Video Games as Art?

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I sense this is the crux of the question. As someone that has leaned into the 'you don't get the vision' style arguments, I will offer my perspective.

Accepting that games are art, and are subject to criticism on multiple levels, there's two critical factors which tie together to make criticism on an artistic level more, or less relevant; what's the motivation behind a 'thing' of art, and does the phrasing of the criticism respect or reflect that.

The first of those two things is going to be debatable when it comes to an enduring an popular franchise like GT, and the latter can very often - for me personally - come down to nuance.

- If the reason something has been made, is to get my money, and I am the target demographic - but I don't like something about it; it would be reasonable for me to say, that sucks it should have been/done xyz.

- If the reason something has been made, is because a creator wants to deliver their vision, and it's a vision I've any preexisting reason to want to see - but I don't like something about it; then it's reasonable to say, it sucks, I didn't get 'that' from it, it didn't appeal, etc... but it's not reasonable to say what I thought it should have been, because it was never my vision in the first place.

I appreciate that Art as a product is also designed to get my money, but it's what that primary motivation is that matters. To use a phrase from Alex Zanardi that I think sums up the sentiment I'm getting at "I didn't jump on my bicycle because I wanted to go to London and win, I won because I wanted to ride my bicycle".

On the surface of it, the two things above could largely be the same. Though, I'd suggest one thing that would generally set apart the two cases, is the willingness of the creator to to take risks on unpopular creative decisions - to me, that is a sign that something has been made to reflect a vision, and not just to make money. I find that really apparent in films and TV sometimes, Star Wars VII and IX versus VIII for example, or one I alluded to with @NLxAROSA, Twin Peaks season 3, it's easy to see when the creators did something they wanted to do versus doing what they though might play best with audiences... Luke Sywalker died as a hermit, and Dale Cooper didn't get a 'damn fine coffee' in.

One of the things those two examples, and Gran Turismo have in common, is that they're at least 25 years old as franchises. The fan bases have had time to become thoroughly emotionally invested to a deep degree... this level of emotional investment is why I think so many people are so quick to criticise as though it was their vision. People who were fans of something seem to become amongst the most toxic when it goes wrong.

For me, things like Music Rally, Moon Buggy races, the Schwimwagen, etc., even back to GT HiFi, are things that are indicative of GT being something that is the work of one persons vision, rather than a committee trying to optimise their products chances of success.

So, yeah, video games are art, some more than others (the closer to simulation gets, the less I believe it is art, but that's another discussion). And of course people can dislike it if they please, the real sticking point for me, is how whether they phrase that criticism is respectful of what the thing was supposed to be according to the creator, and not what thy thought it was supposed to be.
On point! I think that you could also say that some art has honesty to it and some not. What I mean is that there is like you say „the willingness to take risks on unpopular creative decisions“, and on the other hand things that just wants to take as less risks as possible to reach as much people as possible and this at the cost of The creative expression, vision or what message it delivers.
I never played it myself, but what I seen about and to stay on the topic of racing games, maybe Project Cars 3 is a good example for this.

But I agree on what Scaff said, the realism of a simulation doesn’t have to exclude it from art by default.
Im a big fan of the „new objectivity“ in paintings for example, these paintings go for realism in their art style (not necessarily their themes), but by doing that they trigger even more inside me.
Or more recently, the paintings of Zaria Forman.
 

Scaff

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On point! I think that you could also say that some art has honesty to it and some not. What I mean is that there is like you say „the willingness to take risks on unpopular creative decisions“, and on the other hand things that just wants to take as less risks as possible to reach as much people as possible and this at the cost of The creative expression, vision or what message it delivers.
I never played it myself, but what I seen about and to stay on the topic of racing games, maybe Project Cars 3 is a good example for this.
Project Cars 3 is actually a really interesting example, as they certainly took risks on its direction, and let's be honest, that's a direction that would have been driven by Ian Bell. They then burned pretty much the whole thing to the ground with one of the most misleading marketing campaigns I've ever come across. The end result was to effectively kill what actually wasn't a bad title, just one that was very different from the vision that had driven the first two.
 
