Gov’t Institutions Say Video Games Are Art


According to a blog on ThinkProgress, back in May of this year the NEA broadened its granting definition from “Arts on Radio and Television” grants program [to] “Arts in Media”.  This broadening will allow creators and developers of video games to apply for grants to fund game projects they believe will meet the NEA’s criteria for ‘art’.  Along with the upcoming exhibit at the Smithsonian titled “The Art of Video Games” this definition broadening action by the NEA demonstrates mainstream authorities’ acceptance of video games as art.

But others, such as Kristen Kapps of the Washington City Paper cite the exhibit as nothing more than the Smithsonian “abdicat[ing] to the general public, American Idol-style.”  The Smithsonian called out to the public to vote for the video games they believed belong in the exhibit (the list is in the Smithsonian link above).  This curating by vote demonstrates how out-of-depth the Smithsonian is in this relatively new art form.  Is a more formal knowledge specialization of video game art necessary or will crowd sourcing be viable for this fast changing tech-driven environment

What I find interesting and relevant to our reading is how these grants will follow the trend of individualization.  Artistic-driven game creators will “carry the brunt of the weight of finding, negotiating, and securing employment.”  Of course, in this context it is self-employment (Deuze, p. 4).

Indirectly, the NEA grants have the potential to raise the level of art circles’ interest in video games and raise the artistic bar for video games.

Conversely, the guidelines of the NEA grants may stifle creativity of game makers and developers.  In the future, when guidelines for the grants become better known, Will the grants create a homogenization of artistic output? Or will it have little effect on the game creating community?

-Charles Palys

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