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Thursday, September 14, 2006


Can games be art? Opinion remains largely divided on this matter; one point of view being that the interactive nature of gaming takes the artistic license away from the 'author' and thus video games cannot exist as art, the other perspective being that the developer utilises the medium of gaming to craft their unique vision within which a player is able to explore and appreciate their surroundings.

The screenshots below are both taken from Buka Entertainment's Pathologic. On the left, the main menu, a colour vanquished male grasps a scalpel hidden behind his back. This is the last image the player views before the game begins. To me, the image connotes paranoia, uncertainty and horror... all common themes within the game. The scalpel itself is the first weapon 'The Bachelor' (one of three playable characters) gets his hands upon. The opposite image is taken from within the game engine, note the lack of HUD, there are no distractions around the edges leaving the player's attention to lay firmly on the developers' portrayal of the world. A solitary female strides down a jagged cobbled path into the mist, flanked by twisted architecture contorted in upon itself. You can click on each of the pictures to load a full screen image.

I don't advocate that all games are art. As in cinema, for every Citizen Kane there is a Snakes on a Plane. For every Fallout there will be a game with lesser artistic clout. Vincent van Gogh famously remarked :

"I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream"

When each of us experiences a game, we are living the dream of another.

There will be a review of Pathologic on Splines this Saturday.

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