Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, A mix between Game and Art

Video Games have gone a long way from becoming simple electronic games, today’s video games have evolved from abstract obstacle courses to storylines that resemble almost as a cinematic movie. Since this is the last blog entry blog dealing with video games in general I have decided to use a recent video game that almost makes the blur between movie and game. In fact, I would say it is a clear mix between movie and game, but most importantly it is an example of today’s modern games.

So, the game I will be writing about is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, which came out a year ago. Uncharted 4 is technically an adventure game and is to my point of view a very fascinating game to play. Unlike other games that I have played, the story line of Uncharted 4 is set in a cinematic style, almost appearing as if it was movie. The story in

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Nate in the ship yard

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is about two treasure hunting brothers Nate and Sam drake who try to find the lost treasure of a famous pirate known as Henry Avery while trying to fend off some private military force and their rich boss Rafe Adler. Throughout the game the player is set in various locations around the globe in an effort to find the exact location of the much-desired lost treasure. What I love about this game is that it touches on different genres of games such as action/war and puzzle solving games.

 

The structure in which this adventure game has been automatically makes it a game. Why? The answer is very simple, despite the fact that Uncharted 4 has a story it is also a game and in the words of Raph Koster author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design, state:

Games are not stories. It is interesting to make the comparison, though:

  • Games tend to be experiential teaching. Stories teach vicariously.
  • Games are good at objectification. Stories are good at empathy.
  • Games tend to quantize, reduce, and classify. Stories tend to blur, deepen, and make subtle distinctions.
  • Games are external- they are about people’s actions. Stories (good ones, anyway) are internal-they are about people’s emotions and thoughts. (Koster,88)

Therefore, Uncharted 4 which forces the player to participate in the story by figuring out certain puzzles in order to advance to the next level basically makes it a game. In addition, to figuring out puzzles, the player must deal with situations where he or she must get around or the character dies, basically a stumbling block to get around. This goes accordingly to Koster’s idea of quantification while playing. Furthermore, Uncharted 4 multiplayer missions set the player to pair up with an online friend and defeat waves of military contractors and pirates, or go against each other in teams. According to Roger Caillois author of The Definition of Play and The Classification of Games, categorizes this type of gameplay as Agon. What is Agon? Well, in the words of Caillois “Agon. A whole group of games would seem to be competitive, that is to say, like a combat in which equality of chances is articially created, in order that the adversaries should confront each other under ideal conditions, susceptible of giving precise and incontestable value to the winner’s triumph” (Caillois). It is these competitive and puzzle solving activities that makes Uncharted 4 a game, however what makes this game even more interesting is its artistic structure.

Unlike past games where the aesthetics of old games pretty much appeared very geometrical, today’s videogames are now created with such realistic details that sometimes it appears as if it was a film itself. This can be seen in Uncharted 4 where body movements, facial expressions, geographical environment looks very enticing to observed. Similarly, such was the ideology of U4meleefinish.gif who was very appreciative of Greek art. Winckelmann believed that Greek art was very fascinating, but also believed that artists had to go beyond such ideology of aestheticism (Winckelmann, 30-32). So, in games such as Uncharted 4 where the aesthetics do present that realistic outlook, it proves that Winckelmann’s idea of going beyond still detailed art was right. The aesthetics seen in Uncharted 4 make the player appreciate the environment and enjoy the game at the same time, it provides a cinematic view that allows the player to enjoy the story. Also, aesthetics is not the only artistic part of this wonderful game.

In a murky sense of art, Uncharted 4 invites the player to participate in the story (obviously), but not in the perspective of playing. During various missions the player is given the choice of saying some “smart” answer, or have a conversation with one of the protagonists. Furthermore, finding archaeological objects is also a choice which can reward the player with cheats or modification embedded in the game. This artistic point of view goes with Roland BarthesDeath of the Author, where the viewer or participant not the author must participate in order to create a meaning out of the artistic object. Just as in the words of Barthes, “…the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the author” (Barthes, 6). While there are many artistic aspects that are present in Uncharted 4 I believed these two make the game a piece of art.

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Nate Drake

In conclusion, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is both a game and work of art. The structure of the game such as its story, gameplay, aesthetic detail, and participation of the story is what makes this videogame very fascinating and one I would recommend. It is a mix of game and art, basically an art game, which is a product of today’s society’s art.

References

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana, 1977.

Caillois Roger. “The Definition of Play and The Classification of Games” inGame Design Reader. Edited by K. Salen and E. Zimmerman(2006): 122-155.

Winckelmann, Johann Joachim. “Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works inPainting and Sculpture.” In The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology, edited by D. Preziosi.Oxford: Oxford University Press (1998): 27-34.

Koster, Raph. Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, US: Paraglyph Press, 2004. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 31 January 2017.

 

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7 thoughts on “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, A mix between Game and Art

  1. Uncharted is the pelican of games as art. The game play is smooth, the graphics are beautiful, and the story is engaging. By the end I felt like I was part of an interactive movie! I agree with you 100% that it is an example of game and art.

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    • I thinking of writing about Star Wars: Battlefront (new version) since it too has smooth gameplay and wonderful graphics, but Uncharted 4 is definitely the winner since it provides a good story, interesting challenges that fall under the category of game, and the graphics with the cinematic cut scenes make it a good piece of art.

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  2. This game received a lot of hate when it first came out and I was hesitant to purchase it when I first got my PS4. I played all of the other previous Uncharted games and while I was not blown away, I was certainly hooked with the dense story, constant shifts, and extremely charismatic and likable characters that the game boasted from the very beginning. The combat and puzzles as you mentioned in your blog were definitely stand out as well. After I played, this game stood out to be one of the best in its series and it was an extremely enjoyable experience. This blog captured what I loved about the game and stayed true to being a very informative and educational piece. Very well done.

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  3. I went out and bought the uncharted set for the PS3 and loved it man, this blog really put light onto this game for me. I really enjoyed reading about how you broke down the way that you think of games being different than stories

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  4. I’ve actually never played the Uncharted games even though I’ve heard so much about them. I was not aware of all the intricacies that are in the game. I am curious to see how movie like the gameplay is so maybe I’ll look up some videos on youtube. It’s interesting to see you use Koster in your explanation of how Uncharted is a game. I also like how you transition into Caillois.

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  5. Uncharted is a game I’ve never played before, but since you mentioned it fits in the genre of adventure and action I think I’d really enjoy it. I think your blog had really good references to Koster, Caillois, Wincklemann, and Barthes. in my opinion, this specific game’s aesthetics is what makes it so great and similar to a movie. Lastly, you called this an art game, but would you also consider it game art in regards to Sharp’s definition?

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