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Video games are 'art' eligible for your tax dollars

National Endowment for the Arts announces it will fund content for mobile and gaming platforms. What do you think? Are video games art?

Duke Nukem Forever, shall we compare thee to a summer's day? Gearbox Software

One man's Boticelli is another's Duke Nukem Forever. That's the view of the National Endowment for the Arts, which announced this week that "interactive games" will be just one of the new media eligible for federal funding through the NEA's "Arts in Media" program. That's right, the agency that's brought you countless Shakespeare, ballet, and classical music productions is trying to get hip with all the stuff the kids are into these days.

Alice Myatt, the NEA's media arts director, gave the low-down in a video on the NEA site on the new types of content her program is going to be looking to fund with federal tax dollars. These include "content developed for the Web, for mobile phones, and even content for game platforms."

In the past, the program had focused on radio and television, but now looks to be opening itself up to just about all forms of digital creation.

The shift comes as the NEA has come under fire from many Republicans in Washington who have targeted the endowment for budget cuts. In fact, NEA chair Rocco Landesman is on Capitol Hill today making his pitch for funding to Congress. The copy of his remarks I saw didn't mention anything about integrating more Faulkner references into Grand Theft Auto or redesigning Angry Birds using the works of Keith Haring, but that doesn't mean someone isn't already working on the proposals for the September funding application deadline.

In all seriousness, the program isn't likely to fund more literary first-person shooters, but it could lead to the creation of a few really excellent and entertaining apps and games that will be made available to the public for free and allow their creators to get paid. I'm just looking forward to the wine and cheese at new game "openings."