5 Things Video Games Do Better Than Any Other Forms of Art!

By:  of Cracked.com

Whoa, whoa — video games are an art form now? Well, here’s the thing: The first rule of art is “art is subjective,” and the second rule of art is “ART IS SUBJECTIVE” (the third rule: “If this is your first day at art club, you have to art”), and thus the tiresome argument that video games aren’t art is rather moot indeed. Oh, and video games are an output of drawings, writing, and music put together by skilled humans in a manner designed to entertain/enliven, so there’s that, too.

So with that out of the way, being on the verge of a new console generation feels like a good time to file something of a progress report on the art form in question (if only to desperately justify those 147 hours I poured into Saints Row: The Third). So what the hell can games do that books and interpretive dance can’t?

#5. They Can Make You Think Like Someone Else

In a bad video game, you’ll tend to refer to your onscreen character as “him” (or, rarely, “her”) — “Look at him fight that giant crab,” etc. But a more engrossing game inevitably has you referring to your exploits in the first person — “I’m sorry, I can’t join you for 11 hours of tantric sex right now, I have to kill this giant crab” — and this is because games can put you in the boots of someone else, to the point where you might find yourself kinda sorta thinking like someone else. Psychologists have long detailed this phenomenon where you’ll behave according to what your perceived role in life is, and it’s games’ ability to harness this in a fun/harmless way that’s perhaps unique.

As an example, the Mass Effect trilogy of games (does 2.9 games count as a trilogy?) has a romantic side quest for the main character, and playing as the other gender and then finding yourself genuinely evaluating potential romantic matches from their perspective (“YOU SHALL BRING ME THE BIGGEST HUNK ON THE SHIP”) is an experience you can’t really get unless the medium is actively telling you to take on another role. A game that more completely focused on all this could be sociologically fascinating indeed (or at least spread appreciation of hunks).

#4. They Can Do What Existing Art Forms Can Do, Only More So

What makes a good painting? Arguably you’d distinguish a work of intrigue from a mere illustration by the presence of mystery, or if someone painted boobs on it. Thoughtfulness and ambiguity in an image are the starting point, and the audience’s imagination completes the process that we call art. Thus, paintings are cool. But video games can take all this and extend it to the third dimension.

There’s an unusually thoughtful and ambiguous game from Japan called Dark Souls that places you in a strange and beautiful undead land with little real direction as to your quest. You’ll meet a number of characters, but the narrative and exposition are deliberately kept minimal to foster endless discussion (the game’s director loved the process of making up his own stories when reading English fantasy novels as a child and attempted to translate that experience to the video game medium). The game succeeds as a piece of art because the obvious amount of thought and detail that have gone into it subconsciously tell the audience that it’s worth their time to try and fill in its many blanks.

You’re not told everything, just like you’re not told what the hell The Scream is screaming about, only here you’ve got an added plane of depth, and this is what’s known as “taking it up a notch.” About halfway through Dark Souls, you encounter a five-story-high painting in a massive, eerie hall. As you approach, some strange force seizes you, pulling you into the painting, leaving you to wander interestedly around the mysterious world within. This is what’s known as “literally the most convenient metaphor ever.”

#3. They Let You Step Outside the Narrative

The movie Minority Report had some good ideas about the future, but whatever was in there was always gonna be mitigated by the fact that a movie gets made because a star gets attached to it, and thus it’s the star you’re stuck looking at 95 percent of the time. Maybe the movie Prometheus had some good ideas, too, but who the hell knows because the audience was hurtling by them lashed to a mindless, rampaging narrative. The point here is that a linear experience means the audience is largely beholden to whatever the camera is pointed at. It’s a big deal that in video games you control the camera.

What makes a world feel real is the little things — the overheard conversations, the emails, the informative brochures. This is particularly important with science fiction, which generally seeks to present a convincing vision of another reality. A game like 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution presents a complete picture of a world where human augmentation is a reality because you get to hear those conversations and read those emails and brochures — you simply spend more time in the world than you ever could with a movie (Prometheus only seemed like it was eight goddamned hours long).

