See, now personally I don't try to quantify my games in terms of their artistic intent. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the beauty of a game and its scope, but that is not what I try to base my judgement of a game on. More than anything else, gameplay is a key for me. I'm looking for something innovative and fun, something that is exciting and unique. It doesn't have to uphold certain principles of art such as form, shape, line quality, etc. (gogo useless Art degree!) Rather, I want something that holds my interest and is unique.
A perfect example of this is the game Minecraft. If you look at the actual "art" of the game, it certainly doesn't hold up to ANY standards. In fact, it didn't hold up to standards 10 years ago. But the innovation and uniqueness of the gameplay make it something that stands by itself. The same can be said for older iterations of FF in comparison to the newer ones. These older games are the backbone of many of the current systems in use such as the job/class system, magic, skills, leveling, etc. I find it hard to think objectively because my influences on what I like are always going to dominate my thinking. I can try to separate it as much as I want, but ultimately it just isn't going to happen. And to be fair, that same notion carries over into the art world also. I can't tell you how many times people would completely disagree in a critique over someone's artwork about it's quality. I would go so far as to say that art is one of THE most subjective subjects there is, because you can't really define art other than the generic terms, which themselves are completely open to interpretation and being bent/broken.
I agree, although I should have clarified it doesn't have to be about artistic qualities at all.
Minecraft is brilliant because of it's simplicity, because of what you can do with the game, and most importantly because it supplements imagination rather than supersedes it. (Although I can't play it because I get motion sickness, so it gets a 0 from me, ;))
And I think that like most things that "imagination" can be criticized, just as the idea or originality of a game can. And although there are times when a game can be "good" just by it's artistic qualities, for example, like a talented painter who can replicate the Mona Lisa, there are those like Josef Albers or Pollock who have both the talent and originality on their side. To push the boundaries of themselves and the artform.
Now with that being said a lot of games including the FF series wouldn't rank at all on that stringent of a scale, and if they did they probably wouldn't be that much fun. However, I think the best "art" rides a fine line between popularity and critical appeal and that's (for me) a very difficult thing to manage.
Before I get in too deep I have a couple more examples. Rift was fun, popular, with some original themes, but ultimately a WoW clone. With another game, L.A. Noire, it was somewhat original and artsy, but lacked "fun" gameplay. Both would receive about the same score for me.
One of my pet peeves (not directed at you) is when I hear "just enjoy the game don't try to over analyze it." But I can't help but do that. Statements like those smack of lazyness and consumption; I want to understand the whys
even if there aren't any.
I guess in the end, I assume I can get away from my biases, but also assume that everything can be criticized. Whether or not it should be is a different story. :)