This Video Might Convince Your Friends That Games Can Be Art

For a relaxing time, sit back and watch this terrific PBS short documentary on the artistic merits of video games. The video runs only about seven minutes, and features NYU’s Eric Zimmerman, game designer and researcher Jesper Juul, Kotaku contributor and secret nerdcore superstar Leigh Alexander, and Babycastles curator and designer Syed Salahuddin.

“Even though games are ancient,” says Zimmerman, “there is something about this moment in history that is special. We are now entering a ludic age, an age of play.”

“Every game you play,” he continues, “it’s like a little laboratory for understanding how systems work.”

Juul points to some examples of how simpler games have become more prevalent lately, using Minecraft as his main example. Leigh talks about the journeys that games can take us on, as well as the ways they subvert our expectations of narrative, using Bioshock and Portal as examples (while the video’s editor sneaks in a quick Grim Fandango shout-out, which I aprpeciated).

Salahuddin discusses the offbeat indie developer Cactus, pointing to Hot Throttle, as well as Jason Rohrer’s Passage.

It’s a remarkably convincing video, mainly because of how matter-of-fact it is. Four experts talking about the things they value in independent, experimental game design, and doing so in a way that even the sceptical can understand. Good stuff.

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