David Torre's blog

Games As Art

It could be said that any culture could be judged by the art it produces. Yet if emerging forms of art are not recognized, what is there to judge? In art history, the Dadaists were the ones that sought to take every convention of art and turn it upside-down, as they most literally did with the upside-down urinal dubbed Fountain. Video games now experience the same kind of resistance from the traditional art community that the Dadaists faced. Video games should be considered art in the sense that films, music, and paintings are considered art, as video games have a narrative, visual and audible forms, and a critical vocabulary.

Video games, as a relatively young art form, have been subject to much criticism in the past. Whether it is the topic of violence in video games, or the obsessive and addictive properties of games like World of Warcraft, video games typically get blamed for a number of society’s ills. Furthermore, it seems that several people who are well respected in their fields have condemned video games as artistically void wastes of time. These include noted film critic Roger Ebert and avant-garde film director Michel Gondry.

Roger Ebert has said, “video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.” First of all, I have a problem with Ebert’s implicit definition of art as something that makes us “cultured, civilized and empathetic.” While this applies to many arts that follow a linear narrative, it does not apply to what doesn’t follow a linear narrative. For example, the works of film director David Lynch, such as Eraserhead do not follow linear narrative rules at all, yet they are critically acclaimed and seen as art. Similarly, in the art world, abstract paintings which do not have a clear resolution of what they represent are honored and respected. How could a Jackson Pollock splatter painting make you more cultured, civilized, and empathetic? Perhaps you could make a weak argument that it would make you more cultured for having seen his painting, but it certainly wouldn’t make you civilized. If anything, it would inspire you to be less civilized and splatter paint all over a canvas by yourself. As for empathy, how could you be empathetic for that which has no clearly defined form? Yet, both Pollock and Lynch are hailed as true masters of art and their works are studied by aspiring film directors and revered by fine art critics. Since games do not always have a traditional narrative in the sense of a deep and engaging plot, this criticism does not apply.

Runaway - The Dream of the Turtle

It seems like classic graphical adventure games on the PC are making a comeback. One in particular called Runaway - The Dream of the Turtle is keeping the tradition of the comedic narrative and hand-drawn animated look typical of adventure games produced by Sierra, LucasArts, and other studios in the early 1990s. Although the game makes heavy use of cell shading, the game uses fixed angles and beautifully hand-drawn animated backdrops done in high resolution.

It seems that there are two games in the series, one released in 2003, and the other (above) which has just been released. Both games are available as digital downloads through the game's website. It's rather unfortunate I missed the first game in the series, it seems that these types of games don't get a lot of publicity in many game media outlets.

G-Phoria 2006 Awards - Vote Today!

Head on over to G4TV's website and vote for your favorite games of the year. Sure, this television awards show had a rough start but it looks like it's the closest we'll get to a respected televised awards show recognizing excellence in gaming, if you ignore all the blatant corporate sponsorship. Besides, it's really

Syndicate content