Posted on September 1, 2007,

10 Games with Artistic Merit Starting with Bioshock


Dare someone say that finally a general consensus might come on video games being considered as art? Yes, and I’ve been saying it for quite some time.

We’ve covered this topic before, mainly Ebert slamming video games as less-than-art, but some others are starting to speak up using Bioshock as evidence.

“The game itself features brilliant art deco-inspired level design and fascinating analysis of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the Objectivist movement,” Will Greenwall of Crave.cnet writes. “However, do these factors mean that Bioshock is a work of art? I don’t mean the colloquial, anything-that’s-really-great “work of art,” I mean a genuine work of artistic merit. I say yes.”

Mr. Greenwall, I couldn’t agree more. I would say that the most obvious step forward for the industry is the fact that the developers of Bioshock brought in heavy literary and other artistic references within the game for others to easily pick out. Being conscious of the expression of the medium is absolutely necessary, and the makers of Bioshock made the player aware that they were fully conscious of everything that went into it.

There is a list of 10 games Greenwall is putting on display which he argues warrant artistic attention. I don’t know if all the games on the list make a Monet, but I would say that a dismissal of all ten would be an act of ignorance.

I thought Half-Life 2 was an amazing step forward for video game making in the way that it presented a post-apocalyptic scenario. The art direction was simply fantastic, and the landscapes combined with the human reaction within the game created such an intense bleakness that one might feel when walking through an art gallery seeing depictions of savage brutality.

There is definitely something to be said about the medium initially being created solely for the purposes of entertainment, and there are horrid amounts of trash among the few notable exceptions out there. But those exceptions are, in fact, absolutely amazing and worthy of being considered and read into as a value to art.

If critics do not see that the moments of beauty, human expression, literary and other artistic references within a video game align the medium with art, what exactly are they looking for?

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2 Comments on 10 Games with Artistic Merit Starting with Bioshock

used cisco

On September 1, 2007 at 9:14 am

Definitely a good group of games, but they should add Windwaker to that list. It was beautiful and very artistic.


On September 2, 2007 at 6:01 pm

Parasite Eve 1. I remember reading a review of it before I ever got it, blasting it for playing like an “interactive movie” with no puzzles or changes besides you running down the set path through the environments, fighting monsters, and playing with your weapons and items, but that story that it was designed for was absolutely breathtakingly amazing. Far beyond anything that I’ve ever seen done before or after in a video game. The plot themes of evolution, science, reproduction, and genetics are amazing, and probably my first real introduction to what they call “hard” sci-fi, though the game didn’t at all feel like that. The characters of Eve and Aya, and Eve’s behaviors, all focused around making a baby, are extremely well done. Parasite Eve’s opera scene also beats the pants off of Final Fantasy 3′s any day. ;)