Can it be? Is it another individual who is trying to mingle in the "Are games art?" spectacle?
Another day, another person who is ruminating the remains of the dreadfully dull debate. Are you sick of it? Because I sure am.
As far as I'm concerned, art is largely subjective, and if Mister A thinks Bioshock is art while Mister B objects, good for them! I don't care - I'll allow everyone the freedom to have their own opinion on the subject.
No, I'm going to try my best to steer clear of the grey areas here. Instead, I will take a much more obvious route (atleast in my eyes, considering I'm an art student) and discuss various forms of optical tricks that developers use to make their games, be it unconsciously, more appealing to the eye.
There are certain visual tools that can be used to grab hold of the attention of the viewer. Artists use these methods alot to draw your eyes to certain places, to create a certain atmosphere or to bring more depth the canvas. After applying those techniques, the outcome can be mindblowing. As such, it's surprising to me how little we see those artistic methods return in games.
These tricks are basically art-history 101. You will understand what exactly I mean when I'll discuss the games below.
For every visual, 6 aspects can be examined. These are: Line, color, form, light, space, composition
For every aspect, I've taken it upon myself to choose a game that best illustrates said subject.
Without further ado, let's start by taking a good hard look at the use of lines in videogames. To illustrate this first part, I'll use the game Okami
. Now, I know this game sounds like such an obvious choice for line, but it's a bit more complicated than that.
Every drawing is made out of lines. Contour lines to form certain shapes, and possibly hatching lines to creat tonal or shade effects. Lines can be straight, lines can be jagged, but they can also be gracious and so forth.
Where do we find such gracious lines videogames? Well, often cellshaded games come with a wonderful outline around the characters. That outline not only helps to set apart the character, it changes the entirely look and feel of a game. Cartoon-esque, if you will.
Okami is only one of the many games that makes good use of lines through cell shading, but more notably ought to be mentioned because it uses lines more creatively with the Celestial Brush, blending them into the gameplay.
Another fine example of original use of lines is the free webbased game linerider
Needless to say, color is awesome. There are so many ways to use color to your advantage, I cannot possibly pick one videogame to showcase them all. I had to make some compromises and eventually I chose for Mirror's Edge
There are seven color contrasts that can be used to please the eye (To sum them up quickly: Color vs. color-, complementary-, light-dark-, warm-cold-, quality-, quantity- and simultaneous contrast)
With all these effects, the possibilities are endless. Any emotion or atmosphere can easily be portrayed by using the right colors.
Mirror's Edge is actually the game that inspired me to write this article. In this game, the amount of thought that went into using artistic conventions is above par.
The warm-cold contrast especially caught my attention. Those red shoes and gloves this madam is sporting are an excellent way of adding some extra depth to the screen.
As you can see, the color of buildings in the background is much less vivid than those in the front. This quality contrast is used in nearly every videogame that takes the realistic approach.
I'll have to admit I don't know alot about this game. I have not read any previews on it, I've merely seen the screenshots - but they tell me alot.
For example, what's up with the cranes we see in every other screenshot? Maybe you don't know either. Yet if I ask any Dtoider, or any gamer, to guess what they are for, I'm pretty certain most people would say that they are an intergrated part of the gameplay and you are required to walk across them.
Why would they say that? It's the color, obviously. Quantity contrast.
Anyone can tell this game is about jumping on rooftops. All other parts of the game consist of various shades of blue. The game requires you to look at the rooftops. Not until you have examined all the rooftops, will you glance at the surroundings.
Ofcourse this largely happens without you being aware of it, and that's the whole idea behind it. Leading the player to where he needs to be, where he needs to look, without physically holding his hand.
As you might've understood from reading the post title, I am going to cut this article short here. Partially to refrain from stretching your attention span, and partially to save myself from getting a repetitive strain injury, this subject is being divided into 3 posts.
I hope you enjoyed part 1, and remember to leave some criticism/comments below. read