Good game design and game art

At the Evolution of Video Games panel at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, I asked a few of the panelists as to which games on the market really impressed them.

Ken Levine, Irrational Games:

I thought Limbo was a beautiful visual experience because instead of going bigger, and broader, and more colorful, it went the opposite direction… also the sound, as well.

In terms of design, there’s a lot of great stuff. What really struck me lately there have been a lot of sequels. Bastion [hit me] in terms of design — nice art, too. I really like what they did there. That kind of gameplay tied in with the narrative presentation. It was really terrific.

Mike Mika, Other Ocean interactive:

You know, I’m just now getting into Journey, and it’s just blowing my mind. Kellee Santiago is in the next panel, and it’s unbelievable. I think storytelling is finally maturing enough.

Heavy Rain blew my mind a little bit, too. It’s like, I can’t believe I’m emotionally connecting with a game to this level.

Don Daglow, Stormfront Studios:

There are lots of them. If you look at Thatgamecompany. All three of the games that they’ve shipped have impressed me. Her original producer and I are dear friends, and when flOw came out, I was in his office and he just hands me the controller. flOw is completely non traditional. I loved it, and he said, ‘I’m glad you do, because I just signed them to a three project deal.’

I think the Bioshock series is great. I think there’s a lot of great work going on. I think what’s cool now is you have all these different strands of really strong work being done. You have traditional large-scale console games like the Bioshock series. You have online masssively multiplayer games, like the new Star Wars game. Not that World of Warcraft is a tired old thing, you’ve got innovation there. You’ve got what would have been called “experimental” games like the stuff Thatgamecompany is doing, but they’re doing it for Sony. Here’s Sony, a mega-company paying for those projects.

I don’t think there’s a rarity of art. I think there’s a plethora of really wonderful work being that I respect as as art.

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