Thursday, October 22, 2009

Games as Art

I just read Eurogamer's review of Fatale: Exploring Salome, Tale of Tales' next "game" after the Red Riding Hood inspired The Path. For the first couple of paragraphs I was wondering what on earth I was reading about, it seemed more like a blog article than a review on a games site, but in the end I think it was probably the best way to try and cover something like that, assuming that Eurogamer should ever be covering this sort of thing. Quite how you can "review" something like that and assign it a score out of 10 is a bit beyond me, though.

It does raise some interesting points about games as art, if you can get through the pretentiousness with some degree of objectivity still intact. However, I've never really wanted to go there, as I don't really care whether games are art or not. I'm the first to admit that I'm a bit of a philistine, I like the idea of art, but it is not something that I'd actively seek out. Art or not, I only care about whether or not I can appreciate or enjoy things. Things have to serve a purpose, be it to look or sound interesting, to provide an enjoyable challenge or even to provoke thought (but by this I mean more than simply going "This is controversial. Discuss"), for me to appreciate them. Art for art's sake is worthless to me.

I made the point in my post about
metagaming that it seems quite acceptable to make a game which conveys a message while (or sometimes because of) being a bad game, provided you do not require too much of an investment in time or money from the gamer. Tale of Tales want GBP 7 for Fatale: Exploring Salome, which is probably the right sort of price for this sort of thing. Trying to charge as much as an actual game (although you can get some pretty decent games for that price on XBLA or Steam) for your piece of digital art would come across as entirely unwarranted self-importance, and having it too cheap would limit your returns, as I doubt it is the sort of thing that would get impulse bought by too many people. I suppose your benchmark here is a movie ticket, or perhaps a more accurately a DVD, as you would own a copy of the game, regardless of whether you felt the need to play it more than once.

For the record, this sort of thing doesn't appeal to me at all, I was just so surprised by the review of it that I thought I'd post something about it.


  1. So I read that 'review' and still have no idea what the 'game' is about.
    It does sound a lot more like interactive modern art than an actual video game though.

  2. I dunno... hmm.. art. Bah, sounds like pretentious bs to me. I mean all games involve an art component, and some of them, like silent hill and that cthulu game I can never remember the name of (Innesmouth something or other) were definitely artsy, but in a good way that had me reluctant to play them in the dark.

    Any game that sets out to be art isn't setting out to be a game, so is it art pretending to be a game, or is it a game with artistic pretentions? I don't mind the latter, but the former just sounds like such a waste of money.

  3. I'm inclined to agree with both of you guys, perhaps this isn't a good example of games as art, because while it does seem like it sets out to be art, it doesn't sound like much of a game.

  4. Daniel, I think maybe an interactive modern art game might be kindof fun. Along the lines of, "control the monkey as it hurls coloured fesces at the canvas"? That's all modern art is, right?

    ... or maybe I'm just a little cynical about modern art. Personally all I see are a mess of paint splashes like those on a dust-sheet after particularly mess painters.

  5. Bill, I think you're confusing modern art with abstract art. I'm sure not all modern art involves random dung flinging or mounting toilet roll holders on living room walls and claiming it's art.

    I wouldn't be surprised if there already was a game where you control a monkey who hurls poop at a canvas. It's probably part of some shovelware minigame collection for the Wii, though.