Jimquisition: Lazy, Boring, Ordinary, Art Games
Your humble Jim Sterling is deep and philosophical, and therefore appreciates a videogame that attempts to communicate something more special than the average bit of software. However, most so-called “art games” are generic and mediocre, for the very same reasons that they THINK they’re unique and enthralling. Art games are becoming as ordinary and boring as anything in the mainstream market, and your cultured host shall explain why.
For the latest Escapist Magazine content, visit
A show in which a fat British man who wears sunglasses indoors rants angrily about the injustices of mankind, interspersed with MS Paint doodles of videogame characters doing terrible things.
Dear Esther is old news, it was originally a half-life 2 mod. It may not be pushing art games forwards today, but when it cam out it was a novel experiment in narrative in games.
I think art in games may come under various way. There is not only one single way to make an artistic game. Some games may have very interesting and original graphics but very simplistic interaction. Limbo, unfinished swan, journey are very simplistic when you thing about interaction but great in design and graphics. Gone home on the other way
is very interactive, even more than some action games. Why cutting and shooting games have more valid interaction than gone home for example, where you can interact with almost every single thing in the house?
I wish this was a newer video, so that he may have spoken about Depression Quest supposedly being art, particularly since the game is more relevant now as a contributing factor to #Gamergate
games like Dear Ester have no right being games, the interactivity of games has potential that no other artistic medium has, and that is why that I fight for games as art so much regardless of being much more interested in books, books can pull me in, but besides that short fad of chose your on adventure books never am I as a character a part of a book. really the games he talks about a non-AAA David Cage games. and NO ONE should want to be emulate that pompous, egotistical, pretentious idiot of a writer known as David Cage
As much as I hated the various "art games" I've had shoved down my throat at one time or another, at least the Newgrounds variety attempts to do something new once in a while. Sure, there's a game that only lets you play it once and it's pretty shit, but at least it justifies the two minutes it stole from my life with a new concept. What makes them actively offensive as opposed to merely bad is that you've inevitably got a friend who insists on singing so and so game's praises while implying something rude about your intelligence or culture for not "being able" to appreciate such a high class work of art.
And so seeing something like This War of Mine that that isn't ashamed of the fact that it's a game is fucking fantastic. The creators seem somewhat aware that there is such a thing as a bad game and that the art moniker isn't a convenient shield with which to deflect criticism. Justifying lazy shortcuts like "retro" graphics or completely non-interactive environments as intentional artistic liberties holds about as much weight as newspaper comics drawing blank panels and having the characters snark about the artist being a lazy shit or how there's so much snow that they can't see anything.
And then there's the "art games" that are the rough equivalent of the experimental noise genre in music, that exist exclusively so people can argue about whether they're games or not. Even a begruding "yes" is given with the most sincere wish that there was some objective benchmark under which a given piece of software is simply too shit to be considered a game, something you can toss in with Game Maker titles and PC ports that don't actually run.
ok i gotta ask now, does anyone actually thank god for Jim Sterling?
This is the problem I found with Shadow Of The Colossus. It's good that the game wants to make exploration a key part of the game, but most of the time, I just end up milling around in a completely lifeless environment, hoping that I'll find something to kill. It's not a particularly investing game if it's 9 parts boring to 1/2 a part exciting and 1/2 a part frustrating
ahhh walking simulators what a craptacular idea for a game
Sometimes I feel like you forget that some people do genuinely enjoy these games. Remember the video on pasta sauces? Some people like chunky, some like spicy, some like mild? No single perfect game? I think that you are forgetting to apply this here. One game that I like is Bientôt l'été. It's a walking sim, to put it bluntly. It's an art game. Art games tend to get lambasted for being "pretentious bullshit." But, the people who say things like that tend to forget that some people do genuinely enjoy those games. Just because a game isn't entertaining to you in particular, doesn't mean it's shitty with no redeeming qualities. These people aren't taking into account that art games are their own genre. Saying they are total shit is very odd. It's like saying racing games are total shit. It generalizes an entire genre, just because you don't like it.
Most art games aren't completely innovative, but a lot of them center around a sort of passive gameplay motif. In Proteus you interact with the world quite a bit, but not with shooting, killing, or destruction. In Bientôt l'été you interact with the world quite a bit, but not with crafting, or solving puzzles. To say these games are bad because they don't include that stuff doesn't make sense. I personally don't like racing games. I'd totally play something like Blacklight Retribution over Need 4 Speed any day. But I don't accuse racing games of being shit for not having guns in them.