Sure, you have your mission, but you can easily just say screw it and go around breaking into people’s apartments, and when you stumble onto the apartment with the clandestine human chop shop, bags of artificial eyes and arms littered about, alarming emails on the computer, you realize this is the kind of extraneous depth that makes shit actually feel plausible. Being able to park the narrative for a bit and wander off to take in the details is uniquely immersive, and anyone interested in speculative fiction would do well to go “Hmm …” at this point.

#2. They Can Trick You into Learning Something About Yourself

The worst I’ve ever felt about myself was the time I let that dude fall to his death from a bell tower when I so easily could have pulled him to safety. I found out something about myself that day — I was willing to decide that someone I didn’t like should die, and I was mad at that dead bastard, but I was infinitely madder at myself. Fortunately, most of this took place in a video game (2012’s The Walking Dead), and it’s a prime example of something games can do but passive media cannot: They can set you up to do things you assumed you weren’t capable of, in a manner typically reserved for evenings at Stanley Milgram‘s place. A novel or film can show you someone else’s descent into oblivion, but it can’t make you do evil.

Recently in games there’s a mini-trend of examining traditional game protagonists and the way they unquestioningly scythe down waves of enemies because the back of the box says they’re The Hero. 2012’s Spec Ops: The Line directly confronts this with chilling consequences for the psyche (how to play Spec Ops: The Line, Step 1: Return game to store); The Walking Dead tests the limits of how far you would go to protect one implausibly cute kid (pretty far, it turns out); and even Dark Souls is a game where half the enemies you face inevitably turn out to have some heart-breakingly noble reason for trying to dismember you (you who have unknowingly wrought so much evil because you assumed you were the hero of the game). Why is all this worth it? Because evil starts from assuming that you can do no wrong, and games genuinely have the potential to remind us that we can and will do evil if we’re first told how good we are. Plus games keep you off the streets, killing virtual giant crabs instead of real ones, and that’s the way to be.

#1. They Can Actually Attract an Audience

In the damn-near-impossible-to-make-a-living/impact world of the arts, you often have to go where the audience is, and that’s the biggest advantage of video games right now. Like it or not, that’s definitely where the audience is. Even entry-level indie games can get attention not available to other mediums. 2011’s low-tech To the Moon is basically a short story infused with a frankly microscopic amount of gameplay, but it’s a good short story, and it’s one that thousands of people would never have read if it hadn’t been in game form.

That might sound unfair, but every medium exists merely to fill the unending need for entertainment and stories, and games are in right now (have faith, erotic limerick writers, your time will come again). Most games are not 3D paintings. Artistically speaking, the majority of video games don’t do anything better than a brick, let alone literature or HBO, but most of them are at least fun, and some are legitimately beginning to demonstrate games’ unique potential to be equally fun AND thought-provoking (heaven forbid). An actual diversity of voices, attracted by this potential, is maybe all that’s needed to take things further. And then 30 years from now when games come full circle and become what Hollywood is now, we’ll at least have a golden age to look back on wistfully.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-things-video-games-do-better-than-any-other-forms-art_p2/#ixzz2WsSAgBiv

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Everybody Wins

Bioshock Infinite Inspirations: An Infographic!

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From Dorkly.com.

Video Games: Are They Art?

Books, paintings, photography, film, fashion and music…all of these are considered art. How come a medium that combines most and sometimes all of these elements is not considered art? I will tell you what, read this musing below and we will get back to that question:
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Are videogames art? No, videogames are more than art – they are the culmination of art. Videogames combine incredible music that has been played by the world’s greatest symphonies, visuals that are comparable to the work of Monet, narratives as complex and rewarding as film, and immersive, emotional experiences that no other piece of art could possibly offer. For far too long, videogames have been misconstrued as simple “toys” by much of the mainstream media. Nothing but pointless distractions for immature children. But look at games like Journey, Limbo, Fez, and Braid – all incredible experiences, all driven by the imaginations of brilliant creators, all able to take the player on an emotional journey. If “art” is the act of creating something that had previously only existed in one’s imagination, then there is no reason why the world should not recognize videogames as art.

