Arty Games

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Arty Games

Five games to use in your next discussion about whether or not games are art.

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I'm getting a broken link

World of Goo

The... story? Setting? Premise? I don't know what to call it, but whatever it is that World of Goo is based in, it works. It's strange. It's different. It's playfully open to interpretation. It's even thought provoking. It communicates indirectly with the audience, which is a pretty artsy thing to do.

(Some people might be tempted to go for Braid, but much of that game is spent paying homage to the classic platformers of our youth, and that sort of thing is likely to sail right over the head of our newcomer.)

I agree about World of Goo. I didn't like Braid too much.
Also. I think Muramasa counts as an arty game

Well... Shadow of the Colossus, Ico and Okami... What else? (someone had to say it)

(Oh, and one of the Katamaris or Locoroco would do too.)

Great article! Agree with your choices as well.

THANK YOU for not mentioning Shadow of the Colossus. Nothing against the game, but I'm just sick of hearing that one over and over. What does it say about our arguments in support of games as art when the same few titles keep cropping up? (Actually, I DON'T like SotC, but that's irrelevant.)

You picked a few really terrific examples here. Which isn't to say Ebert would be moved by them, but I approve nonetheless. Still, I'm waiting for this debate to wrap itself up so we can all get on with our lives.

Shamus Young:
Instead, they will remember the flying entrails and severed heads.

I thought that's where its artistic value lay.

Also, you forgot Immortall.

http://armorgames.com/play/5355/immortall

Planescape:Torment

Emotional Range - Check

The story elements are all crafted in such a way that they actually provoke thought, not competition. You and the game are working together rather than simply trying to beat the stuffing out of it.

The characters are rich, well acted, and by the end of the game you honestly care about both what you did to them and how they reacted.

The narrative turned the RPG genre on it's side by being introspectively epic. I've never played a game that did that before or since.

All excellent choices. I might also be inclined to add in And Yet it Moves as well, with it's interesting artistic style and creative approach to platforming.

i'll second torment over jade empire, while JE is a fantastic game, its combat system is VERY twitchy and if you don't have a decent amount of patience and/or familiarity with gaming your likely to be turned off before the story can really get to you.
torment is perfect since its the only game that did "you can't remember anything" right. granted 2nd edition D&D is kinda of arcane in and of itself, but the game makes it work. and yeah, if you don't feel some sort of emotions for the plot important characters, you have no soul whatsoever.

Rez should be mentioned for obvious reasons.
More importantly, have someone just watch you play "Shadow of the Colossus". Its too tough to control, but its gorgeous all the same.

Oh, and I cannot stress this enough: Novelizing games usually doesn't work and I don't need to tell anyone that movies based on games usually suck. However, turning games into SERIALS works amazingly well. Charles Dickens wrote most of his work in that format, so don't tell me its not justifiable as art, and games with a decent narrative: Mass Effect, a few of the Final Fantasys, Silent Hill, they all work wonderfully with the format.

Every time people mention games are(n't) art without also mentioning The Void makes me sad. So relevant, yet so overlooked because it isn't mainstream.

I really want to get into Planescape: Torment, as it sounds like a great game (developed by Obsidian, I hear?). I just have one question: do I need to play the other Planescapes (if there are any... I didn't check) to understand the storyline of PS:T? If not then I'll get ready for a fun game right away.

I did a speech about this for my English exam in school. I used Scribblenauts (creativity) Tower of Shadows (creativity again) Okami (art style) and The World Ends With You (modern art and moral message).

glad someone brought this up.

Not really art, nor the best introduction to gaming, but for me no story has gripped me more than The Darkness. Fun too.

Let's see... Shadow of The Colossus springs to mind. Kingdom Hearts could possibly be considered some form of art. SoTC, were it a picture, would paint an empty idyllic field with beautiful calming colors. It doesn't imply or say anything, but it still gets to you. KH would be a colorful mosaic painting, containing wide range of pieces to form a happy and childish painting.

If you talk about games being art and do not mention The Void or Pathologic, everything you say is instantly disregarded.

"The game is about a soul that accidentally lingered in the Void, before absolute death. The Void is a purgatory-like place, in which the most valuable thing is Color, a liquid that represents lifeforce. Color is scarce and famine is a usual thing for its dwellers - beautiful naked Sisters and deformed monstrous Brothers. Color is a universal resource in the game - at the same time it is the hero's health, armor, stats and ammo. With the help of Nameless Sister, the soul finds out that there is a way to escape and be reincarnated again on the surface, but in order to do this the player must disguise himself as one of the Brothers and eventually confront them." (from Wikipedia)

EDIT:

Snacksboy:
Every time people mention games are(n't) art without also mentioning The Void makes me sad. So relevant, yet so overlooked because it isn't mainstream.

Holy shit! *high-fives*

I think the problem with the list, is not that it's bad, but that many people would not consider any of those art for no other reason that they're not really that "artsy".

