Video games as art — my top 4 picks

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT -

Video games have al­ways been a source of con­tention in house­holds and in the pub­lic eye since they first started be­com­ing pop­u­lar. But buried be­neath the images and stereo­types of mind­less en­ter­tain­ment are sto­ries that ri­val the best that Hol­ly­wood has to of­fer. Video games as art is a de­bate that has con­tin­ued to echo through­out the en­ter­tain­ment sphere, es­pe­cially now as Hol­ly­wood turns to video games for story ideas.

The same amount of artis­tic work that goes into film goes into mak­ing games. You have teams of writ­ers de­vel­op­ing a story, a phys­i­cal or voice cast de­liv­er­ing their best per­for­mances and char­ac­ters, and of­ten times a truly amaz­ing sym­phonic score. There are plenty of pub­li­cized games that have been praised for their artis­tic con­tent, like Heavy Rain or Jour­ney. How­ever, I wanted to take some time to speak on games that made an artis­tic im­pres­sion on me and de­serve a sec­ond look by any Hol­ly­wood ex­ec­u­tives that may be read­ing this week. Or you know, any­one who’s look­ing to play a top notch game. 1. The Last of Us Prob­a­bly the most well known of the games on my list, this game across the board was hailed as a mas­ter­piece of sto­ry­telling. Ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble per­for­mances, a haunt­ing score from Academy Award­win­ning com­poser Gus­tavo San­tao­lalla, beau­ti­ful vi­su­als, and most im­por­tantly, a bru­tal and in­cred­i­bly mov­ing story of com­pan­ion­ship, sur­vival and love in a postapoc­a­lyp­tic world. It’s gone down in his­tory for a rea­son, and the power of this game must be ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand. 2. Ace Com­bat 4 It’s an un­likely thing to find a mov­ing and poignant story inside a game about pi­lot­ing a fighter jet, but that’s ex­actly what you have here. Be­yond the thrilling game­play and white knuckle di­a­logue that sets you squarely in tense com­bat sit­u­a­tions, the story is bril­liantly told through a se­ries of voiceovers and hand drawn still images in a Ja­panese style. It’s a har­row­ing tale of war from a child caught in the mid­dle of the con­flict as an in­no­cent by­stander, and rec­on­cil­ing the na­ture of war it­self.

3. Bat­tle­field: Bad Com­pany

Fans of movies like “Three Kings” take no­tice of this game in the Bat­tle­field fran­chise. This game is bet­ter than any war com­edy I’ve ever seen, with char­ac­ters that are so well de­vel­oped and flushed out that you can’t help but fall in love with their an­tics. Much like “Three Kings,” the story deals with bum­bling soldier mis­fits try­ing to get their hands on a lost stash of gold in the mid­dle of a war zone. Com­edy is cer­tainly a form of art, and the com­edy to be found in this game has me in stitches ev­ery time. Not to men­tion the game was rev­o­lu­tion­ary for adding a new level of de­struc­tion to dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ments. Did I men­tion the in­cred­i­ble score by Mikael Karls­son also? 4. P.T. No artis­tic en­deavor would be com­plete with­out hor­ror. Hor­ror, both in film and in games, is one of the hard­est gen­res to truly nail, but this tiny game, de­vel­oped by famed de­vel­oper Hideo Ko­jima and famed di­rec­tor Guillermo Del Toro, had me on edge in to­tal day­light. It’s a masterclass in con­fu­sion and dream­like hor­ror. You con­stantly ask your­self what’s real and what’s not, and that sus­pense and nerve fray­ing ter­ror only ap­pears in games very rarely. It’s an artis­tic ac­com­plish­ment in it­self, and I won’t say too much more about this game, only that it’s ex­tremely hard to find now but if you can, it’s ab­so­lutely worth play­ing, es­pe­cially for any hor­ror fan.

Mo­tion.Pic­ture.Sound­track is a weekly col­umn by Whig Ac­cent edi­tor Kris Kielich dis­cussing all things worth know­ing in the world of mu­sic, movies and pop cul­ture. At least in his hum­ble opin­ion. You can reach him at kkielich@ches­


The Last of Us is an artis­tic mas­ter­piece of gam­ing, and a hall­mark of the last five years.


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