Video Games, Week 4: Proteus Review

The discussion about video games as art takes an interesting turn after playing the game Proteus. The game Proteus is artistic in many aspects, as it offers the player an interesting musical and visual experience as one plays it. However, the game really isn’t much more than that, ¬†causing some critics to refuse to call Proteus a game at all.

The beginning of the game is interesting. The player’s eye opens, revealing an endless sea and a vague vision of an island in the distance. And so, the player heads towards the Island. Upon arrival the player is immersed in a world were every tree, stone, and flower they interact with make noise. The player explores the island, and in doing so hears the combined noises emanated from all the island’s biotic and abiotic elements. As the day turns to night, the music changes, and stars emerge, dancing and growing as the night goes on. Them, the night turns to day again, and the player can start all over. When the player is done playing the eye closes, and the game ends.

While Proteus¬†is ultimately an interesting experience, I understand the criticism against calling it a game. There are no mechanics to play by, no courses of action that the player can pursue. The game itself is merely a small “open world” game, where the player just moves around aimlessly. The most game-like aspect to Proteus was when I chased rabbits or birds around the Island. That isn’t to say that Proteus doesn’t have merits as it is a fascinating experience. Ultimately, I can accept Proteus as an artistic endeavor in video game form.

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