Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art Games (IGES Part 5)

These "essays" are becoming less and less essay like as a result of me filtering my thought process. Less text + Same message = More successful blog post, in my opinion. Fuck fluff.


If you're familiar with the indie scene, you've most likely heard of an "art game." Popular reference points for me, Braid and Limbo, are generally considered "art games."

That begs the question, "what is an art game?"

An art game is not Halo. An art game is not League of Legends. An art game is not World of Warcraft.

What separates Braid from these games?

--As a side note, I think it's disturbing that the term "art games" even exists. WoW and Braid are both games, but we only consider Braid an "art game." Justin Beiber and Incubus are both artists, but we call both "music" as opposed to "music" and "art music" respectively. We don't call Da Vinci "art art."
Art Art

It is the interpretive potential of a game that persuades us to call it an art game. By it's nature, World of Warcraft doesn't beg much interpretation. Kill monster -- receive reward -- repeat.

Art games do not treat players like mindless drones. They treat players like they are people capable of critical thinking.

Art games lie as far left on the "Art/Business" spectrum as possible and aren't in it for the cash flow.

Art games teach you something about the human condition. They aren't passive experiences, but rather they engage the player to take with them a message or a thought.

It is interesting to note that my regular definition for "art" is essentially "anything with human intention behind it." Video games are inherently intended to be something as they cannot just occur. Thus a distinction must be made between games and art games. Art games have artistic intention -- something that makes you think.

The idea that the visuals of a game allow you to apply the "art" prefix is nonsense. An art game is not pretty. Graphics are superficial (unless being used to express the authors intention). Yes, Braid is an art game, not because of it's beautiful visuals, but because of the backbone of the game.

SPOILER: You do know Braid's about an atomic bomb, right?

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