Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nerd Bait

Here are nine of the riskiest moves made in video games.

It's pretty interesting reading whether you're a gamer or otherwise. Video games (despite the claims of Roger Ebert ), are art. Mass Effect is my all time favorite science fiction story (well...after Dune...of course the novel. But definitely better than Star Wars). Arguing that since gamers play games and thus alter them and thus invalidate them as art is like arguing that installation pieces that directly involve their audience are somehow not art either.

That said, the video game art field is a profoundly, profoundly expensive one. Production costs for video games frequently rival those of blockbuster films. Ultimately though, they yield up an incredibly cheap product. When you consider $10 for a two hour movie vs. $60 for a video game that may at times run to fifty hours in lengthy, you can appreciate the value that is being given. The risks being taken in the link above are very real ones. They make or break companies.

So here, are some of my favorite free on-line games, working straight down the list of one's I've bookmarked.

Closure: "Closure" is a remarkable video game in that it totally bucks the trend of bigger, better graphics. "Closure" is in fact in it's mechanics, an argument against what you see. You play a man with a lantern. That which is illuminated and visible, is. That which is not, simply is not.

"Icycle" while less mechanically exciting is more visually lush. Essentially, a naked man rides a tricycle through a world of frozen Japanese landscapes.

"Canabalt" is my preferred answer to the question of whether or not games can be emotionally enthralling. This game, weirdly, is my answer in the affirmative. The gameplay mechanics are profoundly simple: one button and you do what you must do. The story is also extraordinarily minimalistic: you must jump and run from horror. But what is the horror? Is there ever an ending? Will you continue running and jumping forever? Is there no end? This game makes me late for work. Constantly.

How is "Machinarium" not art? How does interactivity unhinge its strange beauty?

This game I will accept might not be art per se. However, "Civilization Wars" might be the most adorable genocide ever.

Hope you guys have fun with these games!

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