The US federal government's National Endowment for the Arts program has declared video games a valid form of art, and eligible for funding.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a federal government program which gives federal funding to artistic projects that will "enhance the public good." To date, the organization has awarded more than $4 billion to "support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities."

This week, the program announced a landmark decision: that "interactive games" are eligible for funding. In the 2012 round of funding, the category formerly known as "The Arts on Radio and Television" is now named "The Arts in Media" and can 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."

Besides marking a clear end to the "are games art?" argument (hopefully) this means that there's the possibility of the creation of games as "public works" -- government-funded works which are released to the public for free, but which the developer/artist can still get paid for.

It's tough competition in that category, though, with games competing against TV, movies, web video producers and radio broadcasts for funding. There's no saying how many interactive projects will be chosen by the agency for funding -- but the inclusion of games in the category at all is a huge step for the recognition of the medium.

This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as It's Official: Games are Art