Category Archives: Art

What is a game? And why it matters!

Yours truly, June 23, 2014:

There have been many arguments about the term “video game” and what it actually means in today’s world. Many “games” no longer incorporate elements of games (e.g. Journey), causing critics to coin terms like “interactive experiences.” I think Siracusa’s talk shines light on a better word for modern games (especially first-person design) that has been right under our noses: Simulations.

There are games (e.g. Super Mario Bros., Uncharted), there are simulations (e.g. Journey, Dear Esther, Gran Turismo), and there are those that incorporate both (e.g. Halo, Mario Kart). The problem is that no one wants to hear the term “simulation.” For most, simulations have been boring since Flight Simulator 2000. On the other hand, games have been fun for centuries.

As we move closer to an Oculus future, we move further away from “video games.” If anything, I’d argue that the term “video game” does more harm than good for the industry’s larger appeal, carrying the baggage of a childish activity regardless of what studies show. “Simulation” may not be perfect the perfect term but it’s a word that should be incorporated more often.

In any case, a very enjoyable argument from Jamin Warren and PBS.

Tagged , ,

‘Here’s why I won’t be playing Journey on PlayStation 4’

Colin Campbell, Polygon:

Already, just playing a few minutes of Journey on PlayStation 4, I’m reminded that the moment-to-moment playing of the game is not as mystical as the memory of it as a complete thing. That the first time I meet another player in the game is never going to match the joyous original. The nice feeling of the wind is just an echo of that last section of the game, that wraps it all up so satisfactorily.

I often tell myself that I will take another trip through the work of art that is Journey. After all, the experience only lasts roughly one-and-a-half hours. However, every time I sit down to try, I’m unable to launch the game for the same reasons Campbell discusses. I do listen to Austin Wintory’s fantastic, Grammy-nominated soundtrack frequently and I think it is enough for me to relive the majesty and memory of Journey.

Tagged , ,

Ed Catmull on Icons and Story in Games

I had the fortunate opportunity of seeing Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, in a moderated conversation today.

During the Q&A, an audience member asked Catmull if there exists a current icon who fills the roll of Walt Disney, a man known as a figure who focused on the impact of technology on human experience and story and delivered his message to the public via TV broadcast. While my head went straight to Neil deGrasse Tyson as a viable figure, Cutmull’s answer was quite interesting.

A bit of Catmull’s reply, paraphrased by yours truly:

You can’t make another Walt or another Steve or another John. I think this is a problem the games industry faces. They make great experiences but have a hard time telling great stories. I think we have yet to see who will make that happen.

He deliberately went out of his way to focus on the games industry. He had also made reference to the games industry earlier in the discussion; however, the context is now escaping me.

Tagged , , , , ,

8bit Football

Relive the biggest plays from the 2014 World Cup with Matheus Toscano’s 8bit Football blog.

Toscano, as quoted by The Verge:

People want to see how their favorite players and teams would look like in 8-bit style. Whenever they can recognize someone, even if it is only represented by only a few pixels, that usually makes them laugh.

Most people who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s could experience playing football video games with such graphics. Whenever we see something similar, it brings back memories from childhood.

Worth relinking to my previous post on pixel art.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Re: Video games, art and noise

Re: Video games, art and noise

Finding a voice between pop and counter-culture.


4+ years ago, when I first launched TheStarrList.com as a Tumblr blog, I sought to explain underground and often dismissed media to the average reader. I donned the blog’s subtitle with “Making Sense of the Media Around You” and filled it with weekly album reviews, DVD to Blu-ray comparisons, and “best of” lists.

I poured my energy into a Top 100 Albums of the 2000s post filled with 100 mini album reviews; ripped and analyzed The Sound of Music Blu-ray vs. DVD, projecting the comparison to an audience more concerned with post-hardcore music and Star Wars (though, I compared that too). There were even experiments with video game reviews from Uncharted 3 to Limbo and micro-movie reviews during Oscar season.

In 2012, I switched from Tumblr to WordPress format to focus on longer-form writing with a bit more structure and professionalism. To my surprise, the blog saw incredible growth, at least by my standards. TheStarrList.com was now a much richer and dynamic experience.

Two years later, I find myself wondering what its primary theme is as it’s beginning to feel like a catch-all for my scattered thoughts.

