The US National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) now considers video games eligible for artistic funding, meaning they are legally recognized as an art form. For those not familiar with the NEA, it is a US government program which funds artistic projects to "enhance the public good." In other words, the group decides which artistic projects are worthy of receiving federal funding.

Artists who want to create art for a public place rather than selling it commercially, can apply for a grant of up to $200,000. It would appear that game developers may soon be able to do the same thing, according to Icrontic.

The category formerly known as The Arts on Radio and Television has been renamed to The Arts in Media. As before, it will include film, television, and radio artistic projects, but has also been expanded to encompass satellite-based and Internet-based media (as opposed to just landline-based broadcasts) and interactive media. Here's the official word:

Projects may include high profile multi-part or single television and radio programs (documentaries and dramatic narratives); media created for theatrical release; performance programs; artistic segments for use within an existing series; multi-part webisodes; installations; and interactive games. Short films, five minutes and under, will be considered in packages of three or more.

Game developers who want federal funding for their next game will be competing with filmmakers, TV producers, radio stars, and now Internet firms as well. Still, the NEA only offers grants to art projects, so that narrows down the competition to only those willing to make beautiful content and give it away for free. Artists who wish to apply for a 2012 grant must do so by September 1, 2011.

Whether or not the NEA ends up funding a video game anytime soon is not really that important right now. The news here is that the US federal government now considers video games worthy of artistic merit.