Monday, February 8, 2010
ARH 39XX Video Game Design Art History (pt. 1)
As I've sat and contemplated over the constant source of strife in my life, what I intend to do with it, writing became a rational endeavor to spearhead that. The question of what to write about came up time and time again, and the usual response presented itself as, "Write what you know." Among the many venues of popular culture that inundated my fragile, impressionable young mind in the 1990's, video games had been something I've failed to acknowledge until this article was posted on Gaygamer.
It was not until acquiring a copy of SNK Arcade Vol. 1 did that fondness over the nascent form of visual expression present itself, transporting me back to the days of the mall arcade, sitting in the vibrant pastel tiled institution, haunting Tilt nearly every weekend up until my days as an undergrad. The chimes of Neo Geo's introductory music and scrolling text regaling me with the tales of bold samurais, cast against the darkness, fading to noble Haohmaru seated against an aged tree and two Japanese stone lanterns. His eyes suddenly flash with intensity, draws his sword, making three surgical slashes, standing death still as his environment collapses around him. Being nine at the time, I didn't know what to think of what had transpired, but all that mattered to me was that I got to dispose of parental pocket change and smash a few buttons to kill time while my parents shopped. It never occurred to me that this was in fact a new form of visual expression.
Between 1993 and to this present day, I've played my share of games, from the consoles of SEGA and Nintendo down to the Playstation 3, absorbing their published titles and the content each of them offered for an exorbitant sum of cash, passively I might add. Post undergrad, I've developed my lens and with it, understand the bigger picture of things. Video games, since the days of Space Invaders, transcended their primary objectives of repetitive tasks and exercising the human impulse to destroy, slowly incorporating more thematic elements of narrative and, dare I say, emotional response.
I had to think back a bit to remember what games "moved" me, and there are some. I've cried playing some games, mostly RPGs, but something has to be said about a medium that had been held in regards to borderline peasant rubbish. I cried when Tails rescued Sonic on his airplane, having narrowly escaped the destruction of the first Death Egg in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I cried when the last metroid fed its last breath into Samus before she obliterated Mother Brain in Super Metroid. A lot goes into these moments of emotional intensity, the building of a character's momentum, musical orchestrations, lines of code, and pixelated graphics.
With the exponential growth and sophistication of technology, video games ride along side, developing ever more complex additions to contemporary gaming, rivaling cinema production companies in both volume, content, and with the case of Uncharted 2, realism.
I hope this post hasn't bored those of you who have bothered to read this far. I'd like to make this into a series, whenever I decide to actually plot out what I want to address, rather than simply write as I go. I'd like to hear any feedback you have on this article, so please drop me a line. Please.