Thursday, December 6, 2012


Is beauty enough to captivate you and keep you entertained while playing video games? This is a screenshot from a free PS3 game called "Flower". It is visually stunning and has a loose narrative but it is very simple. You are a floating leaf and you collect flower petals and later on battle against the growing city that's taking over the colorful, expansive world of nature.

With the debate over the artistic merit of video games, where do you think this game fits in and why is it/is it not art? Here's a screen shot to give you an idea.


  1. I'm looking at the Oddworld games for my book review paper (i just posted about them) and one of the defining characteristics of the game is the aesthetic detail. Lorne Lanning created Oddworld as a sort of allegorical game, but he had to do it in a way that would also be marketable so he and his partner spent an inordinate amount of time designing this world (that is 10 times bigger than Earth, according to lore) and fitting all the creatures to the tenor of the game. Obviously Flower is more simplistic than Oddworld, but I feel like the idea of making something beautiful is gaining ground in this industry, and games like both of these (either end of the spectrum) are opening up the topic for discussion.

  2. This reminds me of a shot from a pixar or dreamworks movie.

    I would consider this art because if it tells a story or if there is some deeper meaning behind it is art in my opinion. The idea that there needs to be "environmental awareness" also brings in social change...something art has been doing for a long time. For example, surrealism had a commentary on aspects of WWI.

  3. As a person who doesn't play a lot of video games, I really appreciate the artistic value of video games rather than the gameplay itself. I'm really horrible at actually playing video games, but I can definitely appreciate a game based on its artistic merits. From the screen shot, this game would be an example of a game I would appreciate for its aesthetic. I like art, and I have a pretty artistic eye, so finding beauty in video games is something that i find important to a game's appeal.

  4. That's an interesting point, Graam. I mentioned passingly that Oddworld was designed as an allegorical game, but the way Lorne phrased his idea for it was cool. He said that when he was a child he worried about animals not being able to express their feelings and their suffering. Then, once he got to college, he found out many people on this planet aren't able to express themselves either. I feel like if you're going to make something philosophical or allegorical, something that is meant to make people stop and think, then one of the weapons you have at your disposal is making that something look really frakking good. The beauty will make you stay around, will make you keep playing, and I think that if it is used in this way there is no reason to disregard an aesthetically pleasing game.

  5. This sort of game reminds me of a particular game called Osmos.
    You are basically a life form floating around in space and you have to absorb other life forms to make yourself bigger, but you can absorb smaller life forms. If you touch bigger life forms from your current state, they absorb you. They goal is to be the largest life form in space. In order to move, you have to spit out a bit of your matter. This game is as beautiful as it is captivating. The visuals are amazing and the music is soothing. It encompasses all of real life physics. I think games like these and the flower one makes the game work through its artistic qualities, and there is a whole population of people who appreciate this sort of approach.