Tag Archives: Journey

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 Zeugmas

I beat the video game and the eggs.

I’ll play the game of life and the Xbox with the same winning attitude.

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Why I Love to Download Games

downloadable gamesI look forward to a future where everyone downloads games to their console or PC. I also hope these downloads would finish in the blink of an eye. I’d dump game discs. I wouldn’t need them anymore.

Well, that future date is up in the air and covered with fog. It’s hard to see when it will touch down on the ground. In the meantime, let me tell you six reasons why I love to download games.

1. Convenience

It’s just plain convenient to download games online. You don’t have to go to the brick and mortar stores of yore. You can keep the creases, folds and impressions that make up your comfortable couch groove.

There is a downside, though, because you can’t always sell downloaded games. Still this might be a small price to pay. I mean, you get an amazing game, and you don’t even have to move.

2. Steam

I think you’ll find it worthwhile just to get a PC for these sales. And it’s tough to resist Valve’s world class games, like Portal and Half Life. Be careful! These video game sales might tempt even a stingy person with a digital wallet.

3. Demos

Downloading and playing a demo is like test driving a car: you get a taste of the full experience. I appreciate that demos are there if I need to take one for a test drive.

I sometimes played demos sometimes during the last generation. I love it when you complete them and unlock rewards, and I had great fun do this with Mass Effect 3.

4. XBLA and PSN

It was amazing to see how XBLA improved. It went from simple but fun games like Geometry Wars to block busters like Shadow Complex. Journey won critical praise and my heart. What improvements will we see during this generation?

5. “Original” games

Journey, Fez, and Bastion are refreshing. These games, and others like them, are a welcome change from the mainstream diet of AAA sequels. In fact, they’re so good that you might find they replace your previous diet and leave you satisfied. Try these downloadable games. You’ll thank me later.

6. DLC

Don’t pelt me with tomatoes just yet. Let me explain. DLC is exciting when it extends the life of a game, and it offers you a different way to play the game. DLC also allows developers to take risks with their game. When it’s done right, DLC keeps me interested.


Why do you love or hate downloadable games?


Filed under Video Game Trends

Video Games Let You Fly

Journey video gameYou can’t fly. Ok, maybe you can board a plane, or sail away in a hot air balloon, or blast off with a jet pack. But you need technology; you can’t fly by yourself.

Well, there is one way you can fly by yourself: become a video game character.  Come on, you know deep down the kid in you wants to do it, so don’t dismiss this post.

I would be the burgundy robe wearing figure from Journey. The figure has a mysterious visage, piercing white eyes and a glittering scarf. I’m not sure how I would ever get anything done in that world though. I mean, the beauty of the game world would always overwhelm me.

A Day in the Life of a Journey Character

I got up early while the sun was shining. Though, as far as I can tell, the sun is always shining in this world. Then I left my house, a set of ancient ruins scattered among the dunes, and floated off in search of a journey.

I soaked up tons of resplendent sunshine that day and got a little hot. After all, I live in sweltering desert heat and wear a thick robe everyday. But I like to think the robe protects me from UV rays. Also, the robe’s perfect for trekking through snowy mountain peaks. It’s a one of a kind must-own fashion item.

The sun and the heavy, flowing robe always make my mouth feel as dry as the Sahara. So, my first goal every day is to get some water. Without the water, I would dry up like a raisin and disintegrate into a dust indistinguishable from the desert sand.

When my thirst became unbearable, I stopped to meditate on the precariousness of my life in the world of Journey. It was relaxing. The sun melted away all my stress like it was an ice-cube. I sat down by myself and hours flew by.

But I wasn’t alone all the time. I met tons of cool strangers who dropped in and out at random. These random meetings made it hard to make good friend, but it worked for speed dating.

Overall, I had a ton of fun meeting all these strangers. We sometimes raced each other down desert dunes, like we were on a sand toboggan. We also floated past each other and spoke a strange language that brought us closer together.

We journeyed for a long time until we reached a massive mountain. Our hearts and our relationship nearly froze up there. We were joyful after we reached the top of the mountain, got a second chance at life, and passed through a mysterious crevasse flooded with light.

Gee, I forgot all about that water.

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Hate to Play with Strangers Online? Take a Journey

Journey multiplayerPretend your head is a block of cheese. Let’s make it American cheese because I know most of my audience hails from there.

Don’t ask scientific questions about how this occurred; just imagine. I’m sure you can pretend because you’re not empty-headed.

Now imagine you go online to play games with strangers. What’s the experience like? Well, sometimes it feels like strangers grate on your cheddar nerves. And they scream while they grate to terrorize your ears. But you didn’t ask for that treatment.

