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Games are Art
August 9, 2008 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Pathologic sucked. Everyone said so. That doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile, of course; some art is flawed. (Games are art, right?)
posted by sonic meat machine (63 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Always great when you realize you forgot to finish the post title.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:01 PM on August 9, 2008


Hmm, I hate games that require thought, but this looks interesting.
posted by orthogonality at 9:12 PM on August 9, 2008


Games are art, right?

No.
posted by dydecker at 9:15 PM on August 9, 2008


Yes.
posted by nola at 9:18 PM on August 9, 2008


Some art is flawed, usually the stuff made on Mondays.
posted by Brian B. at 9:21 PM on August 9, 2008


Damn, I'm never posting after midnight again.

If you enjoy the article from Rock Paper Shotgun you might want to continue reading with parts two and three.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:21 PM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Games are art, right?

In that games that suck represent peices of art that suck, yes.
posted by Artw at 9:22 PM on August 9, 2008


I've never played Pathologic (having only Macs), but after reading the final link above a few months ago, I'd certainly like to.

Games are art, right?

No.


I'd agree that most aren't, but I think occasionally a game can be considered art. For example, I think the Myst games could be considered works of art. Pathologic sounds like it could be as well, although like I said, I've never actually played it.
posted by blm at 9:26 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If videogames are art, then bouncing a ball against a wall is living life to the fullest.
posted by dydecker at 9:31 PM on August 9, 2008


Games are art, right?

Well, I - Ah! I see what you did there. No, you won't trick me into that black hole of a discussion.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:32 PM on August 9, 2008


If games are art, and plays are art, then a videogame that looks good but sucks is like a play with crap writing and performance but a really nice costumes and set.
posted by Artw at 9:35 PM on August 9, 2008


Some games are art, some games are not.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:44 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, video games aren't art, because only oil paintings are art.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:46 PM on August 9, 2008 [12 favorites]


Games can certainly be art. Final Fantasy, God of War, Super Mario Galaxy, Katamari Damacy, Ico. I could make a strong argument that all are truely art. The latest edition of Madden, maybe not so much. Anyone who can't even imagine the idea of games as art cleary, hasn't played anything worth playing. I honestly don't get why so many people have no problem seeing film or tv as art, but add interactivity to the experience and it's worthless.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:52 PM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Artw, Pathologic looks terrible and has bad writing but an incredible premise. Read the RPS article.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:52 PM on August 9, 2008


There's no chance that, rather than actually attempt to dig up the fucking horse's dessicated bones in order to have one more go at it, you could instead find, in one of the hundreds of previous protracted and gratuitous discussions of this issue, the comment best representing your point of view and simply include it here by reference and call it a day? E.g.:

Games are art, right?

72744#2158618
posted by dydecker at 11:15 PM on August 9 [+] [!]


70365#2064116
posted by nola at 11:18 PM on August 9 [+] [!]


No? Right then, carry on.
posted by enn at 9:55 PM on August 9, 2008


The entirely legitimate copy of Pathologic I didn't even get at all a torrent wouldn't run on my poor machine. I'd forgotton about that particular loss, thank you sonic meat machine.

Games are art in the same way that films are art - some are thoughful, beautiful experiments musing on the ways of humanity, and others are The Love Guru. Just like some paintings are Guernica and others are black velvet portraits of dogs playing poker. The medium itself is never what makes a piece art; it's entirely the message that gives it definition.
posted by Jilder at 9:59 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe talk about Pathologic rather than the games as art thing, enn. I should have just linked to the article with no snark.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:00 PM on August 9, 2008


70365#2064116
posted to MeFi by BeerFilter at 11:40 PM on March 30, 2008

posted by BeerFilter at 10:04 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't get why so many people have no problem seeing film or tv as art, but add interactivity to the experience and it's worthless.

I honestly don't understand what difference it makes whether games are art or not. Games can be worthwhile to gamers irrespective of whether there's any consensus that games are art.

