Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Holding court in the screens




First drawing, representing, an acrobat for the Marearka project was nicely shaded by Rock-Ray, who I admit always does a perfect job.
Original drawing from me. I sometimes get lazy and don't finish a part of the drawing.
For instance, here the left leg of the character was left in the void of the white paper. Rock-Ray getting angry at me for not finishing it, did. So he drew the lower part of the leg, and left it in a blur to suggest it rather than to illustrate it flat out.
The second one on the other hand, I did entirely myself and shaded it by pencil. Since it seems something must always go unfinished, I didn't shade the bow, because perhaps, I didn't find it detailed enough. And bows are boring to shade.

The last one (Gattling Rabbit), was born from the twisted combination of both Yannin's and my brain. It do seems like cambodian and Canadian minds are a good match. If only you knew the ideas that come out of that fusion. this original idea was mine, but I couldn't find a way to put it on paper. it took Yannin about five minutes to do so. I kept the pose and then added lots of details. If you wanna see more of this serie, you just have to ask. There are lots of cool ideas like this one. It was made along with the creation of a Level design document, and a pitch executed for fun and good practice.

What follows is for the ones interested in the fate of the video game industry.
You have been warned.

I remember quite well a long discussion I had with Greg at the end of last winter.
It all comes out to this in the end he told me. ''Video Games are not taken seriously as both an artistic expression, and a media.''
It couldn't be more true. The problem I think comes from the lack of recognition that it is a self fuelled (autharcic) form of expression.

What are video games? A form of interactive communication which is made for the purpose of entertainement. The problem is that it's new, and uncanny to the older generation, currently to whom power belongs. Video games are basically 28 years old. The conflict itself comes from within the word itself. Video GAMES. A game serves the purpose of entertaining, it is light, of no consequence, and does not vehiculate messages. Are they so far appart from movies (which are taken seriously? Let's examine.
Movies were around when the older generation was in place. They are familiar with them, they have seen them grow, have witnessed their evolution. They are known, and thus not considered as potentially harmful. By nature, men are scared of the unknown and hesitate as to how it must be apprehended.
Movies. As they evolve, they tend to represent reality as faithfully as possible. In parralel, the games do the same. However, the movies have borrowed video game technology to achieve it's goal to attain photorealism. All that is unreal, all that is not of this world, is no longer made of latex. It is made with the very same technology used for creating entirely artificial worlds.
But, such special effects as common as they become in movies, are not allowing the client to interact with them. They do not give freedom. They do not allow freedom nor decision making.
They are passive.

Video games, are immersive, and give freedom to a player in a given setting. That's what is so dangerous. That's why video games are so often offered on the altar of good will and responsability. With freedom come shackles. The freedom of one, is the threat of others.

Video games do contain messages. They have a content. A story. A morale. They realte a story the same just like movies do. They should not be accessible to those they are not intended. End of argument. Movies also often present reprehensive ideas and content. The accusations targeting them back in the days, have simply found a new scapegoat. Younger and more vulnerable. And so violence in our society is now explained otherwise. Because, an explanation must be given. A responsible must be found. It can't be firearms. Their lobby is too powerful.
What video games need, is a lobby.
What also must be attained is a sense of responsability. ESRB, must start gaining credibility. their standard must be respected by retailers just as well as movies are presented.

It makes me laugh when I hear Hillary Clinton outraged about a sex scene watchable by a very small minority of hackers in San Andreas. It's not like no porn Movies have ever been filmed in the U.S. It's not like U.S. is not the largest porn producer in the world. It's not like porn is not available on the web.
It's not like San Andreas had not the Mature label on it's front cover is it?
What is the difference between a mature video game and a mature movie?
The video games are not taken seriously.

Let it also be said that video games are one of the leading industry in the world in terms of making money.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Gérard said...

Serai-tu l'auteur de ces magnifiques dessins ? je regrette de ne pas lire l'anglais donc je ne peux porter de jugement sur celui ci . merci de com pertinent sur la pollution.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous el mirando said...

Louis le lapin est vraiment trop fort.
Je le verrai bien comme personnage de jeu vidéo.;0)

11:29 AM  
Blogger Genotzarr said...

