To Jim Sterling, Who Hates Art Games

By: Derek Yu

On: February 19th, 2010

Jim Sterling of Destructoid

Ah, art games, the lightning rod of indie gaming… Jim Sterling (pictured above) recently wrote a couple of inflammatory articles about art games. The first one is titled “Indie games don’t have to act like indie games” and the second one is titled “Art games aren’t innovative and innovation isn’t good”. The headlines are clearly sensationalistic, but Jim does a reasonable job expressing a common view about art games: they’re stupid, boring, pretentious, and not very innovative. If you scroll through the comments on Destructoid, you’ll see many a “Hear, hear, Jimbo! Preach it, brotha!” People are sick of art games.

But Jim and others, here are some important points that I think are missing from these articles (after the jump):

1. Art games are a relatively new concept, and like anything new, they are primitive by default.

2. People do genuinely enjoy these games, and find meaning in them. Even if a player is simply filling in what’s intentionally vague or abstract about the game, that’s valuable. By analogy, there’s value in a cup or a bowl.

3. Jim, you tore apart Edmund and The Marriage, calling them “boring”, “horrible”, and “intellectually lazy”. These are free games made as experiments, as prototypes – the video game equivalents of doodles or sketches, and just as necessary to making games as to making paintings. You railed on two little experimental games for half a dozen paragraphs, and failed to mention that Edmund’s creator, Paul Greasley, also made Zompocalpyse and The Marriage’s creator, Rod Humble, is the executive producer for The Sims (the lazy bastard)!

4. Your argument is the same argument people have used for centuries against artists trying to do new things. Here is what art critic Louis Leroy wrote of one of Claude Monet’s paintings around the dawn of Impressionism (1874):

“A preliminary drawing for a wallpaper pattern is more finished than this seascape.”

Impression, Sunrise

Does that sound familiar? He thought it was lazy, sloppy, and unfinished. In fact, it was the start of something entirely new – something that many people couldn’t imagine living without today. (By the way, there are a lot of other parallels between Impressionism and many of these new experimental game movements.)

I actually agree with some of the things you’re saying, like how AAA mainstream games can be innovative, and how games can be artistic without being unfun or pretentious. But with the attitude you took in your articles (fuck this, fuck that, sarcasm), you may be remembered as the Louis Leroy of this generation+. Food for thought.

Art games will always have a place here on the TIGSource front page, and I will never ever tell people to stop making them.

+ (Although, to be fair to Louis, he at least coined the term “Impressionism”.)

  • anothergol

    The majority doesn’t genuinely enjoy art games, but the majority has learnt that they’re not allowed to critisize crap (art or not, but they’re generally art) games, as they will be immediately accused of trolling by a bunch of brown nosing hippies who like to defend a crap game that had the (only) amazing idea of being in 100×50, 2 colors mode.

  • anothergol

    >>200 comments in one day; a record?

    I’m glad these aren’t comments about another crap artsy game, because some would have had the balls to claim “see, people are talking about it, it means this crap game has succeeded in some way, thus it’s an amazing game”.

  • Scott

    A lot of art game haters are just reacting to the retarded fanatics who go to extremes and try to sound hip and smart. This happens with anything that has unreasonable fans.

  • hayate

    @Dodger what are you talking about? I’ve never watched any anime in my life apart from maybe what little 2 seconds I see of it on TV. My name is a reference to a move from Street Fighter III. Stop trying to pull an ad hominem and resorting to false dichotomy and come up with a real argument. And last I heard, porn is all consensual.

  • hayate

    And no, I don’t visit porn sites either. I find it kind of sad that I’m arguing with someone making really dumb assumptions and pulling fallacies up the wazoo, but if you really wanted to know, there you go.

  • paul eres

    @anothergol: criticism of art games or any games posted is encouraged, it’s just personal attacks and flames that aren’t.

    example of encouraged: blueberry garden bored me, not much to do, skills weren’t that interesting, too short, underwhelming, buggy. not worth even $5.

    example of discouraged: anyone who likes blueberry is pretending to be smart, its developer knows nothing about game design and he is tricking the world into liking his game. not a game.

  • Ape

    It’s discussions like these that make me truly love TIGsource.

  • Dodger


    Your defensive nature belies your innocence. ;-) that was a joke, so please lighten up. My comment, while directed at you wasn’t really about you.

