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Art: Wanna Get Technical?

by Alex Weitzman

"First, since I know I am opening myself to a world of flames..." I'm not going to flame you, Gary. I appreciate your obvious love of good video games, your desire to make Jack Kroll wrong, and your mild-toned editorial. However, your points could use a little sharpening, and I contend that the ideas you have put forth are relatively moot.

Before going any further, I'd like to note something you constantly draw up, and that is the usage of the term "fine art." I think you're a little off here: art is not comparable to the true definition of "fine art." Fine art is the visual medium of art, and the term was made to distinguish between it and performing art. I am a high school actor, and it really grinds my teeth that Drama, Choir, Band, and Dance are lumped into the same category as Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, and Pottery. My school should put these in separate departments of Fine Arts and Performing Arts, and the fact that they don't angers me. Also, if you peruse Kroll's article, never does he go into a distinction between good art and art itself; he's denouncing video games as art on a whole. Just thought I'd get that out in the open.

Now, the main thing I really have to say comes when you begin to talk about how game designers should "take pride in [their] work," and how they should start turning out worthwhile games. You're being rather contradictory here, because you previously said this:

"Similarly, while I (regretfully) classify boy bands as art, they are definitely not [good art] by even the most generous scale."

Hey, I'm not a Backstreet or 'NSYNC fan, either. But you noted that, however regretfully, you still classify the odious music as art. Would the same go for hotel room paintings? While they're completely lacked for quality or inspiration, they're still oil, pastel, or tempura on some form of paper in a frame, hence a painting, and hence art. Yet you continually treat games you feel are inferior as less than art, and those you consider worthwhile (like FF7 or Xenogears) as real art. Where do you stand: art is art if it's good, or art is art if it fits the definition? You have to choose here. Either admit that video games are art no matter the quality (by your opinion, may I note), or say that art is only art when it's good, no matter what the medium. Should you choose the latter, you venture into the realm of opinion, and you can't assert good from bad with any more authority than anyone else, because it's your opinion. Mr. King, you're in a corner and I suggest you back down. Just because you feel fighting games are overpermeating the industry and don't show enough creativity does not make it necessarily true.

The honest truth is that dealing with issues like these requires more general thought than anything else, because that is what's fair. Otherwise, you take opinion, make it fact, and shove it down other people's mouths. I honor your try, but Mr. Kroll doesn't need to be proven wrong - he already is. My suggestion is to remind yourself the next time that you make a statement like "...very little is different between Tekken Tag Tournament, Dead or Alive 2, and Street Fighter EX3..." that you can only truly see things through your own mind and that you need to make statements that can't really undermine anyone else's personal view.

BTW, yes, Xenogears is art. Just like everything else.

Original Editorial: In Moderate Support of Jack Kroll (and What We Can Do About It)

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