Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Killer 7: Art?

Over at Penny-Arcade, Tycho muses about Art in the context of Capcom's Killer 7:

I think it's rare that we as players truly think about what it would mean for a game to be "art," straight up, with no qualifications. I'm not even sure the two terms can abide without rancor in the same sentence. Games are products, we buy them, and like other things we buy we have a reasonable expectation that it will produce a certain quantity of "amusement" before we have exhausted its supply. This definition is not sufficient to describe art. Art can be illegible. It can be exhausting. It can be maddening, offensive, and revelatory. Sometimes, it is literally Our Savior in a jar of pee. There is certainly no guarantee that you may be amused consistently, we take it for granted when we play a game that such was their intention, even if they have failed in it. Art can and will elude you. I'm fairly certain these themes are incompatible with the entire anatomy of consumerism.
It's worth reading the rest of his post. The tricky part here is that Art usually results in a transformative experience, especially if it's difficult/exhausting/maddening/etc. When a game is difficult/exhausting/maddening/etc, it just sucks. Unless...

Tycho holds up Killer 7 as something that isn't a good game but just might be Art. I haven't played it, but I'm rather intrigued now. Anyone have any thoughts?


At 9:11 PM, Blogger Foopy said...

I've been having similar thoughts about my experience with Facade, which I've started to review over at The Game Chair (under my real name).

The game, while very intriguing, really doesn't evoke feelings of amusement. I mean, how could consoling your best friends through the potential dissolution of their marriage possibly be fun? I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that this game isn't fun--it offers something else in its place, something that is fairly exhausting but has the potential to be transformative and thought-provoking nonetheless.

Maybe that just means that we need to think of a more general word than "game" for these products. It's been over 15 years, but I think Infocom had something going that we just don't have in today's market. They called it interactive fiction and it was commercially viable back then, and I hope such an approach to games as "interactive art" somehow becomes possible again in the future. I guess that's the approach that Mateas and Stern are trying to take with Facade.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger Clubberjack said...

I think Mateas and Stern would say "interactive drama," but that falls under Art too.

What makes me curious about Killer 7 are the facts that the gameplay sounds terrible (or at least dated) and the visuals/story sound as if they were designed to confound. Is it Art because it's difficult? Or did the designers think it had to be inaccessible to be Art. I really shouldn't say more until I've had a chance to play it.


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