In an NPR interview with his cousin/This American Life host Ira Glass (!), Philip Glass mused on the nature of repetition and how it informs his understanding:
I consider the first 20 performances just learning the piece. Think about it this way: If you think about a pianist who plays a Schubert sonata through his whole lifetime – if you listen to Rubenstein or Horowitz playing their repertoire later in their life, you understand the richness with which they play that music, and how differently they must have played it when they were younger. … I think it’s only after about 20 performances that we begin to understand what the dynamic structure of the piece is.
The argument then goes that a game like Skyrim or Mass Effect 2 should be played as many times to truly understand their greatness. But that seems impossible given their length. Then it seems that iPhone games like Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride would meet Glass’ requirements more easily?
PS. Twitter commentor @SparkyClarkson points out: “It’s possible that this tells us more about Philip Glass than about the nature of artistic understanding.”