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Which Video Games Should Be Respected As Art?

Do any of today's brand of high-tech blockbuster games qualify? Or are there titles from the 8-bit era worthy of elevating up to Beethoven's level?

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PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

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June 6, 2014 - 3:00 pm

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, cross-posted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. This week we’re talking about video games. See Monday’s question:  ”What Are the Top 10 Classic Nintendo Games?,”  Tuesday’s: “What Are the Most Overrated Video Game Franchises?,” Wednesday’s: “Which Generation of Nintendo Game Consoles Gave You the Most Joy?”, Thursday’s: “Do Some Violent Video Games Actually Inspire Real World Killing?

Also check out from last week’s discussion about adaptations: Monday’s question “Which Science Fiction Novels Should Be Made into Films and TV Miniseries?,” Tuesday’s question “Lord of the Rings Vs. Harry Potter: Which Film Series Better Captured their Books’ Spirit?,”  Wednesday’s question “What Are the 10 Most Disastrous Comic Book Adaptations?“, Thursday’s question “Is It Better To Adapt Books as Netflix Shows and TV Mini-Series Instead of Films?,” Friday “Which Video Games Should Be Adapted Into Films or TV Shows?“ 

See the previous weeks’ writing prompts and email in your thoughts on any questions that strike your fancy: 5 Questions So We Can Figure Out the Cream of the Crop In Popular Music Genres5 Geek Questions To Provoke Debates About the Future of Sci-Fi and Fantasy5 Controversial Questions To Inspire Spirited Debates About Music.

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Jon Bishop: When We Start Playing Oscar-Winning Movies

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Next week’s subject for pop culture debates is still up for grabs. Please leave your suggestions in the comments for the next realm in pop culture we should discuss. 

PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates Features a new prompt each weekday to weigh the good, the bad, the overrated, the unbelievable, and the amazing throughout the worlds of books, film, and TV. We can't figure out how to build a greater pop culture until we dissect the mess we already have. Want to contribute your perspective to the debate? Email PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle with your take: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com Image via shutterstock/ DarkGeometryStudios
Top Rated Comments   
Operative word in the question being "respected" as art. Sure, we can label anything we want "art" but that doesn't mean it is worthy of respect.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
All of them.

Some are really poor works of art. Some are masterpieces.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bioshock.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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I agree with Crawf. Video games, like other media, are art. This being the case, they should all be subject to the scrutiny of art criticism. Professional critics should have an easy time plying their trade, since video games are composed almost entirely of other art forms, from their music and graphics to the underlying "performance arts" of dance and game theory.

Just about any game that comes with trailers can also be criticized the same way as movies. Consider, for instance, some of my favorite cinematic teasers and trailers for video games:

Chrono Cross:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=923fVDDwaHo

Warcraft 3:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOdTeT1xUQQ

Honest Trailer for Grand Theft Auto V:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnGc3mPkZ38

I would also contend that hacking and modifying video games is a kind of art. Consider, for example, an odd game hack called Joji Fuku O Kite (http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/1264/), which is derived from an old "adult" game for the NES/Famicom called Idol Shisen Mahjong that featured 8-bit pictures of famous (at the time) idol singers in various states of dress and undress.

In Joji Fuku O Kite (which translates roughly from the Japanese to its English title, "Little Girls Wearing Clothes"), the 8-bit naked ladies have been cut in favor of, well, completely safe-for-work 8-bit pictures of fully clothed little anime girls, and the music has been changed to several popular old American tunes (as can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G9HpN5PY3I).

It's not my idea of the most exciting kind of game, I'll admit; and I don't think anyone will be hanging any of those pictures on the walls of the Louvre anytime soon. It's not exactly Van Gogh, after all. However, you might be surprised—as I was—to learn what prices at least one Asian retailer has gotten away with charging for this video game on a cartridge: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/FC-game-card-Joji/1639768975.html

This, mind, is a cartridge for the Famicom, the Japanese gaming console that preceded the old American gray-box NES! I don't know where anyone can even get a working Famicom anymore; but somebody in Japan bought six of these things. Somewhere in Japan (apparently), there's a wealthy video game art collector (and reseller?) who's either very eccentric, a total rube, or both. It's art, all right, though I don't know whether we should "respect" it as art.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
All of them.

Some are really poor works of art. Some are masterpieces.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Art requires an effect beyond utilitarian. Not everything is art.

7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Operative word in the question being "respected" as art. Sure, we can label anything we want "art" but that doesn't mean it is worthy of respect.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nailed it.

If "piss christ" is art, so are video games.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bioshock.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
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