Although undoubtedly some games could be construed as visually beautiful, what is beauty? Where does it come from?
The beauty of art comes through the senses, all of them, so food becomes an art because of the beauty of taste as well as hairdressing and tailoring through the senses of touch and sight, perfume making through smell. All become arts because they give us pleasurable sensory information but beauty also is undefined. There is no rigid definition of beauty, it’s regarded of as is religion, that it is so obvious it doesn’t require discussion, which is obviously just a lazy explanation. Then why isn’t hairdressing and architecture and cooking and video games considered an art? Surely video games should be art purely because it gives off so much sensory information more than any other form of art.
Games are like a Frankenstein’s monster of art, you get visual art like you would a painting, music as of an opera, storyline and acting as of a play, topped off with the film arts of cinematography and editing and one more of its own which is game-play. So where as art usually just stimulates the eyes and the ears and the imagination, games also stimulate that feeling of touch and control. So it’s like watching a play or looking at a painting but you can touch and play with the painting, you’re not on the outside looking in, you actually take part. Games only lack the ability to stimulate the senses of smell and taste but who knows what innovations await us. Smell could be the final frontier of video game immersion.
Home defined beauty as;… that which is pleasant (Home 1696-1782). When all is said and done; beauty is a matter of taste and what is taste is impossible to determine. Beauty in its highest form is expression regardless of good, beauty has no morale consciousness as art itself might have. What is pleasant to an individual could be abhorrent to another.
Beauty is like the old adage of the tree falling in the woods; does a tree falling in the woods make a sound if there’s no one to hear it? It’s the same with beauty, how can it exist if there aren’t humans to recognize it? How can it be good and evil if there’s no one to define it as such? That could mean beauty is not something external but something innate in humans, something internal, a filter we place on the world. We look at something like a waterfall and whereas animals or a machine might just see water we see something magically beautiful a gift from god or allah or budha or whomever is or isn’t killing us.
Beauty is a comparison between our limitations and our idea of being free, in real life we are limited and fragile in games we’re immortal, we can fly, choose our bodies our skills, our potential is limitless in a game, exceeding our limitations is the essence of beauty (Fichte 1762–1814). Beauty is the gap between who we are and who we want to be.
“the aim of art, as with Kant, is beauty, the source of which is pleasure without practical usefulness. So that art may be called play, though not in the sense of a worthless occupation, but in the sense of a manifestation of beauty of life itself, which has no other aim than”
The German philosopher Kant saw beauty as something pleasing that has no practical use, if something is perceived as beautiful it just is, it’s beauty is subjective and thus serves no real purpose, it is pleasing just because it is. Play is beautiful because it serves no other purpose than to conjure up the beauties of life.
Obviously one major drawback of this idea is a games sole purpose is not just beauty but also money. That doesn’t change the fact that games are designed and crafted for the purpose of manifesting beauty and thus creating pleasure from that beauty, but it raises questions around the conflict of art and business which I intend to discuss at a later date (Schiller 1759–1805).