London Review of Books debate games as art

TVGB can talk skull-popping headshot craziness and limb shredding ultra-gore with the best of ’em. We’re also fine connoisseurs of realistic breasticle physics. Trust me, we’ve studied this stuff. Closely. But occasionally there comes a time when we pause our quest for the ultimate Chun-Li crotch shot, stop shotgunning that already deceased corpse (the blood keeps coming out!) and turn to matters a little more highbrow. Today is one such day.

The reason? Traditionally stuffy old literary mag The London Review of Books has weighed in to the “are games art?” debate. In an essay entitled ‘Is it Art?,’ author John Lanchester takes a surprisingly even handed look at the our favorite hobby. Debating the artistic merit of games, Lanchester doesn’t exactly demand the hanging of PS3 screenshots in the Louvre, but he does remain positive about the potential of videogames to provide real cultural worth, concluding with this note on Fallout 3:

“The game has the usual props and targets, but one of the most striking things about it is the opportunity it offers to explore the bombed-out, desolate, intensely evocative city. This is something which, once you’ve done it, I suspect will be difficult to get out of your head – and it is a glimpse of what games can do at their best. The next decade or so is going to see the world of videogames convulsed by battles between the moneymen and the artists; if the good guys win, or win enough of the time, we’re going to have a whole new art form. At a moment when there’s less good cheer than there should be, it’s something to look forward to.”

It’s a fascinating essay that ultimately suggests that games may finally be on the cusp of artistic recognition. Indeed, as tired as the dabate seems, the mere fact that a publication like LRB are acknowledging the medium is definitely a step in the right direction. Now if you don’t mind I’m off to chainsaw bayonet some folks from the nuts up. See ya!

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