Theatre is one of the most inspiring forms of art, in our opinion. It is a vessel for people to tell powerful stories. To express themselves through acting or dance. To use powerful imagery and symbolism to convey important messages. It can make us laugh. Bring us to tears. And it can inspire people to make serious changes.
But today we want to look at a different art form entirely. One that can encapsulate all the same energy and feeling as a theatre but immortalize it in a digital world. Video games.
Mainstream Vs Art
There is an argument raging in the art community over if Video Games are actually an art. It’s a long-standing debate that has been raging since video games were first created. But there is one huge issue with this argument that both art critics and gamers seem to ignore.
Video games can fall into two categories. In the same way, art can. You can find shops filled with paint-by-number paintings designed only to decorate a house. You can go see pantomimes which is live theatre designed to entertain families and avoids tackling real deep issues or uses artistic vision.
But these mediums are still art. They just aren’t deep-art. And the same can be said for video games. You have your games like Call of Duty or Gears of War. Fantastic games using staggering technology. But they are designed to meet a specific gaming formula and entertain their players. Nothing deeper than that. Then you have the proper art games. Games designed, not by operations, but by individuals. Looking to tell stories or impart a message.
So we are going to present to you nine Indie games that are turning heads in the art world.
Our first one moves less into symbolic art and more into the literal. Raft is a traditional survival game where you have to forage for materials and keep your raft afloat. On the surface, it seems like just another survival indie game. But underneath it, all is a well-hidden and powerful message about the human drive for survival. And how we are, in reality, nothing more than animals on the food chain. If you are lucky enough to get a raft key, we highly recommend you give it a go.
To The Moon
A visual novel more than a game, To The Moon has won numerous awards in both storytelling and game design. It is a masterclass in how to tell a moving and compelling story that will break hearts and make grown people cry. We cannot recommend this game enough. All we will say is play it all in one sitting to experience the full impact.
A game with no objectives. No violence. No danger. Journey is, as the title says, a Journey. You wander through a seemingly endless desert, occasionally coming across specters of other players. Journey is one of those games that asks you to think. To reflect. To use the time you spend wandering through the desert to look inside yourself and ask what really matters to you. It makes you appreciate everything around you because it reminds us it can all be lost in an instant.
This game has become a bit of a meme because of the subject matter. The outlandish accents and manner of speaking paired with the obvious comparisons to a communist regime make people laugh to no end. But this game hides a powerful message. Border issues, refuge crisis. Genocide and government corruption. All of it is on display in a bleak look at how these issues affect people at the most personal level. You are forced to listen to these people beg for their lives and pleading to be let in. Wanting safety and security. Only to be met with rejection and force. An all too stark look at how our world really is.
Binding of Isaac.
This game is not for the faint of heart. You play as Isaac, an aborted child living in some intense hell. While on the surface it seems like nothing more than a grotesque indie game going for shock value, it is actually a deep thesis on religion and abortion. It covers the sins of man, how we are throwing away lives by the dozen, and how irresponsible people can be. But it does all this in a fun and engaging way. It may be putrid and disgusting. But it definitely gets you thinking about some of the bigger issues of life and society.
Even if you aren’t a gamer usually, we cannot recommend these titles enough. Give them a try and, you never know, you might end up being pleasantly surprised.