Retro games are everywhere, but is it a good thing people are focusing so much on the past? We talk about that and open up the show as we always do, discussing what we’ve been playing and watching and then move straight into a mini review of the ultra fun Steam Indie short Superflight! How much of your gaming diet is Retro gaming or are you simply focused on the latest and greatest? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 11/20/2017 at 06:20pm

Any Star Wars talk?

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/20/2017 at 06:27pm

No and that was intentional because after the Last Jedi hits we will be doing quite a lot of Star Wars talk. So we figured on giving people a break smile

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 11/20/2017 at 10:46pm

I think we may reference it at some point in the bonus shows coming soon, but not a lot.

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 11/21/2017 at 10:51pm

There was Star Wars talk! Travis was right. :)

In regards to retro games, I would ask, do you consider video games art?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 11/21/2017 at 11:26pm

I knew there was something somewhere! :D

I'd consider games as a whole as art. Some are just straight up cash-ins, but then so is the art hanging above your bed at the cheap motel.

But take Ninja Gaiden for instance. A decent plot that someone had to write, a score that really pushed the NES's capabilities, those very cinematic cutscenes between levels, the stunning level design... that game makes the artistic value of games very clear.

You could argue, well that's just one game from the era, but look at Space Invaders even. Someone had to design something that could feasibly represent ships and aliens, within the confines of what the hardware could accomplish. In that way you might think of it like a haiku, even though it feels pretentious to say that. It's art with imposed limitations.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/22/2017 at 03:25am

> I'd consider games as a whole as art. Some are just straight up cash-ins, but then so is the art hanging above your bed at the cheap motel.

Michelangelo (yes kids, the Ninja Turtle) painted the Sistine Chapel as a commission work by the Pope and that's considered one of the high points of art itself. So i'd say that because art has a commercial nature doesn't make it less art. That said the Ninja Turtle in question wasn't creating consumer art BUT art that would be viewed by many and indeed i've seen it and it holds up and is still in HD.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel_ceiling

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/22/2017 at 03:26am

Sorry I haven't written a review in a while and decided to go super retro.

Timogorgon   Member wrote on 11/22/2017 at 03:43am

I definitely consider video games art.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 11/22/2017 at 04:04am

With regard to commissioned art, and on a less amazing and grand scale than Michaelangelo, whoever designed the UPS logo is still making art.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 11/22/2017 at 04:04am

But I loved that retro review :D

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 11/22/2017 at 06:50am

I think if you consider video games art, you can’t ignore retro games. It would be like ignoring cave drawings because we have better tools to do drawings. You would be ignoring history and limiting your exposure to art. That said, you shouldn’t look just in the past but focus on the present and future too.

Another example is: just because we have color movies with sound doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a black and white silent movie from time to time.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 11/23/2017 at 01:51am

There are probably a few retro games that could be considered art, but as a whole, and for games in general, I think it's slim pickings. Applying the term "art" to something should, I feel, be handled as carefully as using the words "I love you." The more you use it, the more situations to which you apply the term, the less meaning it has. If anything created with an implemented design is art, then my toothbrush is art (my toothbrush looks fancy, but it's not art). If everything is art, nothing is art.

There are a lot of other nuances within the conversation. Games vs. video games, art vs. entertainment, etc. What are we defining as art, for that matter? Maybe it's easier to define by exclusions? Artists can be involved in making games, but that doesn't make games art. Games can tell a story, but that wouldn't make them art, either, though good art often does tell a story. Design doesn't equal art, even though there is often design in art (The UPS logo is not art (sorry, Travis!). At best, I think you could call it an art asset or design asset, which may be part of a lot of the confusion around this whole debate). Something can be artistic (aesthetically pleasing), or even handled in an artful way (with creative skill), but not be art. Regarding the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I would agree that commissioned art isn't a disqualification, but I think you meant to defend it against commercial art (I don't know what consumer art is, but technically, a commission is exclusively made for a consumer. Michelangelo wasn't otherwise interested in painting the ceiling to begin with, according to that article).

The analogy to cave drawings is interesting, because I wonder if that was the intent of those creations. More likely, they were working with what they had as first forms of communication through symbolism (i.e. storytelling). Symbolism in art is an important study, but spending any significant time on analyzing cave drawings, merely as art studies (outside of, maybe, gesture, of which some are pretty brilliant, all things considered), would be a misplaced emphasis. Kinda maybe more how I feel about retro games as a whole, or as Jeff Buckley put it in the first 50 seconds of this clip (it's provocative, but poignantly relevant): https://youtu.be/2v22uEsmD4s. I'm not saying that playing retro games is a waste of time, just that I think there are more interesting things happening now.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 11/23/2017 at 01:51am

(cont.) Really, though, while I think it's fun to talk about from time to time (kind of like the "What is Indie?" topic), ultimately it doesn't seem to matter. An appreciation for games, retro or otherwise, doesn't require them to be art. The most significant standard that I'm aware of for any game, typically speaking, is whether or not it's fun. Some retro games are fun, still to this day. I prefer playing video games that I haven't played, over ones that I have (unless it's a competitive thing), and there are some really cool experiences in games right now. When does a game stop being relevant? Usually, when it stops being fun. There are outliers, but most games are designed to be fun, not to be art. And if it is intended to be art, the first question I'd ask is "Is it a game?" (another rabbit hole wink).

