A very interesting question. Now, in my debate club we talked a lot about language and definitions. The problem here, I think, is that there are multiple ways to define certain words. In a debate round, (CCO league at least
) the first thing you do is define the key terms of your presentation. For that reason, let me propose one possible definition of art- the definition I think best applies to the discussion:
"Something developed creatively by one person or group to entertain an audience through the sharing of a story or set of emotions."
Under this definition, Paintings, Sculptures, Music, Films, and yes, Games count as art. Now, whether they are GOOD art is a different question. I'm not a fan of Picasso, for example, but I wouldn't claim that he wasn't an artist- just that he wasn't that great of an artist.
So you CAN objectively say whether something meets a given definition of art. Which brings up the interesting point about the subjectivity of art. On the one hand, there is a great deal of subjectivity on the viewer's part- some techniques or styles might trigger a greater response in some people than others. However, I would also claim that there is such a thing as objective quality in art, and that by gaining a better understanding of art you can develop your ability to recognize and appreciate that quality. For example, I really don't like the "Anne of Green Gables" films, but I recognize that they are good films and good art regardless of whether or not they appeal to my taste, and that with a broader sensitivity to art I could enjoy them (humorous as that sounds). However, "All Dogs Go To Heaven" is not just a film that doesn't suite my tastes, it's objectively speaking a poor film. On the flip side, some films suite certain aspects of my tastes, but I would consider them poor films despite this (G. I. Joe).
Put in FreeSpace terms, Silent Threat: Reborn is better than Silent Threat. If you want an extreme example, if someone went around claiming that Second Great War Part 2 was better than Derelict, we MIGHT tolerate his opinion for the sake of the peace, but we would all agree that his tastes and judgement were less accurate than ours and that he was just plain WRONG
. (speaking hypothetically,of course. Realistically we'd call him out as a troll pretty quick.
Which brings us back to the question: Yes. FREDers are artists (they can be good ones or bad ones). Missions are artwork (good artwork or bad artwork). FREDing is, therefore, a process through which art is created, which is one definition of "art form". The E hit the nail on the head.
That's my chatter on the topic; I won't force anyone to agree, and if you would rather discuss a different definition of "Art" or "Art Form, that's 100% Legit.
And Bullhorn, you're right, I'd normally expect to discuss this in art class or philosophy class. Not that it's a bad question to ask- it's worth thinking about if you want to FRED.