Hideo Kojima says that video games (or "videogames" in the OPM parlance) are not art. The coverstory interview they have with him is unfocused, but interesting as a simple record of a conversation with someone who's created something worthwhile. The heaviest point he touches on is whether video games are or can be art, and his role in that. The interview is sort of rambling and he mixes a lot of metaphors, at turns describing the games industry as a sort of "service industry," (in that if someone wants to ride a horse, he might make a game where you can ride a horse, thereby providing the service of being able to ride said horse.) He defines his role as a video game creator in a number of conflicting ways, ranging from the person who designs a functional car that everyone can use, to being the one who "run[s] the museum and also create[s] the art that's displayed inside," to "providing a canvas and paint and the paintbrushes to everyone who plays the game." In that case, wouldn't the player be the artist? Clearly it's just his stream of consciousness as he considers what the game creator/game player relationship is, but the core of the argument is that video games are not art, and he not the artist (which he states implicitly,) but that each is something else. Regardless of his specific analogies, I like the point of his argument, and agree.

That's a big draw to me, about the games industry. It seems to me that the majority of the people talking about "games as art" are outside the industry. They're writers, reviewers, pundits, players posting on message boards, grad students. What I love about the people who make the games is that they're very up-front about just wanting to make something "cool" that will entertain people and sell well. It's totally unpretentious, sometimes juvenile, often silly, but always un-self-conscious and straightforward. What you see is what you get with most games.

I guess, coming from the background of my Sculpture BA (Art History minor,) I've gotten my fill of the self-important, self-obsessed, very deluded modern art world. The whole tone of the creation and consumption of fine art is overblown, and I just don't buy it. Art is lovely, and wonderful, and as a means of transmuting a concept or sensation into a physical form, it can be incredible. But I don't want to be a part of it, or one of the crowd that invests themselves in it. Where art today is extremely insular, catering to a niche that makes up the "art world" (people who trade money and artworks around between one another and spend the rest of the time philosophizing over them) the video game market is bigger than itself, reaching out to as broad an audience as it can. Where someone like me, or the guy who's writing his thoughts about games as art on some obscure message board, can enjoy games on that very intense "insider" level, anyone without past experience playing games can pick one up and play it and enjoy it without needing to know who made it, their personal history, their thoughts or intentions, or anything but the content of the game itself. Games are not art because they are not about the author. They are about the player, the customer, the consumer. They are about being games first and foremost, and if they're anything else, well then that's just icing. The dominant attitude behind games-- that they simply want to be themselves, whatever that may be-- is incredibly endearing and feels just right and I love it.

No comments: