NekoJonez: Are games art?

Thanks Nhi_Po from Arpegi for creating this banner for me.
Thanks Nhi_Po from Arpegi for creating this banner for me.

“Games are art!” a gamer will shout. “Games make me nervous and are dangerous.” or “Games are nothing for me.” another (mainly older people) will say. But are games art? And what kind of art? Why or why not? Let me add my opinion towards the pile of arguments. Since this debate is going non-stop. Side note, this article will be exclusive for this website. For more of my content, visit my personal blog too. 

What is art?

To give a definition of art, you can go pretty personal. But let’s stick with what WikiPedia gives us.

Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities; this article focuses primarily on the visual arts, which includes the creation of images or objects in fields including paintingsculptureprintmakingphotography, and other visual media.

Well, that’s pretty clear. And there is no discussion about it that games ARE in fact art according to this definition. Since they contain several of these elements. So case closed? Well no. The discussion actually goes about games being “high art”.

To easily explain this, high art is something that can be timeless, bring lessons to you. Something that can make you think. Entertainment is an art yet it isn’t high art since most entertainment makes you relax but not think.

Entertaining games or arty? 

99_okami-hd_new_screenshot_09There is no way around that games are entertaining. Well, they are supposed to be. So might be frustrating or annoying. But those are extremely welcome since then reviewers like myself can rip them apart for your entertainment.

So games are actually pretty brainless. No offence, but take the Call Of Duty series. This I wouldn’t consider art. Since this isn’t learning you something about the world or make you think. It’s more to give you a good time.

But then you have games like Okami. Look at the screenshot, this game is made to be pretty and unique. This is one of the many games that people use to say that games are actually art.



It actually took since rather recent for movies to be considered an art form. For something to be considered an art form, it needs to do more then just be entertaining. And some movies have achieved that.

But aren’t some games basically an interactive movie? Yes, they are in fact are. Take movie games, eeiw, for example. When you think about it, it’s basically the movie yet you control the actors. What does that make games no art form then?

Let’s stop for a moment and let’s look to the video from where I got most of my inspiration from. Doug Walker talked about this and what he said I agree so much with.

But then I actually starting thinking. I realized something. Let’s try to take this question in a totally different direction and ask ourselves, WHY are gamers asking this question?


The advantage of knowing that games are (high) art is actually to gain more respect for our medium. How many adults or older people do you know that think games are junk or not needed here in the world? Out of own experience, I can tell that are many people. Oh, and people who play games on Facebook don’t really count here. Those are just interactive spamming tools made to be “fun”. You’ll get it after you get overloaded by requests for a certain game.

With this respect, games can finally be seen for more then only a kids toy. At my holiday job I get a bit mocked for wearing shirts of Mario and others. But I also gain respect. Gamers actually need to stand up for our medium. We need to shine good light on it. Since the media, mostly the press, loves to abuse our medium.

Thanks to various idiots, violent games are seen as dangerous. A teen kills many people and directly games are the blame.

“Oh, they get aggressive from all that shooting.” or “They’ll do it themselves.” or “They loose the border between reality and games.” All of those things depend on character.

But to finish up this rambling, we really need to find some solid arguments to prove that our art can be respected and isn’t simply something for kids. Like comic books and movies have now the respect that pieces of art get.

So, what do you guys think? Drop a comment. And please, flame wars are for little kids.


  1. Thing is your preaching to the choir, and it’s not exactly a topic for games along. Manga and anime have fought this battle for years about whether it’s art or not. Most people just dismiss them as cartoons or comic books, and don’t really look at the depth and scope of them.

    Problem comes when games (and manga/anime) push the boundries a bit to far. For example Saints Row 3, you can run around killing people with a huge 4ft dildo. It’s puerile, but is it art?

    The current rage against Saint’s row 4 is an even better example. They’ve take the sex and drug elements that were in SR3 and pretty much maxed it out.

    So it’s easy to see why people refuse to accept it as ‘art’. Look at Apple, they flat out refuse to acknowledge gaming all together, which is why you don’t see that many real games on iTunes.

    When an industry prides itself on making a product that panders to the lowest denominator is it any wonder that people refuse to accept it? I’m not saying games should get all serious and educational all the time, but there has to be a balance between the two. Something the games industry has been lacking for years.

    Ultimately though, who cares?

  2. I refuse to believe that video games are brainless. Each game has a certain strategy that must be used in order to beat it. Take Shadow of The Colossus; Every colossi has their own unique way of being defeated. Not only is it an adventure game with an amazing story and wonderful supporting character (best horse in video games, in my opinion), but it’s also a puzzle game. The colossi are the puzzles. Not to mention that whoever created the world you play in has an incredible mind in order to develop such a place.
    As opposed to what many call a “brainless” game: the FPS genre. Titles like Halo and Call of Duty and Battlefield are seen as brainless because there seems to be no strategy but to shoot anything that moves. That may be the case in single player mode, but what about multiplayer? If there are two players going up against each other, each one obviously has their own styles of play. But the strategy comes from figuring out your opponent’s strategy, and finding holes in it in order to beat them. BUT your opponent knows you’re going to be looking for flaws, so they’ll do their best to cover them up while trying to figure out YOUR flaws. So it’s a seemingly endless circle of figuring out what to do and how to counter what the opponent will do after you do what you plan to do. It’s a chess match.
    I’d have to say that every game is art in its own way. I’m sure we’ve all seen a piece of modern art and thought “what the hell… How is this considered art?” But it was art to SOMEBODY, and that piece made some sort of impact in someone’s life.

    1. About the multiplayer, I do admit you have a point and that I’m wrong there. And I said some. (Or that what I meant to say)

      And that game you said there on the PS2, man. Such a classic. 😀

      1. I should’ve assumed you meant only some games. I tend to think by default that people are talking about the extreme.
        And yes, that game is just straight up epic 🙂 I’ve played it 10 times throughout the years.