C'est pas comme si on y avait jamais pensé avant.
Oui, je parle de toi et moi.
Le projet était cool, tu te rappelles comment ça s'appellait?
Moi j'ai honte de l'admettre, mais je me rappelle plus.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous el mirando said...

Hé Louis ll n'y a pas de quoi en avoir honte.

Je pense que le nom qu'on lui avait donnée était un truc du genre Gatling Bunny ou un truc du genre.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous el mirando said...

Attend Louis est-ce que tu parlais du nom pour le personnage ou bien du nom du projet ?

Si c'est pour le projet c'était la corporation.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Gregory Belacel said...

Beware, my answer is pretty long :D.

About the video games as an art form, the problem is very complex. In fact many people, including game developer, don’t see games as an art form and have pretty good argument to prove it.

One of the problem with the video games, compare to other art form, is that many games can be good without being artistic at all. Sports game, racing game, fighting games, puzzle game (like Tetris) for example can be really good game without having any message, emotional or aesthetic value. They can have great review, receive award and be consider classic or reference in their own genre. However arts, books, music, sculpture, movies, painting, etc… became classic, reference because they usually fit in one, if not all of these categories. And usually, when someone is an artist, creating arts, he wants to do more than entertaining people. He wants to make them think or feel special. He wants to move them. However many, if not the vast majorities, of video games don’t have that purpose.

On of the best example is the game made by Nintendo. Think about pretty much every game they made. Many of them are classic, but it’s not because of their artistic value, but because of their fun factor. Mario’s games (pretty much all of them) are usually acclaimed by the critics and are receiving prize left and right. However, what is the artistic value of Mario? The story is just an accessory. The artistic direction fit the mood of the game, but I won’t say that it’s breathtaking. However, the games are just plain fun. I tend to compare a game like Mario as a summer movie made by Adam Sandler (or any other kind of shallow comedy). It’s fun, you will have a great time, but it won’t win any Oscar, nor be considered a form of artistic expression. Its goal is to entertain. Nintendo, one of the oldest and most respected video game developers in the world are pretty much doing that in every game they made, entertaining people. They are not trying, nor interested it seems, in making arts. They use to be a game company (making card games) and that what they keep doing now, games.

However, many games designer are trying to change that. Especially, game like ICO or Shadow Of Colossus are really helping more people to see that you can make a fun game that also has an artistic value. Both games are very poetic, emotional and fun to play. Other games, like Beyond Good and Evil, the Metal Gear Solid series, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in the U.S.), the Xenosaga series have an author behind them and, more importantly, a message. However, even if these games are fun and interesting, I think that most of them cannot compare to some of the greatest movie, books, plays, painting etc… that have been done. I am still waiting to play a game that will be as perfect as Citizen Kane is. Or a game that would resist the passage of time like the Mona Lisa… you see my point.

But hopefully the industry will keep growing, becoming more mature and game developer will want to make their game more than just fun (which is important since a dull game is never a good game) but also as a meaning. And many game designer, many of them veteran that have been there since the very beginning, are trying to see how video games can become something else, even using something else to describe their work than video games. For example, Chris Crawford is working on Storytronics, which are interactive story. An interesting article can be found there: http://gamasutra.com/features/20060612/murdey_01.shtml. So in the future, we see a new kind of video games that will try to be more a form of expression, focusing more on storytelling, emotion, aesthetic, etc…

However, they will always be games that are just games (unless at some point someone is doing sports games that are also artistic, but somehow I doubt it), which mean that the debate will continue to rage and the question if video games are also an art form might never be answered.

Well, their some much more that can be said about this topic, like the fact the most game are less accessible to people that don’t know games, while arts can usually be appreciated by everyone, usually because of the emotion the people feel. But well, I think I should kept some of my though for my own blog (when I would have kick my own ass to write it). :p

Anyway, keep coming with interesting topics Louis. ;)

4:12 PM  
Blogger Genotzarr said...

