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Art For Snake's Sake

Posted on Wednesday, January 25 @ 16:00:06 PST by Joe_Dodson
Games like Shadow of the Colossus, Katamari Damacy, and God of War leave little doubt in our minds that video games are art. If a really good recreation of a seascape using oils and a brush qualifies, the act of conjuring an entire, interactive world out of zeros and ones must, too.

But according to comments cited in this Next Generation article, legendary designer Hideo Kojima disagrees, seconding Roger Ebert's claim that video games are not art. At least, he thinks he does, even if closer inspection of his comments reveals he actually doesn't. Confused? So is he.

Says Kojima (referring to a video game):

"It's something of a service. It's not art. But I guess the way of providing service with that videogame is an artistic style, a form of art."

Let's see if we can figure this out.

A video game is not a work of art, but a service. The act of providing that service, though, is an art form, therefore the service itself is a work of art. Thus, according to Kojima, video games are not art, except when they are. Ouch.

He continues:

"For example, look at a concept car. You don't have to be able to drive a car, but if it's called a car and it has artistic elements in the visuals, then it's art."

Like video games, cars are not art, unless they're...art? I kind of follow. Kojima is saying that a car exists to serve a need; in this case, transportation. Therefore, a car is meant to serve a purpose, which, presumably, is not what art is supposed to do. Take a driving game, though. It doesn't actually provide transportation, it provides an illusion of transportation. Through their art, games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Project Gotham 3 and even Mario Kart imitate the act of driving, when all they're really doing is crunching a bunch of numbers.

Kojima takes a similar track, then goes completely off the rails:

"But an actual car, like a videogame, is interactive, so it's something used by people, so it's like a car where you have to drive it. There are 100 people driving a car; they have 100 ways of driving it and using it. It could be families driving the car. It could be a couple driving a car. The owner of the car could be driving along the coastline or they could go up into the mountains, so this car has to be able to be driven by all 100 of these people, so in that sense, it's totally not art."

Wait, in what sense? Where was the sense? Was it before we got to the coastline or after we passed through the mountains? Because I was definitely looking out the wrong window.

Not one to break for reason, he goes on to claim that "Art is the stuff you find in the museum, whether it be a painting or a statue." Well, we agree with the first part, especially given exhibits A, B, and C. The second part simply makes it clear that Kojima hasn't actually been to a museum in a long, long time.

That doesn't stop him, however, from claiming to manage one:

"What I'm doing, what videogame creators are doing, is running the museum--how do we light up things, where do we place things, how do we sell tickets? It's basically running the museum for those who come to the museum to look at the art. For better or worse, what I do, Hideo Kojima, myself, is run the museum and also create the art that's displayed in the museum."

Museums aren't art? Could have fooled us, but we really think Kojima is either fooling himself or fishing for compliments, because his games are some of the most artistic and imaginative works in the industry. And fortunately, they speak for themselves.



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