I guess my problem is that I struggle with the question "is this art," if it's asked in isolation. Is it art for what purpose? What are you trying to accomplish that requires distinguishing art from non-art?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:06 PM on August 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


The debate of video games as art is just one of those things that you seal in a big, cheap Chinese suitcase, label randomly with someone else's address, and hope it explodes on the way so only some other boxes are caught in the blast.
posted by perianwyr at 10:24 PM on August 9, 2008


X is art.
posted by oddman at 10:30 PM on August 9, 2008


I'd never heard of Pathologic, and I missed that RPS article. The premise does sound fascinating. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Sibrax at 10:30 PM on August 9, 2008


Games really haven't figured out how to solve the divide between story and gameplay yet, so most 'story driven' games just treat the player like a lab rat who has been trained to push buttons until a nugget of story is dispensed. In this case, it seems like a rich story has been grafted to a tedious survival simulator, and it's the latter that causes most people to give up on the game.

Many of the comments for the Rock, Paper, Shotgun articles argue that the tedium is necessary for the feeling the story is trying to evoke, but that strikes me as lazy storytelling. A novel would never get away with having 700 pages of minutely detailed survival journal (1:00 pm: ate a root. 1:10 pm: searched for more roots. 1:20 pm: no roots found. 1:30 pm: saw a bird...), so why should a game? On some level, the purpose of art is to be a shortcut to certain experiences, so making a player experience tedium and hopelessness by literally making him perform a tedious and hopeless task is the weakest form of art, mere simulation.

Games don't have to be fun, but they do have to be compelling, and having to slog through 35 hours of survival simulator for thirty minutes of story is not compelling in my book.
posted by Pyry at 10:34 PM on August 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ohh, mystery-meat navigation combined with a "what is art" debate!

Pyry: Just as a point of fact. Both cinema and performance art have long since evolved beyond the need for a "story" in order to be considered "art*" Most cinema is driven by story, and so is quite a bit of live performance, but neither require a story to be worthwhile. I'm profoundly unconvinced that the way to qualify games as an artform is to point to the story that drives events. Games with minimal or no story such as Tetris and The Sims certainly should be considered on the basis of their design.

* Well, actually, cinema had its non-narrative elements fairly early.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:49 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Games with minimal or no story such as Tetris and The Sims certainly should be considered on the basis of their design.

Of course, but that's different from what people usually argue. Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to say video games are artistic on a visual level or a puzzle has good design. But trying to lump games in the with narrative storytelling arts such as novels, film, tv, plays is an exercise in futility. Ptry has it right: Games are in fundamental opposition to the narrative arts precisely because they are interactive.

A story is a series of events that forces a character to make decisions, and it is the nature of those decisions that reveal his character, and by extension an artist’s view of human nature. But if a player has control over the choices a character makes, he is not being told the story; he is telling the story. He's either a suicidal Pacman or a cunning Pacman. But because it's not the artist, it’s himself, you cannot really call this experience art, or at least narrative art: there can be no vision of “what people are like” coming from the artist because the decisions the characters make are outside of the game creator’s control; and the more control he tries to impose, the less game the experience is.
posted by dydecker at 11:40 PM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Games with minimal or no story such as Tetris and The Sims certainly should be considered on the basis of their design.

Right. The art is in the interaction, not in how much they resemble some other, already accepted artform (ie: painting, theater, etc.)
posted by signal at 11:41 PM on August 9, 2008


sorry that last sentence should read "less game-like"
posted by dydecker at 11:42 PM on August 9, 2008


dydecker: If videogames are art, then bouncing a ball against a wall is living life to the fullest.

When you're not feeling so reductionist, you might want to try Mindwheel, written by Robert Pinsky. You know, Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky? The one who wrote a wonderful article in the NYT over a decade ago about how games are art?
posted by kid ichorous at 11:59 PM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


> But if a player has control over the choices a character makes, he is not being told the story; he is telling the story. He's either a suicidal Pacman or a cunning Pacman. But because it's not the artist, it’s himself, you cannot really call this experience art, or at least narrative art: there can be no vision of “what people are like” coming from the artist because the decisions the characters make are outside of the game creator’s control; and the more control he tries to impose, the less game the experience is.

And yet there is a whole subset of what is -- by definition -- art, centered around the idea that the art can be explored, interacted with, and, to widely varying extents, created in its viewable form by the viewer.

I would argue that many games contain exactly what you are calling "narrative art" -- there are well-realized characters, with motivations, inner struggles, incredibly difficult or impossible choices. Games with story arcs and surprises and revelations and dei ex machinis, and with real, compellingly crafted insights into the human condition through the lens of the story and its characters. That the player can made decisions and guide the protagonist does not change this. In fact, by and large, decisions made by the player are decisions that were deliberately written into the game by its creators.

