Play This: The Art of Gaming

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THE ART OF GAMING

According to its own site, Dead End Thrillscelebrates the talent of videogame artists and engineers via the hobby of taking screenshots.” Harris Duncan, who used to be a game industry screenshot artist and magazine writer, uses a number of techniques to highlight the artistry present in a wide range of games: everything from Skyrim (as pictured above) to Flight Simulator X.

Duncan has also posted a few feature articles on various video game studios and the people who helm them, with more glorious screenshots and in-depth interviews.

In the past there’s been a lot of talk about whether video games can be considered art. Dead End Thrills sort of obviates that argument, at least from the visual and technical sides—the people who make these games are clearly doing so with an eye for the artistic. Perhaps not every moment of a game can be considered as such, but there certainly is an accumulation of visuals and ambiance, and the capacity to create art within the player.

All the screenshots on the site are free to use for non-commercial purposes. I’m currently doing so for a yet-unannounced project for Cartridge Lit. Stay tuned.


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AT THE INTERSECTION OF VIDEO GAMES AND LITERATURE

This one is an oldie, but still well worth the read. In “Appetite for Risk: At the Intersection of Video Games and Literature,” Maxwell Neely-Cohen (author of Echo of the Boom) takes on the disconnect between video games and literature, and tries to find common ground between the two seemingly disparate industries. The piece is filled with gems: “What is particularly sad about this state of affairs is that the literary world and the video games world could greatly benefit each other. Even a conversation, let alone the beginning of real collaborations and dialogues, would help each contend with their respective shortcomings.”

There is no doubt that many younger writers have been (and continue to be) enormously influenced by video games—the titles from Boss Fight Books are one indication, as is Brian Oliu’s Leave Luck to Heaven, as is this very endeavor and all its contributors. Personally, I can safely say that games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI certainly challenged my young mind to think about narrative in ways it might not have otherwise. I don’t take much influence directly from those games any more (although that’s changing, too), but I certainly recognize them for pushing me in new directions.

Neely-Cohen thinks both industries can do more: “We should be making novels into video games, video games into novels. Publishers should collaborate with indie game developers, trading them a platform and content in exchange for labor and a new form of adaptation. Literary magazines and libraries should sponsor gamejams. The games industry should fully embrace the thousands of works of classic literature open to them in the public domain.”

Hard to argue with that one.

The piece has actually been the inspiration for us to ask our contributors, in our Writer/Gamer Q&A series, about what novels they would like to see turned into video games, and what kind of video game could be made out of their own lives.


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ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME SPEEDRUN IN 18:10

I’m definitely not into the speedrun community, but this one popped up on my radar and it’s just too interesting not to mention. Cosmo Wright has made a name for himself doing a variety of speedruns, but apparently this “world record” run is his magnum opus, at least so far.

More than anything, these are fascinating for the way they manipulate game worlds to do things they were absolutely not intended to do. It reminds me a bit of magic, the breakage of all bounds and constants. You can also check out the “live” version on Twitch.