Tag Archives: art

This Belongs in a Museum… or Art Gallery

What video game has the best art style and why?


Filed under Video Games: Reader Q&A

If a Soccer Mom Played a Grand Theft Auto Game

“Hey Max,” said his mother, Kathy, “whatcha playin’?”

Max had his back turned to his mom. On screen, his character was firing a rocket launcher while dangling from the bottom of a hovering helicopter. The rockets whizzed and screeched out of the launcher and turned enemy choppers into massive fireballs.

“Huh?” he asked.

A couple of seconds later, Max’s character was touching the ground and was driving a Mercedes-like car. Kathy, still behind Max, sighed.

“Ah I hate this mission. I can never get there in time to drop the people off before the timer runs out,” said Max still staring at the screen.

Max could feel a pair of eyes, with laser-like focus, burning a hole in his back. He shot his mother a quick glance and saw she had folded her arms and was glowering at him. He put down the controller.

Max said, “Alright, alright I’ll go do it now. Sheesh! I never get any me time.”

When Max left, Kathy reached for the controller with a shaky hand. She stopped herself. First she looked left, right, under the couch. “Is anyone here?” she asked herself. After one could see all doubt was removed, she plopped herself down on the couch and started playing.

The current objective was to drive two kids to basketball practice on time. “Haha hmmm”, she thought, “well why not?”

She took off in the car, but the car lurched forward when she tried to stop at a red light.


A torrential downpour fell down her forehead because she saw a cop car on the opposite side of the intersection. Nothing happened. The cop car drove past. Kathy went on her merry way in the game world.

“Well that’s strange,” she thought as she sped up the car a little bit.

Kathy wiped the sweat from her brow and checked her left and right blind spots before she continued driving. She slumped down a little in her seat, as if she felt a little small for what she planned to do next, and she accelerated faster than any sane person would in this world.

She smiled when she heard no sirens and saw no kids. Kathy thought she could do whatever she wanted to accomplish her mission. After a while, she did not even see other people or drivers in the world. In fact, after a couple of minutes, she came to an intersection that only had tumbling tumbleweeds.

But as she revved her engines and slammed on the gas, a pedestrian rounded the corner, and she “bumped” into him. A slight delay on screen ensued between the bump and the pedestrian falling over.

Kathy put her hand over mouth and muttered something inaudible.

And she spoke up, “Oh dear, oh I’m so, so sorry!”, she said. She had her character roll down the car window and searched for a button to say something. All she could find was a button that made the character taunt the pedestrian with rude thrusting gestures.

“Oh no! This is even worse,” she said.

The pedestrian didn’t turn around. He just wiped the dirt off his shoulder and kept walking. No one stopped Kathy or said anything to her.

She moved her hand away from her mouth, and her demeanor changed. She thought, “Oh, what the hell; I’ll just keep going. No one seems to care in this world anyway.”

She smirked and lifted one corner of her mouth much higher than the other. She revved up her engine and was counting to three.

Suddenly, the expression on her face changed. She hit pause and put down the controller. Kathy pushed her hand under chin and lurched forward on the couch until she looked Rodin’s “The Thinker.”

“Wait!”, she thought, “should I be going faster? Should I keep doing this? How should I treat others and what am I even doing here?”

She concluded it was a good game, picked up the controller and kept playing.

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Filed under Video Game Misc.

Painting Pictures with Video Games

“Video games and paintings have nothing in common,” a cranky person might say.

Two summers ago, I found myself wandering through an art gallery and wondering if such a cranky sentiment could be right.

I realize now that two paintings I saw would destroy the cranky person’s argument, like a foot stomping on a sand castle.

Problem is that I couldn’t remember or find the names of the paintings. So I can only share my impressions of those fateful moments in the gallery. And ask that you indulge me.

Let’s see; where do I begin…

I was staring at the first painting and admired the two figures in it. One seemed to move through a desert-like setting toward an uncertain horizon, a mountainous region. Then a thought hit me like a hammer on the head: the painting reminded me of Journey. I’m talking about the video game, not the band. Anyway, one of the figures in the desert setting reminded me of that game’s adventure.

In fact, there were several, perhaps superficial, similarities between the painting and Journey. You can’t really identify the people in the painting, just like the mysterious figures in Journey. Like the main character in Journey, one figure in the painting, with his or her back turned to the viewer, wears a long robe. There are objects, which look like wooden poles, sticking out of the sand, and one object has a red sash on it. The sashes reminded me of the floating scarves and, for lack of a better term, “carpets” in the game.

Of course, there are some differences between the game and painting. The figures in the painting obviously do not match the game. Some of the objects scattered throughout the painting, like the shoes on one figure, do not appear in the game. Overall, the painting is more realistic in that it does not have floating objects, and the figures are human. By contrast, Journey’s characters might not be human, and it features multiple floating objects.

After I did this internal analysis, I was still struck by this painting’s resemblance to Journey.

Then a second painting reminded me of Uncharted 2. I’d say Uncharted 2 because that game had a bit of an Eastern vibe. The painting shares that setting because it depicts a scene from the Byzantine empire. This is the kind of exotic locale where Nathan Drake loots treasure.

The buildings in the painting look like they’ve weathered a storm or two. What a perfect setting for uncovering lost artifacts! I can almost see Drake hopping out of one of the buildings to evade the soldiers below. Or, maybe, he’d shimmy across the ledges and ditch the soldiers on the roofs.

Well, there’s one problem: the soldiers lived well before Drake’s time. Last time I checked, Drake could not time travel to the Byzantine Empire. Although I guess Naughty Dog could add time travel in future installments of the game.

Perhaps I was stretching evidence, though, to prove to myself that video games are art. Perhaps comparing two paintings to video games was not a very useful exercise. However, I was critical and still found myself struck by the similarities between painting and game.

Even if these paintings did not resemble scenes from video games, the games remain beautiful. The games have awesome visuals and stunning music that we probably consider art. Though I will refrain from offering a robust definition of art at this time; that’s a whole other post.

We often hear people debate the question: “Are video games art?” But have you ever sat down and qualitatively compared a piece of art, from a different medium, to a video game? Have you ever seen a painting that reminded you of a video game? I mean a painting that was not inspired by video games. Share the details below.


Filed under Video Game Misc.

Video Game Word Art

up to get an extra life.




down to get a shiny coin.


I       shimmied      across               the              ledge as slow as a snail.
Then I sneaked


the bad guys.
My sword has a deadly

sharp point

and vanquished my enemies.
Game over.

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Filed under Video Game Misc.