Games that are art: What's your candidate?

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Xzi:
Okami. Duh.

Yeah, this. Okami looks awesome. Especially the scenes where you make the withered trees bloom.

All of the games made with art in mind.

Silent Hill series. Particularly SH2. To me, art evokes emotion and makes you think. There are several games that have done that for me, but SH seems to stand out.

And 'Art' is and always will be a subjective measure. I respect the creative process that goes into making a game, regardless of whether or not plebs like myself (and you all) choose to apply a specific honorific title to the work.

Tele-screen:

Legion IV:

Tele-screen:

Legion IV:
Starcraft, Guilty Gear. Storys are alright but the desighn the balance and just everything. makes them a work of art and its just amazing.

What themes do you see reflected in the gameplay that make them art? Starcraft is indeed brilliant, but has always seemed more like a fantastically updated version of Chess to me. I'm not saying all games are art, just that some are, or are in certain moments. Some games are just great games.

Well mabey am wrong then mabey i should go look up the definition of art lol. Just there so beutifuly desighned and balanced its just like pinniacle of game desighn right there.

Guilty Gears a fighting game and when its played at high levels its mind boggiling and just how creative people are at playing the game. Mabey thats not art mabey am talking about somthing else. I dunno. My applogies.

Ha, no I wasn't saying you were wrong. The definition of art is really nebulous and personal. My particular definition might not be yours, but I really do think that great art direction in a game does not automatically make a game art. It has to have some sort of theme or examination of the human condition that creates a reaction in us through the things that make games distinct, namely the confluence of visuals, sound, and ability to control the outcomes of the game. I'm not a huge Starcraft fan and I've never played Guilty Gear so what do I know.

I think the question you'd have to ask yourself in that debate is what defines art? Can engineering genious be a form of art? Because I think everyone is just thinking of cultural art which would of course include visual and audio prsentation or storytelling. It voils down to whether you define an interactive experience as artistic expression, or just fine craftmanship

All games? None specific. Just everyone in their own way

Xzi:
Okami. Duh.

You could not be more right.
I will also say Condemned and Lost Odyssey.

shadoworc01:
I see why people would use their favorite games -- TF2, Starcraft, Shadow of the Collosus -- but the argument that must be put forth must be emmersive, well executed, and have a compelling story. We need to argue that games are a story telling medium. I put forth Portal, Half-Life 2, Natural Selection, and as a last resort: Psychonauts.

I disagree, games are not strictly a storytelling experience. You can lose yourself in a song, listening to the intricate structure of the song, or even a painting, analyzing every brush stroke for some insight into the artist's motivations. In the same way, you can lose yourself simply in the tight gameplay of a title with little to no stroy other than to provide motivation. Just as when you watch a ballet, you start to see the dancers as a single organic movement rather than partners following a series of steps, you can watch someone play a well made game; geometry wars, street fighter, and start to get the feeling that the player isn't just reacting to whats happening anymore, that they've lost themselves in the subtlest of movements neccesary to stay in the game.

The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
The legend of Zelda Majora's Mask
Bioshock
Lost Odyssey (seems very artsy to me, good story, art, and soundtrack)
skate. (not so much campaign wise but the art style is appealing)
Castlevania: Symphony of The Night, Circle of The Moon, Harmony of Dissonance (basically because i like the art style by Ayami Kojima on these games, seems very appropriate)
Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly (scared the crap out of me but it was a brilliant story, beautiful graphics, and compelling soundtrack)

Ebert just got pwned.

I know plenty would probably consider the artistic style as the criteria, but I prefer the implementation of design. How it flows, how easy it is to pick up and play, how well it flows from event to event, and how good it is at staying consitently fun.

And the nominees are:

Prince of Persia (original) with such exquisite timing in the platforming elements
Portal short and challenging enough to remain fun throughout
Chrono Trigger for ability to present the player with a save the world quest and get them to care about it
Earthbound (Mother 2) having the ability to laugh at the turn-based combat system and miscellaneous absurdities in the genre's mechanics

I'd could nominate a ton for great story, excellence in mechanics, etc so I'll just leave those unmentioned.

But really, art is in the interpretation, the experience, and its ability to survive in notability with the passage of time. Making a good game may have tried and true processes, however its reception and success are determined by its audience rather than its utility, just like any other art form.

Shadow of the Colossus, Portal, Silent Hill 2, Pyschonauts... my list keeps going.

This thread makes me despair. Borderlands? Seriously? Oh dear.

