The whole realistic graphic debate has been something of a hot topic lately, especially in regards to Zelda’s future direction. We all have varying opinion, but the latest in the debate is something that is starting to irk me a little. The entire “art verse realism” debate. Essentially, cutting things off and saying would you prefer an artistic direction like Skyward Sword, or a realistic approach like the Wii U Zelda Experience. Both are great describing words, but when used in context like that it’s almost as if people assume they aren’t one and the same.
Depicting realism, as in, realistic looking graphics, is in fact it’s own art form. This debate really isn’t going to change your mind on what you think about that style, and it shouldn’t. It’s more so a lessen that things that are realistic are just as much an art form as something that is not. In fact, it’s one of the most famous movements that started in the 19th century art realm. Yes, it’s an actual period in art history.
Around the mid to late 1800’s, a great evolution in logical thinking was occurring as man started to turn more to science and to figure out why things happened instead of the age old accepted religious beliefs. As man started to teach itself more and more about how things work, the art world began a transition into depicting real life as close as they were possible to create. Naturally this style wasn’t for everyone, but a lot of artists in this time period took a liking to it. In fact, today it remains one of the single most dominant art forms available. It’s in many of the movies we watch (CGI) to many of the paintings we buy and the games we play. It’s everywhere, and it’s extremely versatile yet strangely familiar.
The familiarity of the style is likely why it has struck it so big. People are comfortable when things are instantly recognizable. This is why finding a new “Picasso” in this day and age is unlikely. Unfortunately, it can overshadow other art styles, but that’s what being popular does. It happens with anything in life that gets popular. It gets really big until it’s overused, then reform happens and something else gets popular. Then that sticks around for awhile until something else dethrones it once people are bored with it.
To the left is one of the most prized paintings in the world, and it’s definitely depicted in a realistic matter. While a tad disturbing, it’s just as artful as any other piece. While this originated before the age of realism made it big (this is from the 1600’s), it’s a perfect example of what realism is. It’s a true art form, and not something everyone can do.
How this relates to games is that people tend to not think realism in gaming is really an art because there is a basis for the style. That basis being the real world. This is why people feel it’s generic, because it’s style is always based on the same thing. However, that’s like saying Peter Paul Rubens and Gustave Courbet art looks exactly the same. It usually doesn’t, even when you get to the most realistic of depictions. Every artist has their own flare, just like every game development team has their own style.
I want to leave off the article with the thought of the 4 images above. From left to right and top to bottom it’s Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3, and Uncharted 3. All 4 of them are popular series that use the realistic graphic approach, yet all 3 vary in their styles. Vary enough that you can essentially tell what game it is when you throw it up next to eachother. It has more to do than just with the setting each game takes place in – they are all going for realism in their own way. Are those 4 screenshots bland? Sure, if you don’t particularly like realism. Are they an art form? Yes, and to say otherwise is to discredit hundreds of years and thousands of artists work.
You may not like realism, and I am not asking anyone to change their tune. I am merely pleading with you to accept it as an art form and move on. Games aren’t bad because they use this art form, it just may not be a form of art you prefer or appreciate. It still takes just as much talent to do this as it does to do Picasso.
Anyways, that’s about all I have to say on the subject of realism. I now return you to your regular broadcast. How about that Sheikah reference in Skyward Sword?