Videogames and Artistic Wishes

I’m reading Foucault’s Pendulum at the moment, and it’s quite the intellectual read. The main thing I’m getting from it is that Umberto Eco is probably one of the most well-read people on the planet. He just seems to get references from everywhere.

Anyway, I’m getting close to the end, where the book has turned into pages and pages of conspiracy connect-the-dots, when I came across a great little section.

“…Proust was right: life is represented better by bad music than by a Missa solemnis. Great Art makes fun of us as it comforts us, because it shows us the world as the artists like the world to be. The dime novel, however, pretends to joke, but then it shows us the world as it actually is—or at least the world as it will become. Women are a lot more like Milady than they are like Little Nell, Fu Macnhu is more real than Nathan the Wise, and History is closer to what Sue narrates that to what Hegel projects. Shakespeare, Melville, Balzac, and Dostoyevski all wrote sensational fiction. What has taken place in the real world was predicted in penny dreadfuls.”

“The fact is, it’s easier for reality to imitate the dime novel than to imitate art. Being a Mona Lisa is hard work; becoming Milady follows our natural tendency to choose the easy way.”

Now, in relation to videogames this struck a bit of a chord with me. We all go on about games reaching the status of Art (it’s already an art), but do we need them to? Perhaps they already show us what the world is like, what humans are like, and in 100 or 200 years we shall look back and recognise them for the great works they are. Video games are the easy way, but with so much potential compared to the established Great Arts. We don’t need to make games as artists want them to be; I swear art games already make fun of us by removing the interactivity that makes games games.

“Ha ha,” says Indie Art Wank no. 234, “You think I’m a game? I’ve tricked you, you see; there’s no game here at all! The content is my social commentary and misplaced metaphors! Just click through this stylised Powerpoint!”

The hyper-sexual and hyper-violent nature of games is a joke, and shows us that the world really is misogynistic and bloodthirtsy. Gears of War is a statement on the current trends in global politics! The lack of meaningful  female lead characters is just a reflection of the corporate world! Intellectuals may point out the faults of videogames, and decry the decline, but they are that decline! Let games be games—let them take our pennies and be dreadful—for if we let the play shine through, who really needs Art?

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