Posts Tagged ‘games as art’

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker now a collector’s item

June 26, 2009


Michael Jackson’s role as a musical pioneer is being examined at all levels today at the news of his passing. But what you may not know is Jackson was somewhat of a pioneer in the video game industry as well.

Moonwalker is a game where Michael Jackson uses magical dance movies to rescue young children from a mobster. It was released in 1990 and based on the movie of the same name. The game was co-developed by Jackson himself, which has to be among the earliest examples of a world-class star collaborating with developers on a video game. Jackson even went on to work with Sega again on the music/rythym game Space Channel 5

Jackson doesn’t walk across the screen in this beat-em-up, he dances and glides. His attacks are taken from his dance repertoire. When he does a dance kick, magical energy comes out of his foot, knocking down whoever is in the way. His special attack captivates his enemies with his moves and causes them to join Jackson in a choreographed dance number. Of course they can’t keep up with the Smooth Criminal, and dance to their deaths.

Micheal’s pet chimp, Bubbles, is even in the game as a powerup that transforms Jackson into a laser-toting robot.

Wow! Now that’s a game.

And as of this writing, copies of the game are being auctioned on Ebay and Amazon for up to $300. The actual arcade cabinet is also listed on Ebay for $1,500.


The Beatles: Rock Band trailer

June 17, 2009

Holy Shit! I had shivers running up the back of my neck for the entire clip. I so can’t wait for this game.

A Sims Story: Alice & Kev

June 17, 2009
Zev goes grocery shopping

Zev goes grocery shopping

Narrative in video games is a topic close to my heart. I want to believe that video games can tell compelling, dramatic stories. Most games that I do declare to have excellent stories, however, end up needing the qualifier “for a video game.”

So I’m constantly looking for ways that narrative and video games intersect, and this project by a British game design student is an excellent example. Robin Burkinshaw is conducting an experiment that turns stories in gaming on its head to explore the stories you make up yourself while playing.

Using the Sims 3, he has created a pair of memorable characters and using his blog to tell their story. The beauty of the Sims is the characters have specific personality traits, dreams and goals and you let them loose to watch how they interact together.


He created a family, Alice and her father, Kev, and made them wander the world of The Sims homeless. Kev is a disparaging asshole lunatic who is constantly putting his daughter down and Alice is a miserable teen with no friends.

The brilliance of Burkinshaw’s project is the stories he weaves on his blog about his two characters. Kev persecutes and insults his daughter with zeal while she’s around. When she is not, he tries to mack on ladies in his wife beater and underwear. Alice is constantly depressed whose friendship goals are thwarted when her targets are repulsed by her desire to sleep in their comfortable beds and take a shower when invited into their homes.

Here’s an excerpt: (more…)

Big Lebowski + Wii

March 8, 2009

It would look a little bit like this video, which has been around the web for a while, but is funny, all the same.

How you play video games reveals you character

March 7, 2009

I stumbled across this photo project by a photographer called Mr. Toledano.

For this series of photos Toledano says: “I wanted to take portraits of people that would reveal a hidden part of their character. So I had them play video games.”

That brings up the question: How can video games possibly demonstrate anything about your character?

Game covers aint what they used to be

March 5, 2009

The Atari 2600 was a little bit before my time, but I remember some of the covers from old Intellivision games as if through the haze of a dream.

In this interesting post, Brilliam dissects and compares some old game art to that of modern games. While the modern games have more bells and whistles, the older covers are more intriguing. They make you curious about a game the way today’s covers don’t.

Plus, game titles have come a long way to mundaneness too. The Earth Dies Screaming? That’s an AWESOME title.

Check it out here: » Blog Archive » The Stunning Art & Design of the Atari 2600.

Turnip Murder

February 28, 2009

Just a cool photo I thought I would share.

turnip_murder.jpg (JPEG Image, 648×864 pixels) – Scaled (68%).

Narrative in gaming presents barriers and opportunities

February 17, 2009

Jon Christensen at /gamer makes a good point here based on an clip of an interview of David Jaffe:

There are many reasons why video games don’t tell an incredible story, one huge reason for me is the character development. In order to have a true masterpiece in storytelling, the person reading/watching the tale must truly care about the main character. Sadly, there has yet to be a game where I truly hope the main star achieves his goal. I believe many factors contribute to this, but one main reason always sticks out of my mind. The person we play as — never dies. Sure, most games we play; the character can get shot, fall off a cliff, get stabbed to death, run over etc…but we can select continue and the story is back where it left off. There is not a punishment, we always know he/she always wins in the end — as long as we put the time and effort into it. So, how could we care for someone/something if for the most part — works out in the end.

via /gamer -> David Jaffe Believes Games Don’t Tell a Great Story and Why We Agree!

Jaffe is best known for directing God of War and the Twisted Metal series, neither of which hang their laurels on narrative. But it seems we all three agree there are major hurdles for game designers to overcome if they want their games’ stories to be considered great. Especially difficult when many of them seem to be working in revenue-focused corporatations (as they should be, just saying its not an environment that’s conducive to creativity).

I really don’t see the medium as being able to weave a tale as complex and profound as The Godfather anywhere in the near future. But it is far more valuable to judge pieces within their media as opposed to comparing to pieces in other media. (more…)

Grand Theft Auto’s Extreme Storytelling – TIME

February 17, 2009

Time Magazine contributor Lev Grossman uses GTA IV to examine storytelling in video games.

You can look at the whole GTA series as a sustained fictional inquiry into the myth of the great American badass — the criminal, the gangsta, the made man, the outlaw. It’s a loving inquiry, but it has a consistent critical distance, an outsider’s point of view. And no wonder: the games aren’t created by Americans at all. Houser, a Brit, is based in New York City, but most of the work gets done by Rockstar North, a team of Scots based in Edinburgh.

Freedom isn’t a problem for Houser. As a storyteller, he feels as though he’s lucked into the lawless, Wild West period of video games. “It’s not academicized,” he says. “There’s no orthodoxy on how things are done, so we can do whatever we want. We make it up as we go along!” As for the ongoing debate about whether games are art, he couldn’t care less. That’s what critics get paid for. “As soon as we get told, ‘Yes, games are high art. They’re almost as high as painting and slightly less than dance,’ it’s over. Freedom is dead at that point. Then the argument just becomes about people’s egos. And my ego doesn’t need to be told I’m an artist. I hate myself already!”

via Grand Theft Auto’s Extreme Storytelling – TIME.