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When Do Video Games Become Art

Video games have increasingly become just as much of an art form as television and film and yet it is still stigmatized as unworthy of being considered art. Despite this many games have been able to take claim as being works of art. Discuss what differentiates the games that are considered art with those that are not and critique whether it’s fair for only some of the medium to be considered art.

  • Regarding your last sentence, I think it's worth acknowledging that there are two distinct ways in which something can be designated "a work of art": 1) in the classificatory sense (i.e. that is an example of an artwork because it's a painting), vs. 2) in the evaluative sense (i.e. this particular painting is truly a work of art, because it's so good!). When SOME video games are deemed to be works of art while others are not, it is clearly in the evaluative sense, but it sounds to me like the main question that you're asking here is "are video games (in general, as a medium) art in the classificatory sense?" Reading George Dickie and/or Arthur Danto might be helpful here. Best of luck to whoever tackles this topic! – ProtoCanon 6 months ago
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Why Are Old School Video Games Better

Analyse how videos games released around the 1900s-2010s were better suited for youth than today’s modern ones.

  • Are they? There might be something here the problem is the way it is written. I think you mean the 1990s not 1900s. Also, 2010 does not seem all that long ago. – Joseph Cernik 2 years ago
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  • I'm not sure if old school video games are better than modern video games. Can you clarify what you mean by "better suited" and did you have any specific examples of video games in mind for this topic? Maybe you can also explore how old school video games influenced modern video games or how the video game industry has grown throughout the years. – jay 2 years ago
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  • Need to make sure you have clear criteria for both old school and new. This is a topic that may be heavily different for people who grew up in the 80s and 90s vs. growing up as a younger person in current generation, so be wary of nostalgia/rose tinted googles clouding perceptions. Try to be as objective, use as objective categories as you can like gameplay, mechanics, controls, player agency/responsibility to eliminate as much bias as possible. – Sean Gadus 2 years ago
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  • I meant 1990's** – Yvonne T. 2 years ago
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  • What I mean is that there are video games in today's world that are definitely more violent than before. Video games along the lines of Mario Bros., Pacman, etc. are not as violent-related as the ones we know now (e.g., Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto). Arcade games could also be added if the writer who writes this topic finds it suitable. – Yvonne T. 2 years ago
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  • I left some revisions about the context of the game and the time. Although it has been marked as revised, the topic still remains the same. When you find a moment, please edit your topic so that the dates are correct and it has more substance. – Pamela Maria 2 years ago
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  • There is still a lot to be refined on this topic in order to be discussed. The topic makes no mention of violence, however, your comment below does. I think there are two potential articles here - one regarding the increase in the depiction of violence in games throughout the years; consideration of rendering capability, maturity of the art from itself, external influences from literature and film, and expectations of the audience. The other side to this again takes into consideration technological developments but more of a focus on the design of game mechanics. We now have more processing power and capability to integrate more and more complex systems, however, often the simplicity of earlier game mechanics meant a greater degree of accessibility for the audience, thus seeming more succussful – CAntonyBaker 11 months ago
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The Story Component of Video Games

With the release of Spiderman, I keep hearing comments on how brilliant the narrative is. Do you think the back story of a narrative video game has to be compelling to play it? How much does it affect your enjoyment?

