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Lifelong gamer and game-creator, Imre Jele is an expert in game design, AI mechanics, procedural content, narrative, cross-media and audience engagement. He’s known for promoting innovative and collaborative creative approaches including Bossa’s regular internal Game Jams. Throughout his colourful career, Imre has worked on a wide range of game genres and platforms. He’s co-founder and Creator-in-Chief of Bossa Studios – winner of multiple BAFTA and other awards, creator of Surgeon Simulator and Worlds Adrift.

What’s wrong with Jonathan Jones?

Do you remember Anton Ego, the restaurant critic in Ratatouille? He probably started as a person who loved food enough to choose that as his profession. Then over the years he developed a system of valuations to analyze and describe food, values that define great cooking and patterns to describe chefs who don’t care. Then, at some point, that system took over, and instead of supporting his task to explain his opinion of food, it became his opinion of food. And on that day he forgot his love of food and could only focus on his system of evaluations.

Now, I don’t know Jonathan Jones personally, so I can’t possibly judge his motives. But he does sound a little bit like Anton Ego.

Also, quickly after this article in 2012, a colleague of his at The Guardian has reacted to his article and explained why he is wrong.

Are there video games you wouldn’t consider art? If so: Aren’t there just two categories in the world – good art and bad art?

I’m not even going to try defining what art is and how that differs from fine art. Art is art is art. I’m sure there are logical and well-educated arguments for what is not art. But I feel like it’s missing the point. What matters is that games, just like film or paintings, are a medium, one which will host deeply expressive art and commercial garbage. No one disputed films being art just because there are tons of horribly bad movies, and no one questions paintings as art just because I drew some unrecognizable scribble.

Does the aspect of interactivity & fun make games more or less artistic?

No. The opposite. I understand that some folks think art is what the artist created. But I believe art is the reflection of that piece of creativity in the observer. And as such games are a collaborative piece of art which can engage their audience in ways no other art form can.

And to be fair: Even if only pieces of creativity stationary in time could be called art, games would classify as art considering how much of games are pre-defined and hand-crafted by a creator.

How important is weirdness for art in general and video games in particular?

Weirdness is not important for any art form in my humble opinion. But it can be very important for an individual creator or group of artists, and of course their audience.

I’m one of those creators and one of those players who love weirdness in games. The same way I loved the weirdness of comedy from Monty Python.

What are some of your favourite strange/avant-garde games?

There are lot of strange indie games, some even avant-garde maybe. And even though some of these became rather successful, I still think Journey, Stanley Parable, Antichamber, Undertale fit that category.

Where are video games today, evolution-wise? What could/should the future of video games look like?

Video games are where TV was in the 70ies or 80ies, and we are growing every year. And I don’t just mean growth in number of players and revenues, I mean evolution as an art form. Soon, gaming will become ubiquitous, and as the generation that doesn’t get games fades away, we will create new ideas like never before.

“Roadsloth” could also be a slang expression for a “young, highly promiscuous woman,”

Not an expression I would use, to be honest.

Subversion can be a protagonist in its own right – what are some of the subversive strategies you would like to employ in your next project?

Games break through a lot of walls when it comes to subject matters and we see more and more themes and topics we would have not seen a decade ago. But what’s more interesting is subversion of interactions. Games have been around long enough that both players and developers have certain expectations, some gameplay mechanics like shooting, walking and the likes have established methods, we expect them to work in certain ways. Subverting those is where the real challenge and artistic opportunity is.

Games are interactive art. We are defined by interaction for the most part. So subverting the conventions of interactions is where we can create the biggest artistic impact … incidentally that is also often called innovation and can in fact make your game sell well.

I know … I know … it’s dirty to talk about money when the subject is art.

Why did you make an almost disappointingly non-weird entity like a beetle Thumper’s hero?

It was … shiny …

Image source: © Imre Jele

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