The heart (and art) of gaming

  • “Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.” – Tom Robbins

    Video games are a place where you can lose yourself. Immersed in a virtual world that captures your imagination.


    Image courtesy of

    I recently succumbed to the lure of next-gen gaming and beautiful texture-rich environments, purchasing a PS4 as a Christmas present to myself. The game I chose to launch in to this next-gen experience was Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game so majestically sweeping that it takes your breath away. Paris during the revolution comes to life with thousands of people bustling, protesting and generally getting on with their lives (and often attacking you for no good reason). It is such a technical joy to behold that you can almost forgive main protagonist Arno’s inability to climb through a simple window without first grabbing a hold of every side like a cat refusing to go in to its basket for a trip to the vet.

    These huge blockbuster games are the ones that draw you to a console. They are the meat in the console war but the real heart of the PS4 comes not from its big studio A-list games but from the small indie games that can be found on the Playstation store for a few pounds.

    “Life is more fun if you play games.”  – Roald Dahl

    One such game is a flawed gem called ‘The Unfinished Swan’ by Giant Sparrow. The premise is so simple. You start off in a 3D world that is completely white, devoid of any detail, any shading, anything. All you possess is a gun that shoots black ink pellets and by spraying the world around you, you reveal the picture and make your way through the game. As the levels progress the game mechanic changes and you are spraying water instead of paint which can be a little more frustrating and makes you wonder why they didn’t stick to the original idea, but for that first section alone, it is worth playing.


    Image courtesy of

    Of course you can go through the game spraying everything black but that just makes it even more difficult to navigate and besides, where’s the fun in that. No, the real secret is in spraying just the right amount to reveal the details and that is where the joy in the game lay for me. You are an artist with a blank canvas and a subtle spray of paint is far more effective than blanket coverage. At one point in the game I turned around to look at where I had come from and the vision of my ink splashes revealing the path I had traveled was a real highlight.

    Another game worth mentioning is ‘Flower’ by That Game Company. You are a petal flying around the land collecting other petals that attach to you until you have a huge trail of petals behind you, making it easier to collect more petals. This is an extremely relaxing mesmeric game at least until you reach the later levels when things start to get a bit more intense.


    Image courtesy of

    So get down to the Playstation store, Xbox store or Steam on your PC and support the indie gamers because they are the future blockbuster developers, the true heart of the gaming community, and with many new indie games lined up for 2015 it is clear that the heart of gaming beats strong.

     “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play” – John Cleese

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