The level of interactivity and player-guided storyline is a new layer -- and one that will only expand with each generation of the medium -- which makes it difficult to compare in a precise way to other art forms. But (to strain a metaphor) simply because, say, movies take a great deal of what made stage performance "art", and added new artistic layers like cinematography, visual effects, opening title sequences, does not mean the only "art" to behold in a movie are its commonalities with theater. And similarly, narrative art is only one part of what makes a video game masterpiece a masterpiece.
posted by churl at 12:15 AM on August 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: I should have just linked to the article with no snark.
posted by blm at 12:30 AM on August 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Spoiler-warning: the RPS review is definitely not spoiler-free.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:33 AM on August 10, 2008


If you take any specific audiovisual component of a game (a texture or a 3D model, a piece of music, the script for the story) and display it stand-alone (enlarge the texture, frame it and display it in a gallery, perform the music live etc.), you can, according to the popular definition, call it a work of art. Bad, mediocre or good, but art nonetheless. A drawing is certainly art. A composition is certainly art.

Yet, when you combine the necessarily vast amounts of these discrete pieces of art into a cohesive whole, add narrative and gameplay mechanics and call it a game, then according to some people, the end result is no longer art. It's suddenly less than the sum of its parts. In their minds, the interactivity and/or the combination of things somehow nullifies all the separate pieces of art so that they together aren't art anymore.

I don't get that, especially considering that one might even view the programming behind the gameplay mechanics as art, too, or the performances of the motion capture artists, or pretty much any component of the game. Crazier things have been called art in the past.

A random mishmash of artworks thrown together wouldn't necessarily be art in itself, but I stress the "cohesive whole" part. I certainly see games as art, just as I do any scripted TV show. Calling something "art" isn't expressing an opinion about its quality, so I have no qualms about using the label liberally.
posted by lifeless at 12:37 AM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Way to stick on topic guys (the game, remember?)

This game sounds like it's got amazing potential. However, it's not very likely that I'll be playing it anytime soon, for a few reasons.

The big reason being that I just REALLY don't want a depressing experience at this point in time. Just reading the review made me feel depressed, so that doesn't fare well for me actually playing it. Also, since I've been on an Oblivion kick recently, I don't think I can handle a game with much minutia at this point.


And we're still having that bullshit debate about whether games are art or not? Look, games CAN be art, just like movies, comic books, regular books, and pornos can be art. Doesn't mean that all of them are, but they all have the potential.

And if you really think about it, pretty much everything can be art if you consider it to be such.
Any doubters out there, try this exercise; see what you can come up with that matches any of the definitions outlined here for art. Don't limit yourselves to just one of the definitions, I defy you to accept ALL of them.
posted by agress at 12:39 AM on August 10, 2008


Describe the "character" of Mario. You can't because he doesn't have one.
posted by dydecker at 12:53 AM on August 10, 2008


I really appreciate this post because I had never heard of Pathologic until now, but the "are games art?" discussion is the most pointless and arbitrary thing ever. Can't we just talk about how certain games resonate with us without trying to somehow authenticate them as high culture? Oh please oh please??

Also that Eurogamer review is pretty much the perfect example of why I can't stand game reviews (especially ones with scores). This guy seems to love the game, though he can't quite explain why, and he gives it a 6, which in the game review score world is supposed to be interpreted as slightly above horrible. It makes no sense.
posted by palidor at 12:58 AM on August 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Describe the "character" of Mario. You can't because he doesn't have one.

He's a toddler. With a moustache.
posted by Artw at 1:03 AM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just now got done playing that new Xbox Live Arcade title Braid. It took several hours, and all in one sitting, too.

I loved every minute of it. So did a lot of other folks.

The environments are lush summerlands, bleeding light and color like a three-dimensional oil painting, the texture and form of the world shifting as you traverse the sun-drenched fields and leafy hillocks. Even the darkness is beautiful.

The gameplay is inspired. The overarching theme is that of time -- throughout the game you can reverse your every action right back to the beginning of the level, ensuring that you never die or get stuck. But each of the game's worlds is infused with its own bizarre laws of causality.

