Games As Art – The Expressive Potential Of Game Design

“Video games are not a trivial medium of expression.” – Keys of a GameSpace team

Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Only a select few games have truly made me feel sincere and powerful emotions as I played them. Less than a handful of these games deal with mature and complex themes in a way that had me looking at myself and reflecting on how the game had affected me for hours, and even days after finishing the game.

Keys of a Gamespace is aptly subtitled “an expressive game” as it allows gamers to take control of a normal, mundane guy as he goes about his normal mundane life. But yet at the heart of this story lies deep psychological, social, and emotional problems as well as ethical dilemmas that have yet to be seen in the art of video games.

This free, independently developed downloadable game deals with a man who has yet to accept his background, his terrible family life, and his scarred past as he goes forward in life. His girlfriend wants to have a baby, yet he’s too busy playing and designing video games to discuss it with her. She gets tired of his attitude and gives him an ultimatum: “leave the games, or I leave you.” He slumps down and the proper game begins.

While I can’t say any more about the game’s plot without spoiling it, I can say that this point-and-click psychological game will take players on an emotional ride that will make anyone question his or her own morality. The deeper into his subconcious mind the players go, the heavier the themes and ethical dilemas become, climaxing in one of the more difficult choices one has to ever make in the video game space.

The game’s seemingly mundane, yet powerful opening scene really connected with me as I saw my old self in the main character; spending time with others in the game space, missing out on experiencing real life in the process.

Another thing to note is Keys of a Gamespace’s art style. The Aesop-like style had me mesmerized; the contrast from beautiful, serene landscapes to the more disturbing environments really represent the serenity compared to the deep emotional scars that people go through in life.

The game is also connected to Sébastien Genvo’s research on the expressive potential of game design. The Keys of a GameSpace team believe their game can help bring about the moral and ethical decisions we deal with in real life and help people deal with theirs through game play of Keys of a GameSpace.

“Because of the topic it adresses (you’ve got to play to the game to know what this is), we also hope that our game will help the victims of psychological distress and that it will make some individuals think twice before they try to commit terrible crimes. These individuals will be able to experience through our game the consequences of their wrongdoings.”

So if you’re one of those people that still can’t believe that games can be considered art, maybe you should give Keys of a Gamespace a try. It’s free, and it will take you on an emotional, psychological, and ethical interactive journey that can only be experienced through the art of gaming.

You can download the game for FREE here.

Check out the Keys of a GameSpace official Facebook page here.


Let us know what you think of Keys of a GameSpace. How did you feel after playing the game?
Leave us your comments in the section below.


About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming.

Posted on November 6, 2011, in Opinions And Editorials and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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