For probably as long as I can remember, I have considered games to be art. Few people whom I know have been able to swallow this notion when I tried to force it on them. Those who know me might be familiar with my frustration in this area. Luckily, I am not alone in believing that games are art. Not just that they contain art, but that they are art in themselves.
In 2005, Danish run Artifical began a series which I was all too happy to see. Kristine Ploug started off the Art Games special which has been added to up until January 2006. It would appear that my European brethren have been more eager to accept my ideas than folks this side of the Atlantic, and they don't even realize it.
Not to worry. American game enthusiasts and developers are also following suit. At about the same time that Artificial posted their final article on Art Games, Jonathan Blow released a "prototype" called Raspberry. Blow's foray into this area was certainly interesting in terms of concept. Yet, perhaps due to it's prototypical nature, not always pleasant. Of course many good games aren't necessarily pleasant either.
He did us a great service in stoking the fire of the art game scene however, and inspired Rod Humble to bring The Marriage to fruition. This game has been garnering a fair amount of exposure, with posts on Indygamer and TIGSource preceding my mention of it. So yes, I suppose I'm a bit late there.
The point is that art games are alive and kicking. It also seems that, to truly bring artistic meaning to their games, indy devs are taking the low-fi route in a proverbial going-back-to-the-drawing-board. They are discarding the "unnecessary" elements of fancy visuals and sound in order to bring us something less tangible. Rod Humble's game may be difficult to comprehend, especially if you have not been married, and so he does offer his thoughts to ease your confusion regarding his new digital creation.
For those with matrimonial experience, The Marriage might be all too familiar in an intuitive way. Especially if you are trying to have your marriage be successful! So thank you Rod Humble. Thank you for conveying emotions, as well as other things less suitable to verbal expression, in a game.
Humble also points to his article for The Escapist which sheds further light on his theories. In lieu of his writings I too must emphasize that art games, and all good games, begin with the right concept. Rules make up this concept, which in turn allows us to create something. Anything. The concept can materialize before us in the form of music, a painting, film, or written word. And yes, oh ye unbelievers, concepts can be realized as games too. Not for the sake of driving profits, but only to exist as art in itself. Or, if you prefer, as games in themselves.
Update: Joystiq just jumped onto The Marriage bandwagon with a very positive post. In addition, Rod Humble himself has made an appearance in the comments section.