-Andrew Birdgman, Dorkly.com.

Seriously, this guy makes a wonderful point. And I could not agree more. I play video games for their wonderful stories, whether it be a treasure hunt that takes you to Shembala, or revenge on the ancient Gods…from recreating the Battle of Hoth to killing Diablo (over and over and over again)…from exploring a tropical island to exploring a mythical land inhabited by dragons…from fighting in a battle at the Seine Crossing to playing a game of baseball or football, Video games offer so much. And right now, they are getting even better.

Updates in graphics and storage have allowed developers to dive even deeper into the gaming experience. Ask anyone that has ever played Mass Effect if that game didn’t effect them the same way a super sad (or hopeful?) movie might. Anyone that played the Age of Empires games probably learned some history along the way. And you cannot tell me that at the end of every Uncharted game, you didn’t feel a little bit sad that you were leaving those characters once again.

I guess I just believe that video games should be considered art by now. They are no longer just little side scrolling games that “waste time”. They are every bit as engaging as a good book, TV series or movie. Hell, some movies and TV series are video games without the heart (yea, I am looking at you Once Upon a Time and Life of Pi).

Video games have ‘actors’ just as much as any movie that is computer animated (Wreck-it Ralph) and they have amazing stories to tell, just like any good book. The stigma of video games being “nothing but time wasters” needs to finally fade away. They are here to stay and should start being taken as a serious medium for entertainment as well as art. They even preform as money makers. The video game sales topped $13 BILLION last year. You want to know how that stacks up to movie tickets over the same amount of time? Last year Americans bought just over $10 Billion in movie tickets, which is A RECORD for that industry…yet, we have about 15 different awards shows to congratulate these people on their amazing art.

I think it is time for a change, and that change is to recognize video games as real art. What are your thoughts? Leave them down in the comments below!

Dorklyst: The 9 Worst Videogame Launches of All-Time

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The launch of the latest SimCity was, to put it mildly, not handled well. To put it spicily, it was a huge unimaginable mess – with people unable to download the game, play the game due to lack of available servers, features being turned off, and with a number of updates released post-launch trying to fix some of the major issues users were experiencing. This didn’t go on for just the first few hours of its release though – some of this is still going on, a week after release. For a smaller game and company, this might not be such a surprise – but this is from one of the largest publishers in videogames and one of the biggest franchises in videogames. However, SimCity is not the first game to put users through this kind of launch mess. Here are 9 other games that had terrible launches.

9. World of Warcraft

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The game that truly launched MMOs into widespread popularity, and possibly the most profitable game of all-time (also the most life-sucking – it’s been played a grand total of 5.93 million years, cumulatively), World of Warcraft started off in a state of total disarray. As the first huge MMO of its kind, Blizzard had no idea what it was walking into, and the servers were instantly overloaded on launch day, with queues reaching the thousands. And even if you did manage to get into the game, everything was slow and glitchy. If this had happened today, it would be a nightmare – SimCity at least has most of their ducks in order a week later – but WoW’s woes lasted for over a month, mostly due to outdated servers that were in dire need of upgrading. Thankfully, Blizzard learned their lesson and never had a rocky launch ever agai- OH WAIT…

8. Diablo 3

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Diablo 3 is a lot like SimCity – both are beloved franchises that hadn’t had a new release in about a decade, both were being closely watched for their always-online DRM policy, and both are the Spanish word for “devil” (I’ll check that later). But people weren’t quite as nervous for Diablo 3 as they were for SimCity – for one, Blizzard gave you the option of pre-downloading the game, so when midnight struck, you would be able to jump right into the game and get back that carpal tunnel syndrome that had laid dormant in your clicking-finger for 10 years. Plus, it was Blizzard launching the game! If anyone knew how online games under heavy server load worked, it would be the people behind World of Warcraft and StarCraft, right? Well, then the infamous Error 37 occurred.

