Saturday, March 26, 2011

Games As Art and Stuff

It’s been a long time since a video game gave me chills. But then again games are not art right? How could they have possibly spark some emotional reaction? I mean how could a game be art in the first place? It’s not like you have to have any special skill set to make them. All you do to make a game is sit down and endlessly code numbers until your eyes bleed. Well, accept for the people who write the story and the music. Oh, and the people who design the graphic art and sound effects. Plus you have the people who put all those elements together into something coherent. Other than that there is no room for artists in the gaming world. Right?

I hope you sensed my sarcasm there. I hate pointing it out, but I really want to hammer home a point here. Games can be art. Just because they don’t fit into the preconceived notions of art doesn’t mean anything. I seem to remember reading about a time when movies were looking down upon in a similar fashion. I don’t think anyone now days would argue against film being a forum of art. Video games are still a very new medium. They are still evolving and finding audiences. We are still defining what games really are in the first place and how to play them. If you want example look now further than the indie game movement. Some of you will roll your eyes when I mention Minecraft. I know I talk about it way too much; it’s getting to an unhealthy level, but it proves my point. Minecraft has taken an incredibly simple idea and made it a huge success. The idea? Let the player do what ever they want. Want to build a castle? Okay. How about a space ship, or a dark tower or the Coliseum or the cathedral of Notre Dame or a giant penis or the world? Sure. That simple idea has stolen away many hours of my life, but I don’t see them wasted because what is art if not the expansion of one mind. I would not be surprised in twenty years if a whole generation of architects is asked what got them interested in the field and they answer: Minecraft.

But back to my original point; it has been a long time since a game gave me chills, until last week. I downloaded a little iPad game called Sword & Sworcery EP. It’s more of a point and go adventure than what we think of as a traditional game these days. I hate to use the word “casual” because it tends to turn off people who consider themselves “hardcore” but the game is very suited to all players. You don’t have to memorize button combinations, nor have pin point head shot accuracy to complete and enjoy this one. The game play is simple and enjoyable. The graphic art is pixilated perfection and helps some truly epic environments come to life. The writing is funny and entertaining. The music is some of the best game music I’ve ever heard. There are a few down sides, however. There is a small combat mode that feels awkward, but you barely use it, so that’s a minor problem. The major problem is it’s an iPad only game. This fact will limit availability greatly. Even though iPad is the best format for this game, I think to grow an audience the developer should consider other platforms. But, if you have an iPad (and I know some of you do) get Sword & Sworcery EP, plug in your head phones and enjoy the hell out of an artfully executed experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment