Games are Art: The Romeo and Juliet Argument

A short video-type-thing about one of arguments that always get repeated when the “Are games art?” debate pops up again. I mainly did this to get it out of my head.


  1. Very well said, Jonas. You’re right, there’s far more than can fit in a short video such as this, but you still said quite a lot, and what you said is not only true, but it is profound as well. If this video were to be played everywhere where the debate has popped up, the “Romeo and Juliet” argument would be dropped from the picture entirely.

    I believe that games are art. I’ve played a number of games that were all sorts of things: Beautiful, terrifying, suspenseful, mysterious, intense, stirring, thoughtful, tragic, heart-warming, and so many other things that I simply don’t have the words for. I recently played a flash game called E7 which fit under “beautiful”, “stirring”, and “tragic” all at once (I hope that didn’t spoil too much for those who haven’t played it, though). Your own games, particularly Desert Bridge and The Infinite Ocean, have also earned many of these adjectives.

    It may take a long time before games are recognized as artwork, just as it is with any new medium. Until then, there’s always us crazy folk who know what art can be.

  2. Some more Text

    Good Afternoon,

    I never heard before the “Romeo and Juliet” argument. But saying that without the ending it has, it could not be considered a form of art, is the same as saying, that repaiting a half of a painting would ruin it. It is so, because you’re destroying the “form” in the “art-form”.
    I would not consider most of computer games being art, because they try to provide the lowest level of satisfaction, like 98% of today’s literature or cinema.
    Some computer games give the estetical pleasure, that traditional art provides, while the majority is like hamburgers at Macdonald’s, i.e. anything but food.


  3. An upheaval of letters

    What you eat there does fill your stomach, but it harms and disfigures your body on long term, losing tha main aspect of being called food. A painted apple should make you contemplate the beauty of it’s look, not make your saliva drip out of hunger, in my opinion.


  4. But who gets to say what is art and what is not art? There are a million approaches to this subject, and anyone who claims to be able to say what art isn’t is full of it. Art is not about how good something is, it’s about what its nature is; if we treat works as art only when they match our personal preferences, we are ignoring history and harming artistic freedom.

    More importantly, I think the metaphor of painting over an existing painting is wrong, or it would be impossible to create anything new based on something old; Shakespeare himself didn’t invent the story of Romeo and Juliet, after all.

    The video actually says pretty much everything about this particular strand of argumentation I wanted to say.

  5. An upheaval of letters

    But opinions get to define art. Some may see it in a picture gallery, some out on the street. You can not label everything created as being art, if that is what you mean by ”nature”, it depends on the observer. And while creating something new from older forms, you destroy the previous shape.
    I understood the emphasis on games being of non-statical nature, as the major point in your video and the limits of artistical freedom in boundaries as such.

  6. Since art is such a complex issue, the approach I find to be the most meaningful is a positive one; that is, to say “this is art” but not to bother trying to decide what isn’t. What do we gain by saying what isn’t art? Nothing much. And anytime someone goes out of their way to point out that something isn’t art, I get suspicious.

    Why would you destroy the original when creating something new? Shakespare wrote Romeo and Juliet, but we still have Brooke’s Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and all the other related stories.

  7. An upheaval of letters

    While trying to find out, what something is, you will always approach both positive and negative conclusions. I was simply expanding the ”games as art” theme. Or maybe I am just grumpy, having not played something beautiful in a while…

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