This question, posed by a newcomer to Philosophy SE was closed shortly after formulated. The same question was asked at the PHILOS-L mailing list, and it merited the following set of responses from professional philosophers (as compiled by the questioner):

A summary of responses is below. A big thank you to everyone who responded. Lots of really useful information.

Berys Gaut, A Philosophy of Cinematic Art treats video games as movies.

Dominic McIver Lopes, A Philosophy of Computer Art, esp. final chapter.

Grant Tavinor, Video Games and the Philosophy of Art.

Chris Bateman at: http://onlyagame.typepad.com/ You might have to surf around a bit to find the right articles, but he's a game designer who's also written a short book about games as art: http://www.zero-books.net/books/imaginary-games

Penny Arcade have responded to Roger Ebert (whose blog I believe started this whole question from my student), the cinema critic. Ebert argues that games are not art, while Penny Arcade... well, I think this comic says it best - http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/4/21/

Dominic McIver Lopes recently published a book on The Philosophy of Computer Art (Taylor and Francis 2009)

The Smithsonian actually has an exhibition on this very topic at the moment http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/, and: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/smithsonian-museum-explores-the-art-of-gaming/2012/04/26/gIQAUGYsjT_story.html

TED at www.ted.com has a number of videos on the topic

Jim Sterling at www.escapistmagazine.com has covered the topic a few times

Others have questioned the exact nature of the question, does he mean playing or designing a video game? Does a musician performing a piece of music written by someone else qualify as art? Is it only art if there is an audience? Does art need to be (potentially) consumed/evaluated by another human being?

Many thanks to all those who have responded,

The wealth of information in this reply provides, I think, some evidence that the question was a bit too hastily closed. Full disclosure: I was the one who suggested the questioner that he might pose the question here, which I now regret, as it is likely that he hasn't felt much welcome.

Coming to my main point: Wouldn't it be advisable to bear with newcomers for some time and only resort to closing a first-ever question after some evidence that he or she is unable or unwilling to spell out his or her concerns in the way that SE favours?

  • 1
    Just in passing: Philosophy.SE is not a mailing list or discussion forum but a Q&A community. The structure of the site strongly favors specific, focused questions arising from practical problems encountered during the study of philosophy. Open-ended questions lacking context and motivation just aren't nearly as constructive as contextualized, tightly-focused concerns.
    – Joseph Weissman Mod
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 14:58
  • That said: yes, of course we should be as welcoming as possible. I just want to note it's not like it was closed permanently or without commentary indicating ways in which the concern could be formulated more appropriately for the medium
    – Joseph Weissman Mod
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 15:01
  • Oh, I'm sure the moderator was just doing their job; but the fact remains that someone came to SE, posted a first ever question, and it was almost immediately downvoted and closed as "not a real question". Anyway, I don't think the kind of standards that apply to people who participate frequently should be automatically made to bear on newcomers.
    – Schiphol
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 15:05
  • 2
    In regards dealing with new users and offering them special privileges/chances, there might be an interesting discussion in there but there's not much more to be done other than wait to close. But remember, closing isn't permanent; the OP can still edit and update the question which the community can review and potentially vote to reopen. Simply having people wait to close poor questions only adds more work for the community, because we then have to constantly recheck old questions. It may not seem like a lot of work with our relatively low volume, but it adds up and will only get worse.
    – stoicfury
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 18:06
  • The real questions are: does the phil.SE community want to accept these kind of discussion questions, is that acceptable to the StackExchange folks who run this network, and will it affect our userbase in an overall positive or negative way (will expert users be pushed away?). I cannot answer these questions definitively, but I'm willing to do whatever the community wants. Personally, I could see a very strict implementation of questions along those lines as being allowed, but it'd have to be precisely outlined so as not to generate a wash of insubstantial discussions.
    – stoicfury
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


As I answered here, it seems to me that the problem is: how much does the person proposing the question is willing to compromise to it? does s/he care to make it better? Comments are there for a reason - if the person does not respond to them (commenting or improving the question), perhaps we shouldn't bother about keeping that question on.

Besides that, I think being a newcomer can influence the outcome of the process in two different ways: older users may not have patience to help making it better or the may be over zealous of not letting the newcomer down.

That's why some criteria is needed so that we don't feel that we are being unfair, neither to this person nor to ourselves, as sometimes it seems that we bother more about the sloppy question than does the person who originally posted it. In this case, pampering the newcomer could be a waste of time.

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