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Klosterman: Video games the new rock 'n' roll

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by 85bears, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. 85bears

    85bears Member

    In the July issue of Esquire, Chuck Klosterman writes a column about video games, saying they are the modern cultural equivalent of rock 'n' roll. I can see where he gets it to a degree - disenfranchised youth. Predominantly male audience.

    I disagree with him. I feel like video games are far more commerce than art, and that sullies them. Of course, it's a good argument by Klosterman because by disagreeing, I automatically give his take credence because I thus become an old fogey dismissing the current rage. And that gives the trend street cred.

    I guess it troubles me to think Grand Theft Auto is as culturally relevant as Jimi Hendrix (and Klosterman is a rock snob himself, way, WAY more than I am).

    The column is written around a question Klosterman has - why aren't there video game critics? He means reviewers who review games as art, not just on technical merits. I guess it seems like splitting hairs on his part, and even moreso as I try to explain his take.

    Anyway ... video games vs. rock 'n' roll. Thoughts?
  2. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Part of the problem with thinking of the video game as art is its interactivity, which means everyone has their own experience playing, say, GTA: San Andreas or Halo 2 or Madden 2006. Which isn't to say there's no elements of artistic talent emobided within the game, but it would be somewhat similar to having literally a billion different visions of the Mona Lisa. Sure, you can have differing interpretations and be struck by differing elements, but in the end it's the same painting.

    I don't have a problem with video games being culturally relevant to the degree rock is. Actually, I think it's better that something produced for the masses become relevant because there's no pretense to what it is. If rock is relevant, with some exceptions it's done either as a product of post-mortem deification (Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Tupac, hell, Elvis) or of wholesale acquiesence to popular culture (insert your least favorite multi-platinum act here).

    Reviewing video games on artistic, as opposed to techincal, merits is difficult to do because ultimately people aren't going to make their purchasing decisions solely or predominantly on artistic cues. A first-person shooter can have a goregous and living world which to explore with a Tolstoy-esque storyline weaving all the plot points effortlessly to the point where you feel completely enveloped in it, but if the camera doesn't focus right or it takes too long to get the Gatling Gun out of your invetory, you're not going to buy it. In the end, people buy games for entertainment, and if from that art grows, then it's gravy. But their ends will largely be fufilled by utilitarian means; thus, the modern video game review.
  3. Korgoth of Barbaria

    Korgoth of Barbaria Active Member

    It doesn't take skill to enjoy (or produce, these days) rock.
  4. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    I thought it was an interesting take and found myself arguing over the topic with a friend today.

    I think it's entirely possible for video games to be criticized like a piece of art. Some of the big releases have multi-million dollar budgets, so they're really not far off from films. In time, I think we'll see a bigger field of video game criticism, one that goes past that usual video game reviews and takes a much deeper critical level.

    I think if you invaded the halls of any of the top video game companies, you'd find a lot more artists than you think.
  5. 85bears

    85bears Member

    Sly - I have a h.s. friend who works in the video game biz. He's one of the most artistically talented people I've ever known. And I don't just mean on a technical level that designing products would require. He's into electronica music big-time. I can't stand it, but just hearing him talk about it tells me there's artistic merit to that musical medium (he's straight, BTW). He's even messed around with some of his own. The guy's done some pretty good paintings, too. So that's my direct evidence that video games do attract some artistic souls.

    But, man, I can't put my finger on it, but I still can't put it on the level with - and I'll drop a few still-breathing souls - work produced by guys like Ray Davies, Tom Petty, John Fogerty, Paul Westerberg ... perhaps no decadence attached to gaming? Perhaps too much of a solitary experience, not a shared one?
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