Thursday, January 22, 2015

Every Blade of Grass: The Pros and Cons of Photorealism in Video Games

I believe that this is the first serious piece that I have written about aesthetics in quite a while. It largely concerns a discussion of photorealism and the problem with the "chasing after of photorealism" as the ideal visual aesthetic of video games.

It was inspired by an interview that I read with the Tangentlemen, a group of indie game developers, many of whom come originally from large publishers and are now seeking to do something outside of that space. The things that Rich Smith, formerly of Infinity Ward, had to say struck a chord with me (the specific inspiring quotation that I refer to is in the essay itself at PopMatters), which mirrored some of my own thinking about visual aesthetics and games that I have been kicking around for some time.

I especially like his distinction between the concept of an "illustrative" visual aesthetic in contrast to a phorealistic one, as I think it is a useful way of understanding the real potential of the visual aesthetics of video games and seats them properly alongside mediums like painting, sculpture, comic books, and cartoons, rather than cinema (as critics too often do).

The original title of this essay was "Video Games and the Aesthetics of the Impossible," which is, perhaps, a drier title, but also might indicate more simply what it is that I am advocating.

Every Blade of Grass: The Pros and Cons of Photorealism in Video Games

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