Art! or Art? or Art :P

 Posted by (Visited 5252 times)  Game talk
Jun 192007

game, game, game and again game.

So, honestly, it made me think. Certainly there was an overabundance of artsiness, but there was also raw application of game elements to discussing serious subjects. There were moments where I said “this is expressing something serious.” There were also moments where I said “gimme a break.”

  16 Responses to “Art! or Art? or Art :P”

  1. “Art :P”

    The movie-unlocking was nice.

  2. (Just a note: I actually thought it was good, and played to level 13, but I don’t think it is “Art!”, and it is art so, it isn’t “Art?”. It is “Art :P”, because it is Fuck-Art-Art.

    Going over his list of interactive poems he has “Art!” too. E.g. the Uncontrollabe Semantics and Between Treacherous Objects. I think they were gamey too.)

  3. I thought it was a parody of “serious” games. 😛

  4. I think the left and right sides of my brain are too disconnected for this. Give me EITHER a serious discussion OR a game — don’t make me do both at once.

    Or maybe I’m just getting old.

  5. Level 6, on money where you have a staircase to climb, I thought was the first meaningfully artsy level. There was a level of synergy between your movements and the concepts, and remained fairly clutter free to allow you to read the text being added.

    The next up was level 8, the steps of life. I thought that although it was slightly too hard, it seemed to convey something.

    I played up until level 12.5, where not knowing what to do sends you back to level 8.

    To a degree, I think this was a reasonable attempt to fuse art and game. Certainly the art was there, and it would have made an interesting short video with the right soundtrack and timings. However were it failed was on being a game. Enemies were hard to distinguish from targets, the world became too cluttered far more often than was useful, and progress was generally either linear without challenge, or would set you back for taking an action for which there was no indication that it would be bad. Whilst these elements can be used well in interactive or game based art, only in rare cases such as level 8 did they seem to actually add to the art, rather than simply frustrate.

    I think with some visual changes (reduce the non-essential clutter, more clearly distinguish enemies from objectives, unless required to be similar for that piece), it could be significantly improved.

  6. But Michelle, you don’t know your enemies in real life. Isn’t that confusion part of the expression?

  7. Ola,

    That’s certainly true, and why I said “unless required to be similar for that piece”.

    It’s a case of balancing player frustration against the artistic meaning.

    I felt that whilst the confusion did help with the art on some of the levels, on most it merely frustrated without adding any depth to the experience.

  8. Ah ok, Michelle, I found it mildly confusing too at times. One of the interesting issues here might be how games-as-art differs from gallery-art? In the latter case the artist can enter his cave, create the artwork to his own taste then hand it to the public which then assume the Artist’s Holy Vision is embedded in the work itself.

    Maybe games-as-art would be better if they went through some play-test-evolve iterations, but to me there is some dissonance there. Perhaps because play-testing is an attack on the integrity of the artist. (caving in to massmarket)

  9. That game was easy. I finished it in under 10 minutes.

    Does anybody know if all the snippets of text that appear were invented by the creator on the spot? If not, has anyone found all the references?

  10. Gallery art, from what I understand of how some artists work, does in fact go through play-test-evolve cycles. Typically this would be based around the artist re-evaluating their work, or doing successive new pieces, striving to better capture their vision, their message.

    All art is, to some degree, interactive. In simply observing the work, or it’s effects, you are interacting with it. What differs is the level of interactivity with the installation.

    The difficulty for the artist is understanding the effects of the viewer’s interaction on their perception of the artistic work. Even such details as the number of people viewing the art can have a wild effect on the viewer’s experience. Being able to select a piece to view differs from being randomly shown one.

    What’s more, the further you remove the act of creation from the act of appreciation, the harder this becomes. Painters form their work in much the same manner as a viewer appreciates it. Prop dressers for theatrical productions find it quite strange at first to reuse props and sets, but the audience will happily believe that it is being taken to a new place. In attempting to make games-as-art, the creative process is usually even more detached again from the act of appreciation.

    Games-as-art is just like painting, sculpting, dancing or writing. These things are all easy to learn, but difficult to master. External feedback can be useful on this journey, if their art is intended to have wider meaning beyond their own appreciation. However, it is up to the artist to decide if this should be used to enhance works in progress, or to learn for future projects.

