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I have to say that I agree, at least to a degree, with Starrman on the fact that games are now mainstream. Harken back to ten years ago and I can remember being REALLY excited about the release of the original Half-Life but everyone else just thought I was some kind of freak, or something. Now it's almost as if everyone can just call themselves a "gamer" like it's some kind of iconic title.
I'm not a game dev myself but I have been tinkering with game engines and making mods since the original Quake first came out. Even before that, really, I can even remember toying with everything I could in Wolf3D to try and conjure my own game just from the little tools that people would make. That being said I understand where you're coming from when you say that there's things that you just can't "unsee" but I would tend to agree with Ranger19 as well. I first noticed this about myself when Half-Life came out. At that time I was VERY familiar with the Quake engine(s) and I could tell right away it was just a really amazing TC for Quake 2. I was seriously wandering around in the first level just going "oh I see what they did here" and "Oh that was a clever choice" etc. etc. But I wouldn't say that made me have less of an experience at all. Even now when I play more modern games I find myself appreciating them more and more because of good design choices and clever work-arounds. I also find myself trying to intentionally break certain games but I think this has more to do with who I am as person. Even if I'd never gotten into making mods back in the 90's I could still see myself trying to hop into the back of every dropship I saw in Halo when I first played it.
Either way, art is different things to different people. Try looking up the definition in the dictionary. You'll get a slightly different definition depending on where you look but chances are it will have something to do with an OPINION. To say that one thing is art and another isn't is to simply nullify another person's opinion. For art, by its very definition, is in the eye of the beholder. But then again, that's also just MY opinion on the matter :P
I appologize for the long windedness of my comment after working all night, but games are something I really am extremely passionate about. Perhaps after I'm done here I'll look into a career in playtesting. However, if what the guys at Penny-Arcade have to say is at all true, (see: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/1/25/) then perhaps I'm better off just working nights at Target O_o