Topical Tuesday: Is Art in Videogames Important?

Topical Tuesday: Is Art in Videogames Important?

This week on Topical Tuesday: Is art in videogames important?

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Nah, videogames are made for being fun, it is of little importance to me wether they are art or not.

Edit: Although I guess the acceptance of videogames as an artform could serve to grant them better funding and ultimately give us better games.

When you say art, I assume you mean art styles? It's just not very clear.

Anyway, I think that art in videogames is....desirable, but not essential. A game can stand on its own two feet by its gameplay alone, but sometimes, a good art style is needed to truly push the game into a memorable masterpiece.

My favourite art style is probably either Perfect Dark or Grim Fandango. They both have very clear ideas of what they want to look like. With Perfect Dark, everything is mechanistic and grim. With Grim Fandango, everything is ethereal, but in varying degrees. Very dreamlike.

So long as the art doesn't get in the way of fun, and if the fun wasn't given the short stick for the art. Games are played for entertainment.So they should be fun. Some good art and a good art style definitely helps a game.

As for what I think the game with the best art is...

Okami, hands down. Its like your playing a painting.

EDIT: And if you at all meant video games as art or something like that, I think it would be pointless. Nothing would change if games were classified as art. The general public would still look down on games as kid-stuff. Crazy people would still demonize them. Games would still be going on as they do now. Its pointless, and instead of worrying about that, we should be worrying about actually having fun with them.

Yes, absolutely it is. The game's art needs to be effective at conveying what needs to be conveyed. A game with good art should look "clean"-- it's not always about graphical quality, but about effective communication within a medium. Art in videogames has an extra dimension which is (pretty much) absent in other mediums-- the resources available to the developers (processing power and other technical restrictions). This forces developers to create within a limited framework-- limited polygons and pixels. Truly effective videogame art is both aesthetically pleasing and comprehensible.

(if it's not clear, I'm referring entirely to visuals-- I could argue that every aspect of a videogame is art, but it goes without saying that "every aspect" is important)

An original art style is a bonus, sure, but it has nothing on athmosphere. Unless it helps build it.
And many games use their "special" art style to hide bad graphics, lazy texturing and limited capabilities (most notably every cell-shaded Wii game).
So, yeah, not really important to me.

Technically, no. Videogames got by just fine back when their graphics were poor. One of my favorite games ever had an ASCII display for the UI. You're @, the dungeon walls are #, etc.

On the other hand there are a lot of games that distinguish themselves with a slick visual style (borderlands), awesome outfits or mechanical designs (armored core, wipeout fury, lost planet 2), etc. It's not fundamental to a good game but can also be one of the most significant parts of the experience. Sometimes you play a game to see all the graphics it has to offer... that's no different from playing another game to discover the entire story, or playing another game to try and get the highest score.

I don't know if it's important or not as a whole, but I surely do like the idea of the videogame becoming a valuable medium like books, painting, and movies have become. Artful games could make their way to the track of actually being worth studying in schools in classes that aren't for techies but for critiquing classes like Art and English. It isn't important now, but I do hope it becomes important.

"Is quality art important to have in videogames?"

This makes it sound like you believe art to be the visual style. I (and, I believe, most gamers) contest that it's not the art in games that's important, but whether the games themselves are art or not.

I wrote an essay about this a couple of months ago, and I'll use the same definition of art now as I did then, by Monroe Beardsley, a philosopher of art: "either an arrangement of conditions intended to be capable of affording an experience with marked aesthetic character or (incidentally) an arrangement belonging to a class or type of arrangements that is typically intended to have this capacity." And yep, I think that sums up games pretty neatly.

And yes, I do believe that approaching games as art is important, or at least, approaching them with the understanding that they have the capacity to be art. The creators can then make a decision as to whether they will make art or not, just like movie makers and authors. This would add a lot more potential power to designers who approach producers with far-out, artistic ideas. Games could then start to be made that really push the perceived boundaries of what the games medium can accomplish.

