Sawbuck Gamer

Art Game

Reject Pile

Art Game makes you find the beauty in failure.

By Joe Keiser • February 14, 2013

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.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579674289 Morgan Filbert

    The most disconcerting thing for me in this game was that hitting the edge of the snake game didn’t kill you but rather had you reenter from the opposite side. I’d never played a version where that was the case. This had a legitimately jarring reaction from me where I scrambled to regain control from when I’d expected to die. I then quickly moved out of the way to keep from hitting myself, despite the fact that this would end the painting as I’d originally intended. That wasn’t the end that I’d chosen, it wasn’t how I wanted the painting to go, and I caught myself getting legitimately frustrated in the constraint that had been placed on me.

    My work couldn’t end my way, but the way “they” wanted it to.

    It ended up being my top piece and everyone called it genius, but to me it was failure.

  • Jackbert322

    Sooo…was I the only person who never got rejected? Literally, I went through both the painter and sculpter modes, and got all three pieces put in the gallery simultaneously. No rejects. Is it random? OR AM I JUST THAT MUCH OF AN ARTISTIC VISIONARY???

    • ChicaneryTheYounger

      You have connections. Your father is very rich. Your life is unfufilling so you turn to art. Pulling some strings, Daddy gets you an exhibition in the MoMA. After a savage beating by art critics worldwide, you fall to alcoholism and substance abuse.
      Your father cuts you off and the tabloids destroy every part of you.
      You die penniless in a gutter.

      GAME OVER

  • George_Liquor

    Hey look, Leisure Suit Lichtenstein!

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    I think I’ll be passing on this one.  I like to play games as escapism.

  • Eco1970

    Awful.