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Are video games art?
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Video games do not elicit an aesthetic or emotional response

Video games are meant to be played with as a toy. A child does not ponder the meaning of the toy nor does one connect with it emotionally. A child does not stop to appreciate the aesthetics of the toy; the child only plays with the toy. Such is the nature of video games.
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The Argument

Children are very simple; they like playing with toys. Toys are very simple; they exist to be played with. Children don't typically care what the toys they play with look like, nor do they think of toys as objects to be studied and interpreted as art. A child may be emotionally attached to a toy, but not because the toy elicits some specific, profound emotion; it is because children love their toys almost as unconditionally as they love their parents. They don't ponder the meaning of the toy; they play with it so that they won't be bored. Video games are much the same. People play video games to occupy themselves when they have some downtime. It requires very little thought to play and enjoy a video game, just as it requires very little thought to play with and enjoy a toy. A developer or toy maker may put a lot of effort into making a game or toy looks aesthetically pleasing, and people may enjoy playing with something that is aesthetically pleasing as opposed to it being ugly, but the enjoyment doesn't go much beyond surface value. No one stops to think about the aesthetics or emotion of a video game like they would a fine painting or sculpture. They simply play the game. Art elicits an aesthetic and emotional response. Video games do neither, so they are not art.

Counter arguments

A child may not consciously think about the art, aesthetics, or emotional impact of their toys (because they have not yet learned to do so), but a toy's design does have an aesthetic or emotional impact. Toys (and video games) spark the imaginations of children; when they play with a toy, they may project themselves onto it, or give it a personality and a name. They often visit fantastical worlds with their toys and build their own stories and adventures. A work of art is the same; a person can project themselves into a painting to explore its world, or attribute a personality to the subject of a sculpture. Video games offer the same kind of experience. And unlike most children, adults who play video games can think very deeply about the aesthetic or emotional impact of their games just as they can any work of art. So if toys and video games can elicit aesthetic and emotional responses, they must also be considered art.


[P1] Video games are like toys; they exist to be played with, not to elicit and aesthetic or emotional response. [P2] Video games are not art.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Video games, like toys, spark the imagination and can be appreciated for both their aesthetic as well as emotional triggers. [Rejecting P2] Video games are art.


This page was last edited on Tuesday, 28 Apr 2020 at 17:53 UTC

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