2008 E.M. Forster Prize winner John Lanchester tackles the difficult relationship between games and art in the London Review, approaching the subject from different angles.
There is no other medium that produces so pure a cultural segregation as video games, so clean-cut a division between the audience and the non-audience. Books, films, TV, dance, theatre, music, painting, photography, sculpture, all have publics which either are or aren’t interested in them, but at least know that these forms exist, that things happen in them in which people who are interested in them are interested. They are all part of our current cultural discourse. Video games aren’t. Video games have people who play them, and a wider public for whom they simply don’t exist. (The exceptions come in the form of occasional tabloid horror stories, always about a disturbed youth who was ‘inspired’ to do something terrible by a video game.) Their invisibility is interesting in itself, and also allows interesting things to happen in games under the cultural radar.
A good article apart from some superficialities: Miyamoto is Walt Disney, Resident Evil 4 the generally agreed peak of its genre etc.. Nothing we haven't read before, but it's always good to see videogames getting a fair treatment, something that happens all too rarely.
The title of this news item delivered physical pain. The article turned out to be quite interesting and found me nodding in agreement more often than usually.
However, it quickly becomes apparent where exactly Mr. Lanchester is positioned relative to the Great Gaming Divide. Right on the border of it, so he doesn't see too far into the marvellous land of video games. Just that record breakers and major sale phenomena. If he were to peer a little deeper and a little wider, he would have seen that we do fare a bit better than even he gives us credit.
Another thing that caught my eye has to do with the conventions that supposedly turn people away from video games, instead of attracting them. I think that's something we tend to overlook most of the times, because we were literally born with those embedded into our brainwaves. Levels, bosses, points, units, quests, puzzles - oh, how weird they must be, unrealistic and simply stupid concepts to pay attention to.
Anyway, a great "sober" article, yet still full of wonder and praise directed at our beloved medium. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks for sharing.
St. Martyne Wrote:
Simply because from the various entertainments that exist in our current reality, video games are the (most) addictive and time consuming. Which ultimately means that it inhibits maximum production of a nation's citizens in macro economics (read=gamers fuck up the economy :p).
I agree with Le Jedi about how he seems to not be too "involved" with games.
There are really good games to showcase to make a point, but they're usually not in the Top 10 sales lists. There's the entire indie scene of games and the odd glimse of "art" in commercial games, and he seems to have missed most of them. Although, I really enjoyed reading it because he seems to stand up for video games. I made me very happy to see an article which doesn't revolve around someone shooting up a mall because of a game or some weirdo who snapped after getting "inspiration" from Doom or some other game from over a decade ago.
This is such no-brainer. Any medium that gives more that it receives is art if you ask me. Just as any human activity other than survival is culture.