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Games Can Be Art?

First off I would like to apologize as this is my first attempt at blogging.

The focus of this blog entry will be to express how I feel a game can go beyond the completion of simple task to be rewarded with points or respect from a friend. I want to focus more on the games that seem to invoke emotions or place the player in complex situations that require the player to make decisions not on some variable inside of the game but a mental choice from the player. Such as choosing to save character A over character B and continue the game with the consequences.

One of the many games I feel does this well is Ico(Team Ico, 2001).

Ico's game play was intentionally made simple, the designers of the game employed a "subtraction method" to remove elements of its game play they thought would interfere with the story and setting of the game. This helped to increase the level of immersion into the game itself.

From the very beginnings of the game we, the players, know very little about the young male figure we are playing. All that can be figured out is that he is some young boy who is being sent to be locked away inside of a castle by his fellow villages because he  has horns, which is believed to be an ill-omen. Thanks to some unknown event the young boy manages to escape his binds and finds himself wandering around the castle where he encounters a mysterious imprisoned female named Yorda. Freeing her you find that she is able to unlock the magical doors sealing your path. From this point the pair of them know that if they want to escape they will have to work together. However shortly after this a new threat is introduced "shadows", creatures that appear crawling out of portals. Their goal is to take Yorda away from the main character and pull her back into one of their portals to lock her away. Upon this happening the main character and all of the castle are turned into stone resulting in a game over.

With that in mind the player now knows that if he or she wants to get further in the game that they will have to protect Yorda by fighting off the "shadows" and solving puzzles to reach new rooms. Unknowingly there is this sort of connection being formed by the immersion of the game. As you play you start to develop feelings for the characters and hoping that they both make it out of the castle. Not to spoil the game any further, the designers of the game implemented twist and turns in the game that specifically affect the newly formed connections the player has for the characters.

Enough ranting about a game I enjoyed. The point is that this game uses simple game play. Amazing graphics and it doesn't cram the story down your throat with hundreds of dialogue boxes or text loading screens.

Taking the middle ground between the open structure of games and the closed structure of a story as discussed in our class reading I feel that Ico is very much a game and a story.

 Its story is made mostly by the player as they play it. And you watch it unfold before you. For me at least this game was one of the first games I played that showed me that games could be more than just flashing colors on the screen or running around shooting people. That a game could be just as deep and stir just as many emotions as things like a novel or a movie.

Also if you made it this far you a real trooper. Now go play Ico!


  1. You may be interested in "Heavy Rain" then. If you can get past the VEEERY boring first 20 minutes of learning how to shave and lift your fatty kids, it get's incredibly dramatic and thrilling. If you screw up, it's possible to get yourself or others killed.

    It was also done by the French, so you know it's pretty fantastic.

  2. Thanks! I actually played Heavy Rain. Its...defiantly a different type of game some of the scenes still make me shake.

    1. I remember being a in room full of people watching a friend of mine play it. We were all glued to the screen, hearts beating. I think we stayed there for HOURS watching the plot unfold. Totally didn't expect that ending either. Plus the sound score was phenomenal!


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