The list is great if you want to show videogames can be a respectable form of media, but if you want to show videogames as art I would be more inclined to stuff like "today I die": http://www.ludomancy.com/games/today.php

Aura Guardian:
I'm getting a broken link

World of Goo

The... story? Setting? Premise? I don't know what to call it, but whatever it is that World of Goo is based in, it works. It's strange. It's different. It's playfully open to interpretation. It's even thought provoking. It communicates indirectly with the audience, which is a pretty artsy thing to do.

(Some people might be tempted to go for Braid, but much of that game is spent paying homage to the classic platformers of our youth, and that sort of thing is likely to sail right over the head of our newcomer.)

I agree about World of Goo. I didn't like Braid too much.
Also. I think Muramasa counts as an arty game

Agreed on Muramasa.

Personalty i think Metroid Prime could also be considered an Artistic game.
Between the Environments, Creatures, and the Soundtrack...
It was an amazing experience, and still is.

Myst: I know there are lot of self-proclaimed gamers who don't like it -- it isn't a game, blah, blah, blah. Before Myst, though, I not only had never owned a computer game, I'd never even played one. They simply didn't interest me at all. Myst not only reached out and grabbed me and wouldn't let go, it launched me into the hobby. And I think the "games as art" argument can be applied equally well to pretty much any game in the series.

Grim Fandango: Please tell me a story centered around a society of animate Día de los Muertos dolls combined with film noir is somehow not art. I dare you.

L.

scifidownbeat:
I really want to get into Planescape: Torment, as it sounds like a great game (developed by Obsidian, I hear?). I just have one question: do I need to play the other Planescapes (if there are any... I didn't check) to understand the storyline of PS:T? If not then I'll get ready for a fun game right away.

I don't believe there are any other PC games set in the Planescape universe. I may be wrong, but I think it's based on an offset of the D&D table-top game, which I would love to get into. The PC game is wonderful - my favourite game of all time by far. Incredible characters, very philosophical, fantastic setting...holy shit, it's good...

Great article, though! Glad 'artsy' games are finally getting some mention - I find more and more these days I'm far more interested in oddball indie games than I am in mainstream smash hits. World of Goo was orgasmic :)

I love that you gave "The Longest Journey" as an example, it's completely justified. I do have a question, however: you'll mention Sam & Max and Monkey Island, but not Grim Fandango??? Tsk, tsk, tsk!
Planescape: Torment probably deserved a nod as well for it's gripping storytelling and brilliant score (oh, and it's a great RPG, too).

Gigaguy64:

Aura Guardian:
I'm getting a broken link

I agree about World of Goo. I didn't like Braid too much.
Also. I think Muramasa counts as an arty game

Agreed on Muramasa.

Personalty i think Metroid Prime could also be considered an Artistic game.
Between the Environments, Creatures, and the Soundtrack...
It was an amazing experience, and still is.

Right on. Those are pretty arty.
As well as this gem

Aura Guardian:

Gigaguy64:

Aura Guardian:
I'm getting a broken link

I agree about World of Goo. I didn't like Braid too much.
Also. I think Muramasa counts as an arty game

Agreed on Muramasa.

Personalty i think Metroid Prime could also be considered an Artistic game.
Between the Environments, Creatures, and the Soundtrack...
It was an amazing experience, and still is.

Right on. Those are pretty arty.
As well as this gem

Oh man your gonna make me cry.

I love Ikaruga.

The Touhou games are also Hell Shooters that are Artistic.

The ONLY game I would classify as captial-A Art is Homeworld.

The first one, excluding all sequels/expansions.

hendersonl:
Grim Fandango: Please tell me a story centered around a society of animate Día de los Muertos dolls combined with film noir is somehow not art. I dare you.

L.

Okay, it's not. It's a game. If I could be arsed, I'd write a long, boring passage on why games shouldnt be art, and why I can't understand why we want to compare an enjoyable hobby to a hundered year old form of "reading to much into things". Simply looking nice or being awesome doesn't make something art, and it shouldn't. It's sad that as gamers we can't accept our own medium of good enough without having to slap the lable of "art" over the top of it. Is our collective self-esteem really that low?

Gigaguy64:

Oh man your gonna make me cry.

I love Ikaruga.
The Touhou games are also Hell Shooters that are Artistic.

True but not as artistic as a Treasure game. I'm a Treasure fan. So you can guess what I think of those bullet hell games.

EDIT:Don't I always make you cry...in a good way?

scifidownbeat:
I really want to get into Planescape: Torment, as it sounds like a great game (developed by Obsidian, I hear?). I just have one question: do I need to play the other Planescapes (if there are any... I didn't check) to understand the storyline of PS:T? If not then I'll get ready for a fun game right away.