I don't totally agree with you Greg.
Let's first give the word art a true meaning such as defined by the specialists who studied communication. Because, video games is a sort of communication.
Art is basically an idea given form by a media. It is an thought, an abstract idea given flesh through communication.
Communication is what renders an abstract idea concrete.

Thus, a painting, a book, a movie all born of someone's mind, can find an audience, through a book, a screen or a sculpture.
Now, art exists as soon as the intention of creating art is present in the work vehiculated by communication.
That's why Handy Wharrol's painting of a soup can is considered art.
On the other hand, if the painting had been done with a non-artistic intention, it would simply be a promotional depiction. It can be said then, that art is created from the intent of its own creation.
Of course though, art would remain abstract, anonymous, if no media was there to shape it.
Video games are just as enjoyable and can generate emotion from the player just as well as a movie or a good book would.
Then, what differenciates them from art?
When you say that they keep being outdated, it is I believe, because the media itself is evolving.
The comparison could easily be made, with painting or writing. the media evolved, and so did the artform. Take for instance a fresco painting. The media back then was rock on which the painting was laid, and the paint, was nothing but natural pigment extracts. Now, the media has evolved to it's apogee through canvas and chemical everlasting paint. As a result, paintings are more precised, more realistic if desired, as well as better conserved, and also can be moved.
The media then allows a better exposure and representation of the work.

Video games have not yet reached their apogee, but they will eventually. There is a treshold to which technology will stop exeeding in realism reality itself.
As for now, video games wil keep evolving,and earlier games will outdate the previous.
in the meantime, game creators and conceptors will have to innovate with other means than technology (the media itself)if they want to keep their receptors (public) willing to buy them.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Gregory Belacel said...

Well, I think we at least agree on my biggest point. As you said: "Now, art exists as soon as the intention of creating art is present in the work vehiculated by communication." My point was that many game developper, including famous one, as well as famous game, were created without any artistic intent behind them. They were created to entertainment, to allow people to play and have fun, like a toy. Are you arts? Many, some of them, but certainly not the vast majority and certainly not in the mind of pretty much anybody on the surface of the earth.

As for game being outdated, well, I am not sure I have really said they were outdated, but more that we lack true classic, game that were made with an artistic intention behind them and that are still relevant and enjoyable today, as are many masterpiece in the other art form. Many silent movie (those made by Charlie Chapline for example) are still enjoyable today and are still relevant and interesting, even if not neccessarily accessible to everyone. And at this time, movie didn't reach their full potential. So I was just constating that it's a major difference between, in that case, an recognized art form, cinema, and what I am calling an emergeant art form, video games.

I call video games an emargeant art form because it's becoming more and more an art form, especially in the last few years. You have to remeber that at the beginning, video games were made mostly by technical people, programmer, who weren't really intrested communicating something or expressing something through a new medium. Most of them were interested in the technical challenge and what could be done. Many of them are still major game designer who are still trying to push the technology farther.

However, there is a new generation of game designer that are not interested in doing technical prowess, but instead want to use what already exist to fulfill the potential of the vide game as an art form and a powerfull communication tool.

5:17 AM  
Blogger sofy said...

You 2 yapp more than girls!!!

Of course games are not something serious from the eyes of most ppl.
Mostly generation older than us... My mother still cannot make the different between a video games on my pc or emails or a simple browser...

My grand mother thinks that games are all about violence. Most of my family are asking me: "when are you gonna quit playing games, it's not a job and there's no real work in that field".

Some older ppl, when you ask them about video games, all they can say is " oh yeah Mario Bros!!". That's about it, that's all they know.

They don't see...
Yet do they really want to see what's all about...

Anyway i don't want to write down 5 pages on the subject, we'll talk about it over beer and BBQ,right?

Ciao 4 now!

PS: I want to see a drawing made by Louis, shading also by Louis.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Genotzarr said...

My point exactly Sofy.
Video games are not taken seriously because, there is a main factor called Ignorance.
Ignorance makes people think or talk ill about something they really know nothing about.

As for a drawing entirely done by Louis, look at the second one displayed on this page.
The male Elf. It was entirely done and shaded by me. Not with Photoshop though, with a good old pencil.

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