    Also, I wasn’t *implying* anything towards *you* directly (and it really had nothing to do with your name – though Street Fighter could easily be considered Anime as well), it was more of a cultural reference, people as a group who might enjoy manga or anime and sometimes video games, perhaps an otaku. I was generalizing my comment based on your comment, it wasn’t directed at you per se. I was trying to make a point about how people say one thing and do another. e.g. People speaking negatively about a game for it’s content or subject matter, but then going and participating in questionable behavior themselves. That doesn’t mean I believe all subject matter should be taken lightly, I think we need to be very careful about what we censor, but perhaps we should use caution when making certain content available to everyone where young and impressionable audiences have easy access to it.

    The idea of such a game and the results of its influence should be debated and discussed. Just look at violence in video games. Most gamers would tell you that violence in video games has had no adverse effects on them, yet they’re killing people, in a lot of cases the people in the games might be innocent bystanders. So my question is, if gamers can say that violence doesn’t have an effect or influence on them when playing a video game, why would a game about rape? Perhaps those same people know someone who was raped… but what about people who know someone that has had an act of violence committed against them or a loved one? A family member murdered perhaps… Does that affect how or even if the same person will play violent games knowing that someone close to them has been either hurt, killed, or violated? Can you really separate the two and say that one kind of game is worse?

    I’m just curious and I believe an honest question with no simple answers. I certainly do not have the answers, but without things (or games as in this case) such as this, would these same questions still be asked?

  • Alexander

    I would like to add as an artist, neither the marriage nor Edmund are related to your mentioning Monet’s work or time period and public opinion. The quoting of critique on Monet illustrates how art is once again abused by you yourself as an elitarian statement SOLELY to redeem your uncommon preference and not a single inherent quality of the work. In fact, the quote rather illustrates the constant public misconception of art that you yourself uphold falsely.

    If you want me to hastily disseminate Edmund for you: it uses pixelart which implies an old computer game look overlaid by a FILM LOOK, you have 3 types of input jump/action/direction, you can choose 2 stories to play about a man named Eddie who rapes people, you rape with the same button as that you shoot with, then both stories end up with Eddie raping someone. One of the two stories then transfers you to a second character that will chase Eddie in order to fix his war trauma. If I’d look at this game as a piece of art I wonder:

    1. Why exactly does the work abstract RAPE / HOMICIDE / REVENGE / EJACULATION to a single button; it is clearly a choice made by the author, it is not an artistic choice but a gameplay convention and thus equating everything to being a game.
    2. Since rape is a central theme, is there a purpose in abstracting rape into a cut-scene (which are copied by games from movies) with a single quicktime event for progression?
    3. The juxtaposition between film and games can be distilled from its graphical appearance. Is this a comment on the simplicity and baseness of hollywood movies and its videogame counterpart? Is the author simply releasing an indie game to criticise mainstream gaming? This is circular and one could make a more innovative game fulfilling the same purpose because making an indie game is automatically a comment upon mainstream gaming.
    4. Or are we simply watching a translated hollywood plot (serial killer kills village, man fails to save village, serial killer kills in city, man finds revenge) where the player is performing every character with a single button.

    Whatever you answer to these most immediately apparent problems that the work poses, even something that is not-really-art such as the movie Irréversible by Gaspar Noé does all the same shock; and you can walk away from that movie happily understanding now that Edmund wasn’t art. It was a game yes, it was different. It doesn’t need to be art to be appreciated even if that means you will no longer be mistakenly perceived as intellectual by your friends for playing weird games.

    Contemporary art is already a tainted shithole, and you are trying to justify nothing more than a pseudo elitarian misunderstanding of it. Jim is right. You are a fool to subscribe to the notion that any game that employs ambiguous, mysterious gameplay mechanics or metaphores is an art game.

  • Alexander

    In other words I think it is almost vulgar that you are bible coding Impressionism and comparing it to the current state of Art-Games. You very faithfully cut and paste high school knowledge to support some belief that is simply irrelevant.

    To remind you, change is nearly always critiqued, no need to refer to impressionism specifically; but you go on a frenzy and suddenly compare the impressionism movement to gameart just for the sake of finishing your clusterfuck. In order to prove your point you turned game art into an anachronism; well BOY we are so happy that gameart is still in the stage of impressionism and fucking has to reinvent the wheel.

