Jimquisition: Lazy, Boring, Ordinary, Art Games - revartsgaming.com

Jimquisition: Lazy, Boring, Ordinary, Art Games

The Escapist
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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.

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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.


  1. Hmm. It's sorta meant to make you feel a certain way.

  2. Dear ester would have been twice as good if they added just one or two Nazis or skeletons. Or Nazi skeletons.

  3. One of my favourites was how I would see people criticize Final Fantasy for being "Hands off" yet turn around and praise Dear Esther despite that it's even MORE hands off.

  4. There is still a story in dark Souls.

    However nobody pays attention to that. They just ignore it and praise its perceived difficulty. (When quite a bit OF that difficulty is "punishing the gamer for not knowing information they were never told.")

  5. I went and trolled a Dear Esther video's comments when I was bored one day and one of the responses I got was that some people don't want to have to "do anything" in their videogames. I think that argument sums up the mentality that goes into defending crappy, pretentious "art" games better than any direct criticism.

  6. Granted, Dear Esther wasn't the most interactive game in the world, but it was interesting to play a game where your primary input device was what you saw of the world. All these arguments still stand, but games like Proteus are doing this now, only better, and I still find it to be an interesting concept.

  7. Really? This guy gives me a hard-on. Good god!

  8. Dear Esther is a narrative, and a pretty fucking good one. I didn't really care for Journey, but your opinion of it isn't wrong: why am I not *allowed* to like Dear Esther.

  9. I realized something recently. Do you know who gives a flying fadoodle about "right" and "wrong" opinions? People who did not make their opinion themselves, people that are insecure about there opinions being accepted by others. I however, like to make my opinions fun: Fun to talk about, fun to think on, fun to improve upon. What is the point of thinking for yourself if you aren't thinking for yourself.
    Sanity is what otherpeople say it is, and let me tell you "Sanity" aint' fun.

  10. I agree it's just that it is not told completely to you and you have to piece a good amount of it together from item descriptions and conversations, The story requires the extra effort as you said that not many will do and it's a pity because it's a great story/concept.

  11. Idea to fuck the pretentious Dear Esther defenders:
    Step 1: Reluctantly work out it's deeper plot so I get it.
    Step 2: Criticise the game.
    Step 3: Wait for the defenders to strike.
    Step 4: Put all of the evidence found in front of them in order to blow their minds/
    Sequence of thoughts in their mind:
    "X is a stupid person that plays CoD"
    "X gets the deeper plot and the artiness of this game"
    "X cannot possibly know the deeper plot"
    "X is actually correct…"

  12. I know. If there's one thing that Dark Souls really demonstrates to you is that if you give a story for the player to find, you should expect a lot of them to just skip it because they're not required to do it.

  13. A place to look at, but not touch? That's it! I'll open a strip club called "Dear Esther"! Perfect XD

  14. Dear Esther was a psychology experiment in storytelling (research at University at Portsmouth, UK), not a game, particularly. Honestly, there's a paper on it available to read and everything – check it out, it's quite interesting. I like Dear Esther, but it's barely a 'game'. It's a visual novel, more like. It has a style of presenting a 'stream-of-consciousness' like narrative, reminiscent of Ulysses by James Joyce.

  15. Or maybe you just didn't get it. It's ok. Everybody's different. Dear Esther touched me deeply; it was a one of a kind experience both in and outside of gaming. It was haunting and terrifying in that it tapped into some obscure fear of loneliness and abandonment that I never even knew I had. Was it fun? No. But it was effective. It was all atmosphere and sounds and mood, and its ability to evoke such bleak melancholy in me makes it so much more than the medium in which it exists. For me anyway..

  16. Dear Esther's gameplay matched up perfectly with it's narrative, themes, and atmosphere. It was quiet, introspective, lonely, distant, and ultimately used to be revealing. It was very much like a quiet walk through a place you once knew, somewhere full of memory and meaning that you only half remember. The gameplay reflects this; it encourages exploration and prodding, and works as a physical representation of calling up memory. It wasn't meant to be stimulating, it was meant to be evocative.

  17. Most art games aren't trying to be fun. They're trying to be evocative. Video games have suh huge potential as expressive art, but people constantly insist that they're only allowed to evoke fun in their audience.

  18. I think you'd might like the game I'm working on. Maybe.

  19. I'd attest that Dear Esther is a game and not a film or book because a game can make you feel more authentically desolate and lonely since it cannot proceed without your involvement. Foldable Human had considered games as "art that is actively experienced", as in everyone's experience will vary depending on their skill level and pace through the game. YOU, as the player, have to decide to move ahead in Dear Esther. In a movie, he'll go on without you. In a book, he won't care if you come or not.

  20. "Most art games aren't trying to be fun." Yeah, that's kind of the problem. Art games shouldn't need to sacrifice the most essential element of any game, i.e., fun, simply for the sake of being generically artistic. In contrast an inherently fun video game doesn't need to make any attempt to be artistic because it's already served it's primary function as a video game. Make a fun game first, worry about meaning later. I'm sick of the term "artsy" becoming synonymous with "boring".

  21. I feel like Dear Esther would have worked much better as a screensaver.

  22. Just because something isn't fun doesn't mean it's boring. Just like you don't watch Apocalypse Now or Schindler's List to have fun. But they're still held in high regard. Limiting games to only making you feel fun dooms them to playthings. Silent Hill isn't fun. Mass Effect didn't have particularly fun gameplay. But they're great games that you'd be hard pressed to call boring or uninteresting. Video games have the power to make the player feel just about anything.

  23. Quite an epiphany there and, if I may; welcome to the club.

  24. Hit the nail on the head. A game can have a good story, but if it could have just as easily been a book or movie, why bother?

