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Raph Koster

"Games are unique among all forms of culture because they engage both the Machiavellian and the Erasmian, the play and the art brains, at the same time."

Interesting... Not sure that is *precisely* true. After all, when we dig into many other forms of art, we find that they are also driven by certain sorts of logic and rules, and the play brain may very well engage with them in a sort of "puzzle solving" sense and try to "solve" them. The distinction might lie in the fact that typically other media implicitly impose an answer; eg, music is driven heavily by the concept of leading tones, and in effect "answers itself."

There are also works of art in other media which do not in fact provide answers and also feature elements of goal choice or solution choice... thinking here of everything from improvisatory theater stuff to dance to music like John Cage's 4'33", works of sculpture where specific perspective matters, or book-length works like Cortazar's Hopscotch.

Not to disagree with the core point, of course. Just pointing out the lines get pretty blurry there.

Joe Cooper

I've always been bugged by the "are games art?" debates not only because of the horribly obvious validation component but because not only is "art" often ill-defined but "games" are too. When we say "video games" we are often talking about "interactive entertainment products" which sometimes - but not always! - feature gaming as a component, dressed up with a lot of art. Is art art? Of course it is.

In any case, all this and your talk of roles and the play-art brain separation reminds me of Braid.

Braid breaks a number of fads and conventions of the '00s including immersion and so forth by treating "listen to story" and "solve puzzle" as different roles in the most overt way possible; dropping opaque prose between the levels and showing you paintings with no clear connection to the play section.

And as it happens it works just fine (at least it did for me, the wife and a friend of mine.)

Then at the end is that it uses the mechanic established in the play sections to communicate one more point to reframe all the story & art components you were shown leading up to the end.

I think it's interesting at least because certain components (the prose and paintings) are explicitly not dressing up the game. The reverse seems to be true; the time mechanic is used at the end to express one more point and the different time puzzles leading up to it could be seen as a storytelling tactic to cultivate an idea that there is no relation so it can come a bit out of the left field with it.

Taking a step back, is the product as a whole an art piece? I think in this case, sure, but is the game art? Is running back and forth figuring out a key art? No, and I think that why it works so well is that it seems to realize this and doesn't pretend you are the dude in the red tie.

And, if you enjoy the art of it before the ending as I did, than you've seen it work with no apparent relation to the gameplay whatsoever.

Ironically, I think that may be a point we once understood but everyone just forget. FF7 and MGS and others enthralled millions with their long talky sections entirely because they worked largely as a separate... Thing... From the play.

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