The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
8 Points

Video games are a serious art form.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/23/2014 Category: Games
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,133 times Debate No: 57052
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




Hello, whomever opponent chooses to reply. In this debate I will be discussing two reasons why I believe video games are not worthy of being called an art form.

Firstly, art is one's reaction to life. A masterpiece of rock music is 'Pet Sounds,' and most the songs on the album are about relationships and break-ups. A masterpiece of literature is 'The Great Gatsby,' which was F. Scott Fitzgerald's commentary on the behavior of the rich class. A masterpiece of cinema is '2001: A Space Odyssey,' in which Stanley Kubrick warned us about the risks of AI becoming more and more advanced. Nothing produced within the video game industry is comparable to any of these. Some have really innovative visuals, but even the best video games very rarely have themes or commentary on society.

2. Video games do not influence art forms. We have seen music influence music (The Beatles' influence on pop). We have also seen movies influence albums (effect of the movie 'American Gangster' on Jay-Z's album of the same name). We have even seen novels influence music, and vice versa. But rarely, if ever, will you see an author, film director, or musician cite a video game as an influence for any of their works.


Good evening my dear fellow DDO members, welcome.

The instigator has proposed the following idea: that video games can not be an art form, or a medium to express an artistic idea. I however, being both, unofficially, an artist and a game developer and thus have insight into both fields, state the opposite: that games can and are a medium for art. Since I am holding the affirmative idea it is but fair that I hold most of the BoP, so let's begin.

What is art?
This is a question that is as debatable as it is vague and might as well be a debate series all on its own. However, there is a plethora of ways that may help us decipher what art is.

My opponent defined art, indirectly, as followed:
--Art must be a reaction to life and or events.
--Art must be able to influence other art.

Albeit this is a good starting point for art I find it to be highly inaccurate and downright narrow minded. In addition it completely ignores a wide array of games that fit into either or both categories.

Before I start my rebuttal and then present my own case I'd like to take the dictionary definition of art:


The expression of emotions, creativity, imaginations and thoughts; Often to make appealing or atheistically stimulating products.



  • 1[MASS NOUN] The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power

    Works produced by human creative skill and imagination

This is taken directly from another debate I had on the subject on art where I also discussed in somewhat optimal ways what art is. [1,2 ]

this isn't a complete definition, but it is a definition that can be applied to a lot, if not all, “proper” artwork and thus we can apply it to the examples I'll choose and see if it fits. Let's get to it.

Videoart as my opponent defines it.

In order to fully rebut the definition my opponent gave on art I only need to find games that fit into his two categories. Simple enough.

In the first example he defined art as something that portrays a reaction to human life, human emotion and human society. Albeit this is debatable I'll still go with it for the next example.

Heavy Rain [2010] was for instance a prime example of human emotion and how people react to emotional trauma. The plot line starts off immediately with the protagonist attempting to save his child from a car accident: something that leaves a large emotional scar. His life starts to spiral downwards from there, and when finally the interactive plot line itself begins we find that his only son has been kidnapped by a serial killer. The entire game from that point is entirely based on what a father would do to save his son, a deep love portrayal. Many, if not all, scenes in the game are filled with emotion and sorrow and we often sympathize with him, and often feel sad and bitter. dealing with emotions such as grief, sorrow, remorse, suicide, terror, panic, love, murder and pure insanity in a masterful and lifelike way. That kind of emotional power and influence is something a true art medium can have, stringing us along like a good film would.

Even when we go into the simpler things: 2001, a space oddysy. Is not the only medium dealing with the dangers of corrupt AI and advancing tech or society. System shock[1994] and portal[2007] both put the player on a fight against an AI, and better yet the former is set upon a space ship. In addition to those two obvious samples there are a whole plethora of games that deal with humanity, human society and human emotion. A quick google search will reveal a whole lot of them.

The second definition involves a game being able to influence some other art medium.
I could take a game and analyze it, but instead I think it would be best just to mention Resident Evil[1996], Silent hill[1999] and then every single item on this list:

along with all the fan made artwork that can be found on google with a little search. I left a few examples[3,4,5]. Now, that alone should be a case for the artistic value of games, but let's move on a bit.

What makes a game into art?
This is a question we might go a bit into further into the debate: but to start we can simply go into the definition:
The expression of emotions, creativity, imaginations and thoughts; Often to make appealing or atheistically stimulating products.”

