No one is perfect and one area where I am certainly ‘weak’ is my appreciation of the arts. The arts is a pretty big subject to squish into a single label but I can graduate things into stuff I appreciate that which I don’t.

I am going to junk the whole ‘what is art debate’ because I want to but I am also going to completely contradict myself in a minute and I am fully aware of the contradiction.

So the art that I appreciate is what I consider ‘extremely clever’ art. It is often technically difficult or exists to demonstrate a point. Esher’s optical illusions would fit this description, Jean Tinguely’s mechanical sculptures are another example. When I say appreciate it what I mean is I look at it and think ‘oh that is clever’ and move on. There is no desire to own it or want to create something like it myself or even a desire to have the skills or talent to create something like it myself.

Somethings I think employs art and artists but is not art. The division comes when it is of a purely commercial nature. Cinema is an example. Some films are art and exist for arts sake or the artist was trying to examine the human condition. I accept that is art, been there and didn’t like it, not going back.

Hollywood blockbusting movies are not art but do employ a lot of artists and that is work I can appreciate and that does inspire my games. I am a magpie of ideas and like set ups. I constantly see scenes that I wonder what PCs would do in that situation given that there is no script. I then set about constructing a story that will bring that scene into the game. I am not talking about railroading players or necessarily climatic scenes. Lots of the scenes that appeal are often throw away scenes and if they happen then great but if they don’t it is no loss. Some work well and some certainly don’t. There was a scene in Indian Jones where they were in small mining trucks.

That didn’t work too well as too many failed skill rolls ends up in big crashes. On the other hand the Matrix Lobby Scene was an amazing success. All I needed to do was casually mention the locations of discarded weapons and the players were using Tumble Attack/Evade all over the place.

So as inspiration art, not so much, cinema definitely!

Comments (4)

  1. intothatdarkness

    Reply

    I had to sort of necro-comment on this one because I’ve been thinking about it a bit and have to say some of my gaming is influenced by cinema, but it’s mostly the genre gaming. My Western games have a very Spaghetti Western feel about them (gritty, unforgiving, often drawn quite starkly), although John Ford creeps in as well. My spy stuff will draw from Noir and things like Ronin fairly liberally, but I don’t pull much from the more flashy stuff (Bond and Bourne) unless I’m actually running the old James Bond RPG. My fantasy is occasionally influenced by the Spaghetti Westerns, mainly the grittiness and character-driven plots that come up from time to time.

    I think part of the reason for that is I’ll use movies to introduce new players to the feel of the game. Want to see how my Western games can play out? Watch Unforgiven or For a Few Dollars more and you can get the feel. Same goes for the espionage stuff. It helps them understand the kind of activities and actions that work and don’t work in those games, and also lets them see the consequences for a character can be absolute.

    And cinema is art (well…some of it at least), so you are using art in your games.

    • Peter R

      Reply

      I agree that some cinema is art. Cinema or film is the medium.

      Went I paint it isn’t art. It is most likely to be a garden wall that is looking rather grubby and should be nice and white. When Picasso painted he had rather different intentions and his work was art.

      Cinema, especially hollywood blockbuster cinema, is the commercial exploitation of film artists. I hold this view as every artist working on the project is replaceable. This week we saw Danny Boyle replaced as James Bond director, we have seen films where they have reshot all the scenes involving particular actors so the humans involved in cinema are not important to the ‘art’. So it is not the director’s art and it is not the actors arr. I have scene screen play scripts where the entire thing was written during shpoting so it is not the writers art. I am pretty damn sure it is not the props and scenery crew’s examination of the human condition so I hold the view that commercial cinema is not art, it is just pretty or fun or exciting or all of those things at once or in succession.

  2. intothatdarkness

    Reply

    I don’t think it’s an “either/or” proposition, frankly. There is certainly a ‘type’ of movie out there that doesn’t pass in any way for art unless you count CGI manipulation. But there are clearly exceptions. Clint Eastwood’s movies (the ones he produces and/or directs typically) stray much more heavily into character exploration or the like. Anything these days dealing with anything created by Marvel or DC does not. Of course you’re also talking to the person who dislikes the Jurassic Park franchise and has avoided Star Wars since Return of the Jedi (I’m very much an Empire Strikes Back person). Any of the Fast and Furious stuff? Nope.

    Blockbusters are more vehicles for merchandising to me than anything else.

    In either case, I think we both use movies of whatever flavor for similar purposes.

    • Peter R

      Reply

      Yes I think we agree. I cannot say I am into any of the star wars movies but there is one yoda quote I really like “Do or do not do, there is no try!”

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