Author Matthew Sainsbury and the Digitally Downloaded team aims to continue the "are games debate?" through the creation of The Interactive Canvas; Gaming Artists, a deluxe collector's book focused on developers of artistic games.
"Our main goal is to get thoughts on games and creativity from the game makers themselves — I certainly hope this is going to create some robust debate, since artists do tend to have unique ideas and approaches to their work!" Sainsbury told Polygon via email. "We're also going to feature essay-style articles from a large range of game academics and critics, so this book is going to feature plenty of different ideas and perspectives — I absolutely want people to come away from the book thinking about what they just read.
"And then discuss it with family and friends, of course! That's the best thing about art; it generates conversation and debate."
The writer also hopes that both sides on the "are games art?" debate will get something out of the book. For instance, skeptics may find enjoyment from the content of participating developers.
"And then the content of those interviews will be of interest to people who takes their games seriously as works of art too — heck, I'm hoping that people who aren't interested in games as such, but like art itself, find this book useful," he explained. "Games are a fledgling art form and I really think that now is a good time to start having those deeper conversations about themes and creativity. That's something that I think will appeal to everyone involved in this industry."
The Interactive Canvas; Gaming Artists will feature insights and discussions from 13 developers, which includes a core group consisting of American McGee (American McGee's Alice), CD Projekt Red (Witcher franchise) and Jonathan Blow (Braid). Through these discussions, Sainsbury hopes that the portrayal of women in games will be brought up or debated in the book, as it is currently "an issue that is core to many of the discussions around creativity and art and games."
"I think it's important that we have some rational and balanced discussions around the topic, because I do think the industry gets lost in senseless arguments, if not hysteria, on gender at times," Sainsbury said. He confirmed that while the project will cover controversial topics through interviews and feature essays, the book's existence isn't for the sake of shocking its audience.
"...it's impossible to write about games and art in any meaningful manner without consideration for the role of violence and sex in games, for instance," he wrote. "We are also going to have a wide range of developers featured in the work; some (which I can't announce just yet, sorry!) are controversial indeed. But in a positive manner — one thing I really want people to take away from the book is that it's aiming to be a positive and constructive addition to the discourse around games."
Visual arts isn't the project's sole focus, it expands to embrace other fields. The book will feature interviews and in-depth features from various composers, such as Inon Zur (Dragon Age, Prince of Persia), Jesper Kyd (Assassin's Creed, Hitman), Olivier Deriviere (Remember Me, Of Orcs and Men), Mark Morgan (Wasteland 2, Planescape: Torment, Fallout 2) and Peter McConnell (Broken Age, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time)
Sainsbury and Digitally Downloaded recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book's creation. The Interactive Canvas will launch in July as a 200+ page glossy, full-color book if the campaign reaches its $60,000 goal before Feb. 6.
"This is a book that I've wanted to write for many years now. I'm an arts student, and have fond memories about digging deep into my favourite films to analyse them back in my uni days," Sainsbury wrote. "It's something that I've always felt could be, and should be, part of the games industry, and I felt that Kickstarter was my chance to make the dream happen."