If video games are Art, then why are so many in the video game community demanding that it be edited, changed or altered
In 2013, no widely accepted view point exists (by widely I mean non-gamers) on whether or not video games are art. The late Roger Ebert was perhaps the biggest name to claim that video games can never be art. Defenders of gaming continue to demand the label of art, such as Kellee Santiago whose TED talk Ebert directly addressed. However, while the debate carries on a disturbing trend is emerging in the gaming community. It’s the trend of demanding and receiving changes in content from video games that many journalists and enthusiasts are partaking in. If it continues to worsen, this trend will only prevent video games from ever being called art.
In the video above, Kellee Santiago states her definition of art as:
“Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.”
It’s quite succinct, but for further elaboration; Art is a beautiful thing. Artists sculpt, mold, paint, draw and create pieces which express thoughts, emotions, beliefs, dreams, values and ideas. Audiences then, get to experience Art, analyze it and have our lives changed by it. It is a wonderful process that exists between the artist and the audience; it’s mutually beneficial. But the one thing the audience does not ever get to do is mandate that art be changed. Audiences don’t get to have artists revise or constrict their artistic process under the weight of their demands.
For the record when it comes to this subject, I believe two things. The first is simple, video games are art. The second is that because video games are art, they deserve the same protection we afford all art. That protection is simply, it is never okay to censor art in any way, for any reason, what so ever. The problem is that the video game community is trying to have it both ways. The community screams for video games to be seen as Art, yet bends over backwards to criticize developers at every turn claiming their games need to be revised to fit in line with what they deem acceptable.
What do you think would happen if you walked into in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy to look at Michelangelo's ''David'' and were offended by the nudity? Who in their right mind would think that it was even close to acceptable to approach the museum staff and demanded that the statue be changed and covered up because they were offended? Yet somehow, this very behavior is not only acceptable in the gaming community, in most cases it’s applauded.
Politically correct journalists and enthusiasts foaming at the mouth to point out how a game is not catering to their needs are dominating the discussion about many games. In the current gaming culture, almost every week a new story gets posted about how someone is upset and wants an aspect of the game to be changed. Story after story demanding developers change content because the community is upset with the “art” it was given:
- Tiny Tina a racist character that needed to be removed from the game
- GTA V had only 3 male protagonist with no female option
- Guacamelee is offensive to the Hispanic culture
- Ninja Theory screwed up Dante’s new look in DMC
- Bioshock Infinte insulted religion with its forced baptism
- BioWare changed the ending to Mass Effect 3
- Dragon’s Crown character design is sexist
People are certainly within their right to have certain feelings about art. Art should challenge your perceptions and make you feel and think in ways you wouldn’t already. Let me be clear on what the issue is; there is no problem with people having opinions or interpretations (positive or negative) on art, the problem lies with people demanding, pressuring, boycotting and actually changing art when they don’t like it. The problem is when BioWare changes its written ending to make fans happy. The problem is when Anthony Burch agrees to alter dialogue in future games due to pressure from fans. The problem is when an artist vision is disrupted due to an outside influence they cannot control.
Take the aforementioned Michelangelo's ''David'' which has managed to rouse passions and provoke controversy ever since 1504, when unruly Florentines greeted its unveiling with a hail of stones. It certainly caused controversy, but it was allowed to remain intact with no edits so the future generations could appreciate the art for years to come. Where would Zelda be right now, if Nintendo had given in to the demands of its fans and change Wind Waker back to the graphics of the 2000 Space world Tech Demo?
I don’t understand this false entitlement the gaming community thinks it has in policing its art and its apparent lack of respect for developer’s artistic expression. When art is demanded to be changed and actually is changed, it itually is bections changes take place Space world Tech Demo?the deamnds of its fans and channtrol.rations could appreciate thes no longer art, it has become a product. A product like fast food, solely created to capitalize market demands, devoid of soul, thought or emotion.
Why does someone who is not an artist, feel they know more than the artist themselves in terms of artistic expression? Why should artist bend to the demands of a disgruntled minority? Artist do not need feedback, they do not need people to tell them where they should draw their inspiration from, or how they need more gender equally in the work, or how their art does properly showcase race or anything you find agreeable. Just as you have the right to not like it, they have the right to make art in the way they see fit. The decision process of content for all video games begins and ends with the developers.
Is the character design in Dragon’s Crown sexist and sophomoric? Probably! Was the Mass Effect ending disappointing? You bet! The one thing I have never done or never will do is demand that Art be revised to better suit my taste. Artist have the right to express themselves however they want in their medium and it would be criminal to live in a world where art is censored by popular opinion. Family Guy doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, but I think I will leave the last word to Peter Griffin.
DanimalCart’s Soapbox: 04/24/13