Error 37 read as follows: “The servers are busy at this time. Please try again later (error 37)”. The game’s always-on DRM requirement meant that – if you could not connect to Blizzard’s servers – you could not play the game in any capacity. No single player, no multiplayer, nothing. Error 37 instantly entered meme legend, flooding social media with angry gamers who just wanted to murder Satan. On top of this, numerous other bugs plagued the initial release, with people losing characters and loot, including their hardcore permadeath characters. You don’t have to shove a crystal in your forehead to recognize the launch was a huge disaster – but now that user levels have dropped as quickly as the population of Tristram, at least the server load has eased up.

7. Hellgate: London

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Hellgate: London opened its, uh, hellgates on Halloween 2007 – and all hell(gate) broke loose. US players experienced bugs and the expected glitches that goes along with any game that happens to be the developer’s first 3D game, their first FPS, their first subscription-based game, etc. But players in Southeast Asia ran into something far more horrible – a patch released two weeks after the game’s initial release was forced on all players, which fixed a few issues but also deleted all progress made to that point. And users worldwide ran into issues with the subscription fees – with many people being mistakenly billed multiple times and others paying for the service being denied access to certain game features. In less than two years, the servers were shut down and the game was inaccessible. On the other hand, users had plenty of time to eat leftover Halloween candy.

6. Half-Life 2

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Ahhh, Valve…the shining beacon of videogame goodness and generosity, a flawless diamond in the rough of the gaming landscape – how could they do any wrong? Half-Life 2 is one of the greatest games ever, and Steam is the perfect platform for PC gaming! It’s not like anyone was singing a different tune about ten years ago, right?

Half-Life 2 was released via Steam on November 16, 2004 – the first game to require Steam to be playable. And it was a deeply-flawed mess. Valve had allowed gamers to pre-load the game as far back as August that year, just needing to download a simple code to jump into the game immediately once released. But Valve’s servers were (expectedly) overloaded, leaving many unable to get their games (whether downloaded or purchased as a box copy) validated. The game the internet had been waiting for years for was unavailable, users were writing off Steam as a huge misstep, and cats and dogs were living together – mass hysteria.

5. Star Wars Galaxies

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SWG sounded like every nerd’s dream come true – you could create a character in the Star Wars universe, do anything you wanted, travel to familiar planets and locales, and maybe even unlock your Force potential and train to become a Jedi! Sure, the game ultimately was a little too complex and unwieldy to ever really live up to this crazy promise, but it was exciting nonetheless.

As one of the most anticipated MMO launch of all-time, thousands and thousands tried to login and play the game simultaneously – and pretty much no one got on. The servers were overloaded for well over a day, so that gamers could access nothing at all related to Star Wars Galaxies. It was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, except without the “silenced” part, since forums exploded with anger and fury by those who had taken a week off of work to delve into their new life as a Rodian entertainer on Dantooine. Even after the servers caught up with the users, the game was plagued by issues that required numerous updates. And sadly, the game servers pulled the plug on the entire endeavor recently, shutting down the galaxy once and for all. Not even the Death Star could’ve done that.

4. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

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Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was a very special kind of disaster – it was hurled onto an unassuming public well before it had any right to be released, came with the standard numerous bugs, and featured a level of incompleteness rarely seen in a major launch. It advertised features – namely flying mounts – that simply weren’t in the game whatsoever (until many months later). Patches were being sent out that actually led toadditional bugs and glitches. And it was well-known that the game was rushed to market as quickly as possible, since revenue was desperately needed by the investors behind it. Active users sunk from over 200k initially, to a little over 100k after the first month, to settle around 40k within a few months – a drop of about 80%.

