Brock Rough
University of Maryland
The Incompatibility of Games and Art

Several recent accounts of videogames have endorsed the possibility of videogames being art through various means. Common to them, however, is that they understand videogames to be games, and then add whatever art condition their theory endorses. A definition of games is not usually given and a compatibility between games and art is assumed. I argue that that games and art are in fact not compatible.

First I defend a well-developed, but relatively unknown, definition of games proposed by Bernard Suits, and highlight the appropriate and necessary attitude that players must take towards games for them to in fact be games, called the ``lusory attitude''. Second I explore and defend a broadly consensus view of what I call the ``artistic attitude'', roughly that whatever an artwork is and whatever meaning it may possess, we are meant to take the attitude towards it of trying to understand the work for what it is. Finally, I argue that the lusory and artistic attitudes are incompatible, and, both being essential to their respective objects, make games and artworks incompatible as well. I illustrate this incompatibility through an examination of Brenda Romero's ``boardgame'' Train, which asks its ``players'' to make unwitting moral (albeit fictional) decisions and then reflect on them.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Skinner 1115