Art media

In Xbox’s new artistic and historical adventure game “Pentiment,” players assume the role of a 16th-century German artist to solve murder mysteries

Art history buffs and video gamers don’t have much in common, bBut Microsoft’s Xbox could help bridge that gap with a new game called “Pentiment.”

Inspired by illuminated manuscripts, the title of the game refers to an art history term that describes the reappearance on canvas of a previously painted image.

The narrative adventure game, as the developers call it, lets players assume the role of an artist working in 16th-century Bavaria, Germany, a time of social and political upheaval.

Players are tasked with solving a series of murders, and along the way can make dialogue choices that affect the final outcome of the story, much like a choose-your-own novel.

In a demo shown to the media last week, the game’s developers at Obsidian Entertainment said they were glad Microsoft had given them enough leeway to develop a setting that wouldn’t look out of place in a history textbook. Northern Renaissance art.

“Art history had a huge impact on the making of this game, in part because it’s a story game,” said art director Hannah Kennedy. Washington Post. “Basically, it’s a story about the experience of the artists who were working at the time. So there was a lot to learn from art history, to inform this character and his existence in this world, as well as to inform the appearance of space. It was fun to directly reference different pieces of art in the story, to give little nods because we think our audience will share a lot of interest in those same things that we find interesting.

This isn’t the first time the usually disparate worlds of contemporary art and video games have found common ground. Earlier this year, for example, Hans Ulrich Obrist curated an exhibition titled “World Building” at the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf that examined how the expanded role of video games is finding fertile ground in certain currents of contemporary art.

This exhibition, which runs through December, includes works by artist and software engineer Sarah Friend, multimedia artist Lawrence Lek, and video artist Lu Yang, among others, many of whom deploy aspects of gaming. and programming in screen or console installations. .

“I have this hunch that the future of public art is moving more towards games,” said Obrist, curator of the exhibition, Told Artnet News at the time.

So maybe the contrast between art historians and gamers is like night and day, but maybe it makes for a nice chiaroscuro.

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