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.