Monday, February 14, 2011

Rant Rant Rant

Sorry guys. No artwork in this post. But there is something that has just been brought to my attention that I really want to talk about. I'm not sure how many fans I have on my blog so I might be only speaking to about 10 people, but I want to talk about this anyway.

I just read Yahtzee's Extra Punctuation this week about American Box Art. I actually didn't know that there was different box art done for different countries (so often). It makes sense now that I think about it, but why does America get the short end of the stick? Yahtzee was absolutely right, US box art is total shit. It completely bastardizes the look and feel of the game. As I was looking at the examples he gave I couldn't understand why it kept happening. There shouldn't be much of a difference, right? I mean don't they come from similar producers and artists? Then I remembered a RSA lecture I watched given by Sir Ken Robinson. Of course our artist aren't thinking the same way as foreign artist. From the start we are educated in such a way that ignores potential talent, puts down visual learners, and medicates children with emotions. I know this to be true because all my memories of elementary school are tied with feelings of being mentally inept or slow. I remember feeling horrible when I didn't score as high as the other children on standardized tests because I was told "That is what you're suppose to do". The only time I felt self-worth was in my art class. But sadly we only had it once a week for about 30 - 40 minutes at a time.

This feeling followed me throughout middle school, and it actually got worse. My academic grades were terrible and I couldn't understand why I wasn't as smart as the other kids. When I got to high school I was told for the first time that I could make a living out of being an artist from my Art teacher. She explained I could go to Art school after I graduate. After I learned this fact, my grades improved, my art got better and I had much more confidence in myself because I finally felt like I amounted to something. That small boost of confidence was a complete catalyst of helping me be a more competent human being.

Unfortunately, The entire process of feeling like crap took hold again when it came time to take the SATs. I'm not a good test taker. I'm not a strong reader, I suck at math and my spelling is god-awful (my first Name Game entries are evidence of this). So you could imagine the SATs were my version of Hell at the time. The US is the ONLY country that has the SATs. Just like how we're one of two countries that still don't use the damn metric system.

Another issue is the costs/expenses. For those of you who don't know, Art schools are private schools. The tuition to some can match those of great universities and even ivy leagues. The tuition is high, the art supplies are expensive and the grading can be complete subjective bullshit. The worst part, there are little to no scholarships available. Jobs are extremely competitive once you do graduate and that doesn't help when you have loans to pay. At the end of my high school career, there was a small ceremony for Senior awards. There were various disciplines such as math, science, business, music etc. I won a little art award that was nothing more then a wooden plaque that basically said "Ya did good, Kid". The business awards on the other hand, were given grants and scholarships on fucking embossed glass plaques. Hold the phone, they're giving money to the kids that they think are going to make money anyway? I understand they might believe it's an "investment" but why are the arts, something that influences lives every day, seen as something not worth investing in? Maybe if a few dollars were thrown our way we could make a notable difference.

Other countries offer a lot more support towards the arts for a lot less. They're aware that the arts are a key factor in keeping people more well rounded and wholesome. I'm doing everything in my power to try and study abroad just to get a small taste of what that life is like. I'm also trying to do what I can to bring that life home. Of course there are exceptions. The US has produced a handful of artists throughout the years. This is not to say that I don't have an appreciation for academics. I'm well aware of their importance. They're just incredibly imbalanced. I know that if I had the artistic enrichment at a much earlier age I could have been a much better artist as a result.

Think of it this way. Almost everything you touch, someone had to sit down and design it. People who believe the arts aren't necessary or influential deserve a swift kick to the face. If the US understands this fact and starts producing better artist maybe our box art won't suck as much.

Keep the art alive guys. If we loose the arts, we loose what makes us human.


  1. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think that when I was in high school the thought of someone going to art school for college was a silly idea. But I definitely think it's a shame that having an art degree isn't as viable a move than it could be. You gotta do what you want to do if you can though.

    As far as the US box art goes, it did seem really bizarre how much worse what we see is. I even thought Heavy Rain's was pretty good, besides the obvious pandering with putting Madison front and center, until I saw the others. I think, which probably does stem some from the way art is treated here, that a problem with some of the US boxart is that it's less aimed at being a window into the experience and more aimed at appealing to the two main stereotypes of gamers. The douchebag shooter/action junkie (like Mass Effect 2's cover), or the lonely super nerd (like FFXIII's I guess is an okay example).

  2. I think you are romanticizing how other countries deal with art. I have spent a great deal of time abroad, I love it, but there isn't exactly a high priority on arts. Asian countries you can pretty forget about it, Math and Science will always be held supreme. Most European countries treat the arts like we do.

    I don't know maybe I was lucky. I the schools I went to always had us in art classes, taking us to see classical music performance and operas. We went and saw plays, they held are exhibits for the students to show off their art. So I am having a hard time buying your academics against the arts premise.

    I will agree arts are very important, and I happy that I have an extensive knowledge about Italian Renaissance art. It helps develop a side of the brain that helps overall cognitive abilities.

    But we live in time where overpopulation and under-education is a problem. Schools don't have the resources to teach they art or help students nearly as much as they need it. Basically the school system is to give students the basic skills to survive not to excel.

    Anyways american box art is marketed for a population of overstimulated children, they need fancy dancing shit all over the cover to grab their attention. Well these companies are just trying to make money. Minimalism while attractive to a lot of people like myself it just doesn't speak to the 14 year old with ADD who wants his parents to buy the game.

    I for one couldn't give a crap what the box art looks like as long as the game is good. I buy mostly digital copies now and such I have no need for box art.

    Anyways good luck with your artistic endeavors. I will keep studying something I find far more beautiful, biology.

  3. I completely agree with you on the box art issue but there is one very specific thing about it that makes it very subjective. It's a form a marketing. I work in the game industry and a consumer will decide withing seconds of seeing a games box art if they want to spent any other time looking at it. Box art has to really "sell" a title to the focus group consumer at a visual stand point.
    Look at Borderlands box art, I think it's pure genius. Its entertaining, catches my attention and presents several different facets of the game. More games need to have interesting and excellent box art. The problem is that it's entirely up to the user whether or not it's "good". Hell you may even hate the Borderlands box art.
    What i would like to see is a variance in cover art. When games get re-releases, GOTY editions,and such get different cover variations on it.

  4. I know this is an old post but hey, I've only just found it.

    I know this dilemma from a very personal perspective. I live in the UK and the Secondary (High) school I went to was crap. I mean when it comes to looking good it's top notch but when it comes to student life.. well a truly different story. I spent about 80% of my time there ambling along with no idea what I wanted to do. No one sat me down and asked me what I wanted to do. Well that's a lie. I was asked once but when I told them (at the time I wanted to be a motorbike mechanic) I was politely told to do one. Anyway, at the end of my time in Sixth form (collage) I finally realised that I had a vague nack for music, well playing the guitar at any rate. After taking a year to work I decided that I wanted to go to Uni and a very particular uni that specialised in modern music. What I wasn't told is that through my first year I wouldn't be given a loan so I spent my first year worrying about how to pay rent rather than learning what I was taught. This pretty much destroyed me. No money, no job (no matter how many I applied for) and not really getting the support I needed so I could get to grips with my learning.

    I know its a story that means nothing from a guy you don't know but I think what I'm trying to say is that you're not alone in feeling that way.
    It does seem like the arts are left out, which I think is truly a travesty.

    By the way, I adore your artwork and the Name Game.