If art is defined as Prakash defines it — as something that changes you — then perhