Very recently, a professor from years past posted an article link on my Facebook wall and asked me whether or not I agree with the argument being the made. The piece in question was Liel Leibovitz's "MoMA Has Mistaken Video Games for Art." You can read it here.
I won't summarize the entire argument, as you can read it for yourself, but the crux of Leibovitz's argument is that games are not art because they are code. As Leibovitz puts it, "[...] a few lines of code aren’t an artistic statement, but rather an action-oriented script that performs a specific set of functions. And there are only so many functions computers know how to do: While art is bound only by its creator’s imagination, code is bound by the limitations, more numerous than you’d imagine, of computer comprehension."
Let me be frank: I am a person who doesn't care at all about whether video games are "truly" art. I might be interested in games as an aesthetic experience, but "Art" as deployed in these sorts of debates is always about trying to erect some sort of taste-based bastion around certain types of things. I find that in almost all cases, "debates" around this question are always about something else: anxieties about changing technological and aesthetic landscapes; the desire for one's hobby/obsession/fetish to be taken "seriously"; an effort to acquire funding for one's aesthetic exploits, etc. The specter of art seems to be raised with little attention to the fact that art is not a freely floating transcendental signifier bestowed by god upon appropriately sincere, lovely or serious objects. And this is the same sort of looseness I see in Leibovitz's essay.
So, as copied almost directly from my Facebook rant, this is my response to both Leibovitz's essay and the nay-sayers of this debate more generally: