I have decided to start an experiment of sorts. Every week I am asking a game related question on Facebook. Many of my friends are game designers, testers, and artists. I have had many wonderful conversations with them over the years, and I would like to bring these conversations to my website.

Every week I am going to ask a question relating to video games on Facebook. I get responses from as many people as possible, and then analyze the responses here on my blog. The intention is to get different viewpoints and ideas that I wouldn’t necessarily come up with on my own.

The first question was is Super Mario Bros. 3 Art?

I picked Super Mario Bros. 3 because I thought it would be interesting to hear the opinions on a game that is well loved, but contains less direct art examples like beautiful vistas or traditional story elements. I picked the games as art debate because it is a common argument that I figured would easily drum up debate as the first question.

With that being said, I kind of regret picking this question. I tried to pick a more specific example to avoid the answers I expected, but I think that my friends and I have too common of a viewpoint on this issue. First of all, everyone said yes. Most people gave Tolstoyan explanations of why video games are art, and this is the same argument I usually fall back upon.

Tolstoy has a very broad definition of art. He explains art as being a vehicle through which the artists conveys emotion to the user. Tolstoy wrote extensively on the topic and I’m not about to try and explain his exact thoughts on the matter, but I like to think that Tolstoy was very progressive and would have accepted video games as art.

Many of the people who posted referenced the emotions they felt when playing the game. They talked about being able to think back fondly on the game. It’s almost like it’s a fine wine that has grown great over the years. I have to wonder if everyone would think it so wonderful if it wasn’t for its age. It seems to be a common theme that we love the things that we remember. Are we just trying to validate the time we spent in the past? Were things really that great back then? I always worry that my judgment is clouded by the petty desire for self validation.

I think it is most likely that it is all true. People always want to validate the decisions that they have made, but we don’t just think that video games are art because we are developers. We believe it, because our understanding of art and video games tells us that it is so.

Leave a Reply