  11. Well, with today’s galleries I guess I should have made a distinction between designer-artists and what I think of as true-artists. The latter not being a career choice, but a necessity following from a “demon” the artist carries with him and drives this desire to express him/herself through art (E.g. Van Gogh, Munch etc). Designer-artists create pretty and interesting things, but I believe true-artists are more likely to strike a nerve, perhaps due to their obsession with their expression. While I agree that these artist can involve their audience, I really don’t think it is vital. It’s their persistence and inner force that make them develop their expression even if it isn’t popular. I also can’t think of any (fine art) composers who actually set out to play test with an audience, they might test the most difficult parts with a soloist to make sure it is playable, but hardly adjust their work to appease the audience?

    I do agree that the level of interactivity is the main issue, but I think I find the play-test aspect more difficult in relation to the “true artistic” merits of the work.

    However, due to the cheer power of interaction you could probably turn any existing game into an interesting artwork, just by carefully selecting which symbols you use.

    Today, which turned into a gaming day, I stumbled over a game where you played a dog dragging a man in a wheelchair around. To me that was an artistic expression. It gave me a very peculiar and “socially relevant” feeling which made me think about why I felt that way etc. If you have time to look at it, it would be interesting to hear what you think:
    A Walk In The Park.

  12. I’m not sure that any game could be turned into an effective work of art, although they can certainly be made interesting works of art (but isn’t that part of the definition of a good game?). Not all forms of game interactivity work to form a synergy with the message. A generic platform game, tetris clone or beat-em-up generally does not convey much of a message in the act of playing.

    Games-as-art is a concept worth exploring not just for the sake of art, but for game design. The key difference with games-as-art from other forms of art is the immediate immersion thanks to the interactivity. The feeling of playing contributes to the art. Similarly, for non-art games, the feeling of playing has a massive effect on the player experience, almost to the point of, although it may have never been intended, the game becoming a work of art.

    It’s interesting that Take Two and Rockstar are responding to the AO and no-licence ratings for Manhunt 2 by calling it “fine art”. Personally, I don’t see how a product being suitable for adults only (or not even for sale) is mutually exclusive to the game being fine art. Indeed, the more artist a game, the higher the emotional impact it would have, supporting the ratings!

    A Walk In The Park is a good example of a game that appears to have been developed as a game first and foremost, but has strong artistic value. here were two general issues that many games have. The controls were a little sticky, but that is fairly common to flash games. In places, you had to fall without knowing that you would be caught, but in other places there were similar positions which resulted in a forced restart of the level. As for the art, the role of a carer was well conveyed, and there’s certainly a lot of potential to take this concept further. You were both bound to, and occasionally enabled by, the wheelchair that you dragged. The fact that the old man had a guitar seemed to imply that he was playing the music, which was a nice touch. The levels were also peaceful, with no aggressive elements to the world, which further added to the feeling of it being the titular act of walking through a park.

  13. I have to admit that I rarely am capable of seeing the gamemechanics themselves as art. Except perhaps Pong!, but even there the minimalistic graphics are vital to the expression for me. I believe I see the interaction between symbols that are brought to life through the interaction as the most artistic expression in games.

    I can see that the game mechanics can come more into foreground in some art-games. E.g. in Jeff Minter’s, of which some are insanly hard… perhaps I give the mechanics more weight there because I know he really cares about the flow of the experience (which probably is why I find his games too hard 😉 Still, would I have considered them as art if he didn’t play with symbols and crazy algorithmic visualisations? Probably not.

    I don’t know anything about Manhunt 2, I would expect it to be boring pulp… I guess one could call the whole act an artwork, because… what developer is stupid enough to create a game which they knew would be denied access to the console market? Or maybe they are just marketing their PC version by hyping it with this conflict. No idea, fails to engage me. I can’t even feel sorry for them, except perhaps because it makes them look pathetic to adults and cool to teens… I guess they like that. *shrug*

    Yep, agree that A Walk In The Park appears to be developed as a game, not as art per se. For me the Art in that came from the interaction between the two and the environment and the interpretations I made from that. For instance: Was this mocking disabled people? Or was it a tribute like thing? Was the wheel-chair man the one caring for this dog, allowing it to drag him around in rather unpleasant ways, or was it the dog that was caring for the man? And so on. So yes, the interactivity was vital for the Art, but not alone, it had to be viewed through the connotations of the symbols that visualize the two characters. The game forced me to have his dog abuse him, in weird ways, but without ill intent. Strange.

  14. […] Walk in the Park by is a game I discussed the artistic value of over at Raph Koster’s blog. The artistic value of this game is twofold. On the semiotic level it creates a rather surrealistic […]

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