Dieser Artikel ist in englisch gehalten, da er eine internationale Leserschaft anspricht – und ich ausserdem keine adäquate Übersetzung für „Bullshit“ kenne
A few days ago I came by another of those „Are gamnes art?“ posts. The discussion had pretty much reached a dead end when nobody understood the question anymore and started to just post pretty pictures from games to declare them as „art“ two years ago.
Now, a new discussion has begun and this time, people seem to actually know, what the question is about. And then, I realized what games lack to be art.
To quote the lines I read that made me realize:
Take a great record, for example. I’ll say OK Computer by Radiohead, since it’s one of my favourites and it’s also reasonably well known. If you look at a song like „Karma Police“, which was the big single from the album, that song is able through its construction to communicate something very particular. Yes, it has lyrics, and yes, those lyrics are part of the communication, but they’re actually a pretty small part. The song communicates its emotions, even its themes and ideas, through its melodies. I don’t get a feeling of existential dread from the song because of the lyrics, but because of the music, and they evoke that sense of dread in a particular way which could not be done with words or images. That is to say that the music itself communicates something which could only be communicated in musical form. The ideas just can’t be expressed any other way.
You see, this is the way people speak of an art, in this case music. This reflection in OK Computer by Radiohead is soaked with one element you hardly have in game discussions: Bullshit.
A serious heap of bullshit.
In this case it is claiming there’d be something that can „only be communicated in musical form“. You see, the bullshit here is this: Music sounds nice or it doesn’t. In a few cases, music can make a point but those are really, really rare. So rare, we should not consider it a trait of music itself. Anyways, this clearly is nothing that can’t be done by pictures, tales or even architecture.
It’s more obvious with arts in the museum, but music has reached a considerable level of bullshit, as have movies and TV.
Bullshit actually differentiates the artsy museum-goer from the guy who buys a picture of a creek because it looks nice in his living room.
Bullshit has been the defining quality of arts ever since dadaism appeared and, despite being a satire of art and the bullshit that surrounds it, became praised by other artists.
You see, dadaist discussion of the arts was bulshit and deliberately so.
A few years after, all arts discussion was bullshit that dwarved even dadaist’s wildest nightmares. What they had fought against had become not only reality, but also their struggle’s offspring.
And as bullshit grew into a defining feature of arts, other arts besides painting and sculptures grew into bullshit, too. We called it post-modernism and pretended it wasn’t bullshit.
Now, games have arrived. having missed the oppurtunity to gain a sufficient fuel of bullshit, it was never accepted into the reams of arts (comic books had barely made it).
But fear not, ludology is on the best way to correct this err. Just read some Jesper Juul:
Bogost’s comparative approach to videogame criticism also stands out as one of the more recent steps in the direction of proposing new ways of studying and theorizing about games. In Unit Operations, Bogost argues for explicating videogames through a new form of criticism that encompasses the programmatic and algorithmic underpinnings of games together with the cultural and ideological units
Interestingly, game bullshit is made on the asumption that games are code. Which is completly irrelevant on first view (after all, nobody goes „novels are ink on paper“ as an approach to analysis) but proves very useful in making up shit.
Thus the future of games as an art is a bright one.