered art right? Even if the actors in the play improvise how they eat each performance, we would still consider this art. For surely a statue of someone eating is art right? There is the intent of the artist which means that in fact some art is possible. So why can't a process that has the intent of the artist, and a synthesis of both logic and emotion, can't be art?

I'm not saying at all that games aren't art. They are, but they are different. Ballet can be art, yes. But it can be both object art (seeing a ballet dance) and process (dancing yourself). Process arts are about observing our own process and action and all the feelings that come from our activity. That's the way games are art. Papers, Please illustrates this wonderfully. There is an anxiety from being in the shoes of the border officer, and that's process art. If you watched someone play the game, you wouldn't feel it, you have to be the one playing/performing/etc.

Edit: there was an "art" instillation in Harvard square that was a bunch of seesaws that light up when you use them. Of course all the kids out there were laughing and having fun. Would you say that isn't art, even high art? Now would the seesaws sill be art if no one touched them and played with them?

Edit2: we can interact with objects, just like the coffee table in the clip I sent, even though it is usually verboten in the art world, if we make an art object that is to be played with what would you call that situation?

That would be process art, art that you perceive in your own activity. I'm using the notion Thi Nguyen defined in his book. According to him, and I agree, process art is undervalued compared to object art in the arts establishement. The "high art" label is meaningless to me honestly, because the art world is biased toward object arts, and those are the ones that are considered high art.

Edit: As for authorship, I'm not sure.. My feeling is that authorship is more about objects, which games can include, but I'm not sure how processes can be authored in a personal way. Many game designers describe the process of designing a game as exploring a landscape of possibilities instead of creating. Here is an interesting essay about this by Tynan Sylvester (main dev of RimWorld): https://www.gamedeveloper.com/design/the-design-landscape
So my opinion so far is that we have authorship when it comes to worldbuilding, setting the theme, and so on. All the object elements of a game. But when it comes to processes, we explore the design landscape of possibilites for interesting interactions.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2021, 10:25:34 AM by Adenor » Logged
michaelplzno
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« Reply #104 on: September 09, 2021, 10:27:01 AM »

Don't we explore sculptures too, when they are presented in 3d spaces we explore them, how is that any different than a 3d space in a game, except that we use a joystick to move around instead of legs?
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Adenor
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« Reply #105 on: September 09, 2021, 10:43:23 AM »

Don't we explore sculptures too, when they are presented in 3d spaces we explore them, how is that any different than a 3d space in a game, except that we use a joystick to move around instead of legs?

Good point. Thi Nguyen mentioned it in his book, and said that would be object art because there is no decision making involved, no interaction, the sculpture doesn't change according to your actions. Process arts require meaningful decision making. You can also make the case that you are deciding to turn left or right, but as you said, arts aren't binary object/process. However, in this case, the process aspect is so small, it's negligible. But in games, the process is necessary and central, objects are the exception to the rule.

Architecture moves more towards process, then urban planning even more. The more you have agency, the more process art is involved. Architecture is still dominently object art though, and people mostly appreciate the outside look of a building instead of the process of navigating inside it when they mention architecture as art.

So yes, navigating the 3D space or exploring a sculpture leans more towards object art. There is still a little bit of process there, but it's not the dominant aspect.

But how is exploring a space alone a game anyways? You need a goal in a game, which implies abilities and obstacles, the activity of using your abilities to beat obstacles is where the process art is. At least when it comes to games of this kind, and not walking simulators like Gone Home, where there is way more object and less process.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #106 on: September 09, 2021, 01:10:41 PM »

So if exploring a 3d space and not making decisions is art, why then, when you do make decisions that affect the artwork, it is somehow less of an experience?
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Adenor
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« Reply #107 on: September 10, 2021, 01:23:22 AM »

So if exploring a 3d space and not making decisions is art, why then, when you do make decisions that affect the artwork, it is somehow less of an experience?

Both are art. When you make decisions you perceive the art in your own activity (process, like jumping over platforms and the aesthetic of perfectly landing on the edge for example), and that's process art. When you don't, you perceive the art in the external object (painting, novel, etc) and that's object art. Games can be a mix of the two, process is gameplay and object is fiction, although process is more central to games.

Edit: Check this: https://twitter.com/add_hawk/status/1263152470445813762?lang=en
« Last Edit: September 10, 2021, 01:37:57 AM by Adenor » Logged
michaelplzno
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« Reply #108 on: September 10, 2021, 08:01:34 AM »

I will read this paper only to prove that I actually read stuff occasionally instead of dismissing it from the title. Also based on his twitter ratio I have a feeling that C Thi Nguyen would not give me the time of day if I asked, which makes me less interested in his stuff, but I guess I shouldn't hold it against him.
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Adenor
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« Reply #109 on: September 10, 2021, 08:07:49 AM »

Also based on his twitter ratio I have a feeling that C Thi Nguyen would not give me the time of day if I asked, which makes me less interested in his stuff, but I guess I shouldn't hold it against him.

I'm sure he would! I see him frequently respond to people in comments, or you can contact him directly https://objectionable.net/contact/ . Enjoy reading his stuff if you decide to! Very interesting stuff.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #110 on: September 10, 2021, 08:10:30 AM »

I read the first bit of the paper, I'm wondering if he will reply to me!

https://twitter.com/michaelplzno/status/1436360687907913736?s=20
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