Saturday 25 June 2011

Is the player an artist? - Redux

In case you did not follow the comments on the last blog post with my views on the player as an artist, you might have missed that James Portnow from Extra Credits responded and he and I had a brief exchange. This discussion is now up on the Escapist in case anyone is interested in checking it out:

The articles has lot of interesting responses from the readers. I think I have already said what I have to say, so I will not discuss it further here. However, do feel free to continue the discussion in the comments!


  1. Well, I wanted to post this at The Escapist, at their comment section, but...

    [brace yourself]

    ...their "comment-engine" uses/requires Facebook, and I don't have a profile, and I REFUSE to create one!

    We'll see how long I can resist the tides of darkness...

    Anyway, here it is unmodified:
    [quoting someone from there]"I think what's really happening here, is that TG and JP are debating the colour Teal."

    That's probably true, and well said.

    Someone said that TG's view is to narrow - but I don't think so (he is one of the guys behind Amnesia, afterall :D ); it's just that they have a slightly different views as to what type of games are of the most importance in this discussion, and what semantics to apply to all that terminology.
    On the other hand, JP's views might be wider, but there is such a thing as too wide.

    Sure, we - the players would like to be elevated to the status of The Artist, but that just doesn't really hold. TG just argues that all art, in any media require some sort of creative engagement from the receiver - a game just requires and/or provides something more; so, if we are to treat the player as an artist, then why not treat a reader as an artist, or the audience at a concert?

    In any case, if we are to reach a conclusion, it would be that The Player is in certain important ways special, that has more freedom that in any other media, has the ability to mend the original creation into his own world-view, and that game developers should be aware of that, and even count on that from the very start of the development process.

    I just regret they focused on football and tetris and such.
    The story/storytelling aspect of this kind of games is trivial. Even with on-line gaming: the collaborative effort may create some sort of an engaging experience, but not something awe inspiring. Not something truly worthy of the word "art". It is simply not possible to create in-game mechanics that would enable that; this is only possible with modding-like approach, and on a more advanced level, game development itself.
    This is important for those games that strive to be deeply emotionally, philosophically and otherwise artistically engaging, via storytelling (not talking P&P RPG slang here).

    P.S. Check out Frictional Games' Blog, there's a bunch of interesting comments there as well.

  2. It's silly. Do we call the listeners of a musical performance musicians? The larger difference is that game developers don't have to release their games and can continue to make art. You know that whole ruse and unreleased Chrono Trigger fan game? The artist himself can continue playing that fan game and we're left in the dust without it. Does that mean the game is without us playing is not a game? It's still a game.

    Seriously, it's the same argument as the tree in a forest, if it falls and nobody is there to hear it does it still make a sound? It still makes a sound.

  3. I like to think that a game in any form holds a small amount of authorial intent. The system set down by the game developer is where the most artistic expression is put down but video games would not be as much fun if a player couldn't express themselves.

    Maybe current game design isn't geared towards thinking of the player as an artist, but I certainly think that game design could benefit from approaching the player as a co-creator instead of as someone along for the ride.

    The key think in video games is that they are interactive. It's what makes me love them so much. More interactivity could never hurt I think.

  4. I'm with Thomas in this one.
    What makes videogames (or better called "interactive experiences") superior to their relatives like movies or books, it's that the experience is more personal, customised to their believs, preferences, opinions. This results in a much more vivid, natural experience, which I belive is the ultimate purpose of art, because the more realistic the experience is, the more intense are the emotions and the ideas experienced; I find that it's a lot easier to talk about art not by defining it, but by realising its purpose: to produce emotions and create/modify opinions and ideas). The player doesn't create anything (let's say there may be some niche games, but i'm talking about the kind of Amnesia/Bioshock), it simply gives the game (the item throug which the artist comunicates to us, so you may replace "game" with artist in this context) its "mind model" so the game can suit it better, in order to make the experience more natural, hence create more intese feelings.


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