More Braid!
August 03, 2010

The other thing that interested me about Braid relates to the whole deathly-tired "games as art" debate. Braid was obviously very artfully presented, with fantastic visuals and a very evocative soundtrack (albeit an entirely licensed one) but unlike most other games, the actual gameplay was a central component of the experience - by which I mean, different aspects of Jonathan Blow's vision in the context of the game were represented directly by the gameplay. You weren't just playing to experience the art, the playing was the art. Or was it?

Is it possible to make the act of playing a videogame a part of the art itself, rather than a part of the experience of the art? And if so, how does that affect the relationship between the game, the game maker and the player? Can a game transcend merely "art" and become a palette with which the gamer creates his own art - and in essence becomes a part of the artistic process? I say no, but I do think that as we examine our definition of art, we also have to examine what it means to appreciate art. To see and to hear and to touch isn't enough. To interact must also be a part of the process.

But then how does that affect the actual experience of the art? As I mentioned in the previous Braid-related post, I really enjoyed everything about the game - the visuals, the music, the story, the whole concept, really - except the gameplay itself, which I found frustrating and a bit shallow. Does that cheapen the experience? Does it mean the artist has failed on some level, even if only in failing to engage me? Is it necessarily relevant at all?

I'm not saying Braid was a rollicking success in that regard (or any other) but it does contribute a lot to the conversation about games and art. Regardless of what you think of the game, that's definitely worth something.

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