  25. Jim Sterling is the best asshole ever. I love him.

  26. Dear Esther was an hour long game which was a pretty good game. It's slow movement speed pissed me off but if you paid attention to the story, you'd know he was injured and… you know… a guy who was in a car crash who was going there to die.

  27. That's the problem.

    Why couldn't it have been a short film in that case?

  28. Thank god for you Sir. You make videos that are worth watching. Not always for comedy but for you snarky take on many done to death ideas. I can always expect something fresh from you and I am rarely dissapointed. Thank god for you Sir.

  29. I think you almost hit the nail on the head but I can't be arsed to type! But yeah, I pretty much agree with you.

  30. I think there is a place for "movie-games", media between movies and games because they are harshly judged by games and by film critics, so I think it's time to recognize something new here? I'm not fat of "art games", Journey is good though, so is Flower all those games can speak through mechanics!

  31. Pretty much sums up Gone Home. That shit was just Dear Esther again but because it had a 'progressive' and 'emotional' excuse for a 'story' it got praised the fuck out of.

  32. Now you see why I don't like Heavy Rain.

  33. I actually kind of enjoyed Dear Esther, but I had two problems. A: they put dialogue rewards at the ends of long one-way paths and gave me no sprint button, the issue there is obvious
    B: There were only two or so exploration-rewarded dialogues, everything else happened on a linear path, and at a random order. The experience of searching for story was rewarding, it's one of my favorite things to do in a game, but the story itself was kind of shapeless and too vague to itself justify the walking. I don't mind walking for my story, but I found no reason for Dear Esther to not do it all for me.

    I enjoyed it, I think it should be played for the lesson in how to create an atmosphere like a pro – the atmosphere alone carried it for me – but no, I don't think it was as good as it should have been.

    Honestly, I'll just watch a couple play-through of it to get the story rather than play through again.

  34. I thought that Homefront was interesting. Still too fucking short, but I guess I got what I paid $3 for. And I guess it could've allowed for more interaction than it did, but it wasn't too bad in my opinion. I've definitely seen worse.

  35. Well I actually enjoyed Dear Esther. The music an atmosphere really got me there, but you got your point. I am more frantic about games like Nihilumbra where pseudo philosophical qoutes are shoved into your face every 5 seconds. The gameplay is quite fun, but the artsy fartsy design just makes me throw up in my mouth and destroys the whole experience.

  36. I like Dear Esther, but then I liked it back when it was a Half Life 2 mod. Its one of them 'games' that you cant really appreciate without headphones, a dark room, and a bit of imagination but then…. it's £7. I bought it for £3, haha what the fuck more do you want? I've lost more in change down a sofa, some might say that would be a better adventure than Dear Esther but, fuck you again because I got the music score free with it, and I doubt you have one of those under the cushions haha!
    Jokes aside, each to their own. Its definitely not faultless, it needed more interaction, but thats no reason to beat down the entire genre. It was one guys pet project to improve a mod he liked, and that's about it. Don't like it? Go back to Call of Du… haha just kidding. Do what the fuck you want.

  37. so you want a genre just born that evolve but now?

  38. " I don't want a game that could be a movie " exactly my thoughts too. Games are supposed to be interactive, making you part of what it is that is happening, any game that forgets this for any reason is just anti-gamer and just a disgusting piece of pretentious shit, no matter the message or depth of plot. Music you listen, Movies ( tv ) watch, and videogames you do. In art the artist ( a term that means less and less these days since everyone feels they are an artist ) wants complete and total control, which for most artists they don't want to allow any freedom at all. If you were to have freedom you could interpret and interact in your own way which takes control of the artist precious message away from him. Like said in the video Journey was a good example of an art game, It had its artistic message ( that was simple but but open to interpret for yourself ) but was still an engaging game while doing so. 

  39. The best part of Dear Esther, personally, is AFTER the game, when you get to sit back and try to think about what the hell just happened because it was massively abstract and disconnected. It was like a poem to me, but a poem that had a different story every time I read it, because I have always come out of the game thinking it was something totally different.
    At the risk of sounding pretentious, I will say that Dear Esther requires personal investment to get something out of it, and that is something many people object to. This reason in itself is perfectly fine, because the whole thing can be a drag, and $10 a little high of a price for "barely a video game".
    Certainly, everybody who plays games should play something like Dear Esther or Every Day the Same Dream at least once, if not for anything more than a healthy dose of self-awareness, because one's taste may not be into this sort of investment. 

    Also, don't play too many, because it does promote pretentiousness on the part of developers. Art games should be frowned upon, because it helps separate the good ones from the xerox copies, something that is thankfully happening to FPS games right now.

  40. sheep-leading would mean leading the sheeps on the way, aye?

  41. Actually, I like the idea of, instead of playing as the hero, playing as the grunt, or the sidekick…The idea of playing a good game like that if its done well pleases me.  Even if I don't get to do all of the best things, its different and a new take on….Everything?

  42. Hit the nail on the head for Dear Esther. It lacked any sort of immersion at all despite the worlds beauty and has no right charging the price it does on market. There was so little to do, so many long gaps between key sequences that I many a time was waiting for something to happen next only to be lulled into disappointment by the continuation of a story I didn't understand or care about. It still haunts me as one of my greatest purchase regrets next to countless games produced by EA.

  43. I kinda agree with Jim, but I guess I simply assumed that most gamers know that 90% of AAA games are just as bad as 90% of indie games.

    Some people feel that AAA games are "the best" type of games, while others feel that way about indie games. I can't say they're wrong (cos of "opinions", I know), but I don't agree. It always depends on the game, not necessarily its budget or genre. 

    Sure, it's boring when you don't get to "interact" a lot in a game world, yet I simply don't enjoy GTA games, for example, even though there are 1001 things for you to do. It all depends, I think. 

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