I was thinking of writing something on the increasing visibility, commentary, and awareness of "Art" games over the last few years. However, a lot of these games are still hiding in remote areas of the Web hoping for champions.
Recent examples would be
The Marriage: http://rodvik.com/rodgames/
What else is there? Go, Go, Qt3 hive-mind!!!
Maybe I'm just a filthy pleb (okay, no maybe about it), but "kwhaaa?!"
I don't get what makes these games art, and what makes more normal games, like, say, Armageddon Empires, not art. If it's about making you think about themes above and beyond the game, then that's a factor of game design, not a factor of whether or not your game is tucked away in some corner of the internet with graphics so bad they'd make a Dadaist cry in pain.
Or is this some PoMo stuff like those poets who write with the goal of creating a specific sound rather than actually generating meaning?
I'm confused. Enlighten me!
This thread is going to inevitably degrade into an "Are games art?" discussion, and I will cry when it does.
Flow and Cloud
The Path and Endless Forest
Whatever that weird Flash game was where you platform through notebook scribbles and poetry (though it was a kinda bad game)
Rod Humble's other games (A Walk With Max, and one or two that are unreleased)
Braid (my game, not out yet, sorry)
Most of the Orisinal games
Mondo Medicals (or pretty much any of cactus' other games)
StdBits (it's one of the Gamma 256 games)
probably Space Giraffe
If I weren't dead tired tonight, I could think of a bunch more.
A good point about the text adventure thing... most of the notable IF games are pretty much art games.
Interpretation. As in you can make your own. It's not a piece of entertainment per se, but a way to evoke an emotional response like modern art attempts.Originally Posted by Aeon221
For me, The Marriage is the most effective at this. It's sufficiently abstract to allow me to put what I want into it, and if I spend time with it, I am rewarded, with something. What exactly I'm not sure, but certainly something.
By contrast games with an obvious message might also be art, but not in the same way as these two. By their nature I think these kinds of games are going to be hiding in remote areas of the web, but it might be nice to create a gallery. A snobbish and haughty one of course.
Of the conventional style of games, I'd say Dwarf Fortress has a large potential for player interpretation.
Oh, and some of the Indie Game Jam games definitely were...
Very Serious Robo Doom
and the game Atman showed last year, the name of which I forget (the ravey looking one).
That which achieves its effect by accident is not art.
I have a tough time believing that a game that is not a good game can also be good art.
Why does it matter if a game is art?
That's like arguing whether a white canvas is art. Even if it is, who gives a fuck except the person who bought it and the guys sucking up to him?
I'd rather have games that are good and, by being good, artistic, rather than games whose primary function is to be High Arte and, by sucking as a game, fail in an epic fashion at both being good games and being art at all.
And every game (that I've played or seen) that has tried to be High Arte rather than a great game has sucked ass.
Besides which, everyone knows the answer is Bioshock. Not that I've ever played it.
IF are one of the standard thing I reach for when non-gamers* disbelieve anyone tries to express themselves via games. They're transparently art and expression in the way that more mechanistic stuff sometimes isn't.Originally Posted by Jonathan Blow
In addition to Shade, I'd add Galatea, Shrapnel and Photopia for other short art IF.
*Or even some Gamers.
What is a good game then? What standard can you apply, across all genres, that determine whether a game is good? Can that standard be tested for repeatable results? The idea that mere accident can't be good is ludicrous. Most of the time the person interacting with the piece can't tell the difference between intentionalism and accident unless that info is given.Originally Posted by Rimbo
Standards of good and bad are just as nebulous as art. But please, let's not derail this by having yet another discussion about the definition of art.
What it means to be a good game is as nebulous and subjective as what it means to be a good movie or a good book or a good painting, etc. Is it supposed to evoke emotion? Is it supposed to be fun? What does fun mean?Originally Posted by AaronSofaer
I think what he means by "art" games is by analogy to "art" films - something created to explore ideas primarily and entertain only secondarily. I don't even think there was any indication, implied or not, that these games were better in some way than traditional games, so I'm a bit baffled by the angry reaction.
EDIT: Portal is a good game that has artistic value. But it is not an "art" game in this sense, because it is crafted to entertain, not simply to explore the medium.
War in the Pacific?Originally Posted by ravenight
I dunno if I'm included in the angry bit, but I'm definitely not angry -- just totally lost. I tried the two games posted and all I got out of them is the feeling I'd get if I spent some time screwing around in MSPaint -- this is okay, but there are better things I could be doing with my time. Like hocking up the disgusting lumps of phelgum pneumonia has scattered willy-nilly through my body. Ick, seriousy.Originally Posted by ravenight
My comment up at the top of the thread was me trying to rationalize what was meant by "art game". I'm guessing, based on the replies, that this is indeed a lot like those poets who write for sound instead of meaning, and that the point of the art game is to go for some other aspect rather than what I consider the, you know, important bit -- the game itself.
