Category Archives: Games as Art

Braid playthrough with director’s commentary

At GameCity in Nottingham, UK in September 2010, I played through select portions of Braid and gave commentary. I had been under the impression the session was officially recorded, and I’ve been waiting for an official video to hit the internet, but at this point I am not sure this was done. Fortunately someone in the audience had a handheld camera, and has posted the footage to YouTube. This is by far the most I’ve said about Braid in one place…

See the video here.

A video interview with NextGen Player.

At the 2008 Montreal International Games Summit, NextGen Player interviewed Jonathan Blow about independent game development, games as art, and about how Braid was made. Here’s the video, which goes into some topics that haven’t been covered in previous interviews:

Sorry about the incorrect aspect ratio, but I spent 45 minutes trying to figure out how to fix it, with no success. The web is kind of sad sometimes.

Here’s the link to the article at NextGen Player.

About the WGA’s Video Game Writing Awards

The Writers Guild of America recently announced the nominees for their 2nd annual Videogame Writing Awards. Anyone familiar with the games of this past year, though, will consider this a very odd and deficient list. Conspicuously absent are most of the games that stand out as well-written.

Ben Fritz at Variety recently wrote a column wondering why there’s so little industry participation in these awards, and postulating that it’s because the industry is anti-union. After all, to be eligible for the awards, game writers only need to join the Video Game Caucus and pony up some cash ($75 a year). No problem, right?

Continue reading About the WGA’s Video Game Writing Awards

Passage is now available on the iPhone.

Jason Rohrer’s art game Passage, a work that has inspired many developers since its original release a year ago, is now available on the iPhone for the low low price of 99 cents.

Passage is a game that I recommend everyone play, especially if you are interested in game design. And if you’ve already played it, here’s your chance to have a portable version, and to support the art game community, all for a meager sum.

The PC version of Passage is still free; you can get it at Jason’s web site.

A new lecture about story and game design.

This lecture was given by Jonathan Blow (introduction by Jason Della Rocca) on November 19th, 2008 at the Montreal International Game Summit.

Here it is as a zip file (about 33 megabytes) containing the slides and an mp3.

This lecture focuses on the story-centric paradigm that we use to design a large number of games, and why I think it is problematic. Both pre-authored and dynamic story are discussed. It’s a heavily-revised version of this lecture given a few months ago in Brighton; This new version is probably better.

Videos have been posted for Sense of Wonder Night 2008

This year at the Tokyo Game Show, the Sense of Wonder Night event was held for the first time ever. This was a session where developers from around the world gave 10-minute presentations on their unconventional game designs, the idea being to inspire the designers in the audience, and give them a good summary of some of the things being done on the avant-garde.

Even if you follow the Western indie game scene, there will probably be some surprises there for you; often games that are made in Japan don’t become well-known in the West, because of the language barrier.

You can follow that link to the Sense of Wonder home page, where videos of all the presentations are posted (they are on YouTube).

(In related news, the Experimental Gameplay Workshop page is a bit out of date, so we are going to update it soon and also put out the Call for Participation for 2009; and the fact that SOWN is posting videos seems like a really good idea, so we are going to try and do videos for 2009 as well).

[Note: Thanks to Tim at the Indie Games Blog for posting the original notice of this.]

About In-Game Advertising (and advertising in general)

It’s always troubled me how willing people are to accept in-game advertising. Advertising in general bothers me deeply, but whenever I try to explain the problem, I never feel satisfied with my explanation.

Perhaps a little bit of ranting makes all the difference. This week on their podcast, Jeff Roberts and Casey Muratori explained the situation very well. (Both Jeff and Casey are in the credits for Braid, for those looking for a Braid connection here).

If you are interested in the future of games, and for some reason you don’t think advertising is bad, please listen to the following excerpt:


(Yes, David Perry, you too.)

Here’s a direct-download link if you want to save the mp3.

Early in this discussion, Casey refers to Sut Jhally’s lecture “How TV Exploits its Audience”, which is available for a small fee at this link. Or, here is a Sut Jhally web site with some free clips.

If you liked this discussion, you may wish to visit: The main page for The Jeff and Casey Show, where you can download any of the episodes (28 so far!).

As a special bonus, as mentioned in the excerpt, here’s David Lynch’s opinion on the matter:

A Lost Interview

Paul Arzt conducted this interview with Jonathan Blow in late 2007 at the Montreal International Game Summit. Due to the unpredictability of Web-based freelancing, the interview never found publication until now.

The interview discusses some of the design philosophy behind Braid, why innovation in game design isn’t so important, life as an indie developer, and ideas about where we can go when pushing on the boundaries of game design.

(Note: The MMO project hinted at, at the end of this interview, is not the post-Braid project any more. Since then I had an idea for a project I am much more motivated to pursue.)

A lecture about how our games are inherently conflicted.

Note: A better version of this lecture was given a few months later in Montreal, and the recording has much higher audio quality. You can find it here.

Jonathan Blow gave the closing keynote speech at Games:EDU South on July 29, 2008 in Brighton, England. This one-hour lecture is about three ways in which current mainstream games are inherently conflicted, and how this holds them back from affecting people as strongly as the forms of linear media they are striving to emulate. Art games are used to build a perspective from which to see this problem and maybe attack it a little bit.

You can download the lecture as a .zip file containing the PowerPoint slides, along with an mp3 of the audio:

(Games:EDU Keynote, 35MB).

Unfortunately the recording came out at a low quality; the questions from the audience at the end are difficult or impossible to hear, but hopefully the answers are detailed enough to provide clues as to the questions.