Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
It’s said that in any creative profession, the hardest part isn’t making deadlines, maintaining quality, or even coming up with new ideas. It’s the rejection. The artist’s crucible is watching their life’s work get rejected a hundred times, because, in the end, it only has to be accepted once.
So screw that; that sounds really difficult. Instead, here’s Art Game, which simulates the emotional roller coaster of trying to get your art out to the world. Your media are the most classic of video games: Snake, Tetris, and Spacewar!. When you lose at these games, your failure screen becomes your finished work. The curator will come to check it out and accept or reject it. They’ll never tell you why they make the decisions they make—they might reject it over and over again before accepting it. Then it’s off to the gallery for the audience to renew the cycle of judgment.
The most interesting part of the game is the way it asks you to make your art. Trying to lose Tetris in the most aesthetically pleasing way changes everything about how you play it. This also means you will struggle against the medium, because how can losing at Snake be pretty, let alone meaningful? And when you think you’ve cracked it, and feel that quiet elation, here comes the curator to tell you it’s not quite there. It can take years in the art world to feel that kind of crumbling defeat. Art Game gives it to you in minutes. It can also bring acceptance, and with that a simulacrum of joy. Either way, it’s back to the canvas, because this time you’ve really got it.