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Ed Halter, whose book From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games we'll be discussing at BookCourt in Brooklyn tomorrow night (y'all come!), referred me to this discussion at Henry Jenkins' blog about video game criticism and the topic of "why don't games have their Lester Bangs or Pauline Kael?" You could substitute "electronic/digital art and music" for games in that discussion and most of it would be relevant: that the critics will emerge in a generation from the ranks of kids consuming the products now, that criticism does exist but mostly on blogs and chatboards and not the established print publications, etc. Games have a different problem in their climb to mainstream acceptance, which is that, as one commenter pointed out, the experience varies so much from one consumer/player to another--and not just for the usual reasons of "the squishy subjectivity of art" but because the game has decision trees that could result in completely unlike experiences for the novice and the advanced player. In an earlier post I described the pleasures of watching my nephews playing Super Mario 64. They're experts so I got more out of being a spectator than I ever would have gotten as an inept player. The "game art" Halter describes in his book that I think I'd like best are the pieces that take apart the games and reassemble the fragments as "objects of contemplation," for example, Workspace Unlimited's Diplomatic Arena, which consists of world leaders and villains indiscriminately slaughtering each other to a montage soundtrack. Some earlier thoughts of mine on the "problem of interactivity" are here and here.

- tom moody 7-18-2006 6:00 pm [link]