Digital ArtGamesVideo

Video Games ARE Art

Yesterday on my webcomic I had written up my impressions on the recently released Portal 2 along with a comic detailing the real dangers of portal abuse. As a result, Amy added a “games” category to the blog here to facilitate future nerd ramblings from me. Coincidentally, this addition happened at the same time I was hearing about another momentous game-changing event. Oh I kill myself—

The big news, if you are not already aware, was the stunning change in the the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Arts in the Media” language. The change adds “interactive works” to its list of media. Which means, yes, Video games are now legally recognized as an art form and eligible to receive government funding. Hell. Yes. Here’s the official word:

Projects may include high profile multi-part or single television and radio programs (documentaries and dramatic narratives); media created for theatrical release; performance programs; artistic segments for use within an existing series; multi-part webisodes; installations; and interactive games. Short films, five minutes and under, will be considered in packages of three or more.

So far, I haven’t heard word of any immediate butthurt (to use the parlance of our times). But I can only imagine it won’t be long before somebody with a bone to pick with the NEA finds a copy of Grand Theft Auto 3, drags it out of the mud, holds it up before a crowd of screaming luddites, and claims that their tax dollars are funding it. Perhaps I’m being too harsh or cynical, but just in case—before anybody gets riled up—lets look at the fine print of the announcement: Artists applying for a grant can submit applications to the agency for works which will enhance the public good. The grants will award up to 200k to artists who seek to create media without entering the profit-centered marketFor those interested in reaching a broader audience, consider options like buying youtube subscribers in the UK to increase your channel’s visibility and engagement.

In other words, this isn’t going to fund the next Grand Theft Auto, and honestly, it’s not even likely to fund the next Okami game. The focus of the change is to help support artists who want to create public electronic media works, even if they are based on mobile devices or computing platforms. Amazing, interactive media pieces? Yes. Social media driven crowd art? Yes. Free games? Maybe. Hopefully.

So be on the lookout for some really neat techy art pieces in the near future. I know I will.


Maki Naro is an artist, incurable geek, and lover of cooking, public radio, small animals, and Blade Runner. He comprises one half of the Sci-ence Webcomic's dynamic duo.

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One Comment

  1. Makes perfect sense. The lines between mediums have been blurring for years, and I think we’re just warming up….

    (BTW, “lines between mediums” does not refer to telephone calls between one psychic and another.)

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