  • Extended

    So you’re an artist who critiques other artists as inferior to you because they make art games and not what you consider art. Not to mention Derek didn’t even defend a particular game as being of high quality so unless you start discussing specifics, which can’t be generalised as examples of the whole “movement” then you’re doing nothing but random pathetic ranting.

  • Extended

    Also it seems lotsa people here are bashing the wrong games, talking about 8 bit graphics and shit… Retro games aren’t necessarily art games… And Retro games can rock too… Just play what you enjoy and give the rest a rest, really. Criticising the whole idea of someone making a unique experience in game form that isn’t yet another shooter as some kind of abomination that should never see the light of day and as the reason indies live in basements (most don’t make art games, stupid) is quite absurd to say the least.

  • Ryunosuke

    Gah. This is why I rarely read comments…they always get so mean-spirited. Take a deep breath people, k? One might hope that we could have a disagreement on -something- without verbally stabbing each other in the face. There are some real insights to be gained from this debate, but it’s obscured by the sheer amount of vitriol being hurled back and forth.

    As for the articles, (both this one and Sterling’s) they made me think. And that’s important, more important than who’s right and who’s wrong.

  • Dinsdale

    I am posting to add to the post count.

  • Jesus

    Make some good games already you pretencious bastards.

  • paul eres

    a few random points:

    – that people are getting upset over a game about rape who don’t ever get upset about games about murder kind of have their priorities twisted; last i checked, murder is worse than rape

    – derek wasn’t comparing art games to impressionism as a movement, he was just comparing the criticism of it to the criticism of impressionism: i.e. that it’s not “really” painting, is too vague, and doesn’t require as much work as “real” painting does. but the similarities between the two movements pretty much end there.

    – there’s no real ‘art game’ genre, it’s really more like three genres: conceptual games (games that you have to figure out the meaning of), ambient games (games that focus on the atmosphere and generating a mood), experimental games (games that explore some particular convention by breaking it). those three don’t have anything in common except that they aren’t traditional, yet are often all grouped as “art games”. but they’re as different from each other as they’re different from normal games.

  • Jesus

    Oh, since you’re here Paul, I’d like to ask you a question: do you really believe that every “art game” has a meaning and if someone doesn’t see it, he/she just “don’t get it”.

    Don’t you think that such position is exactly what Jim called “giving all indie games a free pass”?

  • Bush

    Learn how to spell pretentious, you child.

  • paul eres

    i’m not particularly a fan of conceptual art games (e.g. the games that have meaning that you have to figure out). it’s not the kind of art game that i most enjoy, i’m more a fan of ambient art games: small worlds, glum buster, seiklus, knytt, yume nikki, darkfate, photopia, and so on — games that focus on atmosphere and mood rather than meaning.

    i don’t think that most art games are intended to have a meaning, just some of them. for instance, tale of tales once explicitly said that the path has no intended meaning to figure out. i kind of don’t like the idea of having an abstract “meaning” in a game as particularly interesting, mainly because i distrust abstract thought so much.

    that said, i don’t begrudge people for making them. i didn’t particularly enjoy, say, the marriage, but i don’t look down on people who do. abstract conceptual games are fine if they enjoy that kind of thing.

    and i don’t think all games have to be fun; experimental games are very important and are worth posting about even if they aren’t fun, just because it’s interesting to see what happens when things we take for granted in most games are changed. for instance, the only real “art game” i ever posted about is ‘dungeon’ by cactus and podunkian, and i agree that it’s not a particularly fun game, but i do think it’s a particularly interesting game, worth thinking about, even if you wouldn’t play it for pleasure.

  • Jesus


    English isn’t my native language, blasphemer.

  • Jesus

    @paul eres:

    But what is that sacred knowledge that make indie connoisseurs enjoy indie games? Sice, as you said, not all indie games require intellectual effort from the player, there must be something else that makes them better than “normal” games, right?

    It’s definetely not graphics or gameplay, because most indie games are visually “minimalistic” (or even outright ugly) and, as many people sagaciously noticed, “don’t have to be fun”.

    So if it isn’t food for thought nor graphics nor gameplay, then what?

    Perhaps some kind of (*gasp*) indie fetish?

  • AmnEn

    > Plus he’s fat!
    Yeah fatso!
    (lol massive get it Jim is a fatty).
    I’m going to punch your fat snout.
    I am sick and tired of reading fat people’s internet opinions.
    because some fatso decided to make a public matter out of his idiocy
    Awful power you’re giving to the fat guy.