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/23/2017 at 03:38am

> Applying the term "art" to something should, I feel, be handled as carefully as using the words "I love you."

I say I love you all the time to my wife and kid. Time to drive over that relationship cliff smile

I agree the what is art discussion is interesting. The video games as art discussion heated up a few years ago and mostly I realized that some people thing everything is art and some people are more exclusive. I get why you think art should be a word used for certain things but after thinking more about it I realize that it doesn't matter to me too much. Things can be meaningful to a person and don't need to be as meaningful to others or seen in the same way. I'm not sure what games i'd point to as art but i'd point to games I think are meaningful or games that do particular well in certain areas.

> Regarding the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I would agree that commissioned art isn't a disqualification, but I think you meant to defend it against commercial art (I don't know what consumer art is, but technically, a commission is exclusively made for a consumer. Michelangelo wasn't otherwise interested in painting the ceiling to begin with, according to that article).

I think I mean't consumer art to be things that are created specifically to be purchased by others. Like a wall hang or this or that video game. But i'm not really strongly held to that concept and other words can do to describe it.

> Really, though, while I think it's fun to talk about from time to time (kind of like the "What is Indie?" topic), ultimately it doesn't seem to matter. An appreciation for games, retro or otherwise, doesn't require them to be art.

Yep.

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 11/24/2017 at 09:47pm

I am on the fence on if video games are art or not, but I think you have to include it in the conversation.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 11/25/2017 at 01:08am

What would it mean, though, if they were not art?

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 11/25/2017 at 02:36am

Just a form of entertainment. I don't view all entertainment as art, but more of escapism.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/25/2017 at 09:02pm

So if not at art is art then are all artists artists? Because if an artist can’t make art then are they a fraud? I think if most art isn’t art then most artists aren’t artists. smile

Was wondering that last night for fun.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 11/26/2017 at 01:23am

I think “art,” in the way that we’re wanting to use it, has to be implied with a more nuanced definition than “something an artist made” wink.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/26/2017 at 03:42am

“Something an ***ist made.” smile

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 11/26/2017 at 04:19pm

Does the ability to play a game break the "fourth wall", so to speak, of the subject and make it harder to classify as art? I wonder if that is where it starts to break down or come into question? But on the flip side, there have been interactive subjects that are not of the video game realm that have been classified as art (for the Portland peeps, I am thinking of that act structure across from Powell's that you can interact with and move).

To me video game's cousin are movies/tv shows, without the interactive element. Maybe we should step back and question if those are art? If we figure that out, we may pinpoint the area where video games start to cause debate over art/not art.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/26/2017 at 04:55pm
Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 11/26/2017 at 08:48pm

Interesting tweet Jon.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 11/29/2017 at 06:32pm

See, I'd argue what that person made (Everything is going to be okay) is not a game. The creator calls it an "interactive zine," which sounds much more appropriate. This part of their thread is (mostly) spot on, but maybe not in the way they intended:

Traditional game design is an established ruleset to accomplish certain things.(I don't know what this vague sentence is supposed to mean, but it doesn't seem to ring true. What is "traditional game design"? What established ruleset are they referring to?) It's not an end-all. I'm aware of these rules, but I like rejecting them. They exist to create a specific thing (Game design is the process of making thing, and those specific things are games, by definition) and that's not for everyone. There are lots of other things to create too. (Sure. You can use tools, or even the process, that game makers use to make interactive experiences that are not games.)

I think what we have is an incongruous conflation of creative works. Some creatives make computer-based interactive experiences and insist on calling them games. Why? Some gamers want the games they play to be considered art. Why?

jdodson   Admin wrote on 11/30/2017 at 03:28am

> Some creatives make computer-based interactive experiences and insist on calling them games. Why?

I don't know, you'd have to ask them. It does seem to me that some games stories might have been better served as movies but since people operate in that medium they made a game instead. I think because people can do something doesn't mean that's the best medium to do it in it's just the one they picked.

> Some gamers want the games they play to be considered art. Why?

I think because, generally speaking, most people consider things people create like music, poetry, paintings, etc to be art regardless of it's timeless or special nature. This sort of everyday opinion exists outside of the larger art communities definition. So since most people consider whatever to be art and gamers take their hobby seriously they want some attention down on the topic. Plus it makes sense right because games are visual elements(art) mixed with music(art) mixed with an electronic medium and interactivity.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 11/30/2017 at 04:55am

> I don't know, you'd have to ask them.

But don't you think it's weird that the term "game" is applied (or insisted on being applied) to those types of projects? If there is a book and a magazine sitting on a table, and someone asks you to hand them the magazine, you're not going to hand them the book thinking that's what they meant. Magazines and books are made out of almost the exact same materials, but it's the content and design that largely gives them unique identities. Don't you think it's odd that there are so many projects out there that aren't games, but get called games?

> I think because, generally speaking, most people consider things people create like music, poetry, paintings, etc to be art regardless of it's timeless or special nature.

