• Editorial: Art in Final Fantasy - Introduction

    What is art? There are people who have devoted their lives to that question. It is a word that struggles to be defined, in fact it has been argued whether or not art can even be defined. Today I throw my bet in the pot with my own definition of art; I believe that art is the expression of creativity that can lead to an emotional response by an audience. It is the purpose of this article series to make the argument that Final Fantasy meets the criteria I’ve laid down for art, along with some more formal definitions! (For further discussion on the definition of art see stanford.edu)

    The entrance to the Smithosian's video game exhibit
    which they featured in 2012!

    Whether or not any video game can be considered art has been a topic of controversy in the past. Yes, I am looking at you Robert Ebert! The artistry of video games may have taken its largest step in 2012 with the Smithsonian’s “The Art of Video Games” exhibition. However the topic is still a hotspot and sometimes criticism of video games ability to have an artistic nature can come from unexpected places. Game developers Hideo Kojima and Brian Moriarty have been quoted in opposition of video games being a medium for artistic expression, the latter actually giving an entire lecture An Apology For Roger Ebert. Some of the arguments used by these people are the limitations that the rules of a game can impart on someone interacting with the piece or the player’s ability to affect the outcome.

    The late Mr. Ebert, the man behind one of the
    largest debates on art in video games!

    So if there is such opposition against the medium of video games as a means of expression from within why do I feel that there is a cause for my support? It is the recollection of emotion I feel when listening to a soundtrack from a game I love or attempting to explain why I love a section of storytelling from a game that gives me a call to write. RPGs do a wonderful job of intertwining many different mediums art into a single context often as well as film. Some of the most famous scenes in the Final Fantasy series are not monochromatic moments, but beautiful blends of visuals, music, and storytelling, all of which are indisputably mediums of art. It is not as a gamer, but as an appreciative spectator of moments in games that have sent chills through my body that I cannot let games be dismissed from the realm of art. Few mediums can give me the connection to a plot, character, or scene like a 50 hour video game "epic" can.

    Artwork in video game is a question of context. It is no surprise that traditional experts in art do not accept video games as art, because it opens a giant can of worms in terms of context. But what is context in art? Context is the conditions in which art is created and in which it is viewed. A wonderful example of this is a quote by Wesly Vander Lugt:
    Recognizing the context of art—both of its origin and reception—also requires us to realize the multivalent and open-ended character of art interpretation. For example, the “meaning” of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will vary depending on whether we are referring to its première in 1824, when Wilhelm Furtwängler conducted it in Berlin in 1942, or when Leonard Bernstein conducted it before the newly opened Berlin Wall in 1989.

    No longer does one have to go to a location like
    Boston Symphony Hall to enjoy classical music!

    I'll be referring back to that article, as I believe it does wonders in clarifying how we should be viewing art mediums. Video games existing as art continues the complexity that is being added to the artistic world by freedom of information, as well as expansions in technology which allow us to create entirely new mediums. In the past great works of song had to be listened to in an amphitheater, now they can be enjoyed anywhere by the press of a button on your computer, iPhone, or iPod. The beauty of The Last Judgement had to be seen at The Sistine Chapel, now it can be seen with a simple Google or Wikipedia query. I believe that this new context expansion should be accepted. It takes art from a luxury afforded by the privileged and turns it something of abundance that can be appreciated by the common man.

    I'll be analyzing key components of Final Fantasy and art forms over the next few entries to this series, namely the three mediums of art mentioned previously. This series will discuss how video games merely change the context of the art in the game. I'll take a look at some of the most memorable visuals and songs throughout the series. The series will explore Final Fantasy storylines as pieces of literature. Contrasts of emotion invoked by those listening to a Final Fantasy OST for the first time and those that have context of listening to it in game will be shown. Then in addition to analysis of each of these independent mediums we will explore how gameplay provides an experience unique that alters them to the gaming medium of art.

    That wraps up the introduction to this series. In part two I will be starting my analysis of visual art in the Final Fantasy series.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Editorial: Art in Final Fantasy - Introduction started by Goldenboko View original post
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Jiro's Avatar
      Jiro -
      I find it odd that Hideo Kojima would stand against games being art given that his works are up there in terms of artistic merit.
    1. Goldenboko's Avatar
      Goldenboko -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jiro View Post
      I find it odd that Hideo Kojima would stand against games being art given that his works are up there in terms of artistic merit.
      I KNOW. Like half of that Smithsonian Art Exhibit (which I will be visiting when it's in NY come 2014) was scenes/works/etc from Metal Gear Solid from what I've been told.
    1. Jiro's Avatar
      Jiro -
      It's not anywhere near half. There was a pretty healthy spread of stuff, showcasing multiple generations and consoles. It was actually rather strange that there wasn't a bigger focus on those games which are considered "artistic," instead opting to kind of vaguely argue that all video games are art, which I guess could be considered true in a sense. There was a lot of MGS artwork up on the walls though.

      It's only small, but here's a pic that Baloki snapped while we were there. I think two of the concept artworks are MGS related, but you see other cool stuff like Final Fantasy and even Worms.

    1. LadyJuxtaposition's Avatar
      LadyJuxtaposition -
      I call something art when that something is created, and since videogames can be created with creativity and imagination and technology, videogames are art.
      I am interested to learn what you have in mind and show examples to support your point, Goldenboko. I love and apperiate art and I hope will do the same for Final Fantasy's visual works.
    1. Jiro's Avatar
      Jiro -
      Quote Originally Posted by LadyJuxtaposition View Post
      I call something art when that something is created,
      This definition is a little bit too vague I think, because the sandwich I'm eating was also "created", as is the plate it's on, etc etc. On the other hand, interpreting something as artistic is kind of our right as humans; you can't say x is or isn't necessarily art if someone else sees value in it, right?
    1. Depression Moon's Avatar
      Depression Moon -
      Medicine is created, but most people would not consider that art because its a product of science. Jiro both a sandwich and a plate can be art though. That's a bad example. The sandwich can go under culinary art, and the plate into craft.

      I believe the author gave it plain and clear. Stuff like math and medicine aren't considered such since both of those are restricted to a set of rules and the result can only be done in a finite amount of ways.. Art is rule free with infinite possibilities.
    1. LadyJuxtaposition's Avatar
      LadyJuxtaposition -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jiro View Post
      This definition is a little bit too vague I think, because the sandwich I'm eating was also "created", as is the plate it's on, etc etc. On the other hand, interpreting something as artistic is kind of our right as humans; you can't say x is or isn't necessarily art if someone else sees value in it, right?
      Yeah, you're right about that. There are people who see value in art or just a personal favorite and taste. they both appreciated the work and context in the works made by the artists who put in their great effort to create them.

      I will admit my "art" definition is a bit vague (just a quick thought reaction from my head). There are also different definitions for "art", whether it applied to visual representation or musical performing act or just something a kid makes for a school project. When I narrowed down my own definition of art, I'll let you know.
    1. black orb's Avatar
      black orb -
      >>> Even dog trout can be "art" if you ask me..
      and Videogames can be art too? sure, why Not?

      and, what is "art" anyways?
      I think "art" is the biggest scam ever. Hard to believe that people pay money for it..
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