One ties the flow of time to your physical position -- walk forward and time advances, walk back and the world rewinds. Another gives you a gold ring to deploy that slows time to a crawl for anything that comes near it. Another lets any rewound action play out again with a shadow version of yourself, allowing you to do other things at the same time in another place. And so on.

The soundtrack is haunting and beautiful, enjoyable even when heard outside the context of the game. And it serves as a helpful cue when the music is distorted by your actions, reversing, skittering forward, and slowing to a low moan as you play tricks with time.

And the story? The usual themes are there: love, betrayal, sacrifice, memory, longing, all told in a prose that is literate, lyrical, almost biblical in style. It submerges the story in a subconscious mood, like a deep and vivid dream. I won't spoil the details, if you can call them that. Suffice to say that it is nonlinear, abstract yet moving, and something that really makes you think. And the ending is, as they say in the biz, a total mindfuck.

And if that isn't art, my friends, I don't know what is.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:11 AM on August 10, 2008


Mario is a chivalrous knight, working as a plumber. He cares very deeply when his love (princess daisy/peach) is in peril, and goes to the ends of the world and beyond to rescue her. He'll pretty much do anything, from eating strange cuisine (magic mushrooms,) to wearing a ridiculous self-contained sprinkler (see Mario Sunshine) to accomplish his goal.

He is tenacious, steadfast, and all the while still aware of the strange and magical surroundings that he finds his NYC self in. He would be played either by Jack Black or George Clooney.

Ultimately, if you were going to be a real bitch about it, I suppose you could always just watch the Super Mario Brothers live action movie. It's really bad, but it does show character, and I found it to be rather fun. But I do have a soft spot for bad movies...
posted by agress at 1:16 AM on August 10, 2008


Describe the "character" of Mario. You can't because he doesn't have one.

Mario is the Italian-American patron god of plumbers, hallucination, octal numbers, and one-ups.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:31 AM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Describe the "character" of Mario. You can't because he doesn't have one.

THIS IS WHERE MY FANFIC COMES IN, MON AMI
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:37 AM on August 10, 2008


Mario obviously has a saviour complex, which seems to indicate low feelings of self-worth, an extreme need for validation, and perhaps some abandonment issues.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:43 AM on August 10, 2008


Thanks for the links to Pathologic reviews. I'd never heard of the game before, it sounds quite interesting. It reminds me a bit of DEFCON in being an artistic take on bleakness and emptiness. That Eurogamer review is good games writing too. Sadly, I'm just not patient enough to play a game with awkward gameplay and technology anymore.

I can't believe all the wankery about "games as art". Guys, it's not 2001 anymore, that debate is not even provocative anymore. Rhaomi, I'm enjoying Braid too, both for its aesthetics and for its very creative gameplay. That's an easy one to call art though; it's indie, it has lush music, and it looks like a watercolor painting.
posted by Nelson at 8:18 AM on August 10, 2008


Reading a bit more about Pathologic it sounds like the game was a huge success on its initial release in Russia. Then it fell victim to bad international marketing; lousy translation, late release, probably not working the gaming press well. That last RPS commentary summarizes the problem nicely:
Back when it was released in Mother Russia, Pathologic was drenched in awards. Game of the Year, in many cases. And yet no one outside its home country has even heard of it. That makes me more upset than if it were a book or movie, because a great book or movie can still be discovered years after release. Games only have a limited lifespan in which to achieve recognition because after that they become outdated, and few people are going to want to go near them.
There is a fan retranslation project, but from the reviews it sounds like the game engine doesn't hold up well either.

The Pathologic developer is Ice-Pick Lodge. They have a new game called Тургор (Tension). They've developed an English translation and are working on a release. Some previews: a 215MB video trailer, and stuff on Youtube: один, два, три. The art looks beautiful, hard to tell from the trailers if it has the same narrative experimentalism that the Pathologic reviewers liked.
posted by Nelson at 8:53 AM on August 10, 2008


Okay, if anyone can point me to well-written reviews of Pathologic and BioShock that give away the "big reveals" with the grace with which the author of the RPS review hinted at the twists, I'd be thrilled. I'll never play the games but damn if I'm not a sucker for a good story.
posted by lizzicide at 9:05 AM on August 10, 2008


The RPS review was lovely. Thanks.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:45 AM on August 10, 2008


dydecker: But trying to lump games in the with narrative storytelling arts such as novels, film, tv, plays is an exercise in futility. Ptry has it right: Games are in fundamental opposition to the narrative arts precisely because they are interactive.

