Modern Art Preview II

This is part of a series of plates for the upcoming release of Modern Art that I’m showcasing here with generous permission of the publisher. To read more about this publication, my notes on the cards’ design and the game’s release date, follow this link. Again, the type pictured on the card above is placeholder type.

Previewed here is an artist I call the “Letterform Artist.” The primary shapes of letterforms carve each canvas into interesting simple geometric patterns. Layers of paint reveal interesting color combinations and textures as different levels show through. This particular piece has the arresting power that Xs and crosses offer. Xs tend to be more dynamic than crosses as diagonal sweeps are more dramatic than horizontal and vertical sweeps. Indeed, many classical paintings make use of strong diagonal compositions to heighten drama. The effect of lining elements up in X forms is something of a bulls eye, as the eye travels to a down the path to a point of central interest. By arranging elements in the painting along the X, hierarchical relationships can be established. The area in the cross hairs or bulls eye is the most important point of the story while supplemental storytelling elements continue along these linear directions. Some examples of the X in paintings can be found in Eugene Delacroix’s The Death of Sardanapalus and Edward Munch’s The Scream. In both paintings, the eye travels along the diagonal lines to the center point of the X. In the case of Delacroix’s piece, the woman with spread arms out on the bed literally forms the crosshair. In The Scream, the focal is the head which is at the cross hairs. The fence forms one line of the X and the river and the man’s body forms the other line as indicated below.

While it is easy to scoff at modern art as the execution can often seem simplistic or childish, it is important to reflect that there is often more than meets the eye at first glance. Just as the subtle executions and interplays of game mechanics are often missed on non gamers, so too, modern art’s appeal often requires a prerequisite time spent around art. The more I play games, the more things I find to like and appreciate in them, particularly those created by experienced designers like Knizia. In the same way, the more I look at paintings and art pieces, the more satisfaction I get from them as I can see the purposefulness and thoughtfulness behind the pieces.

I hope you enjoy.

- Mike

Value added proposition

I want these in my games. I mean really, really want them. I love them on limited edition lithographs that I buy. I love them on other limited run designer products that I get. I love it when I get an autographic copy of a book I respect. Why? Because it tells me I have something unique. It tells me that these games that I'm buying aren't mass produced objects, but very special limited edition sets – which they actually are. It tells me that someone really cares about this piece in no uncertain terms. Enough to sign their name. Enough to print a stupid piece of paper with words like "Certificate of Authenticity", "First Edition", "From our Big Box Collection", "Carefully assembled and inspected by" and my favorite "This Rio Grande – Alea – Uberplay – Eagle – Game is number XXX from an edition of 2000". It rewards me for being the collector, connoisseur and "smart individual" that I am for having been informed enough to make this purchase. It personalizes the purchase.

It adds value. It adds a lot of value on an emotional level. It feels like the next logical step after putting designer's names on the covers and the increase in production values that we have been seeing in the last number of years. It is what I want to see in games and what I suggest to all publishers I work with.

The page could be printed with other parts of the game – usually there is paper waste involved in printing where this could fit in on the run – the artwork ganged up with other elements. A seal could be hand embossed on each one. Such pocket embossers generally cost $80 for a custom logo. To hand emboss 1500 of these certificates would probably mean 4 or 5 hours of work. Hand scribbling a number from 1 - 1500 (or whatever the run is) would probably be somewhere around the same. Signatures of the designer, producer and even artist could be preprinted on the certificates. they could be 5" x 7" pieces of paper or smaller like a card. It would be nice if these were put in glassine or vellum envelopes as well. The cost here is minimal. But the value add is great. It elevates these games to what they actually are. That is, limited edition run, designer art piece games. In an atmosphere where many complain about the prices of these games, such a simple touch is a powerful reminder of the craftsmanship and rarity that these objects employ.

I've never seen this done before in this category. Boy, I would really love it if publishers would though.

– Mike


This probably came up on the geek at some time – but it's new to me. Fascinating.

From their site:

TileToy is a modular, electronic game prototype for tangible LED game tiles. TileToy brings the flexibility inherent in digital software to a physical tile that people can touch and interact with. By arranging the electronic tiles, players can engage themselves in various kinds of game play, ranging from fast-paced arcade style games to puzzle an learning games.

What I also find fascinating is the potential to embedd dynamic graphics under something more constant and textural to provide thematic grounding. Very interesting way to layer information. For example, LED under a tile or map just as the LED shows through the veneer on this block of wood clock.