In this feature, published in the new S/S 2023 issue of Fact’s print edition, Serpentine curator Hans Ulrich Obrist asks a range of digital artists what elements every good video game should have.
In 2021, 2.8 billion people—almost a third of the world’s population— played video games, making what was once a niche pastime the biggest mass phenomenon of our time. Many people spend hours every day in a parallel world and live a multitude of different lives. Video games are to the twenty-first century what movies were to the twentieth century and novels to the nineteenth century.
The aesthetics and visual language of games first entered artistic practices decades ago. Artists have appropriated, modified, and often subverted existing video games to reflect on them and to approach questions of our existence within virtual worlds and the socio-political issues involved in the rendering of new realities. Other artists present a critique of games by exposing their often discriminatory elements and stereotypical depictions. More recently, artists have also entered existing mainstream games, opening up to massive new audiences and finding fresh forms of engagement.
Traditionally, video games were created by a…