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11:16am on Friday, 26th October, 2012:

Games Art


I went to London yesterday evening to attend the Games Art Exhibition in City Hall, London, at the invitation of UKIE's CEO, Dr Jo Twist.

This is City Hall, for those of you who don't know what it looks like, it's the one that looks like a quarter-circle with a red horizontal level at the top:

Inside, it's the same as outside: all glass and steel:

The floor is a map of the whole of London, every borough. Here's a bad photo I took of the part of the map where City Hall itself is:

The exhibition itself showcased artwork from games. This is about as far as non-gamers will go in attempting to understand the terms "games" and "art" together. Although UKIE adopts the same position I advocate, namely that computer games are art (that is, their design is an art form), it wasn't possible to have games exhibited any more than an exhibition about film would have been showing movies, so I'm not going to complain. The fact that a rather prestigious exhibition space was given over to games, albeit for only a week, is pretty good in my view.

I took a lot of photos of the pictures but the lighting wasn't good and flashes reflected back off them. This is about the best one I got, which was in the Guild Wars 2 section:

Apparently, you can buy it on eBay; I couldn't find it when I looked, but I did see some of the other pictures they had on display, available as posters.

The picture that people seemed to like the most was the Shard picture from Dishonoured. If you look at this high-res reproduction of it, you can perhaps see why — it's so detailed, it looks like a photograph.

Whenever I visit game developers, I see lots of artwork lying around on desks, pinned to boards, blu-tacked to walls and so on. The artists seem to regard it as ephemera. It's pretty clear to me that some players would actually pay quite a lot for original game artwork, though, or even a high-quality print on canvas so long as it was signed by the artist. Regular game artists have a similar disregard for the value of what they do, or at least they did when I used to go to GenCon in the USA in the mid-1990s — you could buy original pieces for $10.

Game artwork shouldn't be the kind of thing you give away as a Kickstarter perk, it should be the kind of thing you put in a gallery or an art café for people to see and perhaps buy like they would any other cultural artefact.

Just so long as they don't think that games are their artwork, of course.

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).