US government recognises video games as art

The National Endowment for the Arts adds video games to its list of eligible projects for funding.

Since the eminent film critic Roger Ebert first famously declared that video games could never be art back in 2005, the debate surrounding the artistic value of interactive entertainment has continued to rage on, both inside the video game industry and outside of it.

Now, it appears the US government has thrown its support behind video games, officially making the medium eligible for artistic funding. Earlier this month, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)--an independent agency set up by Congress in 1965 to reward artistic excellence in the community--updated its 2012 radio and television guidelines to include wider forms of digital media, including video games.

The new Arts in Media guidelines (formerly known as Arts on Radio and Television guidelines) make "all available media platforms such as the internet, interactive and mobile technologies, digital games, arts content delivered via satellite, as well as on radio and television" eligible for grants and funding from the US government. These grants, once approved, support the development, production, and distribution of projects.

The updated NEA guidelines mean that video game developers can now apply for federal funding but will still have to compete against projects in other art forms such as film, TV, and radio. According to the NEA, grants generally range from US$10,000 to US$200,000, based on the platform and the complexity of the project. Currently, projects eligible for funding can include "high profile multi-part or single television and radio programs (documentaries and dramatic narratives); media created for theatrical release; performance programs; artistic segments for use within an existing series; multi-part webisodes; installations; and interactive games. Short films, five minutes and under, will be considered in packages of three or more."

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