On Games as the Art of Experiences

John Dewey suggested that many of the arts are crystallizations of ordinary human experience. Fiction is the crystallization of telling people about what happened; visual arts are the crystallization of looking around and seeing; music is the crystallization of listening. Games, I claim, are the crystallization of practicality…Fixing a broken car engine, figuring out a math proof, managing a corporation, even getting into a bar fight—each can have its own particular interest and beauty. These include the satisfaction of finding an elegant solution to an administrative problem, of dodging perfectly around an unexpected obstacle. These experiences are wonderful—but in the wild, they are far too rare. Games can concentrate those experiences. When we design games, we can sculpt the shape of the activity to make beautiful action more likely. And games can intensify and refine those aesthetic qualities, just as a painting can intensify and refine the aesthetic qualities we find in the natural sights and sounds of the world.

-Thi Nguyen (Games: Agency as Art)