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The first is around the closer to a simulation something gets the less you believe it's art, I would have to disagree. Is hyperrealism in the visual arts, not art? I would argue that it is, and if it can be, then why wouldn't simulations also remain art as they get more realistic?
Broadly speaking, the more something simply needs to be an accurate representation of something infront of the creator, the less opportunity there is for creativity, originality, sub-text, or a message. Part of the fun in art for me, is how ideas are brought together, how they are represented, how they are intertwined, how obvious or subtle they are - I don't think you can infuse something with those elements if you're constrained by replicating something that exists.

Obviously this doesn't take away from the skills required in the various discpilines, be it conventional art, film making or game making, and in game making specifically, you can really start to make a case for art in mathematics or in coding.

Also obviously, we're still not at the point where we can simulate things accurately enough where no creative decisions have to be made, just to find compromises.

I think if we took two generalised opinions based on comments on GTS:

1) GTS should have more real world tracks, we should not have to race against VGT's.
2) VGT's are really cool, and I hope we get the SSRX hidden circuit in GT7.

The former opinion, is entirely reasonable from a gaming perspective, but it clearly seeks a simulation that replicates something.

The latter opinion, also entirely reasonable, seeks to use the same simulation, to simulate something that doesn't exist.

Personally, I like a mix of the two, I think the former helps with suspension of disbelief in the latter... but.. there's clearly two different motivations. Some people see a Pratt & Miller C7.R at Daytona in the IMSA sportscar championship, and they want their simulation to allow them to race that car, at that track, in that event (or similar), and that's fine, M6 GT3 at the Nordschleife, and I'm happy as a clam... but, some people want their simulator to fulfill a "what if...?" scenario for them.

... I suppose, the raw simulation aspect is the same, even if the assets within it are very different, but to me it's obvious that the creative scope is so much wider in the second scenarion than the first. I suppose though, I should perhaps caveat my original statement -- Where simulation seeks to replacate it moves further away from art.

To put that in the context of Hyperrealism in traditional art... for sure, there's an immense amount of talent required and skill there, but a hyperreal bowl of fruit is still just a bowl of fruit... a hyperreal narrative scene depicting John McClane dropping Vladimir Putin off the top floor of Nakatomi plaza, would probably appeal to me more as art.

The second is a point more specific to Gran Turismo as a series and the point about being respectful of what a thing was supposed to be according to the creator, something that would be a lot easier if Kaz was more open to explaining what that was. Music Rally is a good example of this, it's clearly the result of an artistic vision, I personally don't get or see the point in it. Now art doesn't require a point, but Kaz's explanation for it was vague to the point of raising more questions than it answered.
It gets muddy really quick here, because I do consider Kaz to be a creator, and GT to be an artistic vision, but it's a long, long, way from being a pure one. There are committees, there are marketing departments, there is huge profit, and it all has an effect. It taints the creative experience. Look at "Money", or "Have a Cigar" by Pink Floyd, both great songs by great creators, but both a response to the friction that commercialising a vision or artistic talent can have, and how communicating what the art is about can get 'mixed up'. I also like David Lynch's way of covering of the question: "Of course, I can't explain it, if I could just tell you what it meant, I wouldn't have had to make the film." (I'm probably misquoting, but that's the jist).

With Music Rally specifically, I did specifically mention it because I recall your video pretty much just being "I. Don't. Get. It." :D I don't recall what Kaz actually said, so I can only offer my opinion - and that starts off with another debate that was recently had on the forums... Is Gran Tursimo a racing game? My personal opinion on that, is it's a game about cars, that features racing as one of the ways of interacting with the cars. Music Rally, is simply another way of doing it. Why music instead of a stop-watch?... I don't know, but I can think of a few times that the music playing in the car has been part and parcel of a driving experience in the real world, and since music is a passion of Kaz's, maybe he just wanted to explore that relationship in a more focused fashion than just having BGM in races. Music is its own art form after all, here you are not playing it, dancing to it, or singing to it, but driving to it...

.. I do now reflexively curl up into a ball on the floor with a twitching eye every time I hear Idris Elba's stating "Too flashy, too flashy..." though.



PS, sorry if any of that is disjointed the text input box is lagging awfully.
 

NLxAROSA

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Nice convo here, thanks for pulling me in @MatskiMonk 👍

I 100% believe that games can be art. I also think that the two are not necessarily connected to each other. E.g. I think the GT series in general is a work of art, but I don't think the last couple of iterations were terribly great games. But great looking cars in great looking locations, the cheezy elevator music, the wacky slap-stick car-wash animations, etc. etc. I all find pretty amazing. Another example of art not necessarily meaning a great game is Death Stranding. (I'm buying that Directors Cut for PC BTW, it's such an amazing experience and even though gameplay is kind of boring you just want to see more of the story) Some games both qualify as art and great games; Deathloop comes to mind as a more recent example. And then there are games that are neither, though some are so bad they are an artform in itself (hello F&F Crossroads :lol: ).

With regards to PC3: it's crazy that if you haven't been around before and shortly after release and someone would hand you the game and doesn't tell you the backstory and who made it, what's left is a pretty decent racing title. Work of art? Perhaps not so much.

Twin Peaks: David Lynch is notorious for not doing any fanfavors. When asked to explain his movies he simply responds: "the movie is the story". When asked whether he wants to elaborate on that: "no". Also keep in mind that David Lynch is a big proponent of transcedental meditation and he applies a lot of psychological mind tricks, esp. in S3 of Twin Peaks; It messes with your conscience though not everyone will be receptive to it; if you are you probably go "WOW" but if you're not you probably go "Meh, this sucks". Amazing stuff. Work of art: yes! Great TV series: let's say that it's an acquired taste.
 
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Scaff

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Broadly speaking, the more something simply needs to be an accurate representation of something infront of the creator, the less opportunity there is for creativity, originality, sub-text, or a message. Part of the fun in art for me, is how ideas are brought together, how they are represented, how they are intertwined, how obvious or subtle they are - I don't think you can infuse something with those elements if you're constrained by replicating something that exists.

Obviously this doesn't take away from the skills required in the various discpilines, be it conventional art, film making or game making, and in game making specifically, you can really start to make a case for art in mathematics or in coding.

Also obviously, we're still not at the point where we can simulate things accurately enough where no creative decisions have to be made, just to find compromises.

I think if we took two generalised opinions based on comments on GTS:

1) GTS should have more real world tracks, we should not have to race against VGT's.
2) VGT's are really cool, and I hope we get the SSRX hidden circuit in GT7.

The former opinion, is entirely reasonable from a gaming perspective, but it clearly seeks a simulation that replicates something.

The latter opinion, also entirely reasonable, seeks to use the same simulation, to simulate something that doesn't exist.

Personally, I like a mix of the two, I think the former helps with suspension of disbelief in the latter... but.. there's clearly two different motivations. Some people see a Pratt & Miller C7.R at Daytona in the IMSA sportscar championship, and they want their simulation to allow them to race that car, at that track, in that event (or similar), and that's fine, M6 GT3 at the Nordschleife, and I'm happy as a clam... but, some people want their simulator to fulfill a "what if...?" scenario for them.

... I suppose, the raw simulation aspect is the same, even if the assets within it are very different, but to me it's obvious that the creative scope is so much wider in the second scenarion than the first. I suppose though, I should perhaps caveat my original statement -- Where simulation seeks to replacate it moves further away from art.

To put that in the context of Hyperrealism in traditional art... for sure, there's an immense amount of talent required and skill there, but a hyperreal bowl of fruit is still just a bowl of fruit... a hyperreal narrative scene depicting John McClane dropping Vladimir Putin off the top floor of Nakatomi plaza, would probably appeal to me more as art.
The two don't have to be mutually exclusive, even the most po-faced of sims on the face of it can end up offering the absurd.

I've driven F1 cars around Scottish B-roads in the snow, it's messy but absurd.


It gets muddy really quick here, because I do consider Kaz to be a creator, and GT to be an artistic vision, but it's a long, long, way from being a pure one. There are committees, there are marketing departments, there is huge profit, and it all has an effect. It taints the creative experience. Look at "Money", or "Have a Cigar" by Pink Floyd, both great songs by great creators, but both a response to the friction that commercialising a vision or artistic talent can have, and how communicating what the art is about can get 'mixed up'. I also like David Lynch's way of covering of the question: "Of course, I can't explain it, if I could just tell you what it meant, I wouldn't have had to make the film." (I'm probably misquoting, but that's the jist).