    Just quoting what Tigsource really means when it preaches “constructive criticism”.

  • PHeMoX

    “Art games are a relatively new concept, and like anything new, they are primitive by default.”

    It doesn’t really feel that way though. These games are often primitive because the creator thinks they can get away with it being ‘just an art game’.

    It’s almost as if they do not consider it something truly new at all just yet.

    Experiments or not, I haven’t seen a good art game yet either, so I can pretty much relate to the whole argument against them.

    Personally I am against the whole ‘games that make you think’ hype in (or of) art games anyway.

    Visual originality aside, what’s the point when there’s basically no true game to be played there??

  • Dodger

    Just quoting my earlier comment (comment 207) because I also have another question that I think might be relevant after the quote:

    “The idea of such a game and the results of its influence should be debated and discussed. Just look at violence in video games. Most gamers would tell you that violence in video games has had no adverse effects on them, yet they’re killing people, in a lot of cases the people in the games might be innocent bystanders. So my question is, if gamers can say that violence doesn’t have an effect or influence on them when playing a video game, why would a game about rape? Perhaps those same people know someone who was raped… but what about people who know someone that has had an act of violence committed against them or a loved one? A family member murdered perhaps… Does that affect how or even if the same person will play violent games knowing that someone close to them has been either hurt, killed, or violated? Can you really separate the two and say that one kind of game is worse?”

    Again, if we can live with the above and still enjoy games that involve different subject matter and / or adult themes, then why is it so difficult for some people – people who might really enjoy games that use or even exploit questionable subject matter, to accept the idea that other people might enjoy art games and perhaps what they stand for? Why is it difficult to swallow the idea that human beings are diverse and sometimes complex even though we sometimes act as simple beings? Does liking Art Games make someone pretentious? Does it make them a “poof”? If so, what does that make the people who only enjoy action or wanton violence in games? Does that make them unintelligent? Psychopathic? Can we really limit all of these ideas and not having things in common to share? And lastly, is it indicative of falling into one of these categories as a gamer to not be able to grow and appreciate ideas that might be “outside-of-the-box” and does this force those same people who are not curious or interested in exploring new ideas to only stick to what they know or perhaps what they think they know because of what they’ve either learned or perhaps only seen on TV?

    I just wonder if outside influences, such as Television, play a part on “breeding” a gamers tastes. Or is it upbringing? Perhaps religion plays a part, or perhaps the lack of spirituality altogether has a different type of effect. Does it make anyone else curious how and why people are effected differently by these interactive experiences? With that, does feeling contempt towards a genre or people who appreciate that genre, mean that we are still very distant as psychological beings because of all the different influences during our upbringing? Or, when we do try to point fingers and direct negative attention to others, are we just seeking attention of some sort? Or is it just a fear of the unknown and misunderstood?

  • Anarkex

    >Again, if we can live with the above and still enjoy games that involve different subject matter and / or adult themes, then why is it so difficult for some people – people who might really enjoy games that use or even exploit questionable subject matter, to accept the idea that other people might enjoy art games and perhaps what they stand for?

    Because, Dodger, the themes aren’t the important part. Whether X is to talk to someone, or open doors, or to rape, in the end it can always have the same function: moving the game forward. All you do is move the colors around. This is what’s appalling about artgames: usually they’re just palette swaps and slight rule changes on games we’ve already played, only with the fun of the simulation corrupted (because if it’s entertaining it CAN’T BE ART you guys), it comes out uglier and simpler. It’s not what the game STANDS FOR that matters: only a complete tool will throw out a good shmup because it uses anime girls instead of space ships. Just as only a complete tool will praise a crappy platformer with no enemies just because of the subject matter.

    I have been trying so hard not to post here, but it’s just too easy. As for the articles, I honestly couldn’t bear to read them. They were really boring. Even the titles are cringe-inducingly stupid. He really can’t be saying anything that hasn’t been said a million times before.

  • Jay

    “Mainstream indie games”? Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction? I don’t get it. :P

  • paul eres


    “But what is that sacred knowledge that make indie connoisseurs enjoy indie games? Sice, as you said, not all indie games require intellectual effort from the player, there must be something else that makes them better than “normal” games, right?”

    i thought i said why. there are other factors besides graphics, meaning, and gameplay. for instance, mood and atmosphere. trying out interesting things. an interesting world to explore. story. music. different people get different values out of games.

    for me, the most important thing about a game is its world, atmosphere, characters, controls, and music — how immersive it is, in other words (since all of those are factors which draw me into the game). for others it might be gameplay or meaning or graphics that they care about most.

