April 2004 USC Press Release

Video Games Become Fine Art

A front page article in the March 26 Los Angeles Times asks the question as to whether the new digital world of video games should be receiving the same critical attention as fine art. While some question whether there is a deeper meaning to games, others disagree. Chris Swain, who teaches game design in the Interactive Media division here says, “There were lots of filmmakers in the early years who also felt what they were doing wasn’t art, that it was just entertainment. “ Ultimately, film became legitimized as an artistic medium, and Swain says the same will happen with games. To bolster that argument, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is presenting its first ever video games exhibit in May entitled “Into The Pixel.” The article also notes that USC offers the country’s only academic program focused on the artistic elements of games and is now supported by the recent Electronic Arts grant. Swain says that “games are the literature of the 21st century.” Another Interactive Media instructor, Tracy Fullerton says that if games are art, they deserve the same intellectual scrutiny as music, theater or dance. “At some point, I hope we will cease to be fascinated by the technology of games, and the questions will shift from how something is happening on a screen to why.”

While finishing up their grad work at USC’s Interactive Media division, a few students came up with the concept for the game Flow, which is linked on the sidebar of the blog. I recommend each of you plays Flow for a few minutes, as we will be discussing it for a while during our next class session. See you Monday.


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