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Hayward - Video Game Aesthetics

Ever since I can remember the emphasis has been on photo-realism in “life like” kind of games some of which include the sports, fighting and war genres. As Hayward stated there has been a commercial push for photo-realism over the years. I agree that I like my games with incredibly realistic graphics if what I am looking at is supposed to be real. If I am playing a more abstract or non-realistic game I still want the object I am looking at to be exactly the way I would picture it if it was indeed real, but overall I can be more flexible with these types of games.

“The industry and the market are bewitched by the idea of more pixels and polys.”

I liked that he {Hayward} used the idea of putting animation in films as part of his example when talking about games. I had to watch Run Lola Run in my film class and it was really very good. The animation sequence takes place in two particular parts in the film. The introductory sequence is done in animation and one scene where she initially leaves her apartment is as well. The animator used very bright colors and simple cartoons to represent these actions. It was like looking at a bad MTV cartoon from the early 90s/late 80s. It also reminded me of “squiggle vision” which was largely associated with Dr.Katz, Professional Therapist.

“Films such as Run Lola Run and Amelie exhibit warped, surreal colour palettes that would translate easily into current game worlds.”

I was surprised to read that "All 3D games that have so far been a part of the photo-real push are actually cartoons of an oddly lit, particularly angular style." They (game designers) are so close to making games on a photo-realistic level that I predict that in the near future watching the characters on the screen will be like watching a movie. It will be just like watching ourselves in the game. And maybe some day we will be able to load our own images into the game and play as ourselves. Though I wonder if games this real will be a success? Is there such a thing as being too real?

One game that I really like that has non-realistic, but rather cartoonish graphics is Tekken 3. After winning the game with a new player you unlock the player's video that tells a little bit about their back story. They are supposed to look semi-realistic, but the graphics remind me of a Laura Croft realism rather than photo-realism. I find that to be sufficient in this case. In contrast, I have the game Desert Strike and it includes live action video from the characters and it makes the game fun until you play it and your flying a helicopter picking people up that look like mini-dolls and have no likeness to what you just saw. That can be a real dissapointment.

"Game art is a maturing phenomenon; the aesthetic variety shown here is a fraction of what is and will be open for exploration."

Hayward's conclusion about viedo game aesthetics was one that left some hope for the future, but also hinted at a bit of cynicism. Just reading this I can only get the feelings that Hayward feels we have reached our sufficient peak in regard to photo-realistic graphics and that we should stop trying. As I mentioned before there is the chance that graphics that are too real will backfire and people will lose interest in the game. In response to this maybe an abstract/cartoon revolution will happen and they will become popular again.

Comments (4)

Good point about the difference between rendered objects during gameplay and the real-life actors in cutscenes.

Cartoons and anime are very popular. Artists in those media would be bogged down by the aesthetic demands of realism.


Don't forget though that sometimes, you don't need graphics at all to portray an incredible reality... the old-skool Zork series, for example... or that even crappy graphics for its era, such as 1981's Castle Wolfenstein" on the Apple ][, can still get the blood pumping.. like when an SS barges into the room, out of nowhere.

Leslie, I'm not sure I'd *want* to play myself in a game!

Leslie Rodriguez:

Dennis G. Jerz, blogger and professor by day...super villian by night? lol, or maybe something a little more your style like Voyager Captain Dennis G. Jerz. =)

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