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Subject: Are some board games works of art? rss

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Tom McVey
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Certain video games I think of as works of art - for example, Planescape: Torment, the Fallout series, maybe a few adventure games (HerStory, YearWalk, some of Inkles iOS releases), some strategy games (This War of Mine). MOO2 or Civ are fantastic games, but not quite works of art, IMHO.

OK, for a working definition of a (good or great) work of art - something that gives you, on an emotional level, a deeper insight into beauty, truth, or the human condition. As great as MOO2 or the various Civs are, they don't give me that. Planescape: Torment does, but the Baldur's Gate series doesn't. X-Com maybe.

What board games would rise to the levels of works of art? Does there have to be a narrative underling them? Is the physical artwork and production values enough alone to make a board game a work of art without an underlying narrative? Are games where a narrative is embedded, or emergent from the game, more likely to give an experience like that for an artwork than other games with no emergent narrative? Does theme matter in whether a board game can be considered an artwork, as it could contribute to immersion in the world of the game?

Is Twilight Struggle a work of art? A Study in Emerald? Pandemic? Pandemic: Legacy? Mice and Mystics? Arkham Horror or Eldrich Horror? Fortune and Glory? Are Werewolf or The Resistance works of art?

Interested in what responses people have. I'm thinking that some games where the experience of playing is immersive - Werewolf, Mice and Mystics, Merchants and Marauders - could be considered works of art, but I'm having a harder time with more strategic or abstract games. I'm not quite sure if Twilight Struggle is a work of art.
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Boaty McBoatface
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The boards can be.
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Xander Fulton
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There are a few games that are, for lack of a better term, "interactive stories".

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases
Tales of the Arabian Nights

...I'd say that if a book counts, these would count.
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Tom McVey
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slatersteven wrote:
The boards can be.


That's not quite what I'm asking about. Scythe is a beautiful game, but the experience of playing it isn't quite immersive enough for me to think of it as a work of art.
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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tmcvey wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
The boards can be.


That's not quite what I'm asking about. Scythe is a beautiful game, but the experience of playing it isn't quite immersive enough for me to think of it as a work of art.
Then no, a game experience cannot be a work of art, any more then drinking a beer or watching a film.
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Shawn Fox
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tmcvey wrote:
This War of Mine

I bought this game quite a while back and still haven't gotten around to playing it.
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
OK, for a working definition of a work of art - something that gives you, on an emotional level, a deeper insight into beauty, truth, or the human condition.

I'm pretty sure that if that's the definition of art, the vast majority of "art" doesn't actually qualify.
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Mike Stiles
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Edit: I like high frontier, because knowing Ecklund, aethetics probably wasn't his goal, this was just the best way to share the information.

The fact that it ended up being one fo the most beautiful gameboards ever is a happy accident.
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Mike Stiles
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also;

 
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Tom McVey
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sfox wrote:
tmcvey wrote:
This War of Mine

I bought this game quite a while back and still haven't gotten around to playing it.


I can play a game every month or so. My kid (surprisingly) got really into it, but there's only so much grimdark I can take in a given time period, after the characters starve to death, hang themselves, get shot, die of wounds, die of sickness, or walk out the door never to be seen again. The expansion with kids hasn't yet hit iOS, which is probably a good thing for my mental health.

Definitely is a work of art though. Looking forward to the boardgame.
 
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Tobias Strobe
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Sure. I think certain games qualify as art. The Grizzled, ...and then, we held hands., and The Mushroom Eaters come to mind.
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Can the art of a board game (or video game) be separated from the player? Does the art come from the structure of the game, the rules, the mechanics? Or does it come from an exceptionally good execution of them by the player? If the second, then it is not only the game but the game-player system that constitutes the art.

The more I think about it, the more I think the player must be part of it - after all, isn't a well-played game more "artistic" than the same game poorly played?

(Edit: fix grammar.)
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Xander Fulton
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Ilthuain wrote:


Did not know about those.

Ummmm...whoah.

Yeah, I think you win the thread.
 
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Josh
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Quite litterally, art.
 