Developed by Black Isle, which is basically the people who formed Obsidian when the studio closed. I'm picking knits there, but hey. BIS deserves to be remembered fondly.

As far as the story. . . at least understanding what Planescape is makes the process easier. It's very strange and downright illogical. Kinda why it's so brilliant. This gives you most of what you need to know.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planescape

Good luck finding it. Last I heard it was only really available on Gametap or illegal download. Wizards killed any licensing for the 2nd ed campaign settings after they went to third ed, so the chance of this getting released on something like GOG is slim and none.

Jhereg42:

scifidownbeat:
I really want to get into Planescape: Torment, as it sounds like a great game (developed by Obsidian, I hear?). I just have one question: do I need to play the other Planescapes (if there are any... I didn't check) to understand the storyline of PS:T? If not then I'll get ready for a fun game right away.

Developed by Black Isle, which is basically the people who formed Obsidian when the studio closed. I'm picking knits there, but hey. BIS deserves to be remembered fondly.

As far as the story. . . at least understanding what Planescape is makes the process easier. It's very strange and downright illogical. Kinda why it's so brilliant. This gives you most of what you need to know.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planescape

Good luck finding it. Last I heard it was only really available on Gametap or illegal download. Wizards killed any licensing for the 2nd ed campaign settings after they went to third ed, so the chance of this getting released on something like GOG is slim and none.

Black Isle, sorry. I knew it was something along those lines.

It's depressing to hear about the rarity of the game itself. Oh well. Good things are hard to find, I suppose.

I'm going to pick Braid, not because of all the platform homages (Donkey Kong bit cracked me up), but for the Last level. That level alone convinced me I was participating in high art. Great art can cause you to skew your perceptions, defer your usual thoughts and experience a new feeling.

I got that from Braid. Those who played the game know exactly what i'm talking about. A simple change in the flow of time changes my entire perception of what was going on. Suddenly i'm questioning everything i witnessed up to that point.

That is the essence of art.

Good list but personally I'd put Passage on the top of that list (you can download it at http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/jason-rohrer/ ). It's short and easy to understand so the argument is carried out effectively and the "artsyness" of the game lies in the gameplay so it is impossible to duplicate in any other medium.

Also I love the void and it is truly a great and very interesting game. It is not however something you use to convince someone with. It demands a lot from the player that people new to the medium have problem with. Controlling a 3d environment is very hard if you're not used to it and the resource management that game requires is really hard for most avid gamers.

Funny, I only just picked up Portal last week and am partway through.

(What? Don't look at me like that... I haven't had a game budget again until very, very recently.)

I'm not sure it's art, really. It's different, it's clever, it's brilliant, but I don't know for certain if it's what anyone besides a (semi-)dedicated gamer would call "art."

Interesting shout-out to Homeworld up there; I think I'd back that over Portal, to be honest. Nice pick.

It may be too intense for most people but I said The Suffering in an earlier discussion.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.190169-Games-that-are-art-Whats-your-candidate?page=4#5920086

Not only is it very scary and disturbing on several levels, it also explores the American prison system and the whole prisoner/corrections officer dynamic.

zala-taichou:
Well... Shadow of the Colossus, Ico and Okami... What else? (someone had to say it)

(Oh, and one of the Katamaris or Locoroco would do too.)

Great article! Agree with your choices as well.

if there was one game i would call art it would be okami. it's not hard to see the art in it, even for a non-gamer. it's also not art only because of it's gfx, the whole game is. ico is also a god choise. not a big fan of sotc myself, but i can see why you picked that one.
katamari and locoroco are just beyond art :)

flow and flower looks pretty artistic too. never 'played' them though :(

also, i'd call bayonetta art, haven't played that one as well :(
i'd also consider prince of persia: the sands of time as art. the flow of the game and the environments are wonderful. the combat was pretty easy but so satisfying and awesome it's somethign you just play and enjoy. (except for the 2 or 3 harder puzzles were you need to start thinking and make sure you don't overlook anything...)

thanks for sharing that video about The Void. didn't know about this game. it looks relaly interesting. reminds me of The Path (should play that one)


damn this video alone already got me so immersed.

i see that many of the smaller games (like flashgames on sites like kongregate) tend to be more artistic than the big production games.

What about "The Path"?

After all, it breaks Ebert's strongest criterion, in that it doesn't have anything resembling a "win". Not the best thing for a child, but the interface is staggeringly simple, so it's not so bad for an artistically inclined adult.

Also:
Why are we still debating whether or not games can be art? Games are clearly a sport. :-P

I found the Shivering Isles DLC for Oblivion to be pretty artsy, though I'm sure many will disagree. The setting was great, and the way it was done really set it apart from the main game.

You're only talking about commercial games. Of course there won't be a lot of art there. Try some mods, dude. Chances are that if it's a mod, and it does not have the word 'zombie' in the title, it is already more arty than the average commercial game.

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