engine and art

Roger Ebert:

I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place. I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn’t seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself.

The software engine behind any computer game would not be considered art by most people. However, in addition to the algorithms are graphics that are most definitely art. For example, while the physics of Neverball is considered by most people not to be art (though perhaps, it’s mathematically beautiful in the programmer’s eyes) the skins and backgrounds surely are.

On an related note, supporters of Free software often (but not necessarily) support Free culture as well. However, because Free software is basically mathematics, the licensing concerns are very different as compared to the artistic parts of software.


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2 Responses to “engine and art”

  1. Doug Johnson Says:

    Hi Peter,

    This post made me think about the time I asked my video-game expert son what makes a great game. He replied – great “world” (setting) , an interesting story, and compelling characters. Pretty much the same criteria one uses to judge a novel.

    Art, in my definition, is a creation that makes an original comment on the human condition. While we may have not yet seen a game that rises to the level of art, you know it is just a matter of time.


  2. petrock Says:

    That’s a fairly lofty definition though I sympathize with it. I think, for example, a company’s design for their logo is art – even if it lacks a story nor comments on the human condition. Art certainly has different levels of complexity and (subjectively speaking) taste. However, the algorithms that move say, a blue skunk around a computer screen versus the drawing of the blue skunk itself – is what I want to contrast.

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