[linux-audio-user] Thesis: Playing and making music

Fons Adriaensen fons at kokkinizita.net
Tue Dec 12 07:14:58 EST 2006

On Tue, Dec 12, 2006 at 09:48:47AM +0800, Chris McCormick wrote:

> On Mon, Dec 11, 2006 at 12:34:11PM +0100, Fons Adriaensen wrote:
> > On Mon, Dec 11, 2006 at 04:28:32AM +0100, Esben Stien wrote:
> > But assuming for a moment there is something in there that is a bonus
> > to humanity, as art is, I wonder why it can apparently be expressed
> > only in a context of violence and killing, and in a simplistic mindset
> > consisting of 'good' and 'evil'.
> I am not having a go at you, because this is a commonly held
> misconception, and many many people in high positions in government
> and censorship bodies speak from similar ignorance about video games,
> but I must correct this statement.

The games world is not one I live in, and I do confess to a degree
of ignorance on the subject. But the thing that started this thread
was 'console virtuosity'. Would I be wrong in assuming that this skill
matters mainly in those games that mimic action, and that this action
often has a violent character ? It's a genuine question, not a state-
ment of fact.

> The majority of games do not involve killing or violence.

That's true. And even those that do are not necessarily a problem to
most people. They probably are to a minority which has difficulties 
separating the real world from fiction, in the same way as there are
people that believe that soap series characters are real. That is for
me no reason to advocate censorship. But I find it kind of scary that
there are some people who build up a very idealised picture of violence
simply because they are able to play with it and get rewarded for doing
so, without ever having to experience what it feels like to be beaten
to pieces or burnt to death.

> In addition to this many games do not have a simplistic mindset
> consisting of 'good' and 'evil'. Many have complex plots that would
> rival a Shakespearean play, or a Tolstoy novel.

Returning from moralities to art, a complex plot doesn't by itself
mean much. If you look at the highlights of 'artistic' literature,
drama or film, you will often find that the plot is quite simple,
and is only a framework for the real content which is at a very
different level, or at many different levels. This is certainly
the case with the two authors you mention. Which is one reason why
you can enjoy these things over and over again even if you know the
plot by heart. Another one for some art forms like music is the
element of performance which adds a new dimension on its own.

Music is special as it can be completely abstract. There is no plot
in a Bach cello suite except in music-structural sense - but it's
still both an intellectual and physical challenge. We seem to enjoy
'decoding complexity', and even more so if it's presented in an
abstract way. Which is probably one element of appeal in many games. 

> I think this is one of the difficulties with arguing for or against games,
> or game playing as an artform - the field is so utterly varied in style,
> representation and content that it's very difficult to generalise. I
> think that that in itself speaks volumes about whether or not to judge
> games and game playing as art.



Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa.

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