First published on 6 Jul 2012. Updated on 29 Jan 2013.
Pixels of the past: Mario
1981 | 1988 | 1996 | 2009
It's not just for kids. No, we're not talking about energy shots, dubstep or arson. Videogames are a serious cultural force – serious as Mario's schizophrenic delusions and Luigi's inferiority complex. From June 28 the ACMI's playing turn-about with some of the brightest names in games, tracing their trajectory from ball-and-pixel-paddle to god-slaying epics and indie gems at Game Masters.
thatgamecompany has turned out some of the biggest little games in the world: fl0w, Flower, and this year’s utterly gorgeous Journey. All three are quiet, spartan creations that blur the line between traditional button-mashing and art. Developer Kellee Santiago’s been with thatgamecompany from the start, working closely with co-founder Jenova Chen to create games that elicit an emotional response.
“My approach is to ask 'what experience do we want to give the players?' With Journey, we wanted to give players the experience of feeling small.” The result does exactly that: Journey is a vast, dreamlike work. There’s no HUD, no weaponry, and although it’s an online co-op game, no chat. The only discernible goal is a distant mountain.
The mountain could serve as a half-assed metaphor for Santiago’s goal to take games to the next level. “With our games, we’re trying to say this is what games are capable of. I like all types of games, and I don’t think they should all be meditative, spiritual journeys. But some of them should be. I want to see a point in videogames in which I can come home and say what kind of game am I in the mood for?, and for that game to be there.”
For that, we’re going to need a hell of a lot of developers, from all walks of life. “One way to get new experiences in videogames is for more people to get involved in videogames,” Santiago says, and she’s putting her money where her mouth is; with a bunch of other uber-talented developers, she runs Indie Fund, a firm dedicated to getting wee games made. Though she recently left thatgamecompany, you’re sure to hear more from Santiago. For one, she’s outspoken about the potential of games – she recently rebutted film critic Roger Ebert’s assertion that videogames aren’t art. Here, she gives it to us straight, in less than 140 characters: “Games are a medium through which people express ideas, so yeah, they’re art.”
Pixels of the past: Sonic
1991 | 1992 | 2001 | 2008
Peter Molyneux's the big VIP of the whole shebang; a consummate hype-master who's notorious for failing to deliver on his promises, while churning out cutting edge games (Black and White, Fable) regardless.
Aussie studio Halfbrick prove the maxims that a) bigger isn't always better and b) people really like cutting fruit. 2010's Fruit Ninja, while not exactly rich in narrative, was one of the biggest small-screen games of the year, nay, century.
Fumito Ueda's Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are often held up as the great artworks of the videogame form. Included in Game Masters is an exploration of these future classics.
Pixels of the past: Link
1986 | 1991 | 2002 | 2011