Monday, April 04, 2011

Art house video games

Where are the art house video games? I remember reading that the novel was once considered a time waster for idlers well beneath the level of serious art. What is art, anyway? TV spent decades in the shallows before growing artistic pretensions. These days, you can take a university class about The Wire. Maybe soon we'll be able to take a class in Halo studies, or the semiotics of Grand Theft Auto?

Silly, maybe, but games show a lot more potential than, say, Twitter. Unless someone starts tweeting profound insights in haiku. Have you ever seen a Facebook page you'd describe as raw, edgy, or deep?

Games are, at least, amenable to a Lord of the Rings style quest where the main point is to explore a rich fantasy world. What games are lacking, so far as I know, is the ability to be transformative. How does the writer develop characters when the protagonist, or protagonists, are real people with a will of their own? To induce a change - growth, learning - in a character outside of the writer's control... that would be the real trick.

But the potential of games is there as well. The visuals and audio are already well developed. Interactivity with the game world and the shared experience of multiplayer games is where the untapped potential lies. The medium may be the message, but to succeed on an artistic level games need a message. They need more to say than, "Let's blow shit up!"

Know any games that rise to the level of real art? Put your nominations in comments...