I don't think many video games can be classified as art. Including Bioshock. I want to argue with all of you but I just cant be bothered.

Voice of dissent goooooo!

Skarvig:
I think it's completly hilarious how butthurt everyone's acting.
"Art" is something completly subjective. This means you can say "Hey! This looks like "art" to me!" and you are right. But if someone says "No, it isn't" he is also right. People like paintings by Pollock. For others it is just a huge load of paint, so it isn't art. Both are equally right. It depends on you.
So why is everyone acting so damn butthurt about somehting someone said?
Is there any good explanation?

Well, on topic. There isn't much to say here. For me games are games and they keep being games even if you put something artsy in it. The very fact that you interact with it can't make it art.

The debate about what exactly is art is a classic one. Just because we will never arrive at an answer doesn't mean that the debate itself has no value. All lovers of a particular medium have the responsibility to debate its merits and definitions. Open your mind a bit more and try to see how even a game can express an observation about the human condition.

Anticitizen_Two:

vast empty world

A vast empty world does not make a game immersive thats like saying farcry2 is but it isn't if it's empty then whats there to emerse you into the story.

mkg:

Tele-screen:

Legion IV:

Tele-screen:

Legion IV:
Starcraft, Guilty Gear. Storys are alright but the desighn the balance and just everything. makes them a work of art and its just amazing.

What themes do you see reflected in the gameplay that make them art? Starcraft is indeed brilliant, but has always seemed more like a fantastically updated version of Chess to me. I'm not saying all games are art, just that some are, or are in certain moments. Some games are just great games.

Well mabey am wrong then mabey i should go look up the definition of art lol. Just there so beutifuly desighned and balanced its just like pinniacle of game desighn right there.

Guilty Gears a fighting game and when its played at high levels its mind boggiling and just how creative people are at playing the game. Mabey thats not art mabey am talking about somthing else. I dunno. My applogies.

Ha, no I wasn't saying you were wrong. The definition of art is really nebulous and personal. My particular definition might not be yours, but I really do think that great art direction in a game does not automatically make a game art. It has to have some sort of theme or examination of the human condition that creates a reaction in us through the things that make games distinct, namely the confluence of visuals, sound, and ability to control the outcomes of the game. I'm not a huge Starcraft fan and I've never played Guilty Gear so what do I know.

I think the question you'd have to ask yourself in that debate is what defines art? Can engineering genious be a form of art? Because I think everyone is just thinking of cultural art which would of course include visual and audio prsentation or storytelling. It voils down to whether you define an interactive experience as artistic expression, or just fine craftmanship

If interactivity makes something cease to be art, then is a play or work of performance art that includes audience participation not art? Interactivity has been a part of some works since long before video games.

Ok heres my example that no one has said yet. The action horror game from the last generation, The Suffering. The game takes place in a modern day correctional facility. You play as a convict named Torque who has been sent to death row for allegedly killing his ex wife and two young children. As soon as he arrives all hell breaks loose literally.

Basically a bunch of these monster appear and start slaughtering everyone and everything in the prison. You basically are trying to fight your way out with a variety of weapons. You're even given a rage meter that you can fill and turn into a beast to help kill these monsters whose origin is never really explained. On the surface it just seems like some over the top violent 3rd person shooter game with cheap scare tactics thrown in. But oh no. this game is disturbing on a whole other level. First off the monsters in the game are amazingly designed. They are all based off a method of execution such as the firing squad, lethal injection, hanging, being buried alive. But it's more than that since the island itself has a very dark and disturbing history which you learn about in the game.

However the scariest and most unsettling moments aren't the monsters jumping out at you. It's the moments where you see Torque's family in the game. It's hard to explain just watch.

Finally there was the moral choice system. Yes this game had a moral choice system where you could help some people or kill them and depending on your actions you get a different ending blah blah blah. But this one is different. Now you've probably played plenty of games where you could commit evil acts, but how often did you really feel evil? How often have you ever felt truly appalled at your own actions? How many games have you played an evil character where you truly felt deep hatred for how unbelievably evil he/she is? Well this game does it.

*Warning contains spoilers and possibly the only scenes more disturbing than the Pyramid-Head rape scenes.*

The Suffering does an amazing job of representing the main character's ever decreasing mental state. But is it Art? Of course it is. The design, the sounds, the music, the voice acting.

Movie makers could only dream of making a horror movie that frightens, disturbs, and unsettles the viewer on the level the Suffering does.

