The Essentials: Video Games- page 2 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
Halo 2 is a first-person shooter game that allows for multiple players as well as online competition. According to video game designer Kellee Santiago, "The music, the visuals, the character designs—they were all taken to a whole new level." (Courtesy of halo.xbox.com)

The Essentials: Video Games

Designer Kellee Santiago picks five artful video games that tell the history of the medium

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(Continued from page 1)

Halo 2 (2004)

Released on Xbox and later Microsoft Windows, Halo 2 transports players to the 26th century and an alternate universe, where a superhuman soldier, Master Chief, is fighting against the Covenant, an army of aliens. This sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) is a first-person shooter game that allows for multiple players as well as online competition through Xbox Live.

From Santiago: The environments in Halo 2 were absolutely stunning, and the fact that you could share the experience of them online was unbelievable! It was another "We've come so far!" moment for me in gaming. The music, the visuals, the character designs—they were all taken to a whole new level.

Indigo Prophecy (2005)

Game designer David Cage has called his Indigo Prophecy an “interactive drama.” The game, available on multiple platforms, has a cinematic quality to it. Yet, the story line plays out like a “choose your own adventure” book, in that it adjusts based on choices, often moral, that the player makes.

The plot begins with Lucas Kane, the protagonist, killing a man at a diner in New York City. As subsequent murders occur, the player, who can control Kane and other characters, is charged with solving the crimes.

From Santiago: This 3-D, second-generation console game really pushed the envelope of interactive storytelling and engagement in games. It threw away practically everything everyone had gotten used to when it came to using the console controllers and interface design and showed that we had only scraped the surface of possible experiences in games.

The Night Journey (2011)

A more obscure game, the Night Journey is the result of a collaboration between video installation artist Bill Viola and the University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab. Players navigate through a shadowy, black-and-white landscape, inspired by Viola’s 1994 piece called “Pneuma.”

The game is meant to be a “trip along a path of enlightenment.” If there is a so-called winner, it is probably the player who patiently navigates through the setting. If a player moves through too quickly, the surroundings blur. But, if he or she explores leisurely, color is brought to the scenery.

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