  • Anarkex

    Finally pushed through the two articles. What are you guys so pissy about again? He isn’t even saying he hates art games, he’s just saying that indie devs need to stop relying on trite gimmicks (INNOVASHUN), “shocking” subject matter, and purposely vague mechanics and plot points to trick people into thinking their games are deeper than they are. In short, he is imploring indie game devs (and, in a huge way, indie game critics) to step up their game, and the response is BAWW BAWW BAWW YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WALLOW WALLOW. Art games aren’t art. You’re not special for thinking you understand it. Deal with it nerds.

    There really isn’t even anything wrong with indie game devs putting out silly little game maker experiments. When I’m showing people my doodle pad, there’s an acknowledgement that I’m not trying to create a masterpiece. My stick figures with moustaches are not fit for a museum. They don’t even nearly compare to DC comic books. I draw them because I like drawing gimmicky little cartoon characters, just as I’m sure plenty of indie devs like making gimmicky little one-room games. The problem is when these games get put on a pedestal and talked up as something bigger and deeper than they are. Canabalt is getting glowing praise from Kotaku, threads are passed around on 4chan /v/ saying “if you do not buy VVVVVV, you hate video games. Criticism of these half-formed fetal doodle games is UNHEARD OF. It’s not even just indies, either. The game community in general, from message boards to journalists to a great deal of devs, is just so full of whiny, pretentious little kids. I don’t even know if there is a way out. Maybe I’m just getting too old for this.

  • Dodger


    You’ve made a huge generalization in response to my earlier comment. Your comment didn’t help me to understand where exactly you stand or what I should gain from what you had to say either.

    You stated:

    “only a complete tool will throw out a good shmup because it uses anime girls instead of space ships. Just as only a complete tool will praise a crappy platformer with no enemies just because of the subject matter.”

    Again, that comes down to a matter of opinion. The examples you’ve given are also extremely broad and at the same time vague. There’s no rational reasoning behind your comment either. It comes across as hot-headed and more like a knee-jerk reaction, especially when you lower yourself to referring to others as “tools”.

    An honest opinion usually involves thoughtfulness, whether two sides agree to the same opinion or not. Grouping people together, generalizing their character, and then insulting them does not help evolve the discussion or shed light on the subject.

  • Extended

    So, now we don’t only have people hating those who make or like games they don’t, we also have the apparent delusion that all indie games are art games and therefor these arguments encompass indie developers as a whole? The fuck? And these people try to pretend they bring up valid points to consider? Aw hell…

  • Extended

    Also, lol @ palette swaps. Games creat atmosphere with more than putting up awesome enemy AI for you to fight, you know? That doesn’t only happen in indie art games, it also happens in mainstream big publisher titles. Like the Silent Hill games which always relied on outdated and crude mechanics, and barely any sense of “fun”, yet are arguably good titles in terms of atmosphere, making the player feel and think things. But I suppose with this type of game this generation turning out more like generic shooters with palette swaps (see Resident Evil 5) then it’s no wonder people no longer understand the concept of a game that doesn’t want to make you smile and grin as you slay your enemies but make you scared, tense, worried via the chosen subject matter. Just like not all movies are comedies or Tarantino action flicks.

  • paul eres

    yeah — sometimes people get confused when i say i like resident evil 1 more than any of the latter ones. i think resident evil 1 did the best job of producing an atmosphere of horror, of actually making the player afraid to explore a place. now in RE4 and RE5, it’s more of an action game, with constant shooting, and not even an attempt at creating a creepy atmosphere, or making something interesting to explore. the mansion in RE1 was ten times more interesting to explore than any of the areas in RE4 for instance; they focused a lot more on making an amazing place.

    i think it’s just that modern tastes have shifted away from atmosphere and into action. that’s part of what i like indie games for, there are more games which focus on the subtle and on the experience, and on creating something interesting to explore, the way silent hill 1 and 2 and ico did. not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with headshots, it’s just that sometimes it’s more interesting to slowly look around and be scared by the occasional monster when it shows up, rather than to quickly react to monster after monster without any time to breathe.

