Thursday, December 29, 2005

Art Games

art games

Does the concept of art games really make sense?
The answer isn't quite as obvious as one might think. now has a section about art games, or to put it more correctly - video games made by artists. How is that for a pompous way of promoting entertainment, giving it the special "art" status? Of course, some of the works are actually quite far from what one could call a game see, for instance, in the featured selection art games several works are really "hacked" games, made impossible to play or turning the concept of "game" meaningless. The work might be interesting, but isn't calling it a "game" just a pretensious way of promoting "alternativity"?
On the other hand, many art games seem to be just plain games, i.e. entertainment, under an artsy cover. They get you hooked just the same, and the esthetic aspect seems to vanish in the competitive haze. That's what happened to me with arteroids, a game I linked to some time ago. (I even clearly called it a "game", suggesting I don't quite feel arteroids are as "artsy" as its creator Jim Andrews wishes to see them)
The Intruder by Natalie Bookchin is another case. Here is a narrated story, accompanied by several "games", some of which are playable, others, well, symbolic or rather, playing on the idea of playing. It has a low-fi, underground feel to it that makes it at once appealing and irritating. Appealing, because contrary to some all-too-perfect projects, there is lots of room for us here, for changing focus, for trying to figure out a personal way of going through this. Irritating, because when I played (?) it, several times the game seemed to stop or stall. The limit of my low-fi enthusiasm appears just about here.

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