Art in Play

An Interview with John Sharp about games and art

Works of game

Alejandro Lozano: Before getting into details, let’s start with a definitional question. What is your concept of aesthetic and how do you apply it to games when you connect them to art?

John Sharp: Aesthetics means a lot of things. It can refer to having your fingernails painted or to the visual appearance in visual arts. If you talk about it with animation students, they will talk about the aesthetics of a film and what they mean is the visual style. That is one part of aesthetics, but to me, aesthetics is the evaluation of experience and the value of a work of art. By extension that means some philosophical framework underlying and serving as a guide for both the way you focus your attention during the experience and also the things you value and the things you do not. Continue Reading

Author has Re-entered the Game

Against the Mutability of Videogames

Essay - Author has re-entered the Game

When writing about videogame aesthetics, there is no more contentious issue than the medium’s status as an artform. The arguments in favor are many, stressing commonalities between videogames and recognized artforms. Many arguments against games as art mirror objections that have always plagued mass art, from film and comics to novels—that their structure is too simple; that their subject matter is too base and populist; that they are produced for money and not for art’s sake Continue Reading

A Working Theory of Game Design

Mechanics, Technology, Dynamics, Aesthetics & Narratives

Essay - A Working Theory of Game Design

When considering how to teach fundamental principles of game design, we find ourselves torn between two well-cited frameworks: the Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics Framework (MDA) and the Elemental Tetrad. We want to teach both, because each has its merits, but teaching two separate frameworks is unnecessarily confusing. This essay therefore develops an initial proposal for a working theory of game design by integrating these two existing frameworks. Continue Reading