Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Videogame Aesthetics - Alive and well, thank you!

I finally got around to reading David Hayward's article on videogame aesthetics.

It's a good read, and a good tour of notable visual style landmark games, so I recommend reading it.

However, I do take issue with the assertion (actually indirectly/conditionally made) that there isn't anything happening in any direction other than photo-real. If you include indie and casual games, then you could argue that the MAJORITY of games being developed fall into the abstract or iconified ends of the 'triangle'.

Granted, the big money is funding photo-real titles, but since when did that become an issue when appreciating aesthetics? People routinely point to indie films at Sundance or Cannes as examples of something fresh/new/different. You don't hear others say "not a $100M hollywood title! Doesn't count!"

Also, it's a nit, but he lumps a bunch of the "cel-shaded" titles together as imitators of Jet Set Radio/Jet Grind Radio. (1) They didn't set the stage for that, a bunch of siggraph papers and other research did (including some from Adam Lake and other friends at Intel research), and Jet Grind was just one of the first to market. Likely all those others were already headed to pressing by the time they shipped. Also, some, like XIII, innovated with game-implementation of the comic visual style in their own way (e.g. in-set panels dramatacizing head-shots - love it!).

So, that's my 2c. Read it anyway, but you've been warned.


william said...

...and don't forget other cool applications of alternative comic visual style and story telling like that used in Max Payne.

Anonymous said...

Good latter nit.

On the first one, true, but I can't help but feel if a lot of indie developers could do photorealism, they would.

I've been made quite cynical by what I've seen in the mod scene :p