Now, I've already shown a game that is a reflection of emotion and frankly there are a lot of games that also fit that column. Don't be fooled, it takes a lot of creativity to make a good game and especially an artistic game and a lot of skill is involved. For instance:

This is an untextured scene from my current project. Now, I admit, the lighting is incorrect and the textures are not present, but just the bare modelling took me an hour or two. I am not the best 3D artist in the world, but then you consider that just the modelling is hard work, and when you go into high poly models you're going into soom serious skill. And then you move away from modelling and think: What about all the other things that games are made up from? I can show you that there is next to every other art present in some form in video games.

We have atheistically brilliant looking games. Try making that yourself and then try and tell me that this is not art. Note that this is not painted and this is not a static, pre-rendered images. These are all, to my best knowledge, dynamic screen shots taken in-game. [witcher III, witcher II, project eternity.)

And even when you take all the fancy imagery that took hours and hours, weeks and weeks, to model, texture, shade and program, we still have the audio. The art of music. A composer can tell you that soundtracks do not write themselves, and they are art just like the visuals on the screen. Just listen to some of these [6] and tell me that they are not art in some form. I had a hard time picking some to showcase here directly and still wonder if I'm listening to a 5 star classical orchestra piece, a Greek temple chant, or a soundtrack from digital entertainment.;

we have sculpturing, architecture, CGI, a whole load of voice acting, motion acting, story tellers, painters and sound designers alike and an entire team of artists ready to entertain you.

To conclude
Video games are the ultimate form of art. It is interactive art where the artwork lures you in and welcomes you to discover the world behind the controller. They are a mix and mash and show the co-operation of next to all other artistic medium available to the common man. They offer art right to your doorstep and to your screen. Video games are art on the highest level, they fit every single definition of art and they roll around millions just by trying to impress you and connect with you. To entertain you, move you, transport you from your life and into the life of the characters that inhabit them. Video games are not art, video games are the art.







Debate Round No. 1


Note to contender: I don't mean for this to sound inflammatory, but since you're expressing admiration for certain video games, always make sure you capitalize their titles.

Anyways, in his/her conclusion, the contender defined the video game as not only a serious art, but also the art for a variety of reasons:

1. It is interactive.
2. They combine multiple artistic mediums.
3. They are available to your doorstep/screen.
4. They entertain.
5. They transport the gamer from their life and into the life of the protagonists.

So I'll admit one thing: the technical production of a video game is a display of creativity. OK, but I will be arguing against the judgement that the theory of the video game as a serious art is supported by any of the five reasons mentioned above.

1. "It is interactive art"
Good enough. We must, however, remember, that if something is interactive, that typically means that whoever is experiencing it can change the outcome. When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, he was making a commentary on the American borgeoisie. (The following three sentences are typed in vague terms so that nothing is spoiled.) There is a break-up. Then there is an accidental death. Then there is a murder. No matter who read it, and no matter how quickly they read it, the same events occured at the end.
When Stanley Kubrick directed 2001: A Space Odyssey, he wanted to warn us, as stated before, about the dangers of AI becoming too advanced. No matter who saw the movie, and no matter over how much time they saw it, the ending would be the same.
Games, in a broad sense, are not like this. There are rules, and there is an objective. This is the primary difference between the video game and a high art like cinema or literature. Yes, people play video games with the intent of experiencing the atmosphere and the visuals, but the main motivation (and intended motivation by most game developers) for most people to keep playing is the desire to win the next level or beat the game. If something is expression, then the outcome should not be able to be changed all that much, whereas the way someone plays a video game could, in some cases, affect whether or not the entire game's universe ends. If people could change the ending of The Great Gatsby (like you can change the outcome of a video game by pressing the right buttons or going to the right places), F. Scott Fitzgerald's expression would not be much of an expression, because he would not actually write what it was he was trying to make commentary about. Likewise for Stanley Kubrick if filmgoers could change the outcome of 2001: A Space Odyssey and keep HAL 9000 obedient -- not all of Kubrick's vision would actually have been filmed. If someone could make Romeo not drink the poison by pressing the A button enough times and fast enough, would the ending of Romeo and Juliet have been half as emotionally profound? Video games are literally programmed to change themselves based on what the person playing them wants.

