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An art game or arthouse game  is a work of interactive new media digital software art as well as a member of the "art game" subgenre of the serious video game. The term "art game" was first used academically in and it has come to be understood as describing a video game designed to emphasize art or whose structure is intended to produce some kind of reaction in its audience.
Modified games created for artistic purposes are sometimes referred to as " video game art ". Art games are often considered a means of demonstrating video games as works of art. Current Trends in the Art Game Genre". Holmes defined the art game as "an interactive work, usually humorous, by a visual artist that does one or more of the following: Art games are always interactive—and that interactivity is based on the needs of competing [ Within the topic of the art game, further subdivisions have been proposed.
In her paper, Holmes identified two common art game types as the "feminist art game" an art game that generates thinking about gender and typecasting , and the "retro-styled art game" an art game that juxtaposes low- resolution graphics with academic or theoretical content, and that creatively subverts the format of an arcade classic to support a conceptual creative agenda.
Subdividing by theme, Stalker defined "aesthetic art games" to include "games that deal with using the game medium to express an artistic purpose," and she defined "political" or "agenda-based art games" as art games that "have some sort of ulterior motive other than aesthetics" and whose basis is in "using the medium of the computer games to bring an issue to the public's, or at least the art world's, attention in order to attract support and understanding for a cause.
Distinctions are drawn in describing the art game as a genre compared to traditional video game genres such as the platformer or first-person shooter. Rather than describing the game on a surface level, descriptions focus on the artistic intent , as well as the execution and implementation of the gameplay. For instance, Bethesda's release Fallout 3 is considered to be a role-playing game with first-person shooter elements, but it could also be considered to have elements consistent with art games  —it implements moral player choices for the sole purpose of provoking emotion or thought in the player.
Games like these aren't necessarily created or marketed under the classification of "art game", but are still created for artistic purposes that transcend their respective structures. The potentials and limitations of the medium are increasingly discovered as the video game industry develops, therefore resulting in the recent popularity of art game elements.
If nothing else, the genre can be seen as a means to push the medium to its conceptual limit. Easily confused with its often non-interactive sibling art form video game art, and the concept of video games as an art form irrespective of artistic intent , the essential position that art games take in relation to video games is analogous with the position that art film takes in relation to film.
Greg Garvey, the curator of this exhibit, compared this to the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk where the work attempts to encompass other art forms, though as Garvey comments, the "merger of interaction with the aesthetics" drives these games beyond this concept.
Due to the contemporaneous improvement of graphic capabilities and other aspects of game art design with the trend toward recognition of games as art and the increases in video game art production and art game releases, discussions of these topics are often closely interleaved. This has led to the drawing of a number of critical distinctions between the "art game" and the various kinds of "game art".
In drawing a distinction between games with artistic imagery and art games, commentators have compared the art to sculpture and have emphasized the concept of artistic intent in the creation of the art game. This difference has been described by Justin McElroy of Joystiq as "the same [as that] between a sculpture and a building. Another key distinction that has been made between art games and games with artistic imagery and indeed all games viewed as art is that art games are intended as artistic creations from the outset whereas traditional games are often commercially motivated and play -oriented.
This has been expanded by some commentators to include the artistic intention of the curator as well as the original creator. This holds significant implications for an artistic medium, as it facilitates communication of meaning through increasingly more empathetic and concrete means. Unlike other media, players of games must expend not only time but effort —in the form of problem-solving or the application of timed reflexes.
This participatory element demonstrates that adding effort as an element in an art piece results in a higher degree of emotional investment, and therefore a higher potential impact of artistic intent on the participant. In distinguishing between art games and video game art, the elements of interactivity and often competition or goals are frequently emphasized.
Because art games are games and because games are interactive, definitions for the art game tend to require interactivity whereas video game art can be either interactive or non-interactive. The idea of a distinction between art games and artistic modifications to existing games is one that several commentators including Rebecca Cannon and Matteo Bittanti  have found useful in further discussing the related topics.
Using Tiffany Holmes' original definition of the "art game" as a starting point, Cannon emphasized that whereas art games "always comprise an entire, to some degree playable game" and may be made from scratch, art mods by definition "always modify or reuse an existing computer game but only rarely include a reward system, and if so, only when of thematic relevance. For Cannon, the nature of a work as a modification is not alone determinative of the question of whether the work is an art game or an art mod.
Some modifications are "art games" despite being mods according to her definition. She argues that the art mod is an example of this pseudo-vandalism involving subversion and reflection within the cultural context of video games. Other art theorists including Pippa Tshabalala have rejected this narrow definition of the "art game" and have instead adopted a broad definition under the theory that the concept of the game is not limited to systems where the author has created rules and goals, but that games emerge whenever the observer self-limits play experience.