And – perhaps most dramatically – the horrible launch led to some bizarre consequences, including an event where half of the developer’s employees were unceremoniously fired in the parking lot outside, after Sony bought all assets relating to the game away from other investors, in an attempt to salvage the mess that was Vanguard. Eventually the game was able to recover, more or less, and turn into something vaguely-resembling the fun and engaging game that was initially promised, but the launch forever crippled it (not to mention gave a bunch of developers a lot of stigma towards parking lots).

3. The WarZ

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While The WarZ’s launch was terrible, it did have one redeeming feature: it was very short-lived. On December 17th, 2012, after a brief alpha testing period, The WarZ was released on Steam. The game was notable for being widely viewed as a rushed knock-off of the popular ARMA 2 mod, DayZ, which debuted well before The WarZ and was generally more well-liked. But the biggest complaint about The WarZ itself came from the nature of the game itself – you had to pay for the game and microtransactions for in-game items and even re-spawning after death (or wait a multi-hour period to get back in the game you’ve already paid for). People had grumbled when it was a free alpha-testing game, but the outcry was deafening once it was released on Steam, with threads popping up across gaming sites, social media, and especially Reddit, all dedicated to pointing out egregious flaws of the game’s design, the controversial issue of the game’s origin, and the bad business practices by the developer (who were noted as refusing or making it very difficult to get a refund).

Within two days, the game was pulled from Steam (although it was recently – and very quietly – re-released on February 26th, 2013). A dead, monstrous game returning to semi-life? Maybe it’s just the most meta zombie game ever.

2. Final Fantasy XIV

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Few view the last several years of the Final Fantasy franchise in a positive light, but the worst moment in all of Final Fantasy’s multiple decade history is arguably the launch of Final Fantasy XIV. Like XI, it was designed as another MMO. Unlike XI, it was a laggy mess with an incomprehensible interface that couldn’t figure out how to get it’s PS3 port in shape enough for its own crappy launch. Beyond the bugs and performance issues, the game stood as just being poorly-designed on every level. You could hire NPCs to sell your goods – but there was no indication of who was selling what, leaving the market an inscrutable mess. There was a system in place that actually punished players for playing for extended periods of time – essentially a middle finger to the people who made up MMOs chief userbase. And the control scheme was, by most accounts, akin to stabbing yourself in the face repeatedly with a spiky axe.

The game was so widely disliked that Square-Enix actually pulled the game from shelves within about a month of release, with the intention of rebuilding the game from the ground up. Even at this point, years later, there is no solid release date for the “new” Final Fantasy XIV (subtitled: A Realm Reborn), although it should be released later this year. Probably as an iOS app with $200 in in-game microtransactions, but whatever it is couldn’t be worse than the launch of XIV.

1. Ultima IX: Ascension

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Many years ago, in the ancient period of 1999, there were two entities known as EA and Origin. Sound familiar? EA is still EA, but Origin was a developer that worked on the Ultima series, that – up to that point – had been pretty well-regarded. Then Ascension was released.

A lot of things happened behind the scenes prior to this – at least 4 wildly different versions of the game were in development at various times, team members had come and gone, and technology advanced – but most of all, EA forced a set release date on the team. The game was then launched, in a buggy, horribly-unfinished state, and with ridiculous hardware requirements to boot. Updates and bug fixes did little to stop the game ending crashes – it was only when a former team member anonymously released an unofficial patch that the game was playable again. But even then, the game was an ugly mess, and would be the last single-player game ever released by Origin. But the end of one Origin would open the gates for another. The cycle continues.

It’s like the old saying goes – “Those who do not learn from history are bound to buy messed-up EA games.”

 

Video Game Humor!

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Read more athttp://thechive.com/2013/01/19/video-game-logic-plays-by-its-own-rules-44-photos/#r634A1KQYVMMfBGb.99