Aaron Smuts，专门研究电子游戏是种艺术形式的哲学家，在其文章《Contemporary Aesthetics》中阐述了这个问题。他依据先前定义与艺术理论，包括熟知的历史与制度化事实，分析电子游戏，试图在电子游戏中区分属于无争议艺术品与艺术情形的因素。其正面结论为：“根据艺术的主要定义可知，许多当代电子游戏可以称为艺术作品。”（Trevor 2）
那么，如果游戏是种艺术形式，情况将会如何（结果证实确实发生这种状况）。它与其它媒介又有何区别？长久以来，游戏一直在效仿其它媒介，借鉴它们的艺术价值，是什么将游戏定义为一种媒介？游戏能为我们带来哪些独特方面？游戏只是纯粹模仿其它媒介吗？Extra Credits以电影为例探讨了这些“其它媒介”，电影属于影像作品，但其脚本一般不会发生改变。用户在电影中的体验各不相同，而且每个人对电影的理解也存在差异，但电影本质是相同的。然而，游戏内部动态与体验模式则取决于玩家的玩法。其实，玩家是个故事叙述者；他们通过自己的玩法传递故事情节（Extra Credits：玩家的作用）。叙述模式则是游戏发展故事情节的载体。
从音效到调色板，叙述存在游戏的各个方面。无论你是体验《Baldur’s Gate》，还是多人模式的《使命召唤》，其故事均通过叙述形式传递。为此，你应了解电子游戏是如何使用叙述形式。游戏中的故事情节鲜少以文本形式传递，虽然有时，道具会附加简短谚语，或NPC会说出某些言辞，但大部分的游戏故事均以间接性方式表达。它们主要通过美感与主题讲述故事情节。游戏中包含的所有元素均以此为目标；比如角色的几行对话可以从严肃口吻过渡为幽默语气；武器能从标准枪支过度演变为大型器械。游戏中包含的每个元素都是为了让玩家以正确心态体验游戏，无论该游戏是否疯狂。Volition美术总监Frank Marquart曾指出，如果他们想要制作出“夸张的”游戏风格，他们应具备广阔视野。
因此，如果叙述是游戏表达故事情节的方式，那我们能够只利用叙事方式讲述故事吗？James Portnow通过Extra Credits提供了一个更绝妙事例，即采用动态化叙述模式。该作是20世纪80年代出产的《导弹指挥官》，在此，你将扮演一个掌控三个小型导弹防御基地的指挥官，保护6座城镇。游戏的核心机制是躲避飞行中的核导弹，而且每一波的游戏难度会逐渐上升。游戏会让玩家处在“抵抗的完全弱势”情境（Portnow的说法），你还需在游戏中以微弱力量对抗一个不可能完成的任务。借此，设计师可以创造出有关核战争方面的最出众且最复杂的叙述模式，而且游戏不会出现任何文本或对话。“这样做的目的何在？你无法在该作中取胜。无论你完成多少关卡，或是投入多少时间，你无法打败这款游戏。核战争中没有赢家。”（Extra Credits：动态化叙述模式）。该游戏试图传递一种比大部分主流游戏更深入且更丰富的体验，而且游戏中没有精美画面，也未设置大量对话，由此可见，造就游戏真正出色的原因并非其内容，而是玩家与游戏之间的可靠情感纽带。
我们已经研究了不少利用艺术价值的佳作。现在，我们所需面临的真正挑战是这方面知识，而后在未来游戏中重新运用或改造这类元素。当涉及这类元素时，有关游戏是种艺术形式的讨论并不只是为了在非游戏行业的人士面前肯定电子游戏的作用，还是为了提升这种媒体研究的重要性，因为后者才是让游戏具有艺术性的因素。自电子游戏诞生以来，这种媒介就开始成为研究对象，尽管它们并非以直接方式进行研究。但由此可见，虽然研究结果不一定正确，但游戏各方面确已发生演变。其美感方面已经取得明显进步。随着时间流逝，游戏在视觉上越发完美，但在此并非指代画面方面。现在，利用调色板与主题，画面简单的游戏在艺术感上也能与大部分采用真实画面的AAA游戏相媲美。而且，它们在音乐与声效方面也同样如此，比如世界著名作曲家Hans Zimmer打造的《孤岛危机2》音乐，以及Darren Korb在《堡垒》中创作的吸引了大量玩家的音乐。
Games as an Art Form
by Tristan Meere
My name is Tristan Meere, I am currently sitting in a dusty old bedroom and like something out of Calvin and Hobbs I am sitting here in a tilted fedora writing this up, all be it with significantly less confidence. I am on what I’d like to think a well earned week break from school. Durning my first quarter at my currently school as a transfer I had the chance to write a short paper on something of my choosing. Most of what I wrote I’d been mulling over for quite a long time but could never get the words to say it and I certainly still haven’t.
So without too much adue
Games as an Art Form
There has been a growing amount of rhetoric surrounding the idea of games as art within the industry in recent years. But what does ‘games as art’ really mean? For many it means our medium is aging and maturing, coming into its own within the eyes of its creators and the public. The idea does have its share of opponents from inside and outside the industry who either fear games fundamentally changing or simply think of video games as child’s toys. While the concerns of games changing is a valid one and will be addressed accordingly, the implication that they are nothing more than toys is one born of ignorance of what this medium is capable of doing or has already done in many cases. The future of games relies upon the creators and the players themselves delving into the inner workings of games, talking, discussing, teaching and learning about the medium. Understanding ‘games as art’ is understanding how humans react and interact with games and only by studying it can we create more immersive, fun, visually dynamic and compelling games.
Much of contemporary philosophy has tried to break down video games logically, using already known forms of art to gauge the artistic virtue of games. The pit fall comes in the mindset of trying to define one form of media on the merits of another, as Grant Trevor cited:
Aaron Smuts, one of the few philosophers to write specically about videogames as art, addresses this issue in an article in Contemporary Aesthetics. Smuts’ method is to analyze videogames in terms of prior definitions and theories of art, including familiar historical and institutional accounts, to attempt to distinguish in videogames the factors that in uncontested artworks count toward their art status. He concludes positively by arguing: “that by any major definition of art many modern video games should be o_y I do say…considered art.” (Trevor 2)
I’d rather try and define games on their own terms and instead of comparing them to other mediums, create whole new definitions to help us understand games and what makes them a unique art form.
So, what if games are art…poof, there it happened. What distinguishes games from other media? Games have long emulated other media, drawing from their learnt artistic values, but what defines games as a medium? What unique aspect do games bring to the table? Are games purely emulations of other media? Extra Credits took a look at this ‘other media’, take for example movies, they’re viewed but the script doesn’t change. The experience the audience has can vary and each person can perceive the movie differently, but fundamentally the movie is the same. Games however are inherently dynamic and the experience the player has depends on how they play. In essence, the player takes the roll of the storyteller; their story being told through how they play (Extra Credits: Role of the Player). A vehicle that games use to develop the story is the narrative.
Narrative is in every aspect of the game, from the audio to the color pallet. Whether you are playing Baldur’s Gate or a multiplayer session of Call of Duty, a story is being told through narrative. To understand what video game narrative is, you need to understand how video games utilize it. Very little of the story is ever conveyed through text, though in some cases it will be short proverbs attached to items or speaking to an NPC, but for the most part the game’s story is told indirectly. The largest way a video game tells its story is through aesthetics and motif. Take for example a game like Saints Row the Third, which is a wacky game to say the least. Everything within the game aims itself at that objective; from the character dialog which, goes from serious to humorous in a few sentences; to the weaponry which ranges from a standard gun to a large purple dildo. Each element of the game was chosen in order to put the player in the correct mindset to experience the game, however crazy. Frank Marquart, art director for Volition, explained that if they wanted to pull off an “over-the-top” style of game, they needed to have an overarching cohesive vision (Staff).
