Monthly Archives: March 2011


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

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 […]


Bit Players

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 […]


Mechanics As Art Part 1: Mechanics As Art Support

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 […]


Card and Dice Game As Art?

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 […]