Roger Ebert famously stated that video games are not (and can never be) art. However, there is a lot of artistic effort that goes into the creation of video games; some more than others, of course.
Yes game design and development is a business. Yes it requires a lot of coding. But it also requires a lot of effort from animation teams and artists.
I’ve gone through some posts and forums and have pulled together a short – and obviously very subjective – list of games that are visually stunning.
This has raised a lot of questions for me.
How important is learning animation for the success of a game developer when compared to strictly learning game design? Where does graphic design play into it?
How important area all these things for the success of a game?
Are these simply business endeavors or could these be considered works of art (after all, Roger clearly thought movies are art – and those usually take large teams to produce)? Are there others that should be on the list? Or is Roger Ebert right?
1. Mad World (game play video)
Certainly unique in its look. Almost completely black and white with a few accents during action. Haven’t played this but I can see how this can actually get a bit confusing. Either way, it’s very unique. Does this originality help the game or hinder it?
2. Shadow of the Colossus (game play video)
While the graphics don’t live up to what is available on modern day consoles, this was a pretty big deal back when it was first released. And it still makes many lists of top visually stunning games to this day. So it looks like the animation team added a lot to this becoming a memorable game.
3. Okami (game play video)
I think from the artistic perspective this game is a standout. It's almost like a 2D/3D hybrid with beautiful drawing and coloring.
4. LIMBO (game play video)
A very noir feel to this game that is very dark. The giant spider in the game play video linked above doesn't help it feel any less creepy.
5. The Dream Machine (game play video)
A strange looking game that looks as though it was made through claymation. That type of animation certainly gives this video game a unique feel you won't get with many other games.
So do these video games prove Rogert Ebert wrong? Are video games art or do you agree with the late, great film critic?