games as art

A heavy focus this trimester is on designing games beyond the mechanics. Going further into how an idea, point of view or emotion can be portrayed, especially through mechanics. Rather than feeding dialogue or cut scenes a player can also absorb narrative through the actions required to play. Some games that attempt this feat are argued to be a form of art in that they pose moral and social questions for the player to interpret and reflect on. However due to the juvenile stigma often attached to games, these works are still working their way into our culture.

In our recent set readings we covered a chapter from Ian Bogost’s “How to do things with video Games” where he touches on the debate around games as art and how some of the prominent titles in this genre accomplish their goals.

In reply to the often quoted Roger Egbert, Bogost questions the historical definition of art and how the public has perceived it through it’s modern evolution. Avant-garde movements forced a change in perspective, focusing  on context, content and medium rather than just on the craftsmanship and skill represented in a piece. Viewers are invited to construct an opinion and interpretation of the artists intent and often commentary of social issues of the time. The role  and definition of art in society seemingly adapts to the needs of the era. In a society that has a need to engage with digital mediums on such a great level, it’s too easy to consider games as a part of the natural evolution of art, an adaptation suited to our current society.

Not unexpectedly, games designers such as Jason Rohrer and Rod Humble are mentioned as their works, such as Passage or The Marriage, are references for games that convey human relationships in a form that diverges from mainstream and even most independent titles. Bogost refers to these types of games as ‘Procedural rhetoric’ in that rather than using text or images as the primary narrative device, the environment and what is enacted within it. Story through mechanics. I’ve covered Jason Rohrer’s works in more detail in a previous entry, highlighting the aspects that make his games art.



For our first brief of the year, we are to construct a game  that portrays an point of view or experience that is significant to us, but within a 2 week time frame. Much in the vein of the artgames we had previously read about, our work is a vignette, a small encapsulation of the feelings and message one is trying to convey.

The topic I selected for this project was anxiety and the experience of anxiety attacks. I chose to only allow the player to control the players breathing and the ability to look around.


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