An Aesthetic Look at Magic Design
Games and art have had an interesting relationship starting with video games during the 1980’s. Some claim that games, at least modern games, are a new artistic medium. This has led to debates over what constitutes art or whether traditional games also count as art or whether all games are art, etc. This debate is not my focus, but it being in the background is important. The answer to those questions, I feel, lies in the artist’s, i.e. game designer’s, intentions. It is rare that we consider something not intended to be a work of art as one (though it does happen occasionally, such as with Marcel Duchamp), and even when something that we may not immediately recognize as art is called such, we usually are sympathetic to the reasons why it is art, what it is about, etc. Performance art and pop art come to mind. Intention is the focus of much of Arthur Danto’s work on aesthetics where he draws a distinction between surface and deep interpretation. Surface interpretation is what tells us that an object is in fact an art object. It is comprised of the author’s intentions to make a work of art and of the art world’s acceptance of that object as a work of art. His rules are for using surface interpretation are fairly loose, in my view, but it helps the cause of counting games as art, so take that as you will. Basically, the use of context clues, knowledge of the history of the object, and of the art world at the time are all you need to tell if something is a work of art, and we are all very adept at doing so.