My point is, a game isn't shit just because it doesn't appeal to you. Flooding discussions about what makes these art games good with "It's boring pretentious shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit" is very confusing for a consumer. How the hell am I supposed to know if I like an art game or not if the only thing I can find are people whining about how much they hate art games? And I don't like all art games, and it's difficult to find art games that I'll actually enjoy because almost no one talks about the actual games themselves as games, they just say "It's an art game, so it's complete and utter shit" or "It's so wonderful and artistic~"
Hell, even games that are very obviously NOT art games are brought into these discussions, and get painted by them. I saw a Jazzpunk review calling it an "avant-garde, artsy game screaming at the top of its lungs to be noticed." Jazzpunk isn't avant-garde. It has Wedding Qake as a fucking minigame.
When it comes to actual art games, I can never tell whether or not I'll like it from the reviews. Reviews are all the same for art games. "It's pretentious garbage." Wow, great review. btw i think people need to look up the definition of 'pretentious' because that word gets misused way more than it needs to be.
So, this is some stuff to take into consideration.
Also ples don't take this as hate or anything, I just don't agree with this thing in particular.
Paraphrasing: Most art games are just pretentious shit. And this opinion comes from my show, which is art by itself.
There is so much truth in those words that they should be labeled: Punchline masterpiece
1. Art is boring (try to listen to classical music).
2. Games are not art, because they are made to entertain (like popsa).
Some people are too fucking lazy to read books and novels (myself included), and these type of games are how we enjoy good stories within a game. The only problems arise when the developers are not talented enough to write good storylines, and there's nothing else for the gamers to keep on going.
For example, take a look on To The Moon. If they made that script for a novel, there's no fucking way I would read it, even if someone is shoving it down my throat. Make it into a game, and voila. One of the game with the best stories I've ever played.
Good video but then I do have to question where visual novels fit into this?
I and quite a few others consider them games and while some of the erotic elements can be a turn off, some of them have very powerful and moving stories or are just fun little comedies with enjoyable characters bouncing off each other.
However, by Mr.Sterling's definition, they are even worse than stuff like Dear Ester as they have no walking or movement and only allow for interfacing with the game itself via choice system
How can medal of honor, a game that came out before COD be copying a successful game?
Thank JIM. for GOD.
Sheep are boring I guess sheep leading is even more boring
I think the point with Dear Esther was to find the clues as to what is going on and figure out who you are and what you are doing. But what do I know, I just took the time to take the game seriously.
Something I feel Jim missed on this one was that Dear Esther was originally created and conceived as an Academic study, not an Artistic one. It was designed to be the complete polar opposite of a FPS and to test whether games that don't follow the traditional trend can actually do well in a market that is so closed to innovation through fear of failure. Publishers would never have touched Dear Esther which is why it was originally created in a University to examine whether of not it would have succeeded. Dear Esther is less of an "art game" as it is more of an acedemic study into games design, much in the same way that Journey was designed by Jenova Chen to be a social experiment on how people can interact with others and form relationships without even saying a single word. The issue imo is that there's no divide in the consumer's eye between an Artist game and an Experimental one.
Imagine the Order: 1886 with this video… Damn… Jim called it…
Is there a way to add combine and zombies as you walk through dear Esther. Oh and guns?. Ant lions too can't forget them. Its a beautiful map, just needs NPCs and the crossbow bolt that shoots the thing that went in Laura Crofts hip but is super heated.
I think the point of this video was that these games could've been movies and because you interact with them like movies,"see don't touch"; they would be better suited as movies. If I take dear ester and take away any ability to move your character and make it move automatically, you'll get the same experience as moving it. To this, I agree with. It is this reason why these games shouldn't be called games, because it doesn't use the medium and therefore doesn't require the medium to convey it's message and evoke the same feeling. It's a movie with the "game" tag on it.
Would "Okami" be considered a lifeless art game?
People are probably getting tired of art games due to the fact that all they show us at E3 is an "art game". It gets old seeing constant tech demos, especially those with an actual genre. I've never played Dear Esther, but I've seen screenshots and it's as visually appealing as a tech demo with no real gameplay.
Jim, we each experience slightly differently. And so I don't agree with your opinion there =)
'Sheep-Leading' No seriously you're right
Imagine the gamers as sheep in these games. Irrelevant and Unimportant being led by the Shepherd across an empty world while feeling un-involved and just felt like being pulled on a lead.
