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Games are indeed art, says Barker

Addressing the second annual Hollywood and Games Summit, novelist and director Clive Barker weighed in on the question of whether or not videogames are “art.”

Addressing the second annual Hollywood and Games Summit, novelist and director Clive Barker has joined the debate over whether or not videogames can be considered an art form.

Responding to film critic Roger Ebertâs infamous comment that games cannot move beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art, Barker noted: âItâs evident that Ebert had a prejudiced vision of what the medium is, or more importantly, what it can be.â

âWe can debate what art is, we can debate it forever. If the experience moves you in some way or another⦠Even if it moves your bowels⦠I think it is worthy of some serious study.â

Barker said he faced similar prejudice against his genre of choice, horror. âIt used to worry me that the New York Times never reviewed my books⦠But the point is that people like the books. Books arenât about reviewers,â he said.

âGames arenât about reviewers. They are about players.â

Addressing Ebertâs criticism further, Barker explained: âI think that Roger Ebertâs problem is that he thinks you canât have art if there is that amount of malleability in the narrative. In other words, Shakespeare could not have written Romeo and Juliet as a game because it could have had a happy ending, you know? If only she hadnât taken the damn poison. If only heâd have gotten there quicker.

âIf something is so malleable, full of possibilities not under the artistâs control, then it cannot be art,â he continued. âThatâs where he is wrong.

âWe should be stretching the imaginations of our players and ourselves. Letâs invent a world where the player gets to go through every emotional journey available. That is art. Offering that to people is art.â

âIâm not doing an evangelical job here. Iâm just saying that gaming is a great way to do what we as human beings need to do all the time - to take ourselves away from the oppressive facts of our lives and go somewhere where we have our own control,â Barker concluded.