Art History graduate student currently studying the position of videogames in the art historical discipline and issues of authorship among modding communities.

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    Latest Articles

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    The rise of the "Walking Simulator"

    A discussion on the increased production of so called "walking simulators" like Dear Esther or Proteus.

    While they are certainly videogames in the most basic sense of the word they lack much of what we have come to expect in terms of traditional gameplay. Simultaneously they are being released in more high profile forms with the upcoming Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture set for release on the PS4.

    I’m less interested in the debate on whether or not they are video game (I believe they clearly are) but rather the responses among the gaming community towards them. In my experience there are many who prefer to deride them rather than accept them as videogames, as if they threaten them somehow. Why is this?

    • I think something worth looking into is where these games come from. Mostly indie, a lot of people against them have fears about the market being flooded with games that are easier to make and may not be up to the same standard as the rest. – DullahanLi 9 years ago
    • I don't think they are video-games; I just don't think that's a bad thing. It's difficult for me to think of Gone Home, for example, as something that you "play." You don't "play" a book or a movie. Gone Home is a very, very effective game at what it does; it just doesn't do what most video-games do. I think it would be a mistake to completely ignore this position in favour of focusing on the, unfortunately, large number of people who feel threatened by the genre. It might be better to split this topic into two separate articles, though. "Are 'Walking Simulators' games?" and "Why the Hell is the games industry so threatened by narrative-driven exploratory things? Like, seriously, guys, this was an indie game; nobody's taking away Call of Duty or Battlefield or whatever it is you think this sort of thing endangers. God."* *Working title – Snowskeeper 9 years ago
    • "I don't think they are video-games" "Gone Home is a very, very effective game at what it does" I r gud riter – Snowskeeper 9 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Cutscenes are the result of marrying a video game with linear, narrative storytelling. They are static, unchanging video files that serve the sole purpose of moving the plot forward, while gameplay is interactive and, in my opinion, the more definitively “gamey” part of video games. I don’t really think that there’s anything wrong with cutscenes from an entertainment point of view, I just believe that they are more an element of film rather than gaming.

    What interests me the most about this relationship is how it has changed over the years with the introduction of interactive cutscenes as well as games like those from Telltale Games. These are ostensibly cutscenes but with the inclusion of player choice they cease to function identically to movies, and thus retain their interactive functionality.

    Personally, I believe that what video games do best is interaction, and in the interest of the medium being considered a form of artistic expression, games that focus on this element, either embracing or subverting it, are more likely to be considered for their artistic qualities. That being said, I still enjoy games like Uncharted if only because they’re exciting to play/watch.

    In regards to the gap between gamers and non-gamers, I don’t really believe this is a major issue, though I’m not certain by what you mean by “invested gamer and regular person.” Aside from some demographics being undeserved by AAA developers, games continue to become more popular and mainstream. Minecraft is even being used as a teaching tool in some schools now and with more children playing games we will eventually have more adults doing the same. I believe the stigma behind playing video games is all but gone in North America, although it’s study in academia is still relatively underdeveloped. However, I believe this will disappear as more people enter the field in the coming years.

    Like I said, though, I’m not terribly concerned about the sheer number of gamers. I’m somewhat concerned by how open gaming can be to certain groups, but I think this is slowly improving.

    Games as Art: Displacement within the Art Gallery

    I agree, though I don’t think we’re going to see much interesting change from the major developers. Games are art but they’re also a business and the more money that goes into a game the less likely they will be to take risks. I’m confident that we’ll see the major devs push the boundaries of realistic visuals, though, as they have the resources to do so and it’s also become something which they are expected to do.

    That aside, I think we’re more likely to see a more self-aware mindset from smaller, independent developers. There’s less of a desire to tap into the broader market with them and more to go after the smaller, niche ones. The Stanley Parable, Dear Esther and other games might not appeal to everyone, but they’re different enough to be considered more radical than what many AAA developers put out every year.

    The indie devs don’t have the same push that the AAA ones do, and so they won’t impact our culture as much. This isn’t unusual though. There’s more of a market for Hollywood films than there are for independent ones, after all.

    Games as Art: Displacement within the Art Gallery

    I had a similar experience in Toronto. Game On 2.0 arrived and was set up at the Science Centre. I thought it was interesting; a chronological approach to videogames. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t go into more depth with their material though. All the same, it was nice to see a show like that come together with videogames as the centrepiece.

    Hope you enjoyed it!

    Games as Art: Displacement within the Art Gallery

    Excellent article.

    I’ve always wondered just how much the time spent vs rewards factor can effect the rate at which players play a game. I’m aware that a lot of research goes into the production of games that balance these elements precisely, but I can’t help but think that if a game were made that modelled the real world as closely as possible there would still be a large number of people that would play it.

    Video Games: The Ups and Downs of a Virtual World

    This is a topic that is very dear to me and one that I find is becoming increasingly relevant as the years go on. However I think that it is hampered by the attempts by many to define what art is.

    Speaking from my own experience art is a largely subjective medium, and the skill involved in its production varies. A colour field painting is something that requires a lower level of painterly skill than a realist work, yet the art community largely considers both to be art (though many still dispute the former). If we are to consider videogames artworks based on the level of skill involved in their production then it opens up some games to a form of criticism that I don’t think they deserve.

    A game can use pre-made art assets to flesh out its environments, or even be made entirely from a map editor. In terms of aesthetic skill one could say they are lacking, but the fact remains that a certain passion went into their construction. There are certainly games that abuse these resources in order to make a quick buck, but that’s not exactly new in the history of art. Hopefully as we discuss more about the topic our understanding of what constitutes art can simultaneously broaden.

    Indie Game Development: An Art of its Own

    I think you nailed it right on the head. When discussing whether or not a game qualifies as a work of art far too often people turn to its visuals for proof. There’s nothing wrong with that and there is plenty of room for discussion about the aesthetics of a game, but in the end it is a little bit limiting.

    The Souls series embodies the theme of struggle much the same way that a Rothko painting might embody despair, or a Futurist sculpture captures the essence of movement and forward thinking. That isn’t to say that for videogames to be considered art they need to be analogous to traditional art in terms of theme and topic. Art is more complex than that and so are videogames. Rather the Souls series makes an argument for a more sophisticated understanding of games as art, one of many, that promotes appreciating a game for what it is, not what it aspires to be.

    Dark Souls: What Makes Gamers Endure the Pain?