Lots of people are tired of the “are video games art?” debate, and I get that. Because in the real world, very few people care whether or not something is art. My assumption is then that, if you’re one of the few who actually asks or offers an answer to the question, then you should be interested in what other people are saying. One of the nice things about being a contrarian of sorts, as I am, is that you’re never much surprised when people that you admire say things that are clearly wrong. So Roger Ebert and PZ Myers have both not only stated that games aren’t art, they’ve argued those positions with more than a little stubbornness. I like what Ebert has to say about movies and what Myers has to say about biology and atheism, but they’re both just wrong here.
What’s missing from most of these debates is a firm definition of what art actually is, and I think the “anti-games as art” folks try not to be pinned down here because it’s impossible to pen a definition of art that games wouldn’t fit comfortably within. They tend then to go with the porn-like definition of: I know it when I see it. I’ll argue using any definition anyone chooses, but for now, I’m going with my own: “a creative expression designed to provoke an emotional or intellectual reaction from the audience.” Obviously all the heavy work in my definition is being done by the words “creative expression” and “reaction,” which are open to many interpretations. I include within the spectrum of creative creations: music, painting, illustration, prose, poetry, drama (staged or filmed), dance, sculpture, architecture, games (video and otherwise), and, well, I know I’m forgetting some things.