ART or ARCADE? A series of image comparisons.

As an independent game creator, I tend to bring a lot of my background with me in my work wherever possible. This background comes from a place of art education and the things I learned during my National Diploma in Multimedia Design and my Bachelor of Arts in Animation.

As such, my main passion of games often reminds me of the arts. It’s not difficult to find parallels between the two, a selection of which I have presented below:


The colours-and-lines of Piet Mondrian’s work and Taito’s Qix are fundamentally very similar. Straight lines at 90-degree angles and flat-coloured fills make the forms that are a joy to explore in either piece.


It’s all about perspective. Notably, the Silly Race of Atari’s Marble Madness wore the inspiration of M.C. Escher’s work proudly on its sleeve — especially the denouement of the stage which warps the isometric perspective in a similar manner.


Sega’s coin-op Shinobi was a work of pop-art self-parody that included a statement-of-intent homage to Andy Warhol’s iconic piece. Common ground in both, as themes of replication and the hitherto-mundane are explored.


I have always appreciated Marcel Duchamp’s Nue Descendent Escalier, a relevant painting to my animation schooling as the idea of movement was explored on a still picture via afterimages in a similar way to the technique of ‘smear’ (or, fake motion blur) do in animation. In games such as Super Street Fighter II Turbo, an ‘afterimage’ technique is employed to further emphasise certain movements, which always evokes Duchamp in my mind. Intentional? Probably not — such things always can and will be explored independently of each other, and are not always the result of influence.


Josef Albers’ series, Homage to the Square explored the relationships of colour and was an important part of the understanding of colour theory. I would imagine its painting to be akin to an incredibly-slow-motion Super Hexagon as forms are explored carefully and without collision to produce such clean lines of oil paint.


Star of the recent 7DFPS (or Seven Day First-Person Shooter) jam, Game of the Year 420BLAZEIT immediately struck me as a modern parallel to Dada artists Hahhah Höch’s photomontage, Cut With The Kitchen Knife. The subject matter differs, the approach of appropriating found images in a manner which betrays or parodies their original context does not.


Violence in video games is currently topical, but when is it ever not? Titles such as the still-running Mortal Kombat series are reflective of all other entertainment media’s fascination with the moribund and gory, as evidence by staggering works like Francisco Goya’s disturbing Saturn Devouring His Son.

I do not give these examples to make any kind of commentary or polemic other than to merely show them. I am utterly entranced by the parallels the adolescent medium of video games already shows to the other, more established, forms of art.


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