Yep, I'd have to agree with the TC on Shadow of the Colossus.

Also, my vote would go to Okami or Rule of Rose as well.

Okami because, well, just take a look at it. It explains itself.
Rule of Rose, while the gameplay isn't the best, has the most creative and abstract way of telling a story I've ever seen. The story itself is depressing and a little morbid but the way it's told makes it beautiful.

Okami for the theme and style, Braid.. just Braid, FEAR2's environments.

Several more i cant think of.

Tele-screen:
Robert Brockway has the best rebuttal to Ebert I've seen yet.

So instead of taking on Ebert's clearly faulty arguments, lets try to come up with the games that are art or have moments that speak to us as human beings amidst all the blowing up, etc.

My offering is Shadow of the Colossus. As anyone who has played it knows (and this next statement is mildly spoilerish) about halfway through the game, you start to notice the toll that your actions are taking on the protagonist and probably begin to realize that perhaps your ultimate goal is not such a good idea. However, the player becomes obsessed with killing all of the Colossi anyway which makes us mirror the character's mental state. In the end, the game reveals itself as a meditation on mortality, morality, and love that borders on obsession.

'The Path' or something like that, the game which is basically red riding hood applied to a very surreal modern time. (haven't really played it so I don't know how to explain it, but the game definitely seemed like art)

Myst. You cannot argue. Resistance is futile.

Bioshock. It's the best example of a video game that absolutely resonates with the human psyche, appealing to every sense (even taste... I dunno about you, but every time I picked up coffee or chips or whatever in Bioshock and heard the little *gulp* or *crunch* I'd get the taste of coffee or chips in my mouth... is that a psychological disorder?).

Assasins Creed 2

psrdirector:

Tele-screen:

psrdirector:
If a toilet can be art, every game is art.

A toilet is only art if it is in the right context for a specific purpose or statement. A urinal in a public restroom installed by a plumber is just a toilet.

If a toilet in any context what so ever can be art, every video game is art. also splashing paint on the wall is not art, its just a crap load of paint.

No, it's still art, just terrible art that should be pissed on since it took no effort what-so-ever. I don't think you can classify art in a specific way, it's so general that it could fit anything. The word art is always compared to things like paintings and pictures for some reason, I think to make it more accurate, everything has some sort of artistic quality and or look to it. Also art is suppose to bring out emotions in people, even if it's the slightest thought. That's my opinion.

Braid. Definitely Braid.

Any of the Myst games have the most surreal and lovely enviroments, each based off of one specific principle.

I also find Odin Sphere to possibly qualify. The endearing character stories, the vibrant areas, the fact that everything from backrounds to character animations to the loading screen was hands drawn and put together for an compeling experience that could have you leaving with a heavy heart or a sense of fullfulment depending on your choices. I'd be far more likely to qualify that as Art then almost any of the lastest blockbusters that leave me bored or nauseaed

Earthbound.

Or whatever its called in Japan. \

That and I would have to say Conker's Bad Fur Day

The Root Beer Guy:
Planescape: Torment. Utterly bizarre, yet absolutely beautiful.

Definitely!
What can change the nature of a man?
Well....playing through "Planescape: Torment" did it for me!

It really made me reflect on my own views on life and the ways it can be experienced.
.......I think I'll give it another run soon.

Alrighty then, since I consider works of literature to be works of art as well, and Shakespeare was effectively the master of pandering to the masses in his day...

Halo is a work of art.

As is Mass Effect.

Roger Ebert has missed the small point that, a century ago, people were saying the exact same thing about movies - that they were not, and would never be, art. Any serious critic would discuss painting, poetry, music, literature and theatre, but utterly decry anything put to film. Now, of course, it's a completely different matter and I think it's extremely close-minded of Ebert not to either know or consider this. Video games are already starting to be studied academically and millions of reviews are written, most of which at least border on critism (that's any that aren't just 100 words long that effectively say 'Yeah it's fun, go buy it!').

When you consider that the first film was shown in the 1890s and the first video game was released in the 1970s, then video games are 80 years behind and if they're developing at a comparable rate then they're only at the stage equivalent to when sound was introduced to film. So who know's where video game criticism will be in another 80 years time.

I also don't get why he says they have more in common with sport than art. First of all, who says a sport can't be art? Art is purely subjective. Secondly, I'd say a defining characteristic of sport is physical involvement, something that most video games lack (with the obvious concession for the recent spate of games that rely heavily on motion sensitive controllers). Most video games require you to sit down in front of a TV and are presented quite cinematically, surely giving them lots in common with cinema? Regardless of whether they are sport or not, they are definitely a form of entertainment, and entertainment can be critiqued.

