The problem I see in a lot of the coverage I’ve read and heard about Flower in the past week is that it frequently wants to quantify the game in terms of Those Things That Reviewers Always Tend To Talk About, i.e. controls, graphics and the marketplace. For me, Flower very efficiently takes care of all three of those concerns right off the top so we can really talk about what it *means*. At that point, genre seems to be only mildly useful, mostly as a basis of comparison (“Flower reminds me of X, Y and Z”).]]>
Shawnr, I like the analogy of “artgame” and “alternative music”. While genre’s can ultimately become a confusing and muddy mess, they do serve a purpose. Such as my earlier statements wishing to see more experimental games. I’m just afraid that calling something an artgame will mean I’ll suddenly have to filter through a lot more discussions about whether games are art.
I hope for flower’s success, and based on how much media attention it has gotten it will succeed. Maybe this will bring more fresh ideas to the consoles. Sure there are computer and flash games that are bringing new ideas to the table, but I really want to see more on the consoles. Unfortunately, we all know that access to those systems is limited by other forces.]]>
At this point in time, the notion of an “artgame”genre is about as sensible and pragmatic as the notion of “alternative” music. It may seem wrong to have a codified genre called “alternative” but that has, nonetheless, become a norm in the music industry because it provides a convenient way for the system to deal with unorthodox material. It is not at all sensible, but it is, from a business perspective, pragmatic. I think the same thing is happening in games with the notion of an “artgame”. It is a pragmatic division that, at best, can provide a bucket in which publishers can put more avant garde material. But it is clearly destined to be a mixed bag.
While I agree with all here that I assume games are art from the outset, I also think we need to recognize that there is a market genre called “art” and there is an ideal we upload called “art”. Both are valuable in their own ways.]]>
I agree in principle with what you’re saying about Flower’s narrative, but I think we have to be sure to say that narrative is being handled in a very different way than, say, the average AAA offering with space marines and subtitles. And as I type this, I of course have to realize and admit how absurd it even is to compare Flower to those kinds of games. I was in a game store just yesterday and nowhere on the wall did I see a single clamshell for Flower. Until that happens, I’m afraid we’re going to still keep having this kind of conversation about the games ghetto.]]>
It’s unfortunate, but there is still a lot of resistance from other communities to recognize that games have artistic potential. A game like Flower, however, I think is easily approachable and therefore more accessible to those without game literacy skills. This is important because it allows a much wider audience the ability to appreciate what it is trying to achieve.
I don’t think that Flower has “too much of a narrative” — in fact, I think it has the least identifiable narrative of any game in recent memory. I’m not even sure what the actors are supposed to be in Flower: transcendentalism and industrialism, possibly? This openness to interpretation stands out as Flower’s greatest artistic feat, to me.
To your point about the success of Flower, I think that it will open up some doors. Games like Linger in Shadows are already out there, but I don’t find most of them to be nearly as engaging. Perhaps they suffer from the same problem as any experimental art, namely that once an understandable framework (genre construction) is removed, the artist must work twice as hard to capture the audience’s attention and empathy. This is what Flower is able to do that Linger in Shadows, sadly, didn’t for me. By the end of Flower I was completely invested, even though I still don’t fully understand in what.]]>
I find it also funny that these mediums have their own genre’s which make people question the artistic value of said art (such as abstract/experimental/avant-garde/etc).
Needless to say, this argument over what is art is both tired and uninteresting. A more interesting question might be: Does the success of flower mean we will start seeing more games in the genre of experimental or avant-garde coming to consoles?
Personally, I thought flower has too much of a narrative and tries to be far too manipulative with emotions rather than presenting something that can truly be a unique experience. I am excited that this might mean that we might be able to see more games like this or Linger in Shadows.]]>