  • Anarkex

    Dodger, I’d think it would be easy to understand why it’s stupid for an STG fan to disregard every game containing anime characters instead of space ships. I’m mentioning this to illustrate the silliness of judging a game on its aesthetics. It’s the exact same situation in reverse when someone praises a game for its subject matter alone.

    An intelligent fan of shooting games would play the game regardless of how it looks, and make his ultimate judgment on the mechanics, as in the end the mechanics are what a player is dealing with the most (of course aesthetics would play into his final judgment, but not nearly as much). Mechanics are the features that will be emulated or changed in future games, they determine replayability and challenge – and in the end, mechanics (and only mechanics) are what the player will learn in order to succeed at the game. To judge a game based on aesthetics (and art games are ALWAYS about aesthetics, because any “deeper meanings” you would find wouldn’t be there without the text and graphics) is like judging chess by whether the pieces are made of wood, marble, or glass.

    If you can’t see past a little vehemence I’ve built up from reiterating this point ad nauseum in every crappy art games discussion from here to Kotaku, I really don’t know what to tell you. These people are tools. Close-minded tools. They’re cut from the same cloth as the kids who won’t play Kirby because he’s pink and “that’s gay”. Same people who act like they’re special and superior because “meerh the violence in GTA sickens me I can’t wait for Heavy Rain”. It’s all just childish goofballery, posturing and pretentiousness. I’m sorry I can’t make myself sound like a scientist or cite sources from art textbooks. All I have is cold logic, piss and vinegar.

  • Anarkex

    Paul: Mechanics can make you scared of a monster. They aren’t all about putting omnipotence into the hands of the player. The volatile AI in Bioshock kept me absolutely terrified the first night I played it. As a more indie example, I still can’t play more than twenty minutes of Minecraft indev without getting jumpy and nervous. When stepping too far into a pitch dark cave can kill you, you have to weigh your options and take risks, which is much scarier than when the mood is just implanted into the atmosphere with graphics and sound. Games that rely on aesthetics to cause emotions often can’t hold up after the first playthrough, because the player knows what to expect and sometimes he just wants to get on with things. Solid mechanics, however, can hit you again and again with the same impact every time, and even grow into something different as you learn more about them.

    We do this like, every time I come here, Paul. I’m almost starting to enjoy it.

  • Jesus
  • hary

    look at that fat bastard’s meaty paws completely swallowing up that wine glass

  • Extended

    @ Anarkex, congrats on having different taste, that doesn’t make things you dislike inferior. And I’d say Minecraft chooses pretty simplistic mechanics to create its atmosphere, just like plenty art games. Not that it ever scared me, losing a life in a game is hardly a situation that will make me uneasy, so for a game to affect me it needs to set up the proper mood via the audio and visuals (for example, the first Endless Ocean made me pretty uneasy diving into the pitch black abyss, yet absolutely nothing can ever hurt you in the game, showing the power of setting the mood – it’s also a Wii game showing I’m not talking about extra awesome graphics or anything, just effective) but I can see where you’re coming from and I feel similar for other games. And I also don’t think a game HAS to hold up for multiple playthroughs (and Bioshock certainly didn’t for me). If that’s what you value in a game, good for you, look for games that claim they offer that, and succeed in doing so, and ignore the rest as they clearly have a different target audience. Perhaps roguelikes are for you then (hey, there is one on the front page of TIGSource) for example, but not for me.

  • Raemon

    The one thing I feel compelled to say is that The Void is one of my favorite games ever. It is also one of the most flawed games I’ve seen, and it’s target audience is very narrow. But once you get past the initial confusion of what type of game you’re playing (you’re not playing an RPG or a FPS, you’re playing a First Person Resource Management game, as if you were a WarCraft peon playing in first person), it is very innovative and very well put together.

  • paul eres

    @anarkex: i’m not sure what your point is; nobody is saying that art games should only use aesthetics to generate immersion; are you saying that art games do not use mechanics to generate immersion? cause plenty of them do — glum buster for instance, or (as you mentioned) minecraft, which i’d consider an art game.

  • Blade

    @ paul eres:

    “a few random points:
    that people are getting upset over a game about rape who don’t ever get upset about games about murder kind of have their priorities twisted; last i checked, murder is worse than rape”

    This is true.

    However, killing isn’t automatically murder. A lot of games have you killing enemies, but there aren’t many where the goal is to murder people. The distinction’s an important one.

