Tag Archives: art

Games Are Better Than Life

I’ve been sorting through my inbox lately in pursuit of the elusive zero. As I’ve done so I’ve come across some disheartening things: business opportunities I missed or let languish, messages from people who played my games whom I never responded to, and personal communications that (with hindsight) I would have handled differently or continued longer.

At the same time, I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed II (which I put off for a long time due to the awful DRM, now improved). Its sidequests have grown tedious, so I’ve been soldiering through the game just to complete the plot, despite the fact that the story would be a disappointment even if I got it in a 25-cent used-book-store paperback.

So much of my real-life time is taken up with things that don’t leave me with anything lasting, while things that are actually important have languished. What does it mean when I can focus on the important part of a game, but I let life’s sidequests distract me from the central plot?

It means that games are better than life.
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Playing With My Food

I played one of my favorite games today: grocery shopping.

I am a geek: a person inclined to get excited over the minutia of a topic or topics. One of the ways I manifest this is by being a foodie. I enjoy the history, science, and craft of food preparation and consumption. Food has more in common with games than one might think. In fact, everything about food can be appreciated in the same way as a game.

The first-world way we approach food fundamentally a luxury. We need to eat, but our basic needs can be taken care of by any number of inexpensive and simple foods. The countless choices available at a grocery store and the multitude of preparations are frivolous from the perspective of our pre-technological ancestors or even from the perspective of a less-well-off third- or second-world citizen.

That means that my grocery experience was only a short hop away from being a game.
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On Pixel Art and Design Decisions

I got a comment from David that I’d like to highlight and address, because I believe it highlights a misconception folks have about pixel art and the style of my games. I’ll cut the comment for length, but try to retain the intent.

I’m a visual artist, so critiquing your visuals is all I feel arrogant enough to do. They were well executed and suited their purpose in “Bars of Black and White” and in Exploit (and in the “Majesty of Colors” they were exquisite), but in “Sugarcore” and “How to Raise a Dragon” they cause the games to suffer. In “How to Raise a Dragon”, the pixels are not a bad idea, but they are also sort of sloppy looking. They are used in lieu of more detailed graphics to avoid having to draw, right? They are probably better than the alternative, but the use of pixels should not become your crutch. Instead it should be used to artistic effect.

The art style in “Dragon” was definitely chosen for artistic effect, not to avoid making art. Continue reading

Games As Art

Anna Anthropy, who I’ve been referencing far too much lately, posted about a discussion she attended on indie games. She mentions her irritation at Jason Rohrer, the artsy developer of “Passage” whom everyone loves to flame:

[he] kept steering the discussion back to roger ebert and the discussion of whether games “can be” art. jason rohrer clearly feels as though games need to be somehow legitimized by an outside force – that we need to prove to roger ebert that games are capable of being classified as art.

I find this question annoying. The answer to “can games be art” or “are games art” is yes, by any definition of the word “art.” I can express myself with games. Games can have messages. Great. Let’s move on and discuss games as art. It seems like those who ask if games can be art are actually asking permission from society. “Can you please call games art?” It reflects an essential immaturity and adolescence to the game-discussing community.

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Execution: Changing Games Forever

A nameless man, tied to a post, is visible through the scope of a gun.

A few weeks ago, Jesse Venbrux, creator of the previously-discussed Karoshi games, released a short interactive piece called “Execution.” Not really a game, “Execution” is a quick subversion of what video games typically are and a subtle comment on the thing that the form is currently obsessed with: killing.

The impact of the game will be stronger if you play it at least twice before clicking through to the rest of the discussion. It should take you about five minutes. I’ll wait.

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