Which is fine and all, but I don't see why Armageddon Empires shouldn't be included in that list. I've not seen art that evocative in a long time, and I'm not the only poster in the AE thread to think so.
But I digress. I've clearly got nothing of real substance to add, and now that I kind of get what the hubbub is, bub, I'll bow out.
I've got a problem with "Are Games Art" because I tend to think most abstract art is pretty damn pointless and generally an excuse for salespeople, I'm sorry, gallery owners to spin potential investors on a purchase. So when abstract art in gaming is celebrated I raise the same skeptical eyebrow I do when conventional art is so praised. Whatever. Pretty colors dude.
But I think games can be artistic in the sense that they can express Process like nothing else. How one thing becomes another thing. Film can show you. You can read about it in a book. But in a game you can do it, over and over, from different angles until you utterly grok it. And the degree to which something is communicated or the choice of subjects and how they're arranged does have artistic qualities.
We gamers might talk about them in other terms or in other ways but we're essentially, once you get past whether something runs or not, talking about artistic merit. Why else would we get all criticial if something's merely derivative? We want original content. We don't like lip syncing. That's an artistic, qualitative, judgement.
For the same reason Portal and Bioshock aren't: it isn't a question of "which games are art?" or "what are the most artistically powerful/relevant/whatever recent games?" It is a question of looking at games that are made for the purpose of exploring something - like poetry written for sound, as you say - rather than to provide players with a significant amount of entertainment.Originally Posted by Aeon221
Just noodling around in Passage is kind of pointless and boring. But exploring the way in which the game is represents aspects of life and aging is an interesting experience.
Wow. What an arrogant, self-absorbed prick you are.Originally Posted by Brian Rucker
You might want to expand your horizons a little.
I hate to end the love-fest we have had going for a couple of days, but how is he a prick for having an opinion about abstract art and games as art?Originally Posted by Anaxagoras
EDIT: I think a person can have relatively broad horizons and stil think abstract is shite.
Last edited by Tyjenks; 12-20-2007 at 08:27 AM.
Oregon Trail got across passage's retarded arty meaning years ago.
Except the sound is as much the poetry as is the meaning. Otherwise, why not just write a 5 paragraph expository essay to express meaning?Originally Posted by Aeon221
Really? I think you're creating a false equality of time investment. Even if it's initially not clear, it only takes one play through to get the gist of Passage, which is only a few minutes. Also, there are elements replaying that may not be noticed the first time. The player is participating in an exploration of the author's perspective on his life. The game itself is a process of discovery rather than something you win or lose. It doesn't have to be 10-15 hours of complex decision making with the proper reward structures (You Win!). Actually, the simplified controls, limited interaction, and short length, allow the player to enjoy the discovery and the actual experience of the game rather than fussing over rules. The player isn't wasting their time reading tooltips or trying to navigate arcane interfaces.Originally Posted by Aeon221
The Marriage works the same way. You're exploring the rules (or universe) with the game, rather than just explicitly exploiting them.
Exactly.Originally Posted by ravenight
I agree. It's part of the reason I dropped out of the fine arts program. Strangely, most of my work is impressionistic or abstract. Though, it was less to do with "high art" being worthless and more to do with the realization that the world of fine art is just a game between artists and those who can afford (or who they can convince) to buy their work. I came out with a lot of respect for some relatively kooky artists though. Maybe it's a wash.Originally Posted by Brian Rucker
Again I agree, but I think you're unfairly lumping them in with meaningless "high art" salesmanship since most people making art games aren't making money from them.But I think games can be artistic in the sense that they can express Process like nothing else. How one thing becomes another thing. Film can show you. You can read about it in a book. But in a game you can do it, over and over, from different angles until you utterly grok it. And the degree to which something is communicated or the choice of subjects and how they're arranged does have artistic qualities.
It's as much how it expresses that meaning as the meaning itself that makes Passage interesting. I'd also consider it a different take on the similar themes. Passage explores: living, companionship (or lack thereof), memory, perspective and death all in that simple little game.Originally Posted by Worm
Last edited by Mordrak; 12-20-2007 at 08:53 AM.
Honestly it seems like it really explored a reason to let old geezers go "hm blah blah blah blah blah". I would have appreciated the message more if the score always read zero.Originally Posted by Mordrak
Excellent. See Anax, this is why Brian should not get his opinion tinkled upon before people (who actually have first-hand knowledge) have a chance to give replies or further opinions, which as it turns out may support his nutty, radical ideas about the legitimacy of some art. And by nutty and radical I mean a perfectly good opinion that I sometimes share.Originally Posted by Mordrak
EDITED: for clarification or further muddying. Your choice
Last edited by Tyjenks; 12-20-2007 at 09:12 AM.