    In our society, there are circumstances (war, self-defense, etc.) where taking the life of another person is considered a justifiable act. In most games where the player has to kill enemies to advance, there’s some sort of backstory present to provide context for the player’s actions, so that he or she can feel justified in carrying out those acts. (There are exceptions, I know, but this is generally the case.) There’s no need for the player to feel guilty about killing enemies who would kill [i]them[/i] if left unchecked, or slaughtering enemy soldiers trying to invade their country or what have you.

    Rape, by comparison, is impossible to justify. It’s a purely selfish act. Unlike killing, there are no extenuating circumstances that can be invoked to make it defensible, let alone acceptable.

    That being the case, I don’t think people ‘have their priorities twisted’ for taking issue with a game that casts the player in the role of a rapist, but has no problem with ones that expect the player to kill foes to advance, presenting it in a framework that validates the player’s actions. In fact, I’d say those people have their heads on pretty straight. Now, if we’re talking about games where the player is encouraged to (and rewarded for) murdering the innocent for no better reason than the player’s amusement, I’d be inclined to agree, but like I said earlier, there don’t seem to be a lot of those out there.

  • Blade

    ^ Wow, I really killed the formatting on that, didn’t I? :/ Wish I could edit these. Sorry.

  • paul eres

    i’ll edit it, one sec

    edit: fixed

  • Anarkex

    Cool beans Extended. At the point that we get into this everything is subjective story, I mean, it’s cool and all, but then there’s no reason to ever bother talking about anything at all ever. We then would never have to back up our opinions with anything because lol who cares it’s just your opinion. So straight up subjectivism is something I try to stay away from. Jim should just LEEEAVE INDIE GAMES ALOWNE, and we should all just leave everyone alone, and I guess we’d all be happy if we just never bothered each other.

    And no, games don’t HAVE to hold up for long-time play. Only the great games do. If you like going through one-shot games with gimmicky mechanics and 16-bit graphics sliding around in game maker, or playing endless ocean and being super scared for no reason one time, that’s fine, I do that too, but just because they’re all pleasing in the short term doesn’t make them great games that will hold up against something you can take out again and again. Like a good STG, FPS, Fighting game, Monster Hunter, or yeah, a roguelike. I don’t know how self-centered you’d have to be to think that just because YOU liked a game unconditionally it’s automatically indisputably good. *I* don’t even think that. An expert follows his opinions up with reasons and his own experience, and that’s what makes his words hold weight. This is what I aspire to do, and it is what I do every time I make a post here.

    Lastly some comments about the games. Really don’t know why you weren’t crazy about Bioshock. The game was practically all aesthetics, I was only bringing up the AI as an example, but with the exception of the AI and the whole Big Daddies thing, the game has pretty boring mechanics. And how can you even compare Minecraft to art games? It’s only in alpha and it’s already a fairly deep game. Between building safe places to stay at night, mining for resources, farming, defending against monsters, and crafting new tools, there’s tons of different viable ways to go at the game as it is, and it’s not even close to done yet!

  • paul eres

    regarding rape vs murder, there are a lot of games which focus on murder too — the grand theft auto series are pretty popular, and it is kinda encouraged (though not required) that you kill random civilians in that game. there are also games where you play as assassins or hitmen, and generally international treaties and world courts frown upon assassination, even if the person you’re assassinating is pretty bad.

    there are also tons of games where you kill non-sentient things (such as wolves in world of warcraft or whatever) which pose no threat but presumably just want to live in peace, and are encouraged to do so and given rewards for it. i’d even say the majority of enemies in most games won’t go out of their way to kill you unless you stand in front of them; otherwise they’d just walk back and forth, forever — so it’s not exactly self-defense to stand in a koopa troopa’s way, say you’re threatened, then kill them. bearing all that in mind, i’m not convinced that the primary action in most violent games isn’t murder.

    besides, as someone else mentioned earlier, there are thousands of hentai games, often about rape. i don’t see why making an experimental/artistic game about rape is any worse than making an erotic/pornographic game about rape.