  • I think this is an interesting topic and one that has arisen a number of times here, but has never been fully discussed. The concept of narrative in gaming is very different due to its modular narrative, and we see that games with great reviews, awards and fan bases often have strong narratives. Yet we also have a myriad of popular, "blockbuster" games that don't even bother. So I agree how much narrative is needed? – SaraiMW 2 years ago
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  • Love the topic. I suggest looking at God of War 2018 as well. It's just begging to be compared to spider man PS4. Both are PS4 Exclusives, with iconic heroes, and deep/detailed backstories. Some would say both subvert our expectations of their established canon, ala a Kratos trying to raise a son/be a good father, and Spider Man not at the beginning of his career, Norman Osbourne Mayor, Mary Jane as a journalist. God of War has one of the most compelling stories from a game this year. – Sean Gadus 2 years ago
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  • The Last Of Us has also been praised, both for cinematic storytelling and the crafting of a brilliant narrative and strong character development. – ValleyChristion 2 years ago
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  • Fore me it depends on the genre. Any RPG, whether it be turn-based, open world, or tactical, needs to have a great narrative and story. There are elements of RPGs that I love, such as level grinding, character customization, and level progression, but story is what makes want to finish the game. Platformers, shooters, and other types of games can have a lackluster story and still be playable. Spiderman is that type of game for me. Most will play because they are fans of the Marvel Universe and would play the only thing available to do was swing with spidy webs and kick bad guy butt. – Richard Krauss 2 years ago
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  • I think it all depends on the individual. Many gamers prefer well-done mechanics and couldn't care less about the narrative, while many other games, usually more casual, tend to prefer a good story. I'm more of a casual gamer myself, but I do know that there's definitely a divide between storytelling and gameplay preferences in the gaming community.With the success of games such as The Last of Us, the Uncharted games, Detroit: Become Human, The Witcher series, God of War 2018, etc. it's become more prevalent to wider audiences that games are a medium capable of storytelling. (I'm aware that there are many games before these that have had good stories, I'm just referring to more recent games that presented this to the mainstream). Proponents argue that the games show that video games can be art (which I think they are by default, regardless of a strong narrative or not)However, there's also been some pushback and complaints that video game studios are focusing too much on being "interactive movies" with their emphasis on photorealistic graphics and story-driven projects. I see valid points on both sides, and personally, I just enjoy a game that's fun to play.I think it comes down to the team creating the game and how they want to approach their production. Some games set out to tell a good story, others care more about gameplay, and many others have achieved both, though all that's subjective of course. Personally, it depends on what I know about the game in terms of its genre and what I expect from it.I enjoy The Witcher 3 and Uncharted 4, which have great graphics and engaging characters, and also like a game such as Shovel Knight, a pixelated game which itself has a simple story but also has beautiful art direction and good mechanics. And of course, Nintendo games such as Mario Kart and Super Mario Party never fail to bore me. – ImperatorSage 2 years ago
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  • I'd highly recommend that the person who tackles this topic look into Narratology within the field of Game Studies or Digital Media Studies. There's lots of good stuff out there to support arguments made! – Pamela Maria 2 years ago
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Life and Tetris

As video game players have risen from a small subsect of people into a large swath dominating the country and planet, how has this effected how we humans interact with one another. The Tetris Effect is when a repeated activity shapes the way your brain functions, as the repetitive action causes the brain to assign importance to said action. Given the prevalance of gaming today, how may be the Tetris Effect be changing society, and how may this look in our future as gaming becomes further mainstream.

  • Interesting topic! It may be making a few leaps to go from talking about local changes in the brain function of an individual to talking about behavioral changes in that same individual to talking about behavioral changes throughout society. I'd encourage someone to take this topic on (I'd like to read the result!) but would also encourage the writer to think about the difficulty of establishing cause and effect. – JamesBKelley 3 years ago
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  • Interesting, since gaming is so prevalent in modern culture. However, that since the Tetris effect is more of an analogy than a specifically gaming culture related idea, if you just want to talk about that, you should try to extrapolate the Tetris effect to other places (i.e. doing math problems causes dreams about numbers, playing basketball nonstop causes one to throw everything into containers like a field goal, etc). If you're looking to talk about gaming's prevalence in modern culture, you could also talk about other gaming-related terms that have become accepted in modern vernacular (i.e. politicians referencing video games, Let's Play celebrities, video game movies and tv shows, internet memes about video games, and events related to video games (like Pikachu Festival, E3, etc). Hope this helps. – tedytak 3 years ago
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  • Interesting, would love to know more on your thoughts about this – galalhassan 3 years ago
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How do you think eSports will effect the video gaming industry?

eSports and competitive video gaming competitions have become a serious industry in recent times and are poised to change the overall video gaming industry in big ways. Attracting the attention (and funding) of corporations primarily involved with traditional sports, eSports is set up to not only affect the way future games are developed, but is also set to make some serious revenue. What’s your take on how the involvement of large sporting corporations and the rise of elite gamers will effect the overall video gaming industry?

  • It would also change the current social stigma around gaming, popularizing it more and creating a more serious community. – LaRose 3 years ago
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  • Egad. Timely. Especially since Elon Musk's AI just crushed human DOTA players (https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/12/ai-beats-top-dota-2-players/). Great idea. – Paul A. Crutcher 3 years ago
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  • In some sense I think it's stifling to game design. It seems that every multiplayer game that comes out is automatically assumed to be trying to be the latest eSport. This is not necessarily healthy for game design if there is a shift from developing fun multiplayer games to developing grueling and complex games with the potential of being an eSport. For example, PUBG is in early access and was still a buggy mess when people were already discussing its potential as an eSport and how the game would need to change to fit into the eSport world. Esports are only now at a stage where it is conceivable that a developer might design a game with the goal of being an eSport as the sole consideration, and that could have interesting results. – MarcoMorgan 3 years ago
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Duality of player choice in modern video gaming

Analyze video games such as Mass Effect, The Witcher, GTA, or any modern video gaming series that enables players to chose the outcome of the match, with long-lasting consequences in vein to real life, then suggest ways this technology could improve in future titles.