So what could make a video game artistic? I've seen people argue back and forth about story - I'd argue a game doesn't have to have a good story (hell, some of the greatest movies of all time don't have good stories), it just has to have good storytelling. Personally I'd consider a video game that immerses you in a world where you figure out what's going on by interacting with your environment to be far more artistic than one that hands you the story on a plate. I think the key way in which art works is emotionally - if a film works because you empathise with the characters and watch them develop then surely video games work to an even greater extent because a) you control the characters and are therefore responsible for their actions, or (in more open-ended games) you build a character as a reflection of yourself and b) video games are much longer, allowing you to see more of the world they are based in and more character development - over 80 hours instead of just 2. It's interesting that western games developers go for the cinematic approach, whereas Japanese developers tend to approach games development as though they're creating interactive novels, but in both cases the games are going for something that closely approaches previously established artforms.

Anyway, on topic, games I'd consider art include:

Fallout 3
Final Fantasy VII
Frontier - Elite II
Gears of War
Metroid Prime
Syndicate Wars
The Elder Scrolls - Morrowind & Oblivion

I could go on, but I'll leave it there...

And I agree with just about all the games people have mentioned before me - like Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, Silent Hill 2, FEAR, The Suffering...

The Path
Rez
Psychonauts

It's hard to pick just one.

(as for Silent Hill 2... well I wish the navigation wasn't that hard, I gave up on that title because of the camera angles :( :( :( )

psrdirector:

Tele-screen:

psrdirector:
If a toilet can be art, every game is art.

A toilet is only art if it is in the right context for a specific purpose or statement. A urinal in a public restroom installed by a plumber is just a toilet.

If a toilet in any context what so ever can be art, every video game is art. also splashing paint on the wall is not art, its just a crap load of paint.

I think he was referring to the Dadaist art movement- anarchic art. The toilet was art because it was in an art gallery, don't take that sentence the wrong way, It's not that a gallery makes it art, it's that the urinals placement in there causes reflection on all the other art there. De-familiarization towards everyday experience.
OT: I would put forward Baldur's gate 2, to use a corny phrase it really is an interactive story, but a beautiful one well realized.

Psychonauts.

Johnmw:

psrdirector:

Tele-screen:

psrdirector:
If a toilet can be art, every game is art.

A toilet is only art if it is in the right context for a specific purpose or statement. A urinal in a public restroom installed by a plumber is just a toilet.

If a toilet in any context what so ever can be art, every video game is art. also splashing paint on the wall is not art, its just a crap load of paint.

I think he was referring to the Dadaist art movement- anarchic art. The toilet was art because it was in an art gallery, don't take that sentence the wrong way, It's not that a gallery makes it art, it's that the urinals placement in there causes reflection on all the other art there. De-familiarization towards everyday experience.
OT: I would put forward Baldur's gate 2, to use a corny phrase it really is an interactive story, but a beautiful one well realized.

Yep, pretty much exactly what I'm getting at. No matter how random art may seem, a purely random work is not art. There must be a guiding hand of an artist, some subtle direction that justifies repeat consideration and analysis. Many poets have written poems that seem to violate all laws of grammar and aesthetics and there are painters, like Pollock, who appear to make works that are just splashes of paint and color. But there is something there that is human, and not random. The toilet is the same. It is a utilitarian object in most contexts, but guided by an artist into the right context, it is possible for it to be art.

Super Metroid.

The whole game is about motherhood, beginning with Samus's search for the missing infant metroid, which bonded with her after she killed its mother. When Ridley stole it, she was never ordered to go after it. She did it because of the instinct of motherhood she felt, a theme that reoccurs throughout the game (every boss except for Ridley and Mother Brain have children as well as the turtle and the Dachora with the egg). And when the baby metroid is killed, Samus becomes an unstoppable force, much like any parent when their child is threatened.
Still don't believe me? The name of the space station at the beginning of the game is Ceres, the Roman goddess of motherly love.

The fact that Super Metroid can say so much without saying anything is what, in my opinion, makes it art.

The Root Beer Guy:
Planescape: Torment. Utterly bizarre, yet absolutely beautiful.

Ninja'd.... and in the first post of the thread! Glad I'm not the only fan. This game instantly comes to mind when something comes up about games as an art medium.

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