Archive for the ‘visual art’ Category

ICO and Fumito Ueda

ICO is a video game that delivers an experience unmatched by any other game that I’ve come across before or since. It was designed and directed by Fumito Ueda, whose team went on to also create Shadow of the Colossus.

Ueda’s design philosophy is evident in his work:

I was attracted, not by the idea of playing within a well-constructed set of rules, but by the idea of playing, experiencing, and adventuring within a real world. As a child, what appealed to me more than “the fun of playing games” was the emotion conveyed by the works I experienced, and the way these works brought their worlds to life.1

In creating ICO, Ueda was inspired by Eric Chahi’s Another World (also known as Out of This World and Outer World), as well as by the work of Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico.

Ueda himself painted the cover art for ICO:

As is often the case with Japanese video games, the North American release had different cover art that was egregiously inferior. I won’t bother including a picture. What I’ll instead include for comparison is “Mystery and Melancholy of a Street” by Giorgio de Chirico:

ICO and Shadow of the Colossus were originally released for Playstation 2, but they have also been graphically enhanced and released together for PS3 as The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. It’s a high-quality re-release.

Others at Sony in Japan expanded on Ueda’s original cover art for ICO to create this image, which is used in the title screen for The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection (click to enlarge):

I bought a PS3 myself in late 2011 in anticipation of the impending release of Team ICO’s third game, The Last Guardian. There seem to have been a lot of problems with the development of that game, but I still hope to see it eventually. Fortunately, other games (such as Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls) make the PS3 worth owning in the meantime.

In an interview for, Peter Molyneux (creator of Populous and other games) described ICO as follows:

Mystery was part of its mechanic, it didn’t have real power-ups or anything. It was genius and it still remains a work of genius.

If I made something like ICO, I’d be very happy to die.

1 I don’t know the source of this quote. if you do, please let me know.


Zdzisław Beksiński

If I had to choose a single favorite painter, it would probably be Polish artist Zdzislaw Beksinski. He once said, “I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams.”

You can see more of his work at these sites:

There’s also a book of his art available. The book includes a decent selection at a good price, and I like its quotations from Beksinski, but I’d like a more comprehensive book of his work.


Patrick Smith (Vectorpark)

Patrick Smith is a painter and a video game designer. You can find his games at and his paintings at

This is “Tower,” one of his paintings:

"Tower" by Patrick Smith

I came across some years ago when the site included just a few simple interactive Flash pieces. They had a unique charm to them, and resembled toys more than games. The works found there have become more elaborate over the years, retaining this charm and growing in creativity.

The surreal puzzle game Windosill is my favorite, and is one of the best video games I’ve come across in recent years. You can find it at It’s also available through Steam1. And if you have an iPad, you can get it on that platform.


Windosill is not free, but it is assuredly worth its low price. In an interview with .net magazine2, Smith said that he decided to try charging for this game as an experiment to see whether he can make a living from his work.

Also from that interview:

I decided on the format — a series of window-like views, with the small vehicle moving between them — pretty early on. My background is as a painter, and things like perspective and deep space are interesting to me. I thought it would be fun to have things occupying the foreground and also things in the distance, and then to find a way for them to interact.

The individual rooms each had different inspirations. In some cases, the idea for a room began with a drawing or a painting that I thought might be interesting to approach as an animation. In other cases, a kernel of an idea would occur to me while doodling or showering or running or whatever. And a lot of my inspiration comes from other artists: just to name a few, I’m a big fan of the painter Peter Breughel, the cartoonists Jim Woodring and Chris Ware, and the sculptor Alexander Calder. Someone familiar with any of their work could probably spot their influence on Windosill.

Another of his games that’s worth a look is Feed the Head. You can play the game in its entirety for free at This one can be a little confusing at first, but it’s worth the effort.

This is “Migration,” another of his paintings:

"Migration" by Patrick Smith

1 Paul Eres calls Windosill “literally the best game on Steam.”
2 This interview seems to have disappeared from the .net magazine site, but if you can find another interview that covers similar topics here.