  • Don't forget to mention that some games can also carry consequences into their sequels (like Dragon Age). I think it would be interesting if we could use this system to create a game like Dungeons and Dragons, which offers the closest to actual freedom than any game (board of video) has previously offered. – AGMacdonald 3 years ago
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  • We have already published three articles on this topic: https://the-artifice.com/bioshock-and-the-illusion-of-choice-in-gaming/ -- and -- https://the-artifice.com/life-is-strange-the-illusion-of-choice-part-ii/ -- and -- https://the-artifice.com/video-games-morality-choice/ – Misagh 3 years ago
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  • This would be interesting to research. A basic understanding of how games are coded and structured would probably help, I know that how player choice runs is different from game to game, and different companies often develop a kind of trademark use of the feature. Bioware and 2k would both make good case studies. – Cat 3 years ago
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Video Games and Crowdfunding: A Retrospective

Kickstarter is the crowdfunding platform many video game developers have turned to in order to fund the development of their personal project. Take a look back at the biggest games of the last five years that have been created with the help of Kickstarter (Undertale, Mighty No. 9, Shovel Knight, etc.). What caused some of them to succeed upon release? What made some of these games disappoint backers and players alike when they released?

  • This topic is so good. It is incredibly relevant to the current gaming landscape. With Yooka Laylee out soon and Bloodstained: ritual of the night coming in 2018, the topic is not going away.Shovel Knight is a fantastic game and has thrived really well, with new expansions coming out every year or so. It has a great following. Mighty No. 9 was extremely disappointing for a variety of reasons. – SeanGadus 4 years ago
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  • A lot of people are losing hope in projects that feature in Kickstarter just like how people now naturally assume that Steam greenlight is filled with shovelware. A lot of people ought to know this is a platform that has made success possible for a lot of determined developers. The message seems to be deteriorating as time passes. – TheUbiquitousAnomaly 4 years ago
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The Allure of Spending: Mobile Games and Gashapon

"Gashapon" is used to refer to capsule toy vending machines that are popular in Japan. People are able to see which characters are featured in a machine, but won’t know who they’ll get until they put in money. Multiple mobile games from "Pocket Mortys" to "Puzzle & Dragons" use this system, where premium currency will offer a chance to obtain a rare and powerful character at the cost of getting an entirely different character. What is it about this system that gets players to spend their money once or multiple times? How many of top-earning mobile games use this system? Is there a "good way" or "bad way" to implement this system in a mobile game?

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    Morality in Video Games

    Write about how morality plays an important role in the story of a video game

    • Interesting topic. A discussion of morality in video games could cover both aspects of the game that lurk in the moral grey areas or are blatantly immoral and whether players might feel remorse or hesitate in performing an action (i.e. just because you can doesn't mean you should). – S.A. Takacs 5 years ago
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    • Grand Theft Auto would be a suitable reference for this topic. Munjeera – Munjeera 5 years ago
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    • I think this is an interesting topic. I agree with Munjeera about Grand Theft Auto being applicable to this category. In fact I think a whole article could be written about morality in the GTA series. Side note, I think choice based games could be looked at as well because it puts players on the spot for situations that may highlight their morality. – Lexzie 5 years ago
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    • No other medium demands a more intimate relationship with the audience than video games because the player is perpetually required to progress the story forward. In this way the player becomes an active participant in the world as opposed to a passive observer. This is why being the player on your last heart in "The Legend of Zelda" will feel incredibly epic but will look like a bunch of cheesy blips and beeps on a screen to anyone else watching. Creating a game in which it's central mechanics would rely on the players morals would be so effective because of how emotionally invested the player feels already. – mynameisreza 5 years ago
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    • I agree with Lexzie about the importance of choice-based games when it comes to morality. Games developed by Telltales (like The Walking Dead) might be suitable examples. – faezew 5 years ago
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    • If you're gonna write about morality in video games, what better example to use than the Bioshock series? There's still a lot to explore there. – Tanner Ollo 5 years ago
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    • This raises questions about what exactly should be allowed to be shown in certain films to certain audiences. There is much scandal surrounding violence in video games and films especially involving young people. This scandal sparked from the Columbine massacre and has become more and more controversial. Maybe change the aim of this topic to 'the influence of ethics from video games' – Brandon T. Gass 4 years ago
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    • Are you considering working anything like Half-Life 2 or Portal into this? I feel like these games could be a fertile ground for analyzing ethics within a video game medium. – Matt Sautman 4 years ago
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    • It would be interesting to explore the idea that Fable 2 starting with "mortality". I remember it being a huge deal that, instead of dying, the character would just receive facial scars. It took away that "punishment" that gamers either love or hate. – kaseyshaw 4 years ago
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    • Bioware games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the Mass Effect games would make great references for this. – hagenb 4 years ago
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    • It's important that games don't label their moral choices as "good" or "bad" each action should come with its own package of pros and cons and the player should make their decision based on which set of pros and cons they feel better about. – JacksonAP 4 years ago
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    • It seems to me that game studios are becoming more "moral" the late 80's and 90's produced really violent games for the sake of being violent, now at least (most) games give a proper context as to why the violence is needed and is less for the sake of creating a hype around violence or sexual content. – LelandMarmon 4 years ago
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    Published

