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An Artistic Gaming Renaissance

Perhaps it's inaccurate and even somewhat presumptuous to call this a "Renaissance," but to ignore the rise of artistic-oriented video games would be a grave disservice to an industry that has been accused of rehashing and recycling.

While the uninitiated and anti-game activists will still maintain and nurture the archaic stereotype that all video games consist of either "jumping on" or "killing" things, the avid gamer knows better. While the naysayers want to say all the popular, mainstream titles are sequels and IPs always flounder in the face of such blockbusters, the discerning eye is aware of the truth. It's certainly true that the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Halo will always rule the sales charts, and it would be naive to believe that Heavy Rain will be able to match or surpass the accumulated sales of Resident Evil 5 (now over 5 million, I believe). But is that stopping innovative developers who constantly think outside the box? Is that stopping games like flOw, echochrome, Flower and even lesser-known games like Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battlecars from existing? No. In fact, what we're seeing now is awfully impressive.

Not only is the PlayStation Network currently home to a myriad of creative and original productions, but we can also expect more in Blu-Ray form. We just heard that Afrika is on tap for a North American release, and there has been a whole lot of buzz concerning Project Trico. Then you have Heavy Rain, which has been getting a lot press lately and is on many a PS3 owner's "most anticipated" list for 2009. Quantic Dream, who delivered the atmospheric Indigo Prophecy with a huge emphasis on storyline and character development, is ready to take the next step in interactive storytelling. And yeah, we can't wait. These are only a few examples but the video game world these days...well, it extends well beyond the realm of snazzier visuals and enhanced AI. It's more about breaking through boundaries and embracing new - and even radical - ideas.

Granted, not all unique ideas pan out. In fact, there are many instances in the recent past where original games have fallen flat due to poor implementation, but that's a risk developers seem to be willing to take. The reason? Well, we have to assume that you, the savvy and demanding consumers, are rewarding the risk-takers when they succeed, which has resulted in what could very well be an "artistic renaissance" in the video game universe. So because of that, I say kudos to you. The blockbuster sequels and franchises will always rake in huge numbers but thankfully, there is a place for art to reach new heights in this industry, and it's for this reason I'm extremely excited. :)

5/26/2009 Ben Dutka

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Comments (22 posts)

LegendaryWolfeh
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 10:35:18 PM
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You know for some reason, this makes me think of this one youtube comment I read on the Trico trailer, "Making video games into art? That's just an awful idea" (ok yeah it wasn't exactly those words, couldn't remember exactly, but it was essentially that but I think he was more disgusted with it then upset) But seriously, wtf? Videos games are fully and completely ART, someone puts their heart and soul into making these games to the best they can, hoping people enjoy it through their use of imagery and graphical enhancements.

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LegendaryWolfeh
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 12:15:29 AM

don't know how it could be taken literally, he talked more about how he was an old school gamer and that video games becoming like art makes him want to stop playing videos games...

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reryan
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 12:40:43 AM

@ffrulez

'Literally' means "actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy" (dictionary.com) So if someone said "The city was literally destroyed", you would see the smoking wreckage. What I think you mean is, you think he was being sarcastic or ironic.

Sorry for arguing about syntax on a game forum.. just a pet peeve of mine.

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karneli lll
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 1:28:58 AM

"someone puts their heart and soul into making these games to the best they can, hoping people enjoy it through their use of imagery and graphical enhancements"

I beg to differ,most games these days are all about the money. Like rap, most games are now solely commerical products.

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 11:03:55 PM
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I love innovative company's that are willing come out with radical ideas.

May they keep making great games that won't fail!!!

Bravo to them,

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 11:04:33 PM
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Sorry ben but I COMPLETELY disagree with your analysis.


Games have been this artistically beautiful and creative since Playstation1

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 11:34:48 PM

Wait wait wait

"Only a select few?" Are you kidding me?
FFVII, FFVIII, Tomba, Legend of Mana, Crash Bandicoot, etc.

If you're talking Downloadable games, well I do admit that PSN's D-games are pretty artistic

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Highlander
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 11:05:49 PM
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Video games as art? Why not? If music is art, and film can be art, and still images can be art and even TV an have artistic merit - if not downright be Art, then a video game must be art as well.

Flower utterly and single handedly proves this. A video Game can be Art - just look at Flower. For that matter, look at EveryDay Shooter.

I love the state of gaming right now on the PS3 and PSP. It reminds me of the insane innovation that happened during the home computer craze of the early/mid 80's. PSN games especially remind me of this with lots of smaller, more innovative games coming along. But things are so much healthier on PSP and PS3 now with far better libraries of games and so many good titles coming up. And when you look at these games, all of them, there are pieces of original music, song and story compositions, background art, character design, game design - these are all aspects of a work of art. Games are art.

Look, if a video game - in the case i am thinking of - can move a player, then it posesses all the artistic merit needed to qualify as art to that person. That is all it takes for something to be art. Art is all about the eye of the beholder. I played Xenosaga episodes 1,2 and 3 through one after the other, my wife sat in while I played. The first time we watched/played the end of the first episode there was genuine worry about the fate of certain characters and then joy at the end. When we got through to the end of Episode 3 we were just perfectly set up for the ending and were blind sided by the fate of certain characters. Yes, tears were shed. We talked about the meaning of the game and it's story for weeks. I can't remember the last motion picture that was able to do that to me.

Games are art.

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sunspider13
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 11:11:52 PM
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Having the time to play the likes of Viewtiful Joe, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, the Silent Hill series, etc. has maintained my idea of video games being accepted as art, albeit interactive.