With Music Rally specifically, I did specifically mention it because I recall your video pretty much just being "I. Don't. Get. It." :D I don't recall what Kaz actually said, so I can only offer my opinion - and that starts off with another debate that was recently had on the forums... Is Gran Tursimo a racing game? My personal opinion on that, is it's a game about cars, that features racing as one of the ways of interacting with the cars. Music Rally, is simply another way of doing it. Why music instead of a stop-watch?... I don't know, but I can think of a few times that the music playing in the car has been part and parcel of a driving experience in the real world, and since music is a passion of Kaz's, maybe he just wanted to explore that relationship in a more focused fashion than just having BGM in races. Music is its own art form after all, here you are not playing it, dancing to it, or singing to it, but driving to it...

.. I do now reflexively curl up into a ball on the floor with a twitching eye every time I hear Idris Elba's stating "Too flashy, too flashy..." though.
The core meta of GT is still racing, it's pretty much impossible to experience the title without doing so, and while Kaz does offer other ways of interacting with them, it's still secondary to the racing (even if his idea of how that should occur is at time odd in itself). I would be open to argument of a wider interactive experience of simply 'cars', if progression were not so clearly locked behind the requirement to race, now if we had an iteration that just also revolved around just driving (open world being the obvious example) and that allowed progression at the same rate as racing

Nice convo here, thanks for pulling me in @MatskiMonk 👍

I 100% believe that games can be art. I also think that the two are not necessarily connected to each other. E.g. I think the GT series in general is a work of art, but I don't think the last couple of iterations were terribly great games. But great looking cars in great looking locations, the cheezy elevator music, the wacky slap-stick car-wash animations, etc. etc. I all find pretty amazing. Another example of art not necessarily meaning a great game is Death Stranding. (I'm buying that Directors Cut for PC BTW, it's such an amazing experience and even though gameplay is kind of boring you just want to see more of the story) Some games both qualify as art and great games; Deathloop comes to mind as a more recent example. And then there are games that are neither, though some are so bad they are an artform in itself (hello F&F Crossroads :lol: ).
I would argue that a medium is either art or it's not, and if it is (and I argue that games are) then it becomes one of good or bad art. Yes, the lines can get very blurry when it's what appears on the face of it to be a purely financial motivation behind it, but plenty of art in fields that no one would question as art falls into exactly the same trap.

With regards to PC3: it's crazy that if you haven't been around before and shortly after release and someone would hand you the game and doesn't tell you the backstory and who made it, what's left is a pretty decent racing title. Work of art? Perhaps not so much.
I'd still argue its art, just a better game than it is a piece of art.

Twin Peaks: David Lynch is notorious for not doing any fanfavors. When asked to explain his movies he simply responds: "the movie is the story". When asked whether he wants to elaborate on that: "no". Also keep in mind that David Lynch is a big proponent of transcedental meditation and he applies a lot of psychological mind tricks, esp. in S3 of Twin Peaks; It messes with your conscience though not everyone will be receptive to it; if you are you probably go "WOW" but if you're not you probably go "Meh, this sucks". Amazing stuff. Work of art: yes! Great TV series: let's say that it's an acquired taste.
I generally love Lynch's work, to the point that I actually rewatched Dune yesterday!
 
14,542
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Twin Peaks: David Lynch is notorious for not doing any fanfavors. When asked to explain his movies he simply responds: "the movie is the story". When asked whether he wants to elaborate on that: "no". Also keep in mind that David Lynch is a big proponent of transcedental meditation and he applies a lot of psychological mind tricks, esp. in S3 of Twin Peaks; It messes with your conscience though not everyone will be receptive to it; if you are you probably go "WOW" but if you're not you probably go "Meh, this sucks". Amazing stuff. Work of art: yes! Great TV series: let's say that it's an acquired taste.
Don't want to get too far off topic, but S3 was pretty much the best TV ever made in my opinion. I followed the discussion online throughout though, and a large portion of legit fans were absolutely brutal. They knew what they loved, and they just wanted more - I don't blame them at all for that, but what we got was so much better IMHO. We had a season of Dougie and Mr C instead of, excuse me, damn fine coffee, and cherry pie at the RR. We got Audrey's dance, but no answer to WTF is going on with Audrey, and so, so much more people were aching to see - and a lot of people checked out because they didn't see it. For me personally, the "I am the FBI" moment was pay off enough, but I loved the rest of the series too. The Twin Perfect breakdown on YouTube is also genius, if you have 6 hours to spend, watch both parts.
The two don't have to be mutually exclusive, even the most po-faced of sims on the face of it can end up offering the absurd.

