Some people think video games qualify as works of art. People like the Supreme Court. Like other great forms of cultural production, video games can hold references to and reproductions of other creations. A NeoGAF thread homes in one on this metacontextual aspect, focusing specifically on great paintings hanging on the walls of various virtual worlds. I myself am partial to the portraits of Cave Johnson that adorned the decrepit laboratory levels in Portal 2 for the way they told a side story about the Aperture Science founder.

NeoGaf user revolverjgw opens up discussion with this:
GAF, I have a strange fetish. I love paintings and portraits on walls, and I can't resist stopping for a moment to carefully examine them. Whether it's a famous real-world piece or something done up just for the game by the concept artists, I love the ambiance of being able to stop and enjoy a good painting in the middle of a 3D world.

Just last night, I beat Mafia 2. The climax takes place in an observatory, and between slaughtering waves of wiseguys, I took some time out to peruse the photographs of planets and galaxies on the walls. They weren't very high-res, but it was nice to spend a moment contemplating the eerie awesomeness of a neutron star, I was kind of burnt out on killing people by that point.

Another thing I like is portraits of people on walls or desks. I guess most of them are mugshots of developers or their relatives, and sometimes that's annoying when I'm playing a game set in the Victorian era and there's some damn hipster in the picture. I like it when there's vintage portraits of real people. I often feel sad knowing that they're long dead, and never got to play this particular FPS. :-(

Anyway, yeah, it can be a nice mood-setting detail, naw mean? It's something I always appreciate. I'll watch other people play games, running through them and not even acknowledging this shit. Barbarians.


For such a specific interest, it's hard to find examples, but I found a couple of memorable paintings. There were tons of cool paintings all over the mansion in Clive Barker's Undying-


And of course, Silent Hill 2-

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