This is our generations contribution to that. It might be sometime before the general public views it as such, but we all can admire it for what medium it comes from.

sorry if that sounded like rambling, typing the words from my head to keys without thinking about it.

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Highlander
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 11:34:05 PM

<stream of consciousness>
I type from head to screen without thinking all the time. I'm actually pretty certain most people do...
</stream of consciousness>

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rossinator_99
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 11:32:31 PM
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i love new and refreshing ideas from developers, why else would i be playing games except to be entertained? sometimes established ips seem less and less like the developers actually put much innovation into the games because they ran out of inspiration or concepts or something.

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @ 11:57:39 PM
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Highlander,
I'm with you on the artwork, & although I could probably go hours looking through my collections of 12 gaming systems, 3 games happen to pop into my head right away......

I think "Pixeljunk Eden" is a raw masterpiece in it's most simplistic form,

As well as these two PS2's.... "Gungrave" & "Gungrave Overdose" which were done in comic book form, but have a fine, vibrant art palette about them

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 12:30:19 AM
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Let it be known

I don't care if "professionals" consider it art or not.

Games > movies and books

Last edited by Scarecrow on 5/27/2009 12:31:02 AM

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reryan
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 1:12:29 AM
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The definition of 'art' is one that people have been fighting over since at least ancient Greece, and probably before that. One definition is that art is about aesthetics, meaning that art is something that is beautiful or appealing. The problem with this definition is people disagree on what is beautiful and appealing.

Another definition is that art should be culturally or intellectually significant, meaning that art should make a statement or introduce new ideas. The problem I see with this is, its hard to tell what kind of significance something has until a lot of time has passed and you can see its effects on the world. Art forms such as rock and roll and hip-hop used to be thought of as low-brow but are now becoming more and more respected as art forms.

I've come to believe that art can be anything man-made that produces an emotional response in people. A painting or a sculpture could be so ugly that people are disgusted by it, but what if that's the emotion that the artist was trying to capture? In that case he or she has succeeded. I know a lot of people, including myself, that listen to hard rock or metal where the singer screams or growls, which isn't a very beautiful or appealing sound. We listen to it and like it because we like the way the music makes us feel, whether that is empowered, or angry, or it makes us laugh.

I think of games as art because I have played many that are visually beautiful (Okami, Flower), many that are culturally relevant and interesting (Grand Theft Auto 4, MGS4), and many that have elicited from me a strong emotional response (Final Fantasy, Okami, Zelda). For any definition of art that someone throws out, there is a game that satisfies it.

My prediction is that games are currently becoming and will continue to become an important and relevant art form in the eyes of scholars. The problem now is, like Ben said, many still think of video games in a 1980's context, Frogger and Super Mario and Space Invaders. People will learn, I am sure of it.

~~~Richard

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 1:38:39 AM

I can consider it art

As long as oneself considers it what one wants to consider it nothing else should matter.

In the end I'm ok either way, as long as the games stay beautiful and kick ass.

The majority of society doesn't like change(dumb mindset)

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Lotusflow3r
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 9:39:28 AM
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and its about time.

i was getting so tired this gen. awful repetitive, so-called "epic" games with no restraint or thought getting released weekly.

Now, i hope this trend keeps up! i love to feel inspired and to be thinking about my experience for weeks after it has ended.

Depth. All entertainment industries need it.

We are starving creativity and originality.

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Lord carlos
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 12:21:18 PM
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There's art and then there's Metal gear solid

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Lotusflow3r
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 1:09:44 PM

are you trying to say mgs is beyond art or the opposite?

If its the before, your wrong to me. MGS is very deep and in someways artistic but, it definitely isn't no real art, say, like Team Icos work, Flower and one of the biggest, Silent Hill 2 which is just beautiful Lynchian art which is still being analysed for it's meaning and speaking to people in many different ways today.

I don't think MGS is quite like that but, its a step towards that direction and needless to say, its one of my fave games.

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Highlander
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 2:52:16 PM

@lotusflow3r

MGS could be art every bit as much as Flower can. A great work of literature is art is it not? to me Flower - because of the way in which it plays - is like a great oil painting, where MGS is like a literary classic. Both are art, different forms perhaps, but art is not defined by being a single object like a painting or sculpture. An orchestral composition is art, so why not a literary composition. It literature can be art, then why not a screen play? If a screenplay can be art, then so can movies and games.

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tankerkevo
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 3:21:33 PM
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I enjoy reading the comments here but rarely post as I normally see my opinion expressed somewhere. That said, I'll have to join in on this one I guess...

I'm 30. My gaming experiences started at a very young with a Calico Vision.

While I had a system for pretty much every generation of consoles, I never became an avid fan of a game (or the gaming industry really) until I found what I would consider a real electronic work of art. That work of art was MYST.

That game changed the industry in so many ways for so many people. It brought people into gaming that never gamed. To me it represents, even still today, what an "artistic" game should/can be. It blends live action video with beautifully drawn stills, a relatively sophisticated musical score with mood setting sounds of ambiance, and an intriguing mystery that rivals any novel. If that's not art, then nothing is.

I don't think you can have a discussion on a renaissance of art in games and not bring up MYST. If there is such a renaissance occurring, what elements are we renewing if not those elements that existed originally in MYST?

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 @ 7:08:02 PM
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@tankerkevo,
You hit the nail right on the head with Myst, I had forgotten all about it.

And Myst's sequel..Riven, was great looking too.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @ 2:08:31 PM
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More support for games as Art...

Linger in the Shadows.

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