  • Anarkex

    Paul: Jim Sterling’s articles are all qualms about mechanics in art games. He says they are frequently shallow games with vague and scarce mechanics that don’t matter very much, and that generally they’re very boring to play in the long term. I agree with this, obviously, but the general response on this page was not “no, they are frequently mechanically complex,” followed by a detailed description of *The Marriage*’s rising tournament community. It was “Lol Jim different people like different things don’t pick on us because we’re deep and different art games don’t need that”. Jim doesn’t have a problem with ALL artsy games, nor do I: He specifically cites Braid which in spite of being *awfully pretentious* manages to be a reasonably fun puzzle platformer. This isn’t a warcry to KILL art games, it’s a request that critics be more critical and that devs quit relying on crutches like posturing and pretentious poetry ( :cough: too many p’s…) to distract us from frustration-platformer mechanics and sub-flash games less interesting than a jack-in-the-box. If you can’t see that as a rally against the overuse of aesthetics in game design, not even necessarily indie game design, I don’t really know what to tell you.

  • C.A. Sinclair

    Monster Hunter sucks. It’s a tedious and boring game based mostly on mindless grinding. The only somewhat redeeming factor is the combat, but that’s ruined by the terrible controls and camera.

    People who claim to “enjoy” it are all either weeaboos who play it because they heard it’s the latest craze in Japan or people who suffer from a severe case of item collecting OCD.

    See, I can back up my opinions with reasons and my own experience, which makes me a super awesome gaming expert just like my idol Anarkex. Bonus Expert Points are awarded for stating opinions in the most inflammatory manner possible and spiking them with not-so-subtle ad hominem attacks.

  • C.A. Sinclair

    Also, it goes without that saying expertly backing up my opinions with reasons makes me infallible and anyone who tries to disagree is obviously delusional or just a plain old moron.

  • Extended

    @Anarkex, but there are plenty of shitty non art games as well, would that justify claiming that “games” in general are bad? I mean, isn’t that how the mainstream media often treat games, causing an outrage (by those who have yet to get used to it at least) in such communities? And besides, there are plenty games that don’t attempt to do things art games attempt to do, how exactly would we be better off if those developers suddenly saw the light and started creating such experiences only? And what’s so hard about accepting that something you personally don’t enjoy can still be appealing to others? I didn’t want to insult the games you stated you love to start the bullshit fest all over again, but I suppose it’s almost needed to get the point across. Personally I didn’t enjoy Bioshock and barely found it worthy of playing through once, while Minecraft, as said already, can be considered an art game. The second part especially should hit home to the “different strokes for different folks” mentality. You can like art games. You admitted that much. So why argue against them? Not all non-art games are created equal, and not all art games are created equal. Should the people making the experiences that don’t quite cut it just stop trying altogether, stop showing their works to people to avoid generalised backlash like this (which means they get no feedback, and cannot improve), or what exactly would make you and Jim happy in your fight against uh, whatever this is a fight against since apparently it’s not against art games… The majority of games, not just art games, or indie games, are shit. It comes with the territory. But without them, you likely wouldn’t have the good experiences either.

  • Anarkex

    In defense of MH: The grinding really isn’t very important, as there’s plenty of equipment that is very easy to craft that will get you through the game just fine. With a very minimal amount of grinding you can beat the game on skill alone. Grinding for equipment is just there to reward you for going back and mastering the fight against every monster. Controls on the PSP games is pretty excellent to me. Takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s very precise and wonderfully stiff so an experience player has no trouble lining up his attacks. And the camera, a constant point of contention, isn’t a problem if your hands are fully developed and you can properly claw the controller. Even so, MH Tri will include an option to control with the right stick, so this really shouldn’t be a problem for anyone at that point.

    Other than that, I’m really glad you like me so much, C.A. Sinclair, but you sound very inexperienced. You do show a lot of potential, though. Maybe after you’ve played some more games you’ll be as awesome as I am. Keep at it, buddy!

  • Extended

    To add to my last post, if this is about giving them a “free pass” I don’t think TIGS ever stopped people from posting their criticism and often includes criticism of its own in the news posts, while leaving the final judgement to the end user. And I didn’t hear of any indie dev becoming a millionaire by a *shitty* art game so they definitely don’t get a free pass by anyone. The majority criticises them (mostly by way of ignoring them) so there’s absolutely no need for an article that, in an inflamatory way, creates stereotypes out of the blue and claims they get more praise than they deserve. They do not.

    @Sinclair I was about to verbally tear you a new one because Monster Hunter absolutely fucking ROCKS (and I never liked anime, I don’t think MH looks much like anime even, oversized weapons aside). But then I saw you were trying to make another point :-P