Some people think games are art, some don`t.
I for one certainly do, I`d even say it`s possibly the greatest one of all. Developmentteams involve all kinds of Artist, such as Drawers, 3D-Artists, Writers, Directors, Composers and so on. I am not exactly sure weather or not to add programmers to that list, nor do I know if they would want to be seen as Artist, but considering what they can do for games they should be there too.
Anyway, my point is that when you lock down masses of artist into one office for years, the result of their efforts is certainly a piece of art. Weather a good one or not is another topic, but no kind of art is free from that concern. To those who prefer seeing games as entertainment, that`s fine, but doesn`t exclude art. Music or movies share both aspects as well.
Where games possibly even exceed other arts, is the freedom and number of possibilities they give to their audience. They don`t only offer the perspective a movie director had in mind. They don`t only show the one single frame a painter wanted to draw. They don`t tell the linear story of some hero. Games let you choose where to look, where to go, at which pace you want to proceed, which views to enjoy, which destiny to follow. Well, at least some do.
Now here`s what bugs me.
Great Art is meant to be eternal, more or less. Good music endures for centuries, as well as paintings, sculptures, whatever. Now maybe I am wrong, but I think to a certain degree all artist strive for creating that one, eternal masterpiece. Before I started with all that 3D stuff I did music, and I know for sure I`ve always been after that one, classy melody which touches your soul and will never be forgotten. Pointless to list examples since it`s different songs for everyone, but most people have a couple of songs they will love till they drop dead.
Now how is it going with games? Masses of Artists join forces, create true masterpieces by all means, in visuals, in sounds, in story, in evoking feelings (although this is still the one thing most games fail to deliver), and for what? Release after years of work, one or two month of massive sales, usually only a few month (give it a few years if you prefer) of having players enjoying the game, and then be forgotten. Hardware changes, technology gets old, yesterday a masterpiece, today nothing but trash.
Given the greatness crafted by some games today that`s really a pity. I mean even a single frame/screenshot of some of those games can have more art to it than some “preserved” art has at all. Still, when we look at it a few years later all we can see is that the polycount isn`t sufficient anymore, and the lighting doesn`t keep up either. It`s not that my view would be any different there, but I am a bit puzzled about it. Take an old music recording, noone would tag it as utterly useless old crap just because recording techniques have changed over the years. Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin…whatever, those recordings are still as good or bad as ever.
Yes, we have retro-games, and even museums of gaming history. But if you are honest, noone really appreciates it for what it is now, it`s more like looking back to good old times with a smile, on a negative point of view sometimes even with a “can`t believe we played this crap”-attitude.
Of course I am aware a big part of all this is in the nature of games as described above. A game`s experience is not static, it can`t be reproduced. And even if it could, it would possibly take hours to get to that isolated scene you want to see again. And even if you still have a good savepoint for that scene, you would miss the way you had to endure to get there in the first place. It`s just not as simple as finding that old song on youtube, picking up a picture, or watching a DVD. Thus I guess no matter how much games improve, it will always be something to fade away quickly.
Glad I have a pointless sights section…