Apparently there was a kerfuffle across the internet recently, as once again some chap or another claimed that videogames aren’t art. Many, many voices weighed in on this, giving their own opinion and take on the matter, and because I like the sound of my own voice (Or rather, reading my own opinions) I decided to, late to the party as usual, give my own short take on the matter.

Thing is, I’m not terribly fussed if games are art. I play games for enjoyment, and usually, that enjoyment is derived from blowing things up, or driving something into something else, and then blowing it up. Much as I’ve derived a huge amount of enjoyment from Just Cause 2, it’s like a Michael Bay film in game form – Plenty of explosions, but a plot that exists to facilitate things exploding, and a cast you couldn’t give a flying fuck about, although Just Cause 2 doesn’t have long, lingering shots of US Airforce hardware (Particularly helicopters). And most people’d be reluctant to call anything Michael Bay has ever touched, or even been in the same room as, or even viewed through a telescope, as art. I’d imagine most of those people would be reluctant to say Michael Bay has made a good film that didn’t star Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage, but there we go.

What I’m trying to say is most films aren’t what you’d immediately call “art”. If I’m honest and go through the listings for the past few weeks at the cinema, I’d call a large amount of it “shite”. Films can be art, and films can be entertaining. Games can be entertaining, and games can be “art”. For a given definition of art, and frankly, I can’t be arsed to define it because people will throw their definition at me. Everyone has their own take on that particular subject, but that’s not my point.

My point is, to me, the point of a computer game is for it to be entertaining. It can be innovative, it can be original, it can be utterly bloody bonkers, but it needs to be fun. If a game isn’t fun, it, to me, has missed the point. Same with films. If I haven’t enjoyed it, I really don’t care if it’s “art”, I’m more concerned about the fact I just wasted two hours of my life on something that has left me either irritable or bored. “Art” isn’t something a developer should strive for, what they should strive for is a good game. Plenty of people would classify Braid, or Portal, as art, but the great thing is they’re both solid games. You can go in for a fun puzzle experience, and walk away having enjoyed a fun puzzle experience. If there wasn’t the fun puzzle experience, no-one would have stuck around long enough to find anything else of merit.

In short? I think, personally, games can be art. But developers should focus on making good, fun, games first, rather than create pretentious wank that somehow ticks the “art” box. After all, we’ve plenty of films, books and even comics like that, we don’t need another medium populated by tossers who’re perpetually telling us just how clever they are.