Tag Archives: Games as Art

The Difference Between PS4, Xbox One, and Switch 1st Party Games


Quarter one of 2017 has been pretty good for first party exclusive console games, particularly from Sony but also for Nintendo if you count one incredible game. In the midst of this I’ve also heard a lot of talk that one reason Microsoft is behind Sony in console sales is because its lineup of exclusives is weaker. What’s interesting is if you look at the first party lineups of each console manufacturer you see different strategies or a preference for games with different kinds of business models. Continue reading

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PlayStation Experience 2016: Maintaining The Status Quo


Sony had a pretty good showing at PlayStation Experience 2016, even though a lot of it was really more of what the company showed off last year. Overall, Sony’s last few large game presentations have just solidified the main difference between it and Microsoft that has probably existed since the later part of the previous console generation: first and third party exclusives.

Sony definitely showed off big new reveals like The Last of Us Part IIUncharted The Lost Legacy, Wipeout Omega Collection, or the remasters, but a good chunk of the show was just more footage of what we saw last year. We got new Yakuza games (in English), more footage of Ace Combat 7Ni No Kuni IIGravity Rush II, that Nier sequel, Gran Turismo Sport, and so-on. Continue reading

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On Art And Video Games… Again


The Games As Art discussion has flared up again thanks to a new book out and an article Polygon did on it. I guess it was about time we had renewed arguments on the subject.

Pretty much everyone I’ve seen criticizing or otherwise discussing it this week has focused on the Polygon article and its excerpt of the first chapter of Phil Owen’s new book WTF Is Wrong With Video Games? Of course it’s too soon to expect everybody to analyze the whole book. I don’t currently plan to read it either out of a simple lack of time, but what’s in the Polygon piece brings up some ideas I don’t think have been thoroughly examined in the context of today’s era of gaming.

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What The iOS Game Removals Say About The Entire Store


Apple’s overreaction in the midst of the recent retail push against depictions of the Confederate flag has already generated some good articles before I had the chance to write or pitch anything. I seriously suggest you read the one by Mike Williams at USGamer. It get’s to part of what I see as the heart of the matter in regards to Apple — that it still doesn’t really care about video games. We’ve gotten this feeling for a while in regards to art and serious issues, but I think this is just another sign of what’s possibly the source of all the problems with the iOS game market. Continue reading

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Video Games Are Still Trying To Find Their Ways of Telling Stories


A little over a year ago I already did my “big post” laying out my opinions on cut scenes, gameplay, and video game narrative mechanics. The subject seems to have come up again after a double whammy of controversy in this industry.

I might be a little late commenting on the whole “Press F to Pay Respects” business in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but right after that came Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto’s dismissal of the pursuit of “cinematic” video games. I just about completely agree with him. Continue reading

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The Age of Video Games at the Smithsonian

Although I missed the grand opening, I was eventually able to run up to the Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian, about 45 minutes out from where I live. I honestly don’t know what everyone else has written on it but I personally think it makes great efforts to fight some of the biggest specific obstacles to mainstream acceptance of games.

The main thing that caught my eye was how so much of the exhibit is devoted to illustrating the chronology of game design. Nearly the whole thing is devoted to showing people how games evolved from the ColecoVision to the Xbox 360. I’ve been waiting for someone to go through the trouble of describing this to the non-gamer.

Back when the Supreme Court presided over one of those video game laws that keeps getting struck down, what jumped out at me were some of the justices’ attempts to confirm themselves to be gamers – by mentioning Pac-Man. I hope that illustrated the core of this problem to everyone paying attention.

A lot of these people misunderstand video games mostly because they haven’t played one in 30 years. Pac-Man and Pong are still the images that mainly pop into their heads when talking about playing video games. Look at what games are popular with the mass audience now – Wii and iOS games that aren’t a whole lot more complicated than what they were playing back in the 70’s. I’m willing to bet that a lot of these people dropped gaming after the 1982 industry crash and have only just now picked it back up in the last couple years. For them, gaming went straight from Pac-Man to Wii Sports and Angry Birds. The Smithsonian exhibit could at least begin to fight this problem.

I’ve seen myself how many, shall I say, “old people” can’t grasp how much console video games have changed in the last 30 years. Music, movies, and literature haven’t changed nearly as much in that amount of time. Styles may have changed for those media, but none of them has gone through several quantum leaps over the last quarter century.

When some people catch me playing a PS3 game, most of the time they’ll glance and think I’m watching a movie. When someone does realize I’m playing a game the most common reaction is utter disbelief at the visual realism and the range of actions I can perform. They never fully wrap their heads around what’s happening on-screen.

The Smithsonian exhibit is the first place I’ve seen in the midst of the general public that actually tries to show the gradual evolution that we all take for granted. One of the rooms has playable demos of five different kinds of games: Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower. The next room has a display case for every major gaming platform accompanied by screens and videos of four of each platform’s best games. They’re all displayed in a linear fashion starting from ColecoVision to PS3. For the first time I can show someone exactly how video game graphics transitioned form what they remember to what I’m playing today.

One of the smaller parts of the exhibit tried to show the evolution of game design pertaining to different themes and genres. Five screens side-by-side would show an isometric pre-NES shmup, then Afterburner, then Star Fox, then Einhander, then Rez. The screens would flip from that display to one showing RPGs through the ages, adventure games, and so-on.

One unrelated thing I really liked that they put front-and-center were pages of concept art from classic games so the mainstream audience can notice that part of the game making process. The final thing that blew me away at the exhibit were the screens showing footage of what people look like while playing video games – not the controllers, just the players’ faces. On one hand it’s kinda shocking to see these stern-yet-zombified expressions and think “is that what I look like?”On the other hand people can see how inaccurate the TV and movie representations really are.

I’m not gonna suggest everybody come up here to see the exhibit since everyone doesn’t live near DC, but I do think it’s worth it if you live relatively close by between now and September, especially if you plan to bring someone whom you want to better understand your hobby. After September I believe the exhibit is moving to other parts of the world.


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