When you go online, you may want to blow up zombies’ empty heads and set fire to their corpses. But your fellow zombie terminator might have more fun setting you on fire. You don’t need this kind of behaviour. You also don’t want to listen to people who screech like fingernails on a chalkboard.

So I think you should look up Journey. But be careful if you search for it online because you could get some unintended results. Ignore all the search results about life fulfilling exercises, maximizing your potential and so on. This is a game.

In Journey, you slide down desert dunes and fly to reach a mountain. Along the way, you sometimes run into a stranger who wants to soar and sail with you in the wind.

Journey also has tons of strangers who don’t want to help you. The good news is they aren’t essential. They pop into existence and disappear without so much as a wave goodbye. You can avoid all conversation with them.

Just like life, relationships wither and people disappear in Journey. They reach a higher plane. Or maybe they go to an eternal void.

But when you find someone who sticks around to play, the game’s co-op will light up your eyes with delight. You’ll find yourself marveling at the game’s beauty with someone else. Then, when it looks like you’re both done for, you’ll pass through the unknown without saying a word.

Some games urge you to talk to your partner, but Journey leaves you mute. Sure, you can blurt out foreign characters and sounds above your head. These character may not mean much, yet they still can bind you close to other player.

Like in life, sometimes you hardly speak a word to friends and family, and they can still understand you. They might share the same hopes and dream as they embark on the journey of life.


Filed under Video Games I Play

A Digital Life, Death and Afterlife in 90 Minutes

Journey (video game)A figure with eyes as white as snow stares forward. It is clad in a flowing burgundy robe and gold flecked scarf. What’s on its mind?

A second figure, jumping with joy, pops into view. This second figure, an identical companion, stares at the clone with an empty gaze. A strange character – from an unknown language – emanates from both of their faces and appears above their heads.

The chit-chat is short: the second figures disappears as if some being had reached down from the heavens and removed it. The strange characters now fade into the ether. There’s nothing left to say. One robed figured stands tall and alone as wind whirls through the desert sands.

Suddenly, the sole robe jumps up and sails through the air without any cares. Its long, luxurious scarf seems to have a mind of its own as it ripples in the wind. The robed figure lands gently without disturbing a single grain of desert sand. A moonlit glade would envy the serene setting.

Then, a giant shark-like creature swims through the air and charges, like a bull after seeing a red flag, toward the robed figure. The robed figure tip toes to a small structure to hide. It’s too late. The bell tolls for thee.

The shark creature flips the robe into the air like a flimsy Kleenex. The robed figure flies backward and crashes in the desert with a bang. It doesn’t have a scratch. Instead, the scarf became shorter and glimmers with less gold.

The robed figure gets back up and walks forward with resolute boldness. If the figure had arms, it might also dust the sand off its shoulder.

Meanwhile, another friend pops into view. The two companions trudge through snow and sleet toward a mysterious mountain peak. The fun seems to stop when you and your friend freeze along the way.

This is Journey.

If you play games, at least most shooters, you know death is non-existent. You just restart a checkpoint. In these games, your heart pounds and you have little time to think about what happened. How can you reflect on death and afterlife when you mow down bad guys with buckets full of ammo?

Journey, though, offers you a chance to reflect on life and death. Then it will take you, if you’re open to it, on a trip to explore some big questions.

So the game resurrects both characters. One robed figure peers up and sees a series of towering creatures in snow white robes.

A door opens to a new world. All of a sudden, a blue sky splashes across the screen and the music is beautiful.

I saw this blue sky as a spiritual moment. The two figures are back from the dead. Now, their bodies still rotted on the mountain side, but their souls soared through the air to finish the journey.

The figures wear the same robes, yet something has changed. They can now soar to new heights in the limitless blue sky.

The figures touch down on the mountain and the light from a crevice beckons them closer. They inch forward like worms until the light swallows them. The brightness is all that remains.

This game suggests the afterlife is a place where souls are separate from physical bodies. After dying on the mountain, the robed figures’ souls are free to try to reach the light. They do. Then they get a chance to reflect on their life as they revisit everywhere they’ve been. After that, the cycle continues.

But you still have to wonder what lies in that crevice full of light. Does something lie in wait to embrace the robed figures?

Some might say the game is only about death. The only thing the light offers, they might say, is an eternal void. I, however, like to think there’s something beyond that crevice.

For me, Journey deals with the profound, with body and spirit, and the afterlife. The game does it all without uttering a single word. The game does it all without bloodshed.

A breath of fresh desert air.


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