Worse than FPS because at least FPS and On-Rails Shooters like Rambo actually had impact and you had something to do. Not in these 'Art Games' however
Who wants to play a game with no gameplay? A lot of people, apparently. To each their own, I suppose.
I hate the comparison of people to sheep. A ram is a male sheep, and trying to lead them anywhere will win you a gut full of horn.
The Stanley Parable was released after this video… still, anybody played it?
Dear Esther (original mod) is an academic experiment to strip FPS of everything except the story. In Fact, the story is what is "being" studied – because , here is the ironic joke on the industry – it has none. It's designed to have a NO story, to see if people would play a game with no story. What "story" it has, is designed to literally say nothing, do nothing, mean nothing. Although it does sound like artistic nonsense (and probably is on a level), it's real designed motive is to be ACTUAL nonsense. The dialogue nodes randomly select between a couple of narration choices, so the narration is different with each play-through. I don't know what Dan concluded, but in my mind the experiment shows that our Primate little brains enjoy stitching together their own little fantasies of what the "story" is, and that's the real joke.
Knowing that you can sit back content and just laugh at reviewers manipulating their genitals over the "art" and "story" as well as all the little minions and discussions of all the alleyways of "what does that mean" (and the answer is to make you ask "what does that mean?" like Damon Lindelof going to town on mystery writing in Lost).
This deep, emotional artistic piece that people talk about, isn't there. (funny right?)
By design it's not even suppose to be there. Sure the visual on the HD remake are pretty, and are beautiful level design art and the do hype up the "feels", and play around on the meme and themes that gamers talked about the original mod. But at the end, Dear Esther is as meaningless as Dan Pinchbecks doom3 mod which was at the other END of the scale, were the player was given an non-lethal weapon and griefed by the narrator (with some colourful insults) for an hour and then on level completion the narrators sets of the bomb in your brain for your happy ending.
To see how much pointlessness gamers could take.
But for an old rambler who used to walk in Hebridian-esque hills, I do love Esther's remake just purely for the Amblering-pr0n.
EA has a new F2P game coming out called Long Hallway. You basically walk down a hallway opening doors that conveniently take you to a micro transaction site that lets you walk further down the Long Hallway…
So wait… this means Jim DOESN'T like Gone Home? I could've sworn I had heard somewhere that he liked it…
What REALLY funny is the walking around exploration gameplay was, as far as I know, first done intentionally on the PS1 with LSD Dream Emulator, and what's even funnier is even LSD:DE is more stimulating than Art Games. Mainly because LSD:DE has things to at least touch and, well, it's trippy.
I quite enjoyed The Path!
Gone home and the Stanley parable are the exceptions
Myst, I would say, was a better "art game" back in the day than any of this pap could possibly be.
Dear Esther is remarked as one of the best narrative experience in video game its just that you don't like it Jim
So basically, Dear Esther is the 2001: A Space Odyssey of video games then?
I just don't see why Jim has a problem with The Path.The Path usually keeps the player involved…
Jim isn't fat, the fat just wants to be around him. It's like groupies
Thank god for him
Funnily enough, in the world of visual arts (and sometimes literature and performing arts), this is exactly the problem that plagues modern art. Everyone is trying so hard to be "deep" that, in an ironic, Syndrome-type of way, no one is.
Love the mini eggs clip! 😀
I think"Every Day The Same Dream" doesn't belong in this art game genre, It actually has something to say.
The Graveyard by tale of tales deserves a full jimquisition episode
I fckn hated Connor.
journey was as boring as any other game u describe. nothing to do, just walking and walking… oh and the multiplayer was fuckin broken. only the soundtrack was good. journey was shit (yes, i will use the term: walking simulator) i guess it is just taste… some people may like homefront. me on the other hand, i HATE games where there is nothing to do. and journey is one of them. terrible game.
Back in the day when Jim used the word cunt in every episode.
Who remembers Myst? I lovd those games… The first one and Riven, the other ones gave me motion sickness for some reason. Anyway, I think we should get more games like them. Like the Witness actually, but with more details and immersion.
:3… sheep leading to turn one's brain off and be lead around like a sheep….
As a lover of walking sims, I have to say, this was actually a very decently-argued case against them. Each to their own, I guess. Oh, and fucking hell, Jim…240p! Man, YouTube videos used to be ugly 😀