Analysis Of Surrealism In Realation To In Relation To Video Games

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For this task I have been asked to complete an illustrated investigation of an artist or artistic movement which has explored a distinctive imagined world and how this could be or has been translated into a Games, Animation or VFX product. I have decided to investigate an artistic movement rather than a single artist as I feel this will have a wider range of relatable content. The artistic movement I have decided to choose is Surrealism.

What is Surrealism?

Surrealism is an artistic movement which began in the early 1920s, and is best known for its visual artwork. Artists in this movement painted anything from strange creatures created from everyday objects to unnerving scenes. They found inspiration from the unexpected and the unconventional. The aim of surrealism is to create an alternative reality within the piece of artwork. I feel I will be able to relate this artistic movement to imagined worlds within Games, Animation and VFX products as I think its style resembles numerous modern game titles and well known animations. Surrealism is present within imagined worlds as many pieces of surreal artwork resemble imagined worlds themselves and are almost dream like.

Art / Game

The first game I have chosen to relate to the artistic movement of Surrealism is Limbo. Limbo is a puzzle-platform game developed by the studio Playhead. Limbo is a 2D Side Scroller. Your role as the player is to guide an unnamed boy through dangerous environments as he searches for his sister. The games colours are in black and white tones and the game uses lighting, film grain effects and minimal ambient sounds to create a frightening atmosphere often associated with the horror genre.

From the two images above you can clearly see that the art style within Limbo resembles a surrealist art style. Comparing these to black and white images of the games cover and one from a surrealist artist we can see that they both look very similar. The piece of art uses shadows to create depth in the scene as does the game cover to show that the character is deep in a forest. In the piece of art, we can see that the figure is very simple with not much detail to character, this is relatable to Limbo as the character is a black figure on the screen.

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I think that the developers of Limbo have done a fantastic job at capturing a dark spooky world and I feel that this game is comparable to Surrealism.

Another game that is heavily influenced by the Surrealism art movement is Papo & Yo. The game involves a young Brazilian boy Quico who, while hiding from his abusive, alcoholic father, finds himself taken to a dream-like Favela, and meets a normal docile creature, Monster. The player, as Quico, can interact with Monster and manipulate the buildings of the favela in unique ways, such as when the player stumbles upon a lever he can pull it and a stair case will appear from the side of the building. As you can see from the image above that the game heavily incorporates a surreal art style. We can see in this image that the building the player is running on starts to spiral upwards into the air. I managed to find a piece of Surreal artwork that can relate to this art style.

We can see the image on the left resembles that of the Gameplay seen above. Surrealism has heavily influenced the imagined world of Papo & Yo. Just like in the game this building has been manipulated to look like it is bending. This creates the effect that the image is not real and is almost like an imagined world or dream. Personally I love this art style within the game and believe it creates a very surreal and dream like game environment for the payer to escape into.

The third game I can relate to the Surrealist Art Movement is Super Mario Bros. At first Super Mario Bros might not seem relative to surrealism but after studying its art style we can clearly see that it is. When you think about it Super Mario Bros imagined world contains walking mushrooms, flowers that shoot fire balls at you and floating blocks and buildings. All of these resemble that of Surrealism.[image: Related image]From the image above we can see that there are floating bricks and a mushroom enemy that moves. In Mario we also see things such as green pipes that go underground or have an enemy within them. The image below resembles the style of the 2d platformer game such as Mario. I believe it relates to the imagined world that Mario is based in. The Surrealist piece is similar to Mario in quite a number of ways. We can see that there are pipes and different bridges and pathways to follow. This indicates that Mario was designed with a Surrealist art style in mind. Surrealism is even present when it comes to the castles and boss battles within Mario. Characters have metal spikes on their bodies and others have mechanical features that shouldn’t necessarily be there. Mario is the perfect example of a surrealist dream world.


In conclusion I feel like I have successfully investigated certain pieces of Surrealist art and how they have been translated into video games. The three artworks I chose from the Surrealism Artistic Movement all relate to each of the games I have compared them to. I feel like there is a clear link between the imagined worlds within surrealism art and the imagined worlds within video games.Overall I enjoyed completing this task as it enabled me to have a better understanding of a specific art movement and how it connects to modern gaming.. I have also learned that when developers are making a game, the imagined worlds they are creating are heavily inspired by art movements such as Surrealism.I will be able to use what I have learned from this task when creating my own game and own imagined world for my final project this year. I will be able to uses this document as a reference point to come back to when completing future task or assignments.

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