We need critics who know and care about games the way Pauline Kael knew movies. We need criticswho write about them with that same degree of wit, wisdom, and passion.-
Henry Jenkins (2005)
A Lively Art?
Henry Jenkins wrote the above statement six years ago in his article "Video Games, the New LivelyArt" in which he revisits Gilbert
for defining art within new media andappropriates it to the now relatively new medium, video games. Jenkins's reason for using Seldesbecomes clear quickly as the similarities between early cinema, which Seldes argued was a lively art,and video games, are striking. With the term "lively art" Seldes referred to the popular arts at thebeginning of the twentieth century. Stating that these were fully imbedded within everyday life, theirpresence were embraced and validated by the average citizen because these media reflected themodern world in which they lived, both in content as in the technology of the media itself. "Theytook the very machinery of the industrial age, which many felt dehumanizing, and found within it theresources for expressing individual visions, for reasserting basic human needs, desires, and fantasies(Jenkins)." Seldes thus celebrated arts that were not fully established, because it was here whereexperimentation was a necessity, where there were no clearly defined norms, only innovation and aperpetual movement forward. In the early days of cinema every new film was a technological andartistic experimentation of the medium itself, there were no guidelines or safe bets and this made it,compared to the classical established arts, a lively one.Fast-forward about eighty years and Jenkins is arguing that a similar case can be made for videogames. Slightly changing the previous quote by Jenkins and appropriating it towards video gamesquickly reveals the similarities of Seldes's lively arts:
video game developers took the very machinery of the digital age, which many felt dehumanizing, and found within it the resources for expressingindividual visions, for reasserting basic human needs, desires, and fantasies
. Video games havebecome an increasingly bigger part of popular culture, they reflect the digital media that surround usand exist within them. Moreover, the video game industry is becoming bigger than the musicindustry, which shows video game's immense popularity. However, looking at the video gamesthemselves, the ones that apparently define the video game industry and how the industry is viewed,
show an incredible lack of both “liveliness” and “art”.
The liveliness of the medium, its experimentaland innovative approach, seems to be lacking. Why is this happing, what is the reason for this