That's unfortunate. I suppose that would put Sargent's El Jaleo right up next to concept art for Super Meat Boy or the recent commercial for Colgate toothpaste.

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 11/30/2017 at 04:52pm

> That's unfortunate. I suppose that would put Sargent's El Jaleo right up next to concept art for Super Meat Boy or the recent commercial for Colgate toothpaste.

I think art is more personal. While El Jaleo might be more widely accepted as art, concept art from Super Meat Boy or the Colgate commercial might be viewed as just as significant art to an individual or group of individuals. That is what is great about labeling something as art, it opens it up to a broader discussion.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 12/01/2017 at 03:06am

> Don't you think it's odd that there are so many projects out there that aren't games, but get called games?

Not really. In some ways it's also marketing too. Games are popular and saying something is a game makes it easier to sell. Happy we have lots of reviews, rating systems and the like so people can understand what it actually is they are buying. Genres help too so labeling a game as "interactive fiction" on Steam helps that some.

> That's unfortunate. I suppose that would put Sargent's El Jaleo right up next to concept art for Super Meat Boy or the recent commercial for Colgate toothpaste.

Only if what someone misunderstands really has to bother you that much. It used to bother me people say literally when they mean figuratively but it doesn't anymore.

Plus words can have multiple meanings and context can change within the same culture in different communities. I looked up the definition of art and Google told me there are four different meanings to the word. It also hit me up with another word called "fine art" which I think might be more of what you are meaning.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 12/01/2017 at 03:08am

And continuing to carry the torch of "fine art" I don't think anyone would say Colgate or Super Meat boy is "fine art" at the same level as Sargent's El Jaleo.

PS I just googled that and WOW is that great, thanks for sharing it.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 12/01/2017 at 04:19am

> That's unfortunate. I suppose that would put Sargent's El Jaleo right up next to concept art for Super Meat Boy or the recent commercial for Colgate toothpaste.

I've just been spectating on this one for a while, but it really doesn't mean that at all, any more than saying canned hamburgers (an actual thing) are right up there with a perfect filet because we call them both food. I don't think art has to be meaningful or important, or even interesting to be art. It's just meaningless, unimportant, uninteresting art.

I'm with Jon about the "fine art" distinction.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 12/01/2017 at 04:23am

And continuing the analogy, I don't enjoy that filet any less because canned hamburgers exist. I don't feel like cuisine is being diluted by the presence of terrible food.

I think my 3 year old nephew's drawings are art.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 12/02/2017 at 12:47am

Okay, those are good points. I suppose I've always thought of art as a sub-category, not a prime category ("Food," in the analogy Travis presented, I would coincide with "creativity," rather than "art," and a canned hamburger is most certainly creative!). Maybe I've been thinking about it the wrong way, or at least, obviously, not in the popular way. When I'm considering a work of art, I'm considering how it makes me think, rather than just how it makes me feel. I do value feelings, but I value thought more. I don't know that I've ever considered a polarity of "good art" and "bad art." To my understanding, it's either art, or not art, and I don't mean that to be disparaging. If some painting, or piece of music, or whatever, was "meaningless, unimportant, and uninteresting," then I would be hesitant to call it art, in the same way that if a piece of software didn't have a set of rules, the capacity for making meaningful decisions (within the construct of the software's presented environment), and a final objective, then I would have a hard time calling it a game.

I would never begrudge someone that liked something simply because of the way it made them feel, but I would want to know why they would go so far as to call it art. If we're using emotional impact as the qualifier, then the category quickly loses meaning (literally everything in existence can provoke feelings). An emphasis that shifts from elevating thought to elevating feelings would leave little room for the transformative nature of art. Not that feelings can't, or ought not, be tangent to the experience (it would be an oddity, I think, if they weren't). In analogy to our recent discussion of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, this would be tantamount to a game full of satisfying payoffs, without the substance that made the original games so significant.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 12/02/2017 at 01:10am

Another consideration, and then I'll step aside grimacing, is that I'm coming from this as someone trying to become an artist, with digital tools as my medium (Photoshop, Blender, etc.). Artist's work, the perception of what it takes to make artwork for a project, for example, is largely undervalued, both monetarily and in a general sense of respect for the craft. The more I learn, the more I'm introduced to the tremendous knowledge and anguish that goes into mastering the skills to produce an art-piece of lasting quality. Care in line weight, value, reactions of light, composition design, temperature of color... so many factors that can come into play, all of which require years and years to hone, and many more to master. What this process produces would be closer to what I would consider "fine art."

Maybe I need to think about it more, this generalization of art in modern society. I'd like to add this video from Nerdwriter, talking about the difference between Moments and Scenes in movies, as a kind of insight into why I think this is important, not just in our discussion here, but for our creative endeavors as a whole: https://youtu.be/38Cy_Qlh7VM

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 12/02/2017 at 01:38am

Our issue is that art is so hard to actually define. Language fails us. It’s a concept in the “I know it when I see it” category, but not everyone sees it in the same things. We don’t have a functional definition to start from.

If we could agree upon a standard definition for art, the debate would be very different. But that’s not likely!

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