I've driven F1 cars around Scottish B-roads in the snow, it's messy but absurd.
No, and I wouldn't want to deal in absolutes, there is scope for creativity and originality in serious sims, but, to me at least, the people who engage with those serious sims tend to want to see games like GT trend away from the absurd, towards the serious... often with references to Mario Kart... but, in reality, there has to be a balance for a main stream title.

The core meta of GT is still racing, it's pretty much impossible to experience the title without doing so, and while Kaz does offer other ways of interacting with them, it's still secondary to the racing (even if his idea of how that should occur is at time odd in itself). I would be open to argument of a wider interactive experience of simply 'cars', if progression were not so clearly locked behind the requirement to race, now if we had an iteration that just also revolved around just driving (open world being the obvious example) and that allowed progression at the same rate as racing
While true, it comes down to that motivation thing again. Did Kaz set out to make the best racing game he could? I don't think he did.. I think he saw an element of car culture, that happened to involve THREE LAP BATTLE AT TSUKUBA (i.e. Best Motoring)...



...and wanted to bring that to petrol head gamers around the world, more than he wanted to bring a racing game to motorsports fans. The racing has mostly been a scaled up version of that ever since.

Sure, Kaz has experienced the passion of racing first hand, and the Gran Turismo TV "Fascination Nürburgring - 24 hours of passion" video shows how much the franchise does care about the emotion of racing, even if (outside of GT Sport and GT Academy making gamers actual racers), they've failed to really deliver that.

Posting it now because, it needs to be posted from time to time...



I'm not trying to excuse poor AI, poor penalty algorithms and all that stuff that matters if you are going to have a race, but I don't see how people can look at the GT franchise and think that simulating motorsport is the criterion is should be judged by. I love motorsport, I was at the 'ring the year they made that video, it makes me cry... but for me Gran Turismo has always been a game about cars... You could say, "I didn't drive the cars in Gran Turismo because I wanted to race, I raced because I wanted to drive the cars...."

I also half suck at the racing element, so, there's that.
 

Scaff

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Don't want to get too far off topic, but S3 was pretty much the best TV ever made in my opinion. I followed the discussion online throughout though, and a large portion of legit fans were absolutely brutal. They knew what they loved, and they just wanted more - I don't blame them at all for that, but what we got was so much better IMHO. We had a season of Dougie and Mr C instead of, excuse me, damn fine coffee, and cherry pie at the RR. We got Audrey's dance, but no answer to WTF is going on with Audrey, and so, so much more people were aching to see - and a lot of people checked out because they didn't see it. For me personally, the "I am the FBI" moment was pay off enough, but I loved the rest of the series too. The Twin Perfect breakdown on YouTube is also genius, if you have 6 hours to spend, watch both parts.

No, and I wouldn't want to deal in absolutes, there is scope for creativity and originality in serious sims, but, to me at least, the people who engage with those serious sims tend to want to see games like GT trend away from the absurd, towards the serious... often with references to Mario Kart... but, in reality, there has to be a balance for a main stream title.


While true, it comes down to that motivation thing again. Did Kaz set out to make the best racing game he could? I don't think he did.. I think he saw an element of car culture, that happened to involve THREE LAP BATTLE AT TSUKUBA (i.e. Best Motoring)...



...and wanted to bring that to petrol head gamers around the world, more than he wanted to bring a racing game to motorsports fans. The racing has mostly been a scaled up version of that ever since.

Sure, Kaz has experienced the passion of racing first hand, and the Gran Turismo TV "Fascination Nürburgring - 24 hours of passion" video shows how much the franchise does care about the emotion of racing, even if (outside of GT Sport and GT Academy making gamers actual racers), they've failed to really deliver that.

