"And no sneaky restoring The Last Supper, either!"

Sam Machkovech has a rather bizarre piece in The Atlantic in which he claims that patching video games to fix bugs renders them incapable of being art. He reasons:

“But in terms of buggy, incomplete games reaching the marketplace, the hobby is doing great damage to itself. When video games depend on patches, they lose all artistic potential and become broken advertisements for their future selves.”

I’m not entirely sure I follow that, but I think what he’s saying is that because video games are updated even after their release, they’re never finished and, therefore, never art.

I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous. They’re always doing restorations of movies and paintings and such; why not for video games?

And, anyway, patches are only used to correct glitches and small errors. I don’t think anyone’s going to introduce a patch that completely alters the central artistic vision of a game. (Okay, there are mods. But modding a game to have different-looking characters and weapons is about the same as setting Macbeth  in modern-day Australia. Does that make Shakespeare not “Art”?)


  1. Honestly, I don't like when paintings are "patched" If it falls to ruin, so be it. It just seems strange to mess with someone else's work.Fixing an error in a game is fine, and restoring architecture is fine.LOL, maybe I need to re-think my opinion, or at least be consistent.Perhaps you can 'patch' my comment. : )

  2. Actually, I agree with you about the paintings; I've never liked of messing with them like that either.But what the guy I linked to seemed to be saying–and correct if I'm wrong on this–is that because games get patched, they can't be art.It seems to me to be the same as saying "Well, they restored The Last Supper, so it's not art anymore."

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