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Are games art?  Yes, definitely.

However, I think there is really an implied question, "Can games be fine art?"

There is really a desire for games to be taken as seriously as other entertainment mediums which have works of fine art.  Can video games ever be elevated to the level of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" or Michelangelo's "David"?  In order to answer this question there first needs to be some kind of reasonable definition for "fine art".

So, I'm going to try to give a fairly reasonable definition.  I think that it needs to include skill and creativity.  Not only is "skill" one possible synonym for "art", but we also have the idea that art is different from science.  Quality science is predictable and repeatable.  If a second group of scientists repeats the experiment of a first group, then they should get similar results if both are performing quality science.  On the other hand, art cannot be easily repeated.  Most people cannot paint like Da Vinci, and on top of that art becomes boring when someone tries to repeat what someone else has done.  For fine art, we expect a level of both skill and originality.

However, skill and creativity are not enough.  A chef can skillfully and creatively make a delicious meal, and while we can consider this chef a master of "culinary arts", few would call this sort of thing "fine art".  Fine art has at least one other quality.  What is it?

Does fine art have a narrative?  It can, but it doesn't need to.  "Moonlight Sonata" does not have any concrete narrative, but it is widely considered fine art because of the emotions it evokes.

Does fine art evoke emotion?  I think this is even more common in fine art than a narrative, however there are plenty of visual arts, like the "Mona Lisa" which do not particularly evoke strong emotions.  The Mona Lisa (and many works of visual art) are simply interesting to look at.

However there is something that "Hamlet" and "Moonlight Sonata" and the "Mona Lisa" all have in common.  They endure.  They stand the test of time.  There are a significant amount of people who still enjoy these works even centuries later.  Perhaps with games, we will not be so strict to require centuries of time (the medium is not old enough).  However, for this definition we are looking for, I am still going to incorporate this general idea.  Fine art endures.

So here is my definition of fine art:

"Fine art is any original work of entertainment that is skillfully made and endures in relevance over time."

With this definition, we give credit to the original maker.  We can consider the song "Yesterday" to be fine art since people still appreciate it decades later, but the credit goes to the Beatles and not just anyone performing a cover of the song.  "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is not considered fine art in this definition, because even though it endures in relevance, people like it because it's "so bad it's good".  It's not a skillfully made film.  Likewise, if we want to discuss any movie, song, game or whatever that was released in the past few years, then it really is too early to determine whether or not it is "fine art".  We can make a guess about the future, but it's really too early to make a definite answer about how well it will be received decades later.

So, now let's answer the question: can games be fine art?  Yes.  Tetris.  Tetris is original, skillfully made and has endured in relevance.  People still enjoy Tetris today.  Tetris definitely qualifies as fine art.  

This question becomes harder to answer when we try to look at some other older games, but we have some clues.  The resale market is one clue.  Some games go up in value more than others, and this is partly due to demand and partly due to how many games are in circulation (supply).  At least we can probably disqualify games with a low value on the resale market.  If they were fine art, demand should still be there.  However, we can't just compare the prices of two NES games, because one may be a lot rarer than the other.  Another clue is the NES classic.  Demand for this item was far greater than even Nintendo could anticipate.  Clearly some of the games on the NES classic have endured the test of time.  A third clue is looking at a quantity of reviews for NES games.  Which ones are still reviewed well decades later?  Gamefaqs is a decent source for how people review these old games.

So, putting all of this together, here are some games that are on the NES classic, highly rated (top 1%), and have decent resale value (using Ebay): "Super Mario Bros 3", "Mega Man 2", "The Legend of Zelda", "Super Mario Bros", "Kirby's Adventure", "Punch Out!!".  I think all of these games can be considered fine art.  They are still enjoyed today, reviewed well and have a decent resale value.  (SMB1 is actually cheap when packaged with Duck Hunt, but the standalone version of the game has a good resale value.)  There may be other NES games we could consider as well.  I do not claim this is an exhaustive list, because I may have left off some games from the NES classic that I shouldn't (like Contra), or it can be argued that top 1% is too strict of a criterion.  However, I think all of these games fit our definition.  We can safely call these 6 games, as well as Tetris, fine art.

One other thing to consider is that none of these games have a strong narrative element.  I mention this, because sometimes when people mention "games as art", they always mention games with a strong narrative.  I am not going to disqualify narrative games as fine art, because the NES did not have many of these compared to later systems.  However, the opposite is not true either.  A game does not need to have a narrative to be considered fine art.  If a person wants their favorite narrative games to be considered fine art, then they should probably also broaden their definition to also include enduring games that do not have much of a narrative.  In saying a game like "Tetris" is not fine art, one becomes guilty of the same sin as the people who say all games are not fine art.  They have too narrow of a definition.  In order for a narrative game to be treated as fine art, then Tetris needs to be treated as fine art too.  Tetris fits my definition, and my definition allows for narrative games to be included too.  It is much harder (maybe impossible) to give a reasonable definition of fine art and have it only include narrative games.

In conclusion, yes, games can be considered fine art as long as one considers fine art to be original, enduring works of quality.  The NES has at least 7 games that fall into this category (possibly more).  However, none of these 7 games have a strong narrative element.  The NES era was really too early to have many narrative games.  We can reasonably argue that there are some narrative games from later systems that can also be included as fine art as well.  However, in order to do this we need to accept that the games do not require a narrative to be considered fine art.  It isn't the narrative that makes the game fine art.  It is it's enduring quality.  The path to having games be considered fine art is to broaden the definition to include all enduring games and not just games with a narrative.