Aesthetic Explorations: Fumito Ueda’s Video Games

As a video game lover, one game creator whose games I cherish is Fumito Ueda.  Ueda is the Director, Lead Designer, and Lead Animator of a game studio called Team Ico which has developed games over the last 20 years.

Ueda’s games revolve around a relationship between the player and a computer controlled character.  The interactions between them are almost completely wordless for most of the game, where the little dialogue spoken is in a fabricated language.   In Ico, you control young boy who has to defend a girl from a shadowy creatures and in turn she can grant you access to areas that you could not reach before.  Alternatively, in the Last Guardian, you play a similar boy but are protected by a large bird-like dog named Trico, where you have to open gates and help Trico progress further into the world.  In both games, you and your companion have to work together symbiotically to achieve your shared goal.  One cannot succeed without the other.

ICO by Team ICO, image by MAT at mobygames.com

Trico and the boy from The Last Guardian by Team Ico, image from Tony Orry

His games also focus on a minimalist approach in their portrayal of the player and the world they interact with.  The protagonist in his games are usually characters that would be considered disempowered compared to the average video game hero.  They are all children, between the age of 10 to 16, equipped with a sword or even just a stick, and tasked with taking down unearthly, sometimes even monolithic, beasts.

Shadow of the Colossus by Team ICO, image by Kow Otani

The settings of his games are usually abandoned ruins and structures, of some ancient, powerful civilization that has long gone extinct, surrounded by empty fields and nature that has been undisturbed for years.  Ueda also uses unsaturated colors which leaves the landscape in his games to have a washed out appearance.

The landscape of Shadow of the Colossus created by Team ICO, image from youtuber MatthewMatosis

ICO by Team ICO, image by Zorba of Mandible Games

 

Shadow of the Colossus by Team ICO, image by Zorba of Mandible Games

References:

All the games shown were created by Team ICO

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fumito_Ueda

 

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Jon Nelson
    Emma Hammerton
    January 29, 2017 9:04 pm

    Hi Jon! First of all, I love how you chose to focus on the aesthetics of a particular artist rather than a genre of game. They are all incredibly different and I think this exploration definitely does that fact just it. I find it interesting that you were able to draw so many ties between his games. I mean, it is understandable since he is the lead artist, but noticing that most of the games take place in old ruins and have the washed out appearance alike suggests that he and his company are catering to a very specific audience. He’s done some awesome minimalist art! The only thing I can think of for improvement is that it would be interesting to delve a bit more into what inspires Ueda to create and stick with this style. What do you think these aesthetic choices were intended to mean? What do they mean to you?

    Reply

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