So, if narrative is the means by which a game tells its story, is it possible to have a game that uses only narrative to tell its story? James Portnow, through Extra Credits, provided a rather stunning example of a story told solely through dynamic narrative. The game in question was the 1980s, Missile Command, which sets you in the role of a commander of three small missile defense bases, defending six towns. The core mechanic of the game was to fend off incoming nuclear missiles, with each new wave becoming increasingly difficult. The game placed the player in a situation of “completely reactionary weakness”, as Portnow called it, pitting you against an impossible task with limited to no power to tackle it. Through this the designer was able to create one of the most compelling and complex narratives about nuclear war, all without ever uttering a single line of text or dialog. “And what’s it all for? What’s the bluntest point made by this game? That you can’t win. No matter how many stages you survive or how much time you spend playing, you can’t beat Missile Command. Nuclear war has no winner.“ (Extra Credits: Narrative Dynamics). It managed to convey a deeper and richer game-play experience then most mainstream titles and all without fancy graphics or 60000 lines of dialog, which suggests that what makes a game truly good isn’t the content so much as creating a believable emotional link between the player and the game.
The link in question between the player and the game comes in the form of interactivity. Interactivity is the connection between the player and the game; it is kind of like taking a pen to your favorite book and rewriting it to suit yourself. Interactivity is a form of story writing and storytelling, your choices ultimately reflect how you experience the story. A game like Mass Effect is a prime example of very liberal storytelling, with large blocks of how it is told being subject to multiple choices by the players, leading to hundreds of variations, thousands by the time the recursive third act rolls around. But what of the interaction itself? Does rescuing the princess hold any meaning beyond just winning the game? Is the act of play done because it is emotionally satisfying? These are some of the fundamental questions we have to ask ourselves as developers, designers and gamers. What exactly does meaningful play, well, mean? Rules of Play describe it as: a person dropping an apple on the ground holds no meaning to us, but rolling dice on a craps table does. Why? The latter of the two has a frame of context around it, while the first one is merely someone dropping an apple (Rules of Play 60). So again I ask: Does rescuing the princess hold meaning beyond winning the game? The frame of context we require to answer this question is whether or not we’re emotionally invested in the princess. This context is gained through play, through the designer side of the interaction with the princess in order to forge an emotional link to her and prompt you to your mad quest. In other words, it is the designer’s job to make the player identify with an element of the game so that the player’s interaction with it holds meaning.
One of the best examples of a truly interactive experience comes out of Valve’s Half-Life 2, hidden within the developer’s commentary. The designers wanted to have the player see an epic cut scene but didn’t want to take away from the games experience by taking away control. In this scenario they wanted the player to see a huge flying ship crashing into the ground. In order to make sure the player was looking at the scene while it happened and not off somewhere else they positioned a lone enemy in the direction of the scene. In this way it caused the player to look in the direction they wanted and view the cut scene without taking away the player control (Half-Life 2). Famed Australian game critic Yahteez called it making it up along the way, saying:
…the use of non-intrusive unexplained blink-and-you-miss-it details to tell a story comes with several advantages, most notably giving the player a sense of being caught up in something far bigger than themselves, but what it also does is leave ample room for interpretation, not just for the audience, but for the writer. The story of Half-Life is basically made up as it goes along, but because so much of it is left ambiguous they don’t even need to retcon anything. That’s the beauty of it. (Croshaw)
So, we’ve looked at several already good examples of games utilizing artistic values. The real challenge for us now is recognizing what these are and reapplying or reinventing them in future games. Because when it truly comes down it, the debate over games as art isn’t trying to validate video games in the eyes of those not in our industry but one which attempts to bring up the importance of studying our medium, which ultimately is what makes something artistic. Since the inception of video games, our medium has been studies, even if it wasn’t in the most direct manner. They have been studied and it shows. While not always true, games have evolved in every aspect. The aesthetics have certainly come a long way. Games over the years become more and more visually stunning, by which I do not mean graphically stunning. Working with color pallets and motifs, graphically simple games have been able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the near realistic graphics of most AAA titles. The same can be said for music and sound, with world famous composers like Hans Zimmer working on big titles like Crysis 2 to Darren Korb who captivated gamers with his musical work in the critically acclaimed Bastion.
Ultimately what defines video games as a unique artistic medium is the complexity of structure and complelling player-based storytelling. Games have the potential to be the truest connection to artistic expression and the most genuine method of not just telling a story, but creating a unique experience. The simplest idea can be forged into a narrative masterpiece all by understanding what games as art truly mean, and as Eric Todd said in Gamasutra’s weekly words from within the industry: “Ideas are the easy part. Getting from a good idea to something that’s actually good is what’s hard.” (Caoili)(source:gamasutra)