Elemental Challenge Day Thirty-One: Art




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…


FF3-NES-Summoner2.png  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.



blackmage  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.



mystic_knight1 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)



spoonybardmageright.jpg  The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)

Mario Paint, obviously. Though I played it mostly for the fly swatting game.



HandheldMage1  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.



EKkbAqWy  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.



Kx18GL1dNEW  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.



nostalgiamage  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.



rmage2.jpg  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!

FF3-NES-Summoner2.png  FF3-NES-Magus2.png mystic_knight1 spoonybardmageright.jpg FF3-NES-Geomancer1 finalfourteenthmage.png HandheldMage1 EKkbAqWy Kx18GL1dNEW nostalgiamage 

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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22 replies »

  1. Ahh, The Power Of Games! Art? Yes!
    Obvs, we’ve dealt with Journey, Flower, Inside & Unraveled elsewhere, in way too much detail (mine & yours)
    But, for this last in, Lord C’ll say:
    A game that always makes me feel better even just hearing it’s theme tune! (WellRed, you’ll be hummin it in 2 secs, Prepare!)
    Yoshi’s Story on N64!!! It makes my heart dance & my soul sing!!!!! Hooray!!! 😀 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I nominate NiGHTS into Dreams on the Sega Saturn. I should suggest Okami, as it used interesting designs and style, along with incorporating brush strokes into the gameplay, but I have already nominated that game previously. NiGHTS is based around the dreams of some anxious kids. I like the surreal designs of the levels (including mirrored ground and sky and a level seemingly made of rubber), particularly a level showing the kids flying above their home city. I also liked the colour scheme, which used an interesting mix of light and dark colours and avoided the blinding visuals of other games with novel art styles. The gameplay was also good, with the player flying through the levels collecting mysterious objects and battling unusual bosses. Alternatively, the player can wander along the ground, enjoying the strange level designs and avoiding a giant alarm clock. The game also used music that created a sense of wonder. Weirdly, the dreamlike atmosphere is helped by the graphical capabilities from the time, the animated sequences had highly smooth surfaces and bright lighting (which made the game seem fantastical) and the ingame graphics used a fixed background and the foreground appearing close to the player (adding a surreal atmosphere). A sequel was released many years later, but I felt it did not feel as magical as the original.
    How is Journey played? Does it use a story? How is the game played with others without using verbal cues?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Journey is a great choice and one that came to mind for me as well. Monument Valley, I’ve already used but that fits here nicely too. But I think I’m going to go with Ico. It was the game that got me to think about games in a different way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ico is an incredible game! I feel like it was stuck in the Shadow of its bigger companion game by Team Ico, so when I first began to play it I really underestimated it. When I was through, I was very impressed. It’s one of the few games I bothered to speed run, I loved it so much. Excellent choice!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This one is so difficult, and I’m not entirely sure I’ve mentioned the games I’ll talk about before. I believe video games are just as much an art form as any visual media with some bring more artsy than others. Do I think FMV scenes in FFVII are artistic? Most certainly and without a doubt. But I think this question speaks more to a particular aesthetic, which is of course wildly up to interpretation.

    My third and second picks concur with two of the mages: Child of Light and Journey in that order. I’ve said my piece on Journey on my own blog and Child of Light, too longer ago.

    My number one art game is Dear Esther, which causes some arguments over whether it even *is* a game or not. Haunted, ethereal, and highly interpretive, the monologues stay with you long after the story is told (in my narcissism I’ve recorded myself reading them, because I like the sound of my own voice shhh lol). It and Journey vie for position on which one I like better.

    This series was awesome, and I just became a Patreon contributer! Great idea to set one up 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Interactive visual media arts, or some such. I’ve been trying to find the official classification. As platforms for interpretation, storytelling, emotion, even aside from the technicalities of graphics, I do believe games qualify.

      Thanks so much for becoming a Warrior of Light! :O You’re super awesome and I sent you a Twitter PM! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I dunno… That picture looks an awful lot like a polar bear in a snowstorm to me. Infinite possibilities is much more inspiring though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First of all, I’m excited that Journey made it on here. I’m in love with it, and the other games by the same creative group. I was also thrilled when The Midnight Mystic Mage chose Child of Light. That’s a thoroughly beautiful game, and your choosing this game allowed me to break a tie I had between it and another title.

    My mind went two directions with this topic at the same time, so I’ll include both in my answer. The first was game as art. I love games, and have always considered them art. But one of the two games that popped into my head for this category (the first being Child of Light) was The Unfinished Swan. You run around a blank world much like the opening whiteness of this post(which, as it happens, doesn’t show up well on the WordPress Reader, if you were wondering 😉 ). The game is played from a 1st person perspective. All you have is an unending supply of ink or paint with which to reveal the world.

    The other direction my mind went was games that allow you to produce art. I’ve loved my fair share of these over time. My favorite, though, is a very new one. My friend recently put together a VR setup and we all spent a night playing. I amused but not terribly impressed until he directed me to Tiltbrush. I’ve never been more amazed by a painting game. You haven’t truly lived until you have painted in the air around you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You made it to the finish line! I was waiting all month to name Journey as my art form game of choice. That thing is unforgettable. I’m still mucking about Child of Light, haven’t finished it but I’ll need to go back and dedicate some time to it to do so. That white image was jarring to me too and for that reason I picked it, just to be contrary! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This may be an odd choice, but Another World o nthe Mega Drive/SNES. When I first saw it, I remember thinking that I’d never seen anything like it before. It was, in my eyes, an iconic piece of gaming art for that era.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Sublime Reviews and commented:

    For the final day of the Elemental Challenge at The Well-Red Mage we all chose our favorite Artistic games. I think this is an important one to end on because I am a believer in Video Games being an art form and I think it is up to all of us to push this agenda and get the rest of the world on that same page. A movie, Graphic Design, Painting, Drawing, Music, are all considered art, but when it comes to the medium that brings them all together the majority of people classify it as something silly for children? That is not right in my opinion and I am sure in many of yours as well. So stop by and let us know your favorite Artistic games, mine is Child of Light, and thank you for following the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

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