Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Continuation This arti­cle serves as part 2 of a two-part exam­i­na­tion of the art of video games as found in their mechan­ics.  In the first part, I dis­cuss how mechan­ics can serve to enhance and enrich a game’s exist­ing artis­tic con­tent with­out nec­es­sar­ily being art them­selves.  Today, how­ever, I wish to dis­cuss how mechan­ics can be art in and of them­selves, how some games, with­out plot, char­ac­ter, or even nec­es­sar­ily much in the way of visual design, can be art just in light of their mechan­ics. On The Nature of Art Way back in one of this blog’s inau­gu­ral posts in August of last year, […]

Mechanics As Art Part 2: Mechanics as the Beautiful and the Instrumental

An impor­tant part of any nar­ra­tive expe­ri­ence, whether pre­sented in a video game or a pen-and-paper expe­ri­ence, is the sup­port­ing cast. Two weeks ago, I cri­tiqued the over-population of heroes and hero nar­ra­tives in gam­ing, and this week’s dis­cus­sion is sort of con­nected to that issue. A diverse and inter­est­ing sup­port­ing cast doesn’t merely offer more char­ac­ters and dis­trac­tions to a heroic nar­ra­tive. The sup­port­ing cast pro­vides most oppor­tu­ni­ties for char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the hero, and this is espe­cially the case in gam­ing. This is as true in BioWare games (after all, we get a much bet­ter idea of who Shepard is in light of his/her treat­ment […]

Bit Players

The Idea This week, I want to change my tac­tics a lit­tle bit.  Usually, in this column, I have a ten­dency to dis­cuss a game’s writ­ing when I dis­cuss its aes­thetic value.  This prob­a­bly stems from the fact that writ­ing and music are the two parts of game devel­op­ment with which I am most famil­iar.  I can­not draw to save my soul, and my cod­ing knowl­edge is lim­ited to 10 Print “Eternal Loop” 20 Goto 10 but writ­ing is some­thing I have at least some idea how to do, so I can crit­i­cize a game’s writ­ing with­out feel­ing too much like a poser. What I want to do for the next two weeks, though, is […]

Mechanics As Art Part 1: Mechanics As Art Support

What has three six-sided dice, a card for the pitcher, another for the hit­ter, a few addi­tional charts and eats hours? Strat-O-Matic base­ball, a table-top sim­u­la­tion of Major League Baseball, cel­e­brates its 50th anniver­sary in 2011. The game has been cited as an influ­ence by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, Magic: The Gathering cre­ator Richard Garfield and rotis­serie base­ball inven­tor Daniel Okrent and appears in a Spike Lee movie (Crooklyn).  Armchair Arcade’s Matt Barton says of Strat-O-Matic, “Paper-based games like this paved the way for D&D and CRPGs.” (Computer Role-Playing Games). In the broad world of gam­ing, merely sur­viv­ing for 50 years is quite an […]

Card and Dice Game As Art?