November 18, 2008

The Old Games and Art Question

by Nick Montfort · , 9:38 pm

I wanted to call everyone’s attention to an article by Chris Crawford about whether games are art, published this summer in Notes On Game Dev. The article offers many interesting observations, and I suggest that those interested in the question read it. My purpose in mentioning it, however, is not to repeat it, rephrase it, or respond to it, but to pose a different and related question.

Is game development an artistic practice? That is, is the making of a game like the making of an artistic work – visual, plastic, literary, performative, or otherwise? This is a different question. I am not one of those who believe that only those who identify themselves as artists can create art. It seems obvious to me that Joseph Weizenbaum’s Eliza, whether or not the rebel scientist envisioned himself as an artist, is worthy of consideration as a work of literary art. But it also seems reasonable to note that there are such things as artistic practices, distinct from other practices of craft and design and reasonable to discuss apart from those other practices.

Does it make sense to bring game creators together with artists to discuss their practices? If so, is that true of all game creators or only some?

Well, that’s my question.