2. "They are a mix and mash and show the co-operation of next to all other artistic medium [sic] available to the common man" [...] "we [sic] have sculpturing [sic], architecture, CGI [...]"
Okay, so video games combine music and visuals. Music: has any video game music had much of an influence on separately-released, commercial music? Also note that nearly all video game music is instrumental (if not, there are some vocal chants) and composed only to fit the tone and/or action of the game. In other words, video game music is generally made simply as accompaniment to something else. In addition, none of the music in the YouTube videos linked above compare to a "five-star orchestra piece." The first song linked is not even an orchestra piece; it is a piano piece. Few things grant it any more attention than elevator music. OK, so maybe the last one linked sounds as if it could have been played with five or six different instrumentalists. But this is not "five-star." The great composers of two hundred years ago, on the other hand, were estimated to have often used over 100 people in an orchestra. Visuals: some game designs are quite impressive, but not even the best are comparable to the best paintings or sculptures. Most visuals are made to make the game more visually appealing to gamers.

3. "They offer art right to your doorstep and to your screen"
This is not a video-games exclusive; just about all of today's popular arts have some form of availability to one's home. Books/e-Books can be purchased and kept on a reader's bookshelf. Albums can be bought, then shipped to your doorstep and imported to iTunes so you can play any of the songs from your computer screen whenever you want. Movies can be viewed with a Blu-ray/DVD player.

4. "Video games [...] entertain you"
So do sports. But nobody calls basketball an art. We all refer to it as a sport, which is something that has rules and an objective, and an outcome that can be changed...

5. "Video games [...] transport you from your life and into the life [sic] of the characters that inhabit them"
This goes back to the argument issue of games being "interactive" (mentioned in rebuttal to quoted reason #1).

Heavy Rain (2010) was not about teaching the gamer what to do for someone they loved so much as simply seeing what the gamer would do for someone they loved...that's even pretty similar to the game's tagline: "How far will you go to save someone you love?" Rather than making a statement (like art does), it asks a question. The narrative completely changes based on what the gamer wants, meaning it is chaste -- something Pablo Picasso once said art can never be.

Oh, and I never said that art MUST influence other art. I simply typed that video games not having as much crossover influence as music, film, et cetera is a sign that the video game is not a high art form. Bobby Fischer wasn't afraid to admit that chess was a sport. As with chess and other sports, video games:

1. are limited by rules.
2. have objectives.
3. have outcomes that can be changed according to what the person playing them wants.

The design of a video game may show artistic talent, but video games are called video games for a reason. They are not made to satirize or comment; they are made to be played. Notice how when you go to a museum, you are not allowed to touch the paintings? What about when you listen to an album, and the disc is in the player where you finger can't reach it? Games operate the opposite way; they are made to be modified by people who didn't make them. I won't pull a Roger Ebert and stubbornly say that video games can NEVER be art, but so far it's not impressive enough. No video game designer has made a game worthy of comparison with the masterpieces by Orson Welles, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Velvet Underground, etc. Maybe the defink this is what makes the average gamer appreciate the games he/she plays. If you took away his/her ability to change the outcome, a gamer's temptation to keep playing for five/10 more minutes than planned would not be half as strong.

[1] 2001: A Space Odyssey. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Prod. Stanley Kubrick. By Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, Geoffrey Unsworth, and Ray Lovejoy. Perf. Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1968. Blu-ray Disc.
[2] Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1925. Print.
[8] Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. District of Columbia: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2004. Print.
[9] Wikipedia



Since we are on the subject of advices I'd like my opponent to know when someone is providing actual debate arguments and when they are talking metaphorically or in imagery in order to wrap up or emphasize the actual argument. I'll get to that in a moment. Let's get on to rebuttals.

In my conclusion I intended to give a broad overview over the effects of art, but the initial definition of art, unchallanged by my opponent, still stands as an argument video games can fit under.

In the first example he states that video games, just because they are interactive, are not art. That art must be unchanging. I strongly oppose to this notion for a number of reasons.


Firstly it implies that digital art is the only interactive art medium, which is not true by a long shot. Interactive art has existed for thousands of years, and the most basic example is theatre in which the audience can choose between several separate endings or plot devices when the actors prompt them to. Same can be told on certain novels and some films. Other medium, books for instance, leave the ending to be open and giving the reader a choice on how to interpret the story: such as Life of Pie[2001]. Poems are also vague and open to a lot of speculation and interaction from the audience and thus are changing viewer from viewer. a lot of art has utilized the audiences as a part of the art and/or produces different results and artistic forms depending on the time and position of the person viewing the piece. To say that art must be static and unchanging is incorrect in a plethora of ways and in no accepted definition of art will you find that to be a requirement.

It also implies that because of the interactive medium it always has a way to manipulate the narrative. This is also incorrect. No matter how often you'll play trough a game you will in most cases end up with the same narrative, the same ending, the same events. The game developer envisions how the story unfolds and there is little the player can do to change that. He has a little wiggle room but only as much as the developer wants him to have. Dear Esther[2012] for instance gives the player no room to affect the narrative, it is arguably the least game like video game ever released, focusing entirely on narrative. The audience, just like with other art, can only interact with the art as long as the developer wants them to. No matter how quickly you managed to play trough Silent Hill 2, no matter how many corners you cut, the main ending is still the same: the storyline is still what the developer envisioned, you're still experiencing an artwork as the artist intended.

The desire to beat the game is just the same desire as wanting to read the rest of the book. You want to see how the story unfolds, you want to see what happens next and how it all ends. The missions are a bonus, as before noted. Interactivity is not something art can not posses, and the fact that we must use a set of rules to advance the game does not exclude it from being an art. I can create a game that places heavy critique on human society and in fact a lot of games do that, intentionally or not. Remember, A video game, as with art, is whatever the artist wishes it to be. Not only does art not have to express no meaning at all and still be art (The Mona Lisa for instance portrays no message) but it can just as well be art on the base on the pleasure it brings to the viewer. Video games are programmed to do what the designer wants them to do: If he wants to portray a message, so be it.

Co-operation of art

Firstly, yes, Music has been influenced by video games often.[2,3,4]. As has other medium of art[round 1 and source 5]. However I would like to note at this point that art does not have to be able to influence other medium of art. My opponent did deny he said that, but I'm afraid he did.
Video games do not influence art forms.
That is anabsolute statement. You said, without any room for changing, that video games are incapable of influencing other medium of art. Even if we where to accept that this was an exaggeration it is still incorrect.

I'd like to note that video games have influenced film culture, produced countless films, comics, merchandise, artistic videos, each other, and even reached into science and biology (sonic gene, WOW plague, pikachurin e.t.c). paintings have been made after games and so on and so forth. My opponent then attempted the following two points:

All music is instrumental

It is tempting to drop this for music requires no form of vocals to be art: otherwise you're dismissing next to every single musical piece ever produced. The entire classical era, the orchestra he himself used as an example, four seasons by Vivaldi and so on . Listening to for instance the piece I linked does not reveal that it is a video game track, but could be considered artistic on its own. Music is intended to set the tone of the environment, just as real music intends to set the mood for the listener. It deserves more attention than an elavatior tune as it changes the game completely. Turn the audio off for a game and play it. It is not the same experience, just as watching 2001 without sound does not create the intended effect.

About the 5 star orchestra, I'm dropping that, as it was an exaggeration to emphasize the quality of the tracks, not a literal comment that I was unable to tell the difference between the two.

On the visual note: Does it have to do so? Is it comparible?
This is art, painted by Picasso:

You see that it is not the same style and arguably the same quality as The last supper. I still find it to be art. But in what way is Braid not art?

Here is a tricky one: is this a screen shot from a video game or eastern painting[7]?

The rest of the arguments:

The “offer art to your door” was emphasize, not an argument. Dropped.

Films entertain you. Why are they less of an art? Books entertain you, poetry entertains you, pop music entertains you, they are all medium for art in your definition. So far every single unofficial definition of art you have brought is fulfilled by several video games, this one included. As good as refuted.

The point with Heavy Rain was to show that games can and are often emotional, they often have the power to make players question their own choices, to think and wonder what would happen if they where in that situation. I've cried over a video game, I've been strung along like a puppet and I've been immersed into a single dictated feeling the game wanted me to feel. Art has the primary objective to be able to make a player Feel or Think. Games can do that, just as all other art medium can.

Suddenly the con suggest that games are not a High artform.So, it's an art form, but not good art? Not only is this indirect concession to the debate, but it is wrong. So far the only thing my opponent has done is comparing what he thinks are pinnacles of other art medium, a cherry pick that really is worthless in a debate. The great gatsby is a great book, all right. How about Twilight? Is there still no other game better as art? How about Modern art where a blue canvas and white line is art? Would you not agree that Flower Is a much more enjoyable title to relax and look at? How about anything C.L Dean does[6]? Is the Last of Us really a lesser art form? either all books are art or none in that logic, and so it is fallacious.

Art is not a fixed boundry: con has failed to disprove without doubt that games are art: and in fact I have shown that it is an artform in its own right and methods, with the ability to fit all definitions. Art is art, visually, skillfully, imaginative and audiovise: Art is the expression of skill, thought, emotion and ideas, and games are no exception when it comes to creating the vision of the artist.

Debate Round No. 2
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
I'll take this if it's still open when I get back.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: pro showed characteristics of art to include games in art.
Vote Placed by Phoenix61397 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pros arguments were stronger