Posting it now because, it needs to be posted from time to time...



I'm not trying to excuse poor AI, poor penalty algorithms and all that stuff that matters if you are going to have a race, but I don't see how people can look at the GT franchise and think that simulating motorsport is the criterion is should be judged by. I love motorsport, I was at the 'ring the year they made that video, it makes me cry... but for me Gran Turismo has always been a game about cars... You could say, "I didn't drive the cars in Gran Turismo because I wanted to race, I raced because I wanted to drive the cars...."

I also half suck at the racing element, so, there's that.

My bad, I should have been clearer, I don't for a moment think PD is trying to be a Motorsport simulator, but I do think that racing is still the key meta for progression within the game (well with GT7 once you get outside GT Cafe it's the only method of progression). I agree 100% that Best Motoring was an inspiration behind GT as a series, and could be arguably described as a homage of to it, that however has been watered down significantly over the series life, at least in single player.
 

LeGeNd-1

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I do think video games can be art. I don't really play a lot of games that are not racing, so the only ones I can think of are thatgamecompany's trio of Flow/Flower/Journey.

In terms of racing games, I think it's quite hard for it to be art because it's trying to copy something in real life (even arcade games, are a highly stylized version of real racing). It's more like a "photograph" than art. Not saying that photography isn't art, but you see more paintings and sculptures at the museum than photos. If that makes sense?

The only racing games that would come close as art I think would be the original Outrun. Very singular in its vision. Gameplay, aesthetic and music all molds together to provide a very specific experience. It's also very simple so the main "message" isn't diluted by cumbersome things that plagues modern games (unlocks, XP bars, online, trophies, etc).

Another thought of mine is, you can create art based on videogames and its assets. But not the game itself. So the game is kinda like your paint and canvas. And it's up to the artist (the player) to make something amazing out of it. The game itself on its own, can't do anything. It's just lines of 0s and 1s. But then if you have a creative mind to build on it, you create something amazing such as this:


Now, to the potential can of worms: is Gran Turismo an art? I would say some aspects of it are. The car models, the lighting, scapes, menu music, all the creative liveries created by the community. Not to mention the intros (GT1 & GT2's I credited as being the spark for me to becoming a petrolhead). I also remember the feeling when I did the 24 hour Le Mans in GT5, and seeing the first rays of dawn after the long night. It's one of the best feelings playing a video game I ever had. But overall, GT games are complex beasts, encumbered by numerous idiosyncrasies and weird design decisions (and lately, increasingly intrusive economic agendas by PD/Sony). Not to mention when you go online, the experience could change completely for the worse. So no, Gran Turismo isn't art*. It's analogous to the Louvre that contains many smaller works of art within it, but not itself.


*With the way some people have been defending it, it's sometimes more akin to cult/religion than a game/art. But that's topic for another time lol.
 
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Call GT whatever you will, it certainly draws an emotional response from me unlike any other game I have played. The closest feeling of actually driving belongs to AC (in my opinion) but it still is GT that I keep coming back to. There is just something about the way that PD does things that "speaks" to me.

I fell in love with GT1 back when first came out as it was revolutionary for that time with the quality of the graphics and replays and the types of cars it compared to what was around at that time. Each of the subsequent games I have enjoyed greatly. Whilst I know that there are things that certainly need some changes and improvement atm ie off line functionality, grid starts as opposed to catch the tortoise and the abiliity to construct a proper race event with practice qualifying as well I still love this franchise because it has a certain feel that for me is unparalleled.

I wasn't going to buy a PS4 or 5 just for GT and here I am with both consoles because...GT.
 

ScottPye20

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The first video game that comes to mind as being "art" is Journey. Never played it though.
 

neema_t

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In my opinion all games are art, but, just like traditional art, there's an enormous gulf between "good art" and "bad art" (in quotes because it's all subjective). Like, there's art in the Louvre, but there's also art in motel rooms.
 

Scaff

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In my opinion all games are art, but, just like traditional art, there's an enormous gulf between "good art" and "bad art" (in quotes because it's all subjective). Like, there's art in the Louvre, but there's also art in motel rooms.
100% agree