Thoughts on games as art

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To me art is something abstract where the audience decide on the meaning themselves. The creator may or may not have a point to make with it. Some games are like that whether it’s the whole game that quite make sense or a logical game with a hidden ‘higher’ meaning within it. I don’t consider games that experiment with art/graphics or mechanics (which I think is awesome) as art, but rather when the game logic itself doesn’t quite make sense or any themes a game may hint at is told in an abstract manner.

Art is niche but sophisticated

Most people (me included) don’t get art. You have to of a certain level in intelligence (I guess?) to appreciate it. To the rest of us, we just think you’re weird. With art (and art-like games) there is an impression that if you don’t get it, it’s you not the art. It’s unwelcoming which I dislike.

Sandbox games

To me, some sandbox games can be considered art and others not. If there is progression to the game, story progression, character progression and a clear end then to me it’s not art – it’s a logical game. However, if you’re in a sand box game and you’re not sure what you’re doing or what the point to the game is, then I call that art.

Doubt in games that don’t make sense

The problem is you can start to doubt the game creator. Are they being ‘artsy fartsy’ to cover up for their inability to create a proper game? Some people get confused and wonder what’s the point? What is the game creator trying to say? Is this a prototype? Of course it could all be false but when things don’t make sense we start developing doubt.

Games without clear objectives

It can be fun to be left on your own to try things out and see what happens. That is the unique feature of games which you can’t do with say a painting. However if there’s no clear objective, you can think you’ve done everything the game has to offer really quickly. Meaning you stop playing the game.

Games with cryptic messages and themes

The problem with these games is that they require some predetermined knowledge and without it you just can’t get it. So you just read it up on the internet – which is fun (not).

I believe if you have a point to make, make it clear or ‘gettable’, otherwise expect a percentage of people to not get it. If your aim is for your message to not reach some people well… that’s kinda counter-intuitive isn’t it?

Game and Art are opposites?

I consider games as logical. They’re made up of code and code is definitely logical – if your code didn’t make sense it wouldn’t even run. Art doesn’t always make sense, so you could say they’re opposites.

I’m not really fan of art-like games because it’s similar to a logic game where you get stuck due to game design.


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About me

Mark Wong is a front end developer with 10+ years experience. Most of his knowledge of HTML5, CSS and Js is self taught.


April 2024