We need to define games as art before they can start being art. This is for one simple reason: money. Landscape-changing products for other mediums were able to do what they did because they didn't cost nearly as much as the modern game does. The Canterbury Tales didn't have to suffer a business-minded studio telling Chaucer his idea wouldn't sell. This sitting around and waiting for art to happen has a basis in history, but if the games industry is going to evolve, it can't be lax. The fans need to change first, ideally by spending lots of money on strange games.

It's happening. I'm not complaining or issuing a call to action - look at the success of Heavy Rain or Braid, or the fact that Shadow of the Colossus is getting a re-release. But is it important for it to keep on happening? Hell yes.

I would have to say that "art" depends on the game itself. For example, when I play Castle Crashers I find the fun cartoon feeling to work perfectly with the type of game it is. It's fun, easy to play and doesn't take itself seriously.

However, when I play an RPG or an action/adventure game, I like there to be a lot more environment so I can feel immersed in the game. I thought this was one of the best parts about Batman: Arkham Asylum and it really helped me to enjoy the game that much more. Another game that stands out is Myst. The art was spectacular and I really feel there was no game that could artistically touch it back in '93. Looking back even now I'm still in awe as to what the developers did artistically and the software and hardware they had to use to create it.

The art in games usually wows me for a few minutes, then I find myself looking beyond it. If the game has nice art and is also done well overall, then I appreciated it more. A good example for me would be (I really don't want to say it, but) Gears 2. The art is solid, and the game kept me playing long enough to dig said solid art. If Gears 2 was crap, they could have packed all the nice art they wanted into it, and I wouldn't have stuck around to see most of it.

Of course....true old-schoolers don't need art. You can give us a red pixel, tell us it's a bad guy, and we'll fight it to the death with our yellow square hero!

Art is as important as it's contributions to the gameplay, I suppose. In Okami, the art style was an enormous part of the immersion that made the game work as a whole.

In Legend of Zelda, I really could not care less about graphics. Wind Waker or Twilight Princess - what's the difference. Gimme some puzzle-dungeons! Some...puzzgeons! No, no, sorry, that doesn't work at all.

But that's maybe getting away from the question. If that's possible. 'art' is about as vague as you can get, good sir or madam.

A game made solely to be 'Art' is going to be awful because a game can't afford to be aloofly inscrutable and pretentious, as the professional definition of art seems to demand. A game demands interaction, while Art is content to fly over your head. Art exists to exist. A game exists to be played.

Gosh DANG, now I've definitely gotten off topic. Quickly, revert to topic!

Art is important! Gameplay is more important! The end!

Art for art's sake or art for the game's sake?

Art for art's sake sake - hell no! It can be a drawing point, an extra feature, a new dimension, it can be beautiful. But it's not necessary. And while I appreciate beautiful artwork in games, if it exists only for itself and not to serve the game, then it is not needed, and may even encumber the game with lots of extra crap. On a gameplay level, you risk losing your story and gameplay under showy and distracting graphics. On a hardware level, you've created something that will chug like a bitch on a regular machine, with tons of unneeded graphics.

Art for the game's sake. So you need to immerse players in an atmosphere, or show them clearly what they need to be doing, or entice them to continue for "just five minutes more". You want the game to be easily understood, the characters to be clearly delineated, the environment rich with items. You need artwork. Good art will serve a game by lending all these attributes to a game. They needn't be of the highest quality, but if they work well, players will generally forgive that in favour of playability and ease of access.

Games where that works? I'm going to suggest Supreme Commander; Forged Alliance as an example. It's an RTS. It has four extremely similar factions; it differenciates between them by the art, a different style for each faction. The maps are relatively plain - good, because you really don't need much there. The GUI's are great, as you can access all the information and issues every command you need without ever having to lose sight of your units on your map. The art is detailed, beautiful, functional and enjoyable.

And that's what I want out of art in a game.

(Oh, and sorry about the text wall :)

Spinwhiz:
I would have to say that "art" depends on the game itself. For example, when I play Castle Crashers I find the fun cartoon feeling to work perfectly with the type of game it is. It's fun, easy to play and doesn't take itself seriously.

