You thought it finally was over. That annoying debate about whether video games are art would finally slink off and die somewhere, right? After all, the Smithsonian American Art Museum mounted their Art of Video Games exhibit this year following the intense voting in 2011. And the highly esteemed Museum of Modern Art just announced plans to set up 14 classic games in their halls next year. So, debate over, no?
Not according to Jonathan Jones, the art critic for the UK's Guardian newspaper. Reacting to the MOMA news, Jones roundly declares that games can't be art. The kernel of his argument goes like this:
Walk around the Museum of Modern Art, look at those masterpieces it holds by Picasso and Jackson Pollock, and what you are seeing is a series of personal visions. A work of art is one person's reaction to life. Any definition of art that robs it of this inner response by a human creator is a worthless definition. Art may be made with a paintbrush or selected as a ready-made, but it has to be an act of personal imagination.
That argument is pretty hard to make with games like Papo & Yo, Mattie Brice's Mainichi or, say, Braid out in the world. All of them explicitly come from personal places, leaving aside the fact that they're all moving in their own way. Aside from actual games, other excellent rebuttal — like this one, this one or this one — already exist.
Jones doesn't let on just how much he's been exposed to video games in his editorial. But he sure sounds like he doesn't want to be either. Too bad for him.