Except that none of those examples are necessarily narrative storytelling either. (Although one can argue that non-narrative literature falls outside of the domain of the "novel.") There is non-narrative, literature, film, video, and live-performance. There are even examples of all of the above that have been built to incorporate responses by the audience.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:11 AM on August 10, 2008


Of course video games are art. Anyone still trying to be the gatekeeper of what is and isn't art is stupid.

Having said that, I think that when people talk about video games using art language, they're often talking about the wrong games. Most "story-oriented" games lack the character development and rhythm of good films or novels intentionally. If they'd have those things, you'd get bored and want to spend more time playing and less time watching.

To me, the games that are truly successful as works of art are games like Tetris, Pac-Man, Defender, Joust, leading all the way to current games like Wario Ware and Electroplankton. These games are successful because the designer has created an interesting design and set of game mechanics. When carried through to completetion, this design and game mechanics yield surprising results.

I wrote more about this here.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:41 AM on August 10, 2008


Of course they're art. They get put in art galleries.
posted by juv3nal at 11:03 AM on August 10, 2008


Anyone who's interested in experiencing the game can download a demo consisting of the first four days here.
posted by EarBucket at 11:53 AM on August 10, 2008


Actually, that one appears to be dead. Get it here.
posted by EarBucket at 12:01 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Y'all should listen to Dr. Steve Elvis America etc.

Unless you can provide some context for why you want to know whether or not video games are a form of art, the whole discussion is meaningless.

"Video games are art." "Video games are not art."

Both of those sentences are nonsense statements without more context. You might as well say "Video games are chfloglforple."

"Are video games interesting enough to be worth linking to a serious discussion of one in a fpp?" Well, when you put it that way. Duh.
posted by straight at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2008


Video games are NOT chfloglforple.
posted by LordSludge at 4:15 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah? So you're saying a TV show or a movie can be considered chfloglforple, but a videogame somehow doesn't meet your chfloglforple criteria?
posted by sleevener at 4:58 PM on August 10, 2008


In all seriousness, something about the debate seems important (and I recognize that it might not BE important, at all), and the reason is that, given the whole history of art and artifact, and all of the shifts in medium it's seen (from cave wall to Grecian urn to Fluxus happening to Pierrot le Fou blowing up his head with pretend dynamite on celluloid), and all of what it's told us about ourselves and our tiny human lives, and all of the techniques it's used (far more than one human being could learn in a hundred lifetimes, let alone one), and especially given that art's vocabulary and syntax are self-nourishing, and that new ideas and modes grow in between and on top of the old, and in between and on top of new technologies -- given all of that, it's more than a little maddening to be told that videogames can't be a part of art, a part of how we externalize what we mean to ourselves, NOT NOW OR EVER, because elegant, skillful programming and thoughtful design don't even have the potential for this.

Art isn't finally one thing and not another -- it's neither narrative in its totality, nor non-narrative, obviously -- it operates on resemblances, notions, gestures, and connections, much more so than on rules of what it is or isn't. It's a warm, viable, socially-intertwined, deeply human activity. It absorbs and transforms and constantly disobeys its own rules.

This is exciting news for those of us who can't wait to see what's next, and even more exciting for those who CAN SEE what's next before it gets here. It is a self-imposed failure of imagination (which ironically the best art of the past does much to cultivate) to rule whole fields of endeavor out of bounds for art, but I guess that's how some people gotta be. I don't care about convincing those people, because fuck them. But I think it's a topic worth hashing out, to find where the potential lies and get at it. Which would you rather play, a game that was written as a work of art, or one that wasn't?
posted by sleevener at 5:59 PM on August 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Ptry has it right: Games are in fundamental opposition to the narrative arts precisely because they are interactive.

A story is a series of events that forces a character to make decisions, and it is the nature of those decisions that reveal his character, and by extension an artist’s view of human nature. But if a player has control over the choices a character makes, he is not being told the story; he is telling the story. He's either a suicidal Pacman or a cunning Pacman. But because it's not the artist, it’s himself, you cannot really call this experience art, or at least narrative art: there can be no vision of “what people are like” coming from the artist because the decisions the characters make are outside of the game creator’s control; and the more control he tries to impose, the less game the experience is.