However, when I play an RPG or an action/adventure game, I like there to be a lot more environment so I can feel immersed in the game. I thought this was one of the best parts about Batman: Arkham Asylum and it really helped me to enjoy the game that much more. Another game that stands out is Myst. The art was spectacular and I really feel there was no game that could artistically touch it back in '93. Looking back even now I'm still in awe as to what the developers did artistically and the software and hardware they had to use to create it.

Umm...huh, maybe I'm getting confused, but, I would have thought 'how it looks', and anything related to that is what would fall under the 'art' of the game, that is, a dark spooky forest in a game provides atmosphere. At least, in games, there's environment in relation to how the player will navigate this environment, and then there's environment in how it puts across an artistic feel, the look and the mood.

Take for example, the forest in Grim Fandango:

It's a game environment in that: It's a twisting maze of trees that forces players to navigate it and complete it's puzzles in order to escape. There are a number of paths the player may take, but only one exit. The exit stage in this section is a single bridge and puzzle.

It's an artistic environment in that: It's a spooky forest. The trees are all bent and dark, and the whole of it exudes a sense of death and confusion. This is reflected in the denizens too, skeletal spiders and demonic flaming beavers. The last bridge is a dam in a river of tar made of the bones of past travellers.

I don't really know -which- you're referring to when you say you like art in a game when it's fun, but prefer environment, when in a lot of games (if not most) the two go together like peanut-butter and chocolate. I don't really enjoy games for their technical merits. The underlying construction of a game is interesting to be sure, but I'm not really thinking about the rules that hold it together when I'm playing it as long as I'm enjoying it. Important, I'd say it's essential. But, that doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be -visual-, text and symbols can be just as good at creating a game's aesthetic as modern graphics.

In closing however: The art needs to serve the needs of the game first and foremost. Not the other way around. As in design, visuals are communicative. Ideally though, gameplay, artistic direction (visuals and sounds) and story should all be made to work together. I'll be honest however , I -prefer- games that focus on the story full-hog, even at the expense of other areas. But that's just me.

video are a form of art, they are a person,s expression and desire to tell a story and shape a world no matter how bad it might be. The only thing that takes this down is certain games that are viewed as too violent to too immature. Video games have only become big in the last what five years so its going to take time. Another thing about the art or not is that money drives video game development more than any other art form. There are very few garage developers that create video games between theres shifts at work. especially today everything is run by large corporations that do search out side and absorb independent talent.

Do you mean the graphics and visual style? Cause the word "Art" has much more meaning than that....

I had a profound thought (No really...maybe). Why is it that Pong, Tetris, Pac Man and a plethora of 'retro' games are been held up as examples of art not mattering in relation to the gameplay?

Then it hit me: Yes, the gameplay is emphasised. But those games -do- make extensive use of artistic sensibilities. Pong, is almost, no -is- minimalism personified in electronic form!

However, I then also realised this: Art in games is not art. It's design.

Design is planned.

Art is created spontaneously, with little regard to rules, oh it does have rules, but these relate to technique and not to how the piece of art is expressed.

Games on the other hand, start as an idea and are built upward from there. They, like all design, have a function, to be played and to be enjoyed by playing. A game designer can't just sit down and start designing can he? He has to gather his resources, draw out a plan, design gameplay mechanics, flesh out the story, draw the artwork, do concept sketches and much more before he's got a game. These days, you need a whole team of people to do much of this, teams even devoted to one specific aspect.

So there. That's my thinking. Games are not art. Games are design.

Now you can all start fighting over what the difference is between art and design!

Of course it is. I think Fallout 3 is a much more meaningful world to traverse than Super Mario Land. The art is what makes the reality of a game.

Art is important in video-games. Why? Because the things we gamers look at so often should be pretty.

Best video-game art direction goes to Mirror's Edge
Best graphics goes to Just Cause 2, those environments are gorgeous.

 

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