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In a DiGRA keynote address, game maker, artist and educator Paolo Pedercini sheds light on how games were appreciated as artistic works long before anyone was talking about Roger Ebert or Bioshock.

Alex Wawro, Contributor

April 14, 2015

2 Min Read

"These artists are almost saying: it took centuries of visual art, and the invention of photography, to finally be able to appreciate abstraction. And yet videogames are going the opposite way, getting more and more realistic. And boring. Fuck that."

- Developer and educator Paolo Pedercini speaks passionately about the creative work game modders like Jodi were doing at the turn of the millennium

Back in 2013, game maker, artist, critic and Carnegie Mellon professor Paolo Pedercini dissected the history of games as art onstage at the Digital Games Researchers Association (DiGRA) conference.

This week he dumped the text and images from that talk on his blog, shedding some light on how games were being appreciated as artistic, creative works long before anyone was talking about Roger Ebert, Bioshock or NEA grants for game developers.

"The most important thing that was missing from this long Games as Art debate was the acknowledgment that artists have been working with videogames for almost 20 years now," noted Pedercini. "The reason why this trend remained under the radar of the game community and of the mainstream press is because it could not be summarized with a simple 'Whaaat? Pac-Man in a museum?' headline. Because the lines of engagement between art videogames are rich and complex."

He goes on to lay out a variety of examples broadly divided into categories like "Art Mods" (Sod by Jodi), games developed by trained artists (Electroplankton [pictured], Shadow of the Colossus) or games that seek to redefine play -- ProteusLose/Lose and the like.

Pedercini also neatly undercuts the value of displaying games in a museum like pieces of interactive canvas; "games may need to disrupt the exhibition space," he notes, "because you just can't play Cart Life in 5 minutes while standing."

However, his arguments are best understood by reading through the full presentation on his blog, which is packed with images that illustrate his points.

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