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Are video games art?
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Video games are products

Products are meant to sell, not to elicit an aesthetic or emotional response. Video games are mass-produced and fly off the shelves to serve consumers' desire for entertainment. Art seeks to appeal to aesthetics and emotion; video games seek only profit.

The Argument

Art is aimed at pleasing others with its aesthetic value. An artist seeks to elicit emotion from a viewer and does not care if its message reaches the masses or if it reaches only one. Profits are not an artist's primary goal; as long as their artistic vision reaches someone, the artist is happy. A video game developer, however, wants their game to reach as many people as possible; the more people who are pulled in by the game, the more sales the video game makes. Video game developers don't care about artistic vision; only profits.[1] Video games are products which are mass-produced, meant to sell and turn a profit. More thought about what will click with the masses goes into a video game's production than how complex a story it can tell or how breathtaking its graphics can be. And although developers do strive for both, it isn't for the sake of art; it's because gamers expect captivating stories, exceptional gameplay, and the best graphics possible. These aspects of a video game are meant to sell a product, not someone's artistic vision. An artist does not sit down and pour their heart and soul into video game assets; developers research what sells, and that determines what "art" goes into their games.

Counter arguments

The people who put their artistic efforts into creating a video game want their art to be appreciated by as many people as possible. True, the game is a product which is meant to sell, but so is a significant percentage of art. Like the video game creator, an artist may also choose to mass-produce their art because 1) it will make more of a profit and 2) it will reach and be appreciated by more people, as opposed to sitting forgotten in the storage of an art collector.[2] Being mass-produced and sold as a product does not invalidate an artwork as a work of art; an artist does indeed want to express themself, but needs to make a living, too. The creators of video games are the same. With all of the time, effort, tech, and budget that is put into creating a video game, a profit needs to be turned in order to compensate the artists and programmers for their work. This does not mean that the creators of a video game did not intend to express themselves artistically; there may be a deep, underlying message in the game's story, or an aesthetic purpose behind the chosen art style. Why use cell-shading as opposed to realism? What story are the creators trying to tell? What feeling or atmosphere are the creators trying to convey? Art is self-expression. It is also a means of living for many artists. Video game creators are no different than artists of other mediums in this regard.



[P1] Video game developers only want to sell their video games, while an artist wants their art to be appreciated. [P2] Video games are products, not art.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Both artists and video game developers can wish for their art to be appreciated as well as turn a profit. [Rejecting P2] Video games are products, but they are also art.


This page was last edited on Sunday, 26 Apr 2020 at 16:42 UTC

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