July 20, 2010

Are Video Games Actually Art?

As you have probably already heard, film critic Robert Ebert recently took back his axiom that video games are not art. Because of this we are back at step one, are video games art. The only way we can classify something as art or not is if we have a universal definition of what art is, unfortunately this is easier said then done. Wikipedia defines art as "Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions."

If we take the Wikipedia definition of art we could apply this to video games. My first example is Bioware's sci-fi RPG Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 2 fulfills this definition because it does affect the player's senses and emotions. An example of this *spoilers ahead* is when your crew was abducted. Even if you hated your crew you still felt a sense of emptiness when you returned to your ship to find your entire crew gone.

I have a slightly different definition of what art is "Art is an experience created by an artist that expresses an idea or feeling.", Udunnojack has a very broad definition of what art is "Art is anything that required creativity to create.". Now we both consider that video games are art but for different reasons. Udunnojack says that all video games are art because the developers used creativity while making the game. I question that claim due to all the sports games that are exactly the same as the previous year's version with nothing new but a small new gimmick that changes nothing and new team rosters.

Due to my definition of what art is I believe that not all, but most video games are art. Most videos games express an idea or feeling. For example, in Call of Duty World at War it expresses the feelings of the losses suffered in war and shows the idea that millions of men and women died to protect something they loved. To me this is art. Is the multiplayer aspect of CoD: WaW still art? It does still express these ideas but to a lesser extent then the single player.

By my definition not all video games are art, yet to others all video games are art or no video games are art. This is the inherent problem with trying to classify video games as art. Until we get a universal definition of what art is then we will never be able to definitively say whether or not something is art.

July 13, 2010

Greetings to the Internets!

Hey guys, Udunnojack here. I just wanted to say that I have an account on the blog now, after putting it off forever Tyaust and I decided to get my account setup. Since this is just an introduction post from me I will not be saying too much, except that llCLiiPSll (I believe that is how it is spelled) is on a camping trip at the moment and will not be making videos for the "media" section of the Flying Cougars until he gets back. He should be back fairly soon... then Tyaust and myself will be doing a dual commentary over the game play he recorded. This should be a lot of fun! Stay with us and enjoy the adventure!

Udunnojack signing off, see you all soon.

July 9, 2010

Cataclysm Averted: Blizzard Backs Off

Blizzard has decided that forcing people who want to post in their fora to post under their real name is bad. In a letter released this morning Blizzard CEO, Mike Morhaime says that they still remain committed to improving their forums. One of the new features they plan to add is a Slashdot like feature where you can mod up or down forum posts.

Blizzard most likely got scared of the backlash from the forum community in the RealID announcement thread which reached 2495 pages in three days. I briefly read a few pages from the thread and it appears it consists mainly of hate towards the new system with very few supporters in the crowd.

It appears that in the end Blizzard acted like a good company and listened to their customers. Should it have taken 49 896 posts to get this point across, I think not. However in the end Blizzard will let you keep your semi-anonymous privacy, however I would still be weary of future Blizzard decisions, seeing that they are obviously willing to violate your privacy.

July 6, 2010

Blizzard's Privacy Cataclysm

If you are like me then sometime in your life you have played, or are still playing, a game made by Blizzard, and when you aren't playing this game you're posting on the fora under your character's name or a handle. If you have enjoyed this nice semi-anonymity well it sucks to be you. Blizzard has announced that you must now use your real name to post on the forums, though you have the option to post with a character's name alongside your real name. This will go into effect for theStarcraft 2 fora in mid July and later for the WoW fora shortly before Cataclysm is released.

"Beginning in mid-July, players who post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, the real-life first and last name associated with their Battle.net account. In addition, players also will have the option to display the name of their primary in-game character (plus related in-game information such as guild and realm) alongside their real name. You’ll also begin seeing blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well.

These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged."

Battle.net link

So what does having your real name be used for all your forum posts means. Imagine you are sitting down for an interview for a good paying position at an excellent company. As you are being interviewed you think everything is going fine then suddenly you are asked the question "So why were you trolling the paladin forum?" or "Why do you play that stupid kids game?". Because your real name is released to the public on the internet a quick google of your name will be able to find all your forum posts, even the ones where you were acting like an asshat or voicing a controversial opinion. This is just like posting pictures of yourself acting like a drunk idiot at a party on Facebook and having your future employer finding out about it.

Blizzard's new system can lead to real life attacks on character for things said online, cost future employment and relationships all with a simple little googling of your name. From a young age children are taught not to share their real name with strange people on the internet (read: 4chan). Because of this many parents will just turn a blind eye, because they already taught him not to say his real name, as little Johnny goes onto the WoW fora, make an ass of himself and ruins his potential future chances of employment.

The only plus side I can see of this change is that some people will be less inclined to post on the fora and the sheer amount of idiocy and trolls will decrease, a man can dream can he not? I can foresee a possible large scale exodus from Blizzard's fora to the fora of many other community sites where you will not have to use your real name to post. Hopefully these fora aren't ruined forever by a large scale immigration of posters.

In the end the only way I can see Blizzard changing their decision is if their fora becomes a desolate wasteland, void of posters, and even then I highly doubt they would change this system. I have already lost a lot of faith in Blizzard and this is just driving me to the point of considering canceling my Starcraft 2 pre-order. In the end the only way to show a company that you want change is to vote with your wallet and not buy their products.