Games

Essays on games.

Games Came First

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Rough sketch of lions at play, Leigh Faulkner

It occurred to me recently that, in the Animal Kingdom, games evolve before “art” does. After all, those of us with pets see our puppies and kitties play games of their own devising every day. Evolutionarily speaking, games are controlled, safe scenarios that symbolically represent some advantageous activity. Animals derive pleasure from these practice activities as a biological function that leads to survival. The fun of games is instinctual.

But we are more advanced than juvenile lionesses play-hunting each other, and when we play, we often ascribe abstract meaning to the mechanical constructs of our games. Birds may sing, but no bird could name their song, “The Four Seasons.”

Thinking about it in this way makes the whole “are games art?” argument seem silly. Art, of course, is the creation and interpretation of symbols. These symbols are myriad, encompassing limitless forms. Nothing else must really be said.

Artists

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I just read Roger Ebert’s latest.

My addition to the cultural dialog:

If a bunch of people can get together with a stage, a set, a director, some lights, a script, and some imagination and make art, then why is it’s art-ness suddenly nullified when the director invites every member of the audience to play the starring role?

Here’s a photo gallery of the first 10 people that popped into my head when I thought of gaming’s auteurs.

For each of these men and women, I can say, without a doubt, that I interpret the world differently after having interacted with their work.

And for that, I thank them.

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