I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.
Demosthenes meditated on this here and here. I never weighed in myself because I just don't know enough about games to make a coherent argument in their favor, although my sympathies lie in their favor.
But today Mary checked in with quite a wonderful post on game-as-art, although she doesn't cast it as such. Here's how her post starts:
Okay, I am not your average video game reviewer. Mostly because I suck at video games. It's my total lack of hand-eye coordination and my low frustration-threshold that does it. So what I am, is a video game spectator.
But there's only one game that I've ever asked someone to play just so I can watch. It's called "Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion." And I want people who don't play video games to know what game designers are capable of, these days.
Do read the whole thing. (I didn't read the spoilers, but they're minimal and don't seem to impact the main point.)
(And I'll bet Shamus has some thoughts on this whole thing! How about it, Shamus? Are games art?)