Art appreciation?

There’s so much to be said about the ‘are games art?’ debate that it seems silly to venture into such subject matter in a shortish daily blog post, but with inspiration otherwise refusing to strike, I’m going to have to go there, if briefly. So do bear in mind that this is not the extent of my opinion on this thorny topic – but to me, playing games often feels like art appreciation of a sort.

Sure, I play plenty of games purely for my own entertainment, but as a critic/reviewer, I often play games I don’t have a particular interest in – and it’s in experiencing and evaluating those games that I feel like I’m doing more than just playing.

Plenty of people watch films, TV shows or visit art galleries to challenge themselves, and even when experiencing a medium for their own enjoyment, that’s a way of appreciating art. Shouldn’t the same apply to games?

Whether you think it does or not, that doesn’t really excuse the treatment film critic Roger Ebert has received at the hands of gamers and journalists desperate to prove him wrong. The man’s perfectly entitled to his opinion, and as wrong-headed as you might believe it to be, does it really deserve to be described as “reeking ejaculate”?

Short answer: no. Indeed, it’s this kind of hysterical knee-jerk response to any kind of criticism of the medium that half makes me want to side with those on the outside looking in. And arguably lends credence to Ebert’s opinion. After all, if an art form is defined by its audience, then it’s clear gaming has a hell of a lot of growing up to do.

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