Thus, observers experiencing the Jodi art mod, SOD a modification of Wolfenstein 3D , can experience it as an art game as soon as they decide that their goal will be to progress to the next level. The art game genre has emerged most directly from the intersection of commercial culture specifically commercial video games and contemporary digital art.
At the Art History of Games conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Professor Celia Pearce further noted that since the Fluxus movement of the s and Marcel Duchamp 's art productions, procedurality has taken a central position in certain forms of art. The artistically motivated imposition of strict rules of creation for an art piece in this case the restriction by the author to the format or medium of the video game brought video games and art into a collision resulting in the first true art games.
Video games were first displayed in the art museum setting during the s, in retrospective exhibitions like Corcoran Gallery of Art 's "ARTcade"  and Museum of the Moving Image 's "Hot Circuits: A Video Arcade" The burgeoning video game art movement also provided direct inspiration for art game development particularly in the creation of art mods.
The use of mods within art games became one of the primary tools for art game creators who designed games with a message, such as the addition of female characters to a traditionally male-centric game, or to force the audience to re-examine a familiar work in a different light.
This is true both in terms of the level of technological advancement that make up the substance of art games as well as by providing cultural touchstones such as the classic arcade games and blockbuster titles from the s like Doom and Myst that art games may use referentially  or as the subject of an homage.
Typically produced on a smaller budget and with less technical coding knowledge than art games emerging from the game scene itself, "artist games" are often more explicit in terms of their artistic ambitions and commonly occupy "the grey area between modification and original game" because they are frequently based on classic arcade titles from the s.
As video games became increasingly common as a form of media throughout the s,  video games that deemphasized the game portion of the medium such as serious games , non-games and art games saw a rise in production. This in turn led to recognition of the game as a vehicle for ideas instead of simply an entertaining diversion. The term "art game" was first used in the scholarly setting by Professor Tiffany Holmes in her paper, "Art games and Breakout: New media meets the American arcade".
Beginning in the early to mids with games such as Samorost  and The Endless Forest ,  a strong overlap developed between art games and indie games. This meeting of the art game movement and the indie game movement brought art games to the attention of the video game culture at large,  and sparked large debates regarding whether or not video games can be fairly considered as works of art , as well as a backlash against use of the term. These debates have in turn led to the retrospective determination of numerous older commercial video games prior to the use of the term "art game" as art games.
As indie art games have seen a dramatic rise in production in the late s especially from and onwards , indie game developers like Jenova Chen , Molleindustria , Jason Nelson , Jason Rohrer , and Tale of Tales have become established and "artist games" have become relatively less common.
Discussions over the commercial viability of art games have led to speculation concerning the potential for the commercial video game industry to fund the development of "prestige games" games that are unlikely to be commercially successful but whose artistic vision marks them as important to the development of the medium. These considerations are generally regarded as premature, as the concept of "prestige" hasn't yet taken hold for publishers as it has for developers in the nascent industry.
Consequently, publishers are generally unwilling to take on commercially risky high-concept games the same way that major film studios who often have arthouse divisions might for art films that could enhance their prestige.
Alongside the growing use of the term "art game", numerous members of the video game culture have reacted negatively to its application. Critics have noted that the term turns away a certain segment of the gamer population who reject the notion that games can be works of art , and who equate "art games" with elitist gaming. This kind of reaction has in turn caused some game developers to reject the use of the term to describe their games, instead using terms like "not-game", "un-game", or simply refusing to accept any categorical label for their work.
Some common criticisms of the term include:. The following list is a collection of examples of video games described as "art games" or "arthouse games" by game designers or critics. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with video games as an art form or video game art. For other uses, see Art game disambiguation. Video game History of video games. List of indie game developers List of video game developers List of video game industry people List of video game publishers List of video game websites.
Video games as an art form. Artistic expression within video games. Video game art Non-game Machinima Interactive movie. Video game art creation. List of artistic video games. Archived from the original on 3 September Arcade Classics Span Art? Plaything Conference Sydney, Australia. University of the Witwatersrand , Johannesburg. Format Magazine - Pushing Play. Retrieved 1 February Ritual Communication of Feelings in the Digital Era".
Georgia Institute of Technology. Games as Art Podcast available: Games as Art Archived at the Wayback Machine. Interactivity and the embodied gaze". Art games and game art.
The Aesthetics of Play". University of California, Irvine. Games as Instruments for Observing Our Universe. Champlain College , Burlington VT. Archived from the original on July 8, The World of Art Games. Art games and Breakout: New media meets the American arcade.
Blast Theory brings interactive art to Exeter. I Lose, Therefore I Think: The Rise of Art Games. The Definition of Art Games. The Hierarchy of Video Game Haters. The Art Of Gaming. Reprinted in Rehabilitation Digest. Maddest British old-school games - 1.