    Are Video Games Worth Studying?

    From a literary perspective, are video games worth studying, or should you put down the controller and pick up a book?

    • There is certainly something to be said for the level of artistry that games have achieved in recent years. This justifies intellectual criticism of these new developments and, in turn, justifies criticism of previous "less artistic" developments for a better historical understanding and appreciation of the form (e.g. we don't study The Sneeze as a masterpiece of cinema, we study it as landmark event in the history of film; so too will be the case with Pong). However, I think it is high time that Video Games Studies truly becomes a field of its own. Your use of the word "literary" feels inaccurate, which may be a contributing factor as to why many literary scholars are quick to reject Video Games as a form, since they see it as a low-brown infringement on their domain. At the moment, most academic work surrounding Video Games has been contained in Film (as its closest relative with regards to media) and Theatre (as its closest relative with regards to interactivity) Studies, but it strikes us as being too different from either of these to real belong within them. Only with a Department of its own can the form (and its societal appreciation) truly begin to flourish, as was the case when Film Departments began to appear in the 1920s. – ProtoCanon 4 years ago
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    • I think that a interesting way you could pursue this topic is to discuss the Video Games as an art/art form debate. Because if video games are art, then the argument can be made that they deserve to be studied on the same level as art or film.Additionally, I think that thinking about how much of video games are "intentional" could be an interesting angle to pursue. For example, the creators the video game make a conscious decision on art style, what moves a player can do, how the game plays, and what perspective is the game in (3rd or 1st). These are conscious decisions made by the creators, similar to how authors make conscious decisions about how they construct a narrative such as 1st or 3rd person, what information the reader knows about and what is hidden from the reader. – SeanGadus 4 years ago
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    • I agree entirely that Video-Games should be studied as an artistic medium; I personally find them to be a somewhat more interactive medium than conventional art-forms though, which leads to a sort of rift between studying games and, say, film studies. Nonetheless, they should be examined, if not just for the artistic choices made by their creators but the story choices as well. Most games today have a defined storyline or plot in them (though some don't, which is fine). However, the way a developer can portray that story can vary widely across games: some games, such as the Legend of Zelda franchise, give the player a relatively deep pool of lore to sift through just by playing the game. However, other games, such as Cave Story or Superbrothers Swords and Sworcery have a more subtle way of giving the player the story, and may leave parts up to us as players to interpret. There are also games like FEZ and The BInding of Isaac, which have purposefully cryptic storylines which the players must explore for themselves, giving them a greater sense of accomplishment when something finally "clicks" than if they were merely given a predetermined plot point. – bwmaksym 4 years ago
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    • Literary studies cannot remain so rigid. For one, the concept of "literary worth" is rapidly changing as self-publishing options are becoming more and more profitable and accessible. Therefore, what deserves to be published (and therefore read) is subject to change. At the same time, other forms of media have been considered "unworthy of academic study" for generations. At first it was film, then it was pulp and genre fiction, and now it's video games. Video games are not literature, nor are they film and therefore need a specific set of tools to analyse their critical and philosophical significance. Yet, they still provide us with a message, they still use visual and audial aids to immerse us in reality, and they still often follow some sort of narrative structure. To think that video games are undeserving of the title of "art" or too banal for intensive literary study is absurd. – X 4 years ago
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