Art Games

For Christmas, Santa gave the kiddos a new Apple tv. It's awesome because we can play group games like karaoke and drawing games; and it has art slide show apps. Now, when we're not watching TV we can have it showcase contemporary art that's currently on display in a totally different country! I'm sure I'll have more to add to all that another day but for now I want to talk about video game art and specifically a game we just finished playing together on the tv, Lumino City.

This game is a work of art. It takes an average of 10 hours to complete which is about how long it took us. It consists of a series of puzzles to solve and lands to explore all in an effort to find our hero's missing granddad. The puzzles can be tricky and use a variety of problem solving techniques and acquired knowledge. If the player gets stuck on a puzzle there's a guidebook that the granddad character gave our hero. It provides clues but doesn't give the answer away, which is perfect. Also, a good lesson for the younger players on how to seek out information to solve tricky problems. 

Aesthetically, this art game is so lovely. As you can see from the pictures above the entire setting was made by hand. The storyline and characters were well developed too making the end satisfying. I'd play it all again even though I solved the puzzles because there were details along the way that had some subtle sociological statements.

Another art game the kiddos and I played a while back is Monument Valley. In this you lead a princess, Ida, through various M.C. Escher like lands. Each page is a beautiful artwork of it's own. This art game was much faster to complete, no more than an afternoon for my boys to work through it and it's follow up games. However, like Lumino City, this game is an experience and story. It's poetic in its design and navigation.

There's an article from earlier this year titled "Towards an Art History For Video Games" by Lana Polansky.  The author does a nice job in explaining the history of art games and the qualities that set them apart from traditional video games.  I think the two games above fall into the art game category because they tell a story and provide an experience. Not unlike attending a performance art event or watching a film. Both are apps cost $ but are well worth it.