The image above represents almost infinite possibilities. A blank canvas, an empty sheet of paper, the reaches of imagination, however you interpret it the point is that it’s open to anything. That’s what art is. Today, on this final day of our 31-Day Elemental Challenge, we’re talking Art games.
I think the diverse answers below are indicative of the subjectivity of our responses toward art. The word “art” means different things to different people. Some think of the classics. Some think of the experimental. Some think of the modern. Some think of the Renaissance. Art is just a human activity through which we express ourselves. Are video games art? That question, and our affirmative answer to it, has historically formed the foundation of our work on this blog since our inception. It informs the reason why I don’t think writing thousands upon thousands of words about mere games is a waste of my time. If art represents some of the highest of human achievements, and video games are an art form, then more discussion, not less, is warranted.
This is what we think about Art games, whatever that means to each of us…
The Green Screen Mage
Pokémon Art Academy! I can draw me some Pokémon! …When they give me the lines… after that it’s just not good. Very fun though! Definitely would recommend the game to younger kids into Pokémon.
The Black Humor Mage
I haven’t played too many art games, but they always look like a fantastic experience. One of the best has to be Journey, which is a game that absolutely took my breath away. I got the big TV in my living room to myself for the night, so I decided to play Journey. I played the whole thing in one sitting and was blown away by the visuals and soundtrack. The emotions of fear of the unknown, but ultimately the feeling of triumph made this game absolutely special.
The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)
Child of Light. What a beautiful game and what a way to end off the month of amazing games. Child of Light is entrancing & atmospheric. It has an incredible turn based battle system, Metroidvania qualities, and it is one heck of a game. I believe that it is the most artistic game that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. (Honorable Mentions – Katamari Damacy, Braid, Valiant Hearts)
The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)
Mario Paint, obviously. Though I played it mostly for the fly swatting game.
The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)
The old saying “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like” applies here. I wasn’t sure what to put for this one, but when I rack my brain I think Gone Home.
Why? Well, to me Gone Home reminds me of a teen movie or a coming of age drama and to me, that is art. There are thousands of classic films I never watched growing up, but I always watched the film’s that were ‘young people vs. the world’.
The plot, music and setting of Gone Home take me back to those 90’s films like Empire Records and Ghost World. It’s rare a game attempts and successfully gets me interested in a love story but Gone Home does that. The characters are believable, the setting is faithful and it never feels contrived. Sure, Gone Home isn’t much of a game, but as an experience, as a story? To me, it’s art.
The Brave Blue Mage (924COLLECTIVE)
I watched my best friend play Final Fantasy X, so I didn’t have to. When Final Fantasy X-2 launched it was love at first sight. Gone was the reserved Yuna from X, now we had a proactive team of female leads! Move over Charlies Angels! The combat system was completely re-imagined using dresspheres & Garment Grids. Living in a house of fashion students at University, we always appreciated the work & detail that goes into design & FFX-2 put it front & center. Add the mini-games galore, the trios banter & lush art style makes this a personal favorite.
The Dapper Zaffre Mage (Save File 02)
Auditorium was a strange game that I nevertheless got hooked on. It’s a bit of a musical puzzle game that requires you to stream light particles into various goals around the screen in order to activate one instrument of the background music- you get the entire song as a reward for filling all of the goals at the same time and completing the screen. A lot of the puzzles took a fair amount of creativity to guide and alter the streams to fill what you needed without taking away from another goal. Auditorium is a fun relaxer to play when you want a more passive game to sit with.
The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage (Nostalgia Trigger)
I never considered myself a creative person, but Mario Paint on the Super Nintendo always scratched that itch when I needed an outlet! Included with it was a mouse and mouse pad, which afforded you all kinds of opportunities to play fun games to harness your creativity. One game in particular had you creating music by dropping little stamps on to music bars in order to create your own music. Another allowed you to simply draw pixel art. However, the coolest (and most frustrating) game on there put you in charge of a fly swatter. Five year old me never stood a chance!
The Rage Mage
Color a Dinosaur. So bad even its title is misleading. Those are textures not colors, and that’s no dinosaur that ever existed. It’s just an eye-saur.
The Well-Red Mage
Here we are: the last day of this Challenge. It kind of flew by but I’ve been waiting to mention this game since day one, and that game is none other than thatgamecompany’s Journey. When I think of video games as art, when I attempt to formulate an apologetic to prove to a non-gamer that games are an art form, Journey is always irresistibly a part of that process. Though brief, Journey is a game unlike any other I’ve played, capable of reaching out and speaking to you on a fundamental level in a simple and innocent way. It’s execution of online multiplayer to be able to connect with another human being non-verbally on an emotional basis is unparalleled. I’ve never had anything close to a “religious” experience until playing Journey, but the crescendo of music and visuals right at the climax of the game moved me to tears. Not sobbing, mind you, but wet-eyed gladness. Journey immediately leapt to my Top 5 favorite games of all time, where it’ll likely remain, and I’m proud to capstone this 31-Day Challenge with its mention.
That’s all folks! Thank you very much, NPCs, for following and reading and participating in this Elemental Challenge through the month of July. Your feedback and comments were astounding. A lot of you showed some incredible passion for your favorite games, and I found that kind of excitement inspiring! It was more than a bit of work putting together these posts every day but in the end it was worth it in bringing people together to talk about their treasured art.
A massive debt of gratitude goes to the mages who banded together and plowed through this Challenge, day after day providing their answers and insights. Your enthusiasm impassioned me! Thank you, team!
So were you able to beat this Challenge? Did you have an answer for every day? Did you miss any days? What are your thoughts on video games as art? Keep the conversation alive! Thanks for reading!
-The Well-Red Mage
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