The Aesthetics of the Video Game

Space Invaders: the early origins of video games.

Tonight is the night of the 7th British Academy Video Games Awards, a ceremony which since 2003 has rewarded the creators of virtual environments that have had men, women and children alike frantically throwing their thumbs around all year. The host of the event, comedian Dara O’Briain, defended the right of the video game genre to be considered a form of art in an interview this morning for the BBC’s breakfast show, against the initial (and perhaps persisting) incredulity of his hosts.

The problem facing O’Briain is not one that has eluded treatment in the field of contemporary aesthetics and the philosophy of art. As surveyed by Grant Tavinor for Philosophy Compass, some interesting questions begin to emerge when the conceptual analyses of traditional philosophical aesthetics are applied to the increasingly sophisticated worlds of computer games. Continue reading “The Aesthetics of the Video Game”

New issue of Philosophy Compass out now! Vol. 5, Iss. 8

Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art

Videogames and Aesthetics (pages 624–634)
Grant Tavinor

Chinese Comparative Philosophy

Ideal Womanhood in Chinese Thought and Culture (pages 635–644)
Robin R. Wang


Hans-Georg Gadamer and the Philosophy of Religion (pages 645–655)
David Vessey


Constitutive Arguments (pages 656–666)
Ariela Tubert

History of Philosophy

Recent Work on the Philosophy of Duns Scotus (pages 667–675)
Richard Cross

Legal & Political

Psychopathy and Responsibility Theory (pages 676–688)
Paul Litton

Logic & Language

Mathematical Structuralism Today (pages 689–699)
Julian C. Cole

Naturalistic Philosophy

Folk Psychology and Phenomenal Consciousness (pages 700–711)
Justin Sytsma

Philosophy of Religion

Religious Belief and the Epistemology of Disagreement (pages 712–724)
Michael Thune

Interview: The Art of Videogames

Grant Tavinor is a gamer and a lecturer in philosophy at Lincoln University. His recent book, The Art of Videogames is part of Wiley-Blackwell’s New Directions in Aesthetics Series. We caught up with Grant recently and he talked about one of the unique characteristics of videogames: that is, when you play one, you become a direct participant; an actor in the unfolding of an artwork.

The Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write The Art of Videogames?

Grant Tavinor: I wrote The Art of Videogames because I was convinced that this was a fascinating topic that it was worthwhile writing about! I’m a gamer as well as a philosopher and so was naturally enthusiastic about the topic. My interest in videogames and philosophy started when I was writing my doctoral thesis on fiction, where I briefly used videogames as an illustration of a point I was trying to make about fiction and action. Being a grad student, I had the time to play a lot of games Continue reading “Interview: The Art of Videogames”

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