Art and Noise

Required reading: Video games, art and noise | The Guardian

“It matters to me that on Monday morning, seven million Today listeners heard games being dismissed on the basis of a tiny minority of the annual output. It matters how consensus develops around new artistic forms.” – Keith Stuart, The Guardian

When I woke to The Gaurdian’s “Video games, art and noise” by Keith Stuart, a lightbulb switched on. Stuart’s arguments about loud yet uninformed “minority output” broadcasting to millions, discounting entire mediums and genres had my memory zipping back to my Tumblr blog.

Even with grand-scale digital publishing and hashtag/retweet filtration, there still remains a large population not savvy to the cultural trends of millennials and their collective, connected views of technology’s impression on art. Suddenly it became clear why I had written pieces on Blu-ray remasters of classic films and a defensive for Skrillex.

In my line of work, a sliver of my time is spent curating niche content and broadcasting it to a large audience. Though popular consensus informs us that heavy-hitters will continue to rise to the top, I find more validity in the little guy. Generations will always include masses discounting change and evolution (queue Patton Oswalt on home birth), unwilling to invest the time and effort to understand what makes WhatsApp a worthy investment or dismissing replay rules in professional sports. Cultural relevance is the reason I continue to educate myself on topics I don’t fully understand (and hopefully never will). I fear the day I will fail to understand my children.

“You would never debate the artistic potential of cinema by focusing solely on mainstream Hollywood films.” – Keith Stuart, The Guardian

In defense of Sarah Kent, I understand backlash when taking a hard stance on something I have either strong bias for and/or ignorance of. (See my discourse with @ryanruppe regarding Salon writer Jeff Bryant’s “Common Core propaganda fails“) Hopefully Keith’s piece sparks re-evaluation of video games as art; with outreach to millions, simply writing-off an entire medium/stance/genre is extremely damaging. Raise questions. Avoid absolutes.

My Voice

All told, when I read Keith’s piece, I found my voice. I simultaneously felt his passion for a discounted and controversial medium that is globally enjoyed by hundreds of millions (potentially billions) and understood why I feel the need to disperse nuggets of pop culture into pieces about demographically discounted art. (Queue Glenn Close’s “Devil Wears Prada” cerulean sweater monologue)

“The education system is starting to realize, we feel like we’re competing with this barrage of entertainment that’s around kids, nonstop, all the time. I think initially that was shocking to them. TV is the enemy. Heavy metal is the enemy. Video games are the enemy. They’re starting to ask, what if we could harness that instead of making it the enemy? So it’s actually a parallel maturation.” – Erin HoffmanGlassLab

It should go without saying that today’s technology is ripe to educate on topics previously left abandoned in generational gaps succinctly. However, we are shown time and time again that there is need to challenge generational qualms and societal push-back. It is these generational gaps that keep me finely tuned to the video game industry and passionate about explaining its impact and relevance in the pop culture space.

At an early age, unlike sports or academics, I learn that I could best my parents at video games. It was a participatory and wondrous medium imbued with both technology and art that empowered me to level adult vs. child, teacher vs. student playing field. With that, I sign off referencing links to my reviews and opinions on games that may have been overlooked by the larger audience yet are critical to popular culture; the solitary theme that runs through my blog.

Thanks to Keith for opening my eyes to my writing through-line.


Humanity in Hearthstone: How Blizzard is changing the diversity game.

Monument Valley – A Review: The beauty of brevity. The pleasure of paradox.

Why Game?: An ode to the impact of early console gaming.

Journey: 1 Year Later: Celebrating this generation’s most important work of art.


Originally posted on TheStarrList.com

Tagged , , , , ,

Go Right by YouTuber RockyPlanetesimal

On the inside, a beautiful piece about persistence as told through the lives of iconic video game characters. On the outside, a reflection on our memories of early video games and the bonds we formed with these characters. A true testament to the story, animation, art, passion, and love developers pour into games to craft these unique experiences.

With it’s brilliant cinematography and direction, I cannot think of a better piece to humanize video games, bringing my reasons for gaming to a whole new level.

Tagged , , , , , ,

How Long Can Video Games Matter?

How Long Can Video Games Matter?
IGN

“A brave and brilliant article” or “Suddenly, I feel empty.”

“Furthermore, no game you and I are excited to play right now will continue to sell copies like A Tale of Two Cities. The majority of enjoyable games are disposable. Even the number of brands that could predictably succeed in this capacity is microscopic. Part of this comes from the brand problem, which is that every video game sequel seems to be about doing something better rather than having something to say. They don’t really add to the art — they improve on past mistakes. Games are too often too busy chasing the technology ahead of them that there’s little room (or budget) left to chase anything else — design, emotional engagement, or individuality, for instance.”

– Mitch Dyer, IGN

Tagged , , , , , , , ,