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Tom McVey
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Ilthuain wrote:
Sure. I think certain games qualify as art. The Grizzled, ...and then, we held hands., and The Mushroom Eaters come to mind.


I've played The Grizzled, and your others reminded me of Onirim, which I would think of as a work of art.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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All games are works of art. Both physically and in the abstract.

They just aren't all good art.
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I've been meaning to play Torment and revisit Adler's definition of art for years now.
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John Hathorn
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Great question and post! Maybe should be in Chit Chat to get a wider audience... or General Gaming for that matter.

Board games, as expressions of creativity, are most definitely art. They are pleasing to the senses. Certainly, many boards are visually pleasing, but there's more to art than just the visual. Art can stimulate any sense, not just sight.

Sculpture is art for touch (sometimes).

Music is art for the ears.

Food, wine, cigars, fine liquor, etc are all art for the nose and mouth.

Board games, while mostly visual and sometimes tactile, introduce another dimension (sense?) of art that traditional forms are only tangential to - audience interaction.

With traditional forms, the audience can only really interact with their impressions and opinion of the art. Board games encourage the audience to, even demand, participation in the work to "complete" the expression (some games can certainly stand on their own visually).

Think of chess. An elegant game in most anyone's estimation. But many think of the masters as the artist and not the game. Without the medium, however, there is no art form.

Combining the player with the creator's design completes the work. And that makes them a very elegant form of art if you ask me.
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Les Marshall
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tmcvey wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
The boards can be.


That's not quite what I'm asking about. Scythe is a beautiful game, but the experience of playing it isn't quite immersive enough for me to think of it as a work of art.


It's a tired cliche but, art is in the eye of the beholder. Certainly, boards, boxes, counters/figures, dice and even rules manuals/play books can contain significant design/artistic expression.

You say a video game can be a work of art. Does that mean each and every element? Main menu, tutorial sections, credits, etc are all in the game but not necessarily immersive.

Is immersion a requisite to artistic expression or enjoyment? If a movie fails to interest me or contains bad editing or direction does it cease to be art, or is it arguably poor art?

Why not call games art? Games are pure creations meant to entertain and sometimes even communicate the subjects they cover.
 
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JohnnyOffice wrote:
Great question and post! Maybe should be in Chit Chat to get a wider audience... or General Gaming for that matter.
Quantity does not equal quality. The banal, shallow non-RSP masses can't understand passion, truth, tragedy or love. No, he made the right choice.
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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Chaos In The Old World comes close to art, if only the human population was less abstracted somehow.
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Tom McVey
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TheChin! wrote:
Chaos In The Old World comes close to art, if only the human population was less abstracted somehow.


That was one of the strategy games I was thinking of as qualifying as art. I haven't played War of the Ring (Second Edition) to know if it similarly gives that feeling. Knezia's Lord of the Rings does, I think, barely.
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Dickie Crickets
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Tough to say. The definition of "art" is a bit nebulous, and it changes from one person to the next.

The first game that came to my mind was Arkham Horror. I remember my early plays of that game, and a palpable feeling of dread and anxiety that hit me as the game went along. Not just because of the skillful use of the (borrowed) setting, but the way the game mechanics always kept you dancing on thin ice that was cracking underneath your feet. It's like there's a new calamity every turn, and you're just desperately bailing water out of your boat, hoping you get to shore. And the shore probably has a brain-eating monster chilling on it.

So the game had a distinct (albeit, again, borrowed) setting and evoked a distinct emotional reaction in me. That's art, right? I guess?
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Robert Wesley
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tmcvey wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
The boards can be.


That's not quite what I'm asking about. Scythe is a beautiful game, but the experience of playing it isn't quite immersive enough for me to think of it as a work of art.
Sure, these could upon their 'theme merits' for that!
slatersteven wrote:
Then no, a game experience cannot be a work of art, any more then drinking a beer or watching a film.
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Mike Stiles
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JohnnyOffice wrote:
Great question and post! Maybe should be in Chit Chat to get a wider audience... or General Gaming for that matter.


Is there any precedent for UN-RSP'ing threads?
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