I think your fallacy here lies in the assumption that narrative art has a single specific purpose: to make statements about human nature. Nevermind that Shadow of the Colossus does an amazing job of this while maintaining complete player agency - it's narcissistic to assume that the statements have to concern humans.

Rather, I think games can make statements about what existence is like.

In traditional storytelling, exploration of the human condition is achieved by creating characters with traits A, B, and C in a situation with elements X, Y, and Z and proposing an outcome that offers some fundamental insight.

In games, exploration of existence is achieved by creating entire universes with elements X, Y, and Z in a context with interaction methods A, B, and C and proposing a matrix of outcomes that offer some fundamental insight.

One could reasonably accuse the creative minds behind most games as not being up to the orders-of-magnitude more difficult task of crafting compelling hypothetical universes imbued with meaning, but the present rarity of success is not the same as the nonexistence of success. With time and the creation of an internal syntax this medium will mature into an all-encompassing art form of which the traditional arts - including storytelling - are all contributory elements.
posted by Ryvar at 6:02 PM on August 10, 2008


Hmm. Looks like you can download the full game from GamersGate for fifteen bucks. I wouldn't pay the $50 it originally retailed for, but that sounds like it might be worth it. I'm going to give it a shot tomorrow.
posted by EarBucket at 6:32 PM on August 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


The more entertaining something is, the less willing people will be to call it art.
posted by frenetic at 10:12 PM on August 10, 2008


This looks like something I would love.
posted by Arturus at 10:40 PM on August 10, 2008


Describe the "character" of Mario. You can't because he doesn't have one.

Describe the 'character' of the horse in Guernica. You can't because it doesn't have one.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:30 PM on August 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Pathologic looks amazing. I didn't read the spoiler-filled Part III because I'm dying to play this now. I'm actually kind of angry I've never heard of this game.
posted by naju at 9:39 PM on August 11, 2008


Art is means, ars, tekhne. For painters, art is the range of techniques that they employ to create their objective, a painting, an aesthetic experience for its intended audience. Narrative artists employ a range of techniques to create a narrative experience (story, movie/game/comic script, novel): character, story, premise, description, scene, pacing, setting, and so on.

In the same sense, game creators employ a range of techniques to create an interactive experience for their audience. Whereas narrative may be one of those techniques, it is not the only one. The creators of chess were artists, and the story is minimal and mere color to the game experience: two armies fight, each seeking to capture the other's king. Checkers has no story, nor poker. The creators tinker with the mechanics, the interface, the scoring, the tokens, the objective, and other elements of gameplay to create involvement and engagement with the game. No statement about humanity necessary.

Like filmmaking, video game creation nowadays is a collaborative effort, requiring the coordination of several artists employing different techniques to achieve a creator's vision. In the Renaissance, patrons would be the visionaries who commissioned artisans, craftsmen, workmen, and their assistants and apprentices to employ the techniques they had mastered to fulfill their vision. Actors collaborate with directors, castiers, grips, writers, to fulfill a vision. Producers seeking money often drive the videogame creation process, leading to somewhat suboptimal experiences, often games driven by elements borrowed or purchased from other successful franchises, like movies and sports, using gameplay or interaction borrowed from other games.

The extent to which the game experience fulfills the creator's vision is the extent to which art has been successfully employed. Happy accidents may occur, but require visionaries willing to shift their vision or let their subconscious knowledge of the available range of techniques and subconscious impulses guide them.

Creativity, vision, and art are intertwined, but not inseparable. Great art does not necessarily mean great vision; great vision need not be original; great vision may not be served by the best art.

Alas, sometimes one can see the intention, the vision behind the misapplied or unskilled art, what the interactive experience could have been had it been properly executed, with the right techniques to bring it out and tie it to the overall structure of the piece, whether movie, painting, book, or game. It looks like this was the case with Pathologic. Pity.
posted by gentilknight at 9:22 PM on August 13, 2008


Hit Self-Destruct weighs in (well, partially...the article is as much about Stalker as it is Pathologic)
posted by juv3nal at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


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