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Do Now

Which video games do you think are the most artistic? Do aesthetics enhance your gaming experience? Is it important for video games to include artful elements?


Even if you’re not a dedicated gamer, you’ve probably interacted with video games at some point in recent years. In early 2013, the Museum of Modern Art’s Architecture and Design collection acquired 14 video games including classics like Pac-Man and Tetris. Senior curator at the museum, Paola Antonelli shared in a Ted Talk that the acquisition, “caused hows of outrage to echo through the museum’s hallowed halls, as aggrieved critics tore out their hair at the disrespect implicitly being show to artistic heroes such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.” In the past, there has been a distinct line drawn between creative products that are considered “art” versus products that are considered “design.” In today’s digital age, the line between these two categories becomes increasingly blurred as design products, such as video games, incorporate more and more artistic elements, and artwork engages more deeply with the interactive experience. Most museums of modern art house fine art, architecture, and industrial design collections, so each category is already in conversation with the other on some level. More and more, there are artworks and digital objects that fall into more than one category.


PBS Idea Channel video Top 5 Most Artful Video Games – Jan. 23, 2013
Video Games have finally made it to the Museum of Modern Art, so we thought we’d celebrate and put together a list of our top 5 most artful video games!! Not our favorites, mind you. These are the ones that are are packed with significance and emotional weight. How does your own list compare with these 5?

To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowArtGames

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can…and any contribution is most welcomed.

More Resources

TED Talk video Paola Antonelli on acquiring video games for MoMA – May 28, 2013
Paola Antonelli is senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. But despite her nearly 20-year tenure at the museum, Antonelli remains resolutely disinterested in relying on the known or the obviously popular. She is always keen to challenge preconceptions of design’s role in everyday life,Paola Antonelli: Why I brought Pac-Man to MoMAPaola Antonelli: Why I brought Pac-Man to MoMA even as she pushes her colleagues at the museum to consider and question design’s relationship to art.

KQED Spark video Amy Franceschini’s fingerprint navigation game – Jan. 2005
Amy Franceschini is a pioneer in the burgeoning field of net art, an art form that is created, circulated and experienced through the Internet. She is the founder of Futurefarmers, an art and design collaborative dedicated to expressing environmental and community interests through digital media. In “Shaken and Stirred,” Spark checks out her piece, “Fingerprint Maze,” at Pond gallery.

KQED Arts review And an Extra Order of Guacamelee! – June 24, 2013
Guacamelee!, the new action-packed platformer from Drinkbox Studios, is a beat-’em-up brawler caught between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Pre-release Guacamelee! was nominated for an Indiecade in 2012 and a 2013 Independent Games Festival award for Excellence in Visual Art, and now the fans are raving. While the game is everything many had hoped, it does have one crucial flaw.

Can Artful Video Games Enhance Your Gaming Experience? 8 March,2017Kristin Farr

  • Luke Crandall

    With graphical comparisons between Call of Duty and Battlefield, I believe that they’re both rather artful games. Call of Duty has more references to the history of the wars, while Battlefield has more futuristic characteristics.

  • StudiosDraco

    With graphics becoming more and more amped up but some people over look it game play sometimes. so most yes graphic help us play the game but over all gameplay/storylines for people dont know what im talking about, is what a player sould look for.

  • Haley

    I believe that the higher the quality, and the higher the detail, the more you enhance your gaming experience. For example, Mario, the first one. It has low quality, and it kind of makes you feel like you’re in a kiddish environment. However, in the game Heavy Rain, it has high quality and high detail. It gives you options to chose from, let’s you do your own thing, walk around, pick up whatever, and let’s you chose what to say when you’re having a conversation with someone. And it makes you feel like you are ACTUALLY in the game. So, I think the higher the quality and detail, the more you enhance your gaming experience.

  • Wesley Seidelmann

    In the sense of games that are really artistic, I would have to say that The Legend of Zelda games are probably some of the highest. I believe that aesthetics greatly help with gaming experiences. It gives the game way more depth and characteristic than without it. I believe that it is very important for video games to have artful elements. Without them, especially in today’s era, games would seem flat and uninteresting to most people. The art really gives the game it’s own feel and atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else.

  • Clay

    Which video games do you think are the most artistic? Do aesthetics
    enhance your gaming experience? Is it important for video games to
    include artful elements?

    Some of the most artistic games in recent times would be: Battlefield 4, God of War, Ryse: Son of Rome, the Forza series, and Assassin’s Creed. Yes, aesthetics enhance my gaming experience. The game just wouldn’t be the same without them. And yes, video games need artful elements. They wouldn’t be the same, or as enjoyable. The higher the graphics a game has, the more ‘apart’ of it you feel.

  • john

    the quality of the design is important to gaming. if you have a low graphic game (example:madden 2003) you can still play the game but in madden 25, the graphics are amazing. the graphics make the game more enjoyable. if all new video games had low graphics still, then people would quit buying the new games and keep playing their old video games.

  • Cole Reinhold

    I would say that the Halo series is one of the most artistic. I say this because of the creativivty that goes into the making of armor, weapons, vechicles, and just the surroundings and characters.

  • Spencer Uyhelji

    I believe that Crayon Physics Deluxe, Pikmin 3, and Triple Tower are very artistic games. Aesthetics do not always enhance your gaming experience, but in Crayon Physics Deluxe, where whatever you draw turns into physical objects with weight and motion, aesthetics do not matter. It is not always important for video games to include artful elements.

  • Dakota Brooke

    First off, personally I think that no matter what video game you are talking about, they all have some type of artistic element to it. So, I think that every video game is art. I would also say that the quality of the graphics do enhance your gaming experience. Though, it depends on if you prefer more realistic gaming graphics or graphics that make it look more like a cartoon.

  • Isaac Scarborough

    Some of the most artistic games I have placed have been many of the games in the Legend of Zelda franchise. Such as Wind Waker or Twilight Princess. For the times these games came out their artistic style and graphics were very good. I do believe that the aesthetics of the game really do enhance the experience. Adding all the small little details with addition to scale of the world and all the things you can do in it really make the game immersive and get’s the player into the game. By making the graphics looks seamless and beautiful let’s all this flow together, and overall gives the person a better experience. Lastly, I strongly agree that is important that video games contain these artful elements to get the player immersed into the world and story and have a good impact on their playing experience.

  • Quentin

    One of the most artistic games that has had to of come out this years has got to be Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4 has so many different artistic aspects that make it stand out from other games. The way that they reached out and brought in real life aspects. Everything in that game is destructible. Whether it be a 50 story building or as simple as a tree! When they take the time to go in and make all sounds, visual, and graphical effects to this game it makes you wonder how this cant be one of the most well-thought games in the past few years! They really want the player to see what a real war situation is like. Battlefield 4 is one of those games that really depicts a war scene well!

    • Isaac Scarborough

      Exactly, the amazing graphics, immersive gameplay, enormous landscapes all come together to give you an awesome gaming experience. The cool thing to note also is that DICE also did smaller things like shooting actual guns in different environments to give the in game guns an authentic feel.

    • Spencer Uyhelji

      It’s fun because it’s so real, yet not – escapism is predominantly found in war games, and this game brings to life what most will never do. When bringing down a building, it turns to entire map into a piece of art, as the places that you are walking are able to be turned into whole new levels (levolution) that you can fight in/on.

  • Owen Manns

    Skyrim and GTA V. I believe aesthetics enhance your gaming experience because games are funner when you have something nice to look at. I think its somewhat important for video games to include artful elements.

    • Kyle Williams

      It is good to have good aesthetics when you play, but it is better to have a good time and actually enjoy the game that you are playing, no matter how it looks, it mainly matters how the game drags you in by just it’s atmosphere.

  • Samantha Wojcik

    I don’t play video games often, although when I do I like to have a video game that stands out from the rest. Having good artistic grafics and backgrounds would make me wont to play it more. I think that it is vary important for games to have artful elements.

  • Kyle Williams

    Artful video games are not only based off of how the game looks or how it’s environments are, it is also about the story and how it shows the character’s life. Demonstrating how the character faces day to day life and the choices that you make affecting and altering the actual play through. So my top 5, not in order, would be Max Payne 3, Fallout New Vegas, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Halo 4, and Mass Effect 3. The reason mainly for these is not only the graphics, it is how the game immerses you into it. You can see by the map designs, and you actually remember most of the characters. It is easy to notice the effort and time that went into creating a map that you can learn like the back of your hand, the characters that you run across, and the choices that you make that alter the game because of the decisions that you chose to do.

    • Cole Reinhold

      Very interesting concept, I agree.

  • Aaron Houin

    I believe the best looking games are nether and planetside 2 (great looking for a betas), halo 4, and battlefield 4. I also think it is very fun to see games that allow for early access and watch the graphics go from alpha phase, to beta, to a beautiful final release. I truly appreciate the art department at any studio, as even though gameplay is the most important part of the entertainment factor, aesthetics really enhance the experience and let the player feel more attached to a more believable world. Games with the best graphics are good enough to provide a good time just adventuring around the world.

  • Daniel

    I will pick two different game who are made by the same developer along side another developer. Naughty dog and Dice, the games Naughty Dog created that stand out are the Last of Us, and the Uncharted series. Dice of course creating the Battlefield series. all of these games go beyond the actual gameplay. They do their best to create a world that is so expansive that you get captured by its omnipotents. These worlds are so lifelike and realistic that people can’t help but sit and stare.

    • Aaron Houin

      I agree, and a good game should provide a good visual experience where players truly like the world they are dropped into, and want to venture off the beaten path to discover all the small hidden details dev’s went into

  • Anarely Arroyo

    The video games that I think are the he most artistic are Heavy Rain, MYST, Tempest they are some that where recognized in the video to.
    I believe video games can enhance your gaming experience to because of the fact that some video games do have allot of detail put into them nowadays. They seem more realistic and I believe that that’s exactly what gets some gamers attention. Basely it come from the fact that they get more and more realistic. And that is mostly the reason that makes the gamer get into it ta fact that it is more and more similar to real life.

  • Guest

    Exactly, the amazing graphics, immersive gameplay, enormous landscapes and maps all come together to give you an awesome gaming experience. The cool thing to note also is that DICE also did smaller things like shooting actual guns in different environments to give the in game guns an authentic feel.



Kristin Farr

Kristin Farr is KQED's Arts Education Manager. She is the creator and producer of the Emmy Award-winning video series, Art School, which brings audiences into artists' studios to learn about contemporary art, and engages learners with ideas for new ways to get creative. She is also an artist and a contributing editor for Juxtapoz Magazine.

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