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Games are Art: New York Times

The convergence, acceptance, and treatment of games by the mainstream media shifts from being a novelty of the Tech section, into the Arts.

Andrew Spearin, Blogger

November 8, 2009

3 Min Read

The impression I have of Uncharted 2 stems from the television commercial, web trailer, and how-it-was-made videos. I have not yet played the game since I don't have a PS3.

Another impression comes from The New York Times, which declares the game as "a major step forward for gaming." They do not declare that games are art, but do so with their acceptance of the medium.

The game caused the reviewer to buy a new 46" Sony television to experience the game again. It was that good, not just in visual quality, but has gameplay that rivals any cinematic experience offered by another form of media (i.e. action movies). Just seeing the promotional material and I am convinced.

There are more than a few lessons we can learn from this game, without even playing it.

Even though I worked for newspapers, taking photos and video, I rarely read the physical newsprint edition. I have always been a news junkie and last year worked at the highest possible level in Canada's newspapers - at the cutting edge of their attempt to save themselves with the Internet. Then the economy crashed and they are far worse off than they would care to admit. But Canada's innovation in business is rare, especially amongst archaic bureaucracies.

The New York Times placing an article about a video game in the Arts section is like when a father finally accepts that his son has grown up. The turning point of acceptance that the times are a changing.

The signs of convergence with other forms of media are everywhere. This convergence is a step before overtaking traditional forms of media as the primary means of communication for some areas of visual storytelling.

At the Vortex game competition in Toronto this past week, a funding panel assembled to inform the room of local entrepreneurial game designers and developers about some local financial opportunities.  The business side was well-represented at the event, mingling amongst the local talent.

Some of the financial panelists represented the government, the largest bank, venture capitalists, while others represented sources that only feed convergence.  You need a deal with a television/film company before thinking about getting money to do your game from some sources.

I also overheard someone at the competition say 'movies started out by pointing the camera at a stage.'  Meaning, they were constrained to what they knew before the camera - the theatre stage - and at first worked with what they knew.  Theatre was (and still is) a form of art.  Movies have since evolved from technical thinking to artistic thinking.

Games are already well on their way with the same sort of evolution.

The front line of convergence comes where forms of media meet at the fork in the road.

The New York Times recently posted a better-than-expected $35.6 million loss.  Luckily they are not losing the ability to bring the news in from around the world, but many news outlets (in both newspaper and television) are losing that capacity.

They are a grandfather that has realized that their grandchildren have figured out a way to make more money, while having much more fun, and found a more effective way to communicate to a broader audience. At least they are a cool enough grandfather, trying to be of the times, and therefore accept it rather than resist.

They have no choice but to accept, adapt, and innovate to survive.  Game designers need to always be striving to do the same.  Start with the notion that games are in fact art. 

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