Last year,famed movie critic Roger Ebert said Videogames aren’t Art.He’s right,in a way.The problem is the things that keep videogames from being Art are the same things that keep music,webcomics,books,comics,plays,and even movies from being Art. Money.
True Art(with a capital A) exists solely because the Artist felt the need to create.It serves no purpose,and was never meant for mass consumption or sale.Unfortunately many have this confused with art,which we experience everyday as entertainment.I say this because the words “Artistic Integrity” have been thrown around quite frequently these past few weeks in regards to changing a finished product that people didn’t like.It’s a hollow defense used by people who don’t understand the creative process and/or don’t know what a product is.Here’s some guidelines….
1.Changing the work is PART OF THE PROCESS.
I put every strip through several different versions in my head before I begin drawing.I make changes during the inking process.I digitally alter things to get an effect I can’t produce on paper.Authors do multiple drafts of their work,making changes in each one.Musicians try different sequences of beats and notes.Filmmakers make several different versions of the same movie at times.Videogames are tested and refined.Shakespeare changed lines and scenes to accommodate his audience.In fact most entertainment passes through some kind of testing phase whether it’s a Beta test or a test audience.This is not to help the “Artist” or protect anyone’s “Integrity”.It’s to produce the most profitable product.Which brings on the next point.
2.If money is involved it’s no longer pure Art.It’s a product.
Quick,which one of these is Art? The Avengers movie,The Ceiling of The Sistine Chapel,or a can of Coke?
Answer:All and none of them.
Here’s the problem.Every one of these examples was created for money,and an audience.Now most of you are going to say that Coke is just a pure product,but you’re wrong.Designers and artists designed that can,and that logo.Everyone reading this has a memory associated with Coke,and an emotion associated with that memory.That makes it art.The Avengers movie is the same way.It provokes an emotional response AND was made because Superhero movies are profitable right now.The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling wasn’t painted because Michelangelo because he was bored and thought white was too drab.He was paid,and it was done to show the grandeur and majesty of the church to everyone who entered.Does this make it any LESS art,or any MORE?
3.Product is beholden to consumers.
If you want to make money,even in entertainment,you have to get customers and keep them happy.Let’s take a look at a recent dust-up that has played out across the internet recently.
The white Coke can.
Coke rolled this can out to promote polar bear conservation.People hated it.They complained it tasted different,looked to much like Diet Coke,etc.Now Coke had every right to dig in and defend their designers and artists and keep the can.They could have screamed “Artistic Integrity”,but realizing that customers were unhappy changed it back to red.This is what you do when you make a product.
I could continue on about how in a project like a movie or videogame there are hundreds of people involved,so who’s the actual “Artist” that you are defending?
That would be pointless though.So remember,You too can be an artist,as long as you also remember to keep your customers happy.