It may sound pretentious, but computer games seem to gradually start behaving as if they were growing into something more, than simple entertainment. However, it is not the first time it happens – for example, theatre has grown out of folk festivals that had no goal other than entertaining their participants and onlookers, and cinema has evolved from primitive silent comedies into the whole great industry, differentiating from the popular films that are often not much more sophisticated than the first silent films to complex, multilayered art house works, making the viewer think and expecting him to do so.
Gaming industry seems to be now in the stage of developing its entertaining potential. There are, however, rare yet growing signs of new trends developing, games that understand the idea of “entertainment” in another, interesting and original way. After all, aren’t books by Kafka entertaining for the person, who understands and enjoys them?
We may mention the example of Russian studio Ice-Pick Lodge, which made art house games their main line of work. Their projects like Pathologic, Void and oncoming Cargo are definitely entertaining, yet in their own, twisted and peculiar way. They are hard to perceive and call for great attention from the player, offering him a unique experience, created by refusal to resort to any established clichés and principles, used by the whole gaming industry. There are other games that move in the same direction, but they only rarely get the attention of prestigious publishers, being in their majority indie-titles, such as Braid, And Yet It Moves and others.
Nevertheless, these signs are very promising. If the evolution of computer games goes in the same way the evolution of cinema went, we are in for something really interesting to behold in near future.