Codex Gamicus
Artistic video games
Basic Information

Artistic video games (or arthouse video games or less commonly auteur game) is a work of interactive new media digital software art as well as a member of the "art game" subgenre of the serious game. The term "art game" was first used academically in 2002 and it has come to be understood as describing a video game designed to emphasize art or whose structure is intended to produce some kind of reaction in its audience. Art games are interactive (usually competitive against the computer, self, or other players), and they are the result of artistic intent by the party offering the piece for consideration. They also typically go out of their way to have a unique, unconventional look, often standing out for aesthetic beauty or complexity in design. The concept has been extended by some art theorists to the realm of modified ("modded") gaming when modifications have been made to existing non-art-games to produce graphic results intended to be viewed as an artistic display, as opposed to modifications intended to change game play scenarios or for storytelling. Modified games created for artistic purposes are sometimes referred to as "video game art."

List of arthouse games[]

The following list is a collection of examples of video games described as art games or arthouse games by game designers or critics.

  • Otocky (1987, Toshio Iwai, Famicom) – It created a new form "of musical expression, uniting experimental art and computer-generated software", and "exceeded the prevailing conception of what a videogame could be", according to Hardcore Gaming 101.
  • Cosmology of Kyoto (1995, Softedge, PC) – An open world graphic adventure exploring Japanese myths in ancient Kyoto. Together with Myst, it was reviewed by film critic Roger Ebert in a column on whether video games can be art.
  • Final Fantasy VII (1997, Squaresoft, PlayStation) – Considered by many to be one of the best role-playing video games, its story includes the death of a major character, aimed to give the player an emotional stake in the game.[3]
  • Ico (2001, Team Ico, PlayStation 2) – A title created that has often been cited as an example of art in games due to its immersive gameplay, evoking narrative and unique style.
  • Rez (2001, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, PlayStation 2) - A music game designed to create the effects of synesthesia for the player. The game was inspired by the artistry of Wassily Kandinsky and has been displayed in art exhibits including the 2002 Game On, the Smithsonian's 2012 The Art of Video Games, and the 2012 Game Masters.
  • Invaders! (2002, Douglas Edric Stanley, PC) - A political art game making reference to the September 11 attacks.
  • 911 Survivor (2003, Mike Caloud/Jeff Cole/John Brennon/Aaron Kwon, PC) - A simulation of the suicide of a civilian trapped in the burning World Trade Center towers.
  • Killer7 (2005, Capcom, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2) A surreal horror neo-noir on rails action adventure game with a cell shaded art style. The games story deals with themes of political extremism and the division of western and eastern cultures.
  • Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (2005, Danny Ledonne, PC) - A video game exploring the Columbine High School massacre whose exclusion from Slamdance '07 led to a partial boycott of the event for anti-censorship reasons by numerous high-profile indie developers.
  • Airport Security (2006, Ian Bogost/Persuasive Games, PC) - A game arguing that American airport security policy has little to do with security.
  • Shadow of the Colossus (2006, PlayStation 2) – A title created by Team Ico that is a spiritual successor and prequel to Ico. The game is regarded as an important work of art due to its minimalist landscape designs, strong aesthetic, immersive gameplay, powerful narrative and emotional journey. Shadow of the Colossus has been referenced numerous times in debates regarding art and video games.
  • Braid (2008, Jonathan Blow, Xbox 360/PC/PlayStation 3) - A video game that enables the player to "rewind" the game at will. Designed as a deconstruction of classic video games. The game has been displayed in art exhibits including the 2010 Game (Life): Video Games in Contemporary Art exhibit at The Firehouse Gallery, and the 2012 Game Masters.
  • Flower (2009, thatgamecompany (TGC), PlayStation 3) - Game designed to arouse emotions to the gamer and does not follow normal gameplay.
  • Journey (2012, thatgamecompany, PlayStation 3) - A game of exploration which includes an online component, allowing a player to experience the game with another, otherwise unidentified, player, considered to be an "interactive work of art". The game has been displayed in art exhibits including the 2012 Game Masters.
  • Papers, Please (2013, Lucas Pope, PC/Mac) - The player takes the role of a checkpoint officer in a fictional Soviet Bloc country, verifying passport information, but as the game develops it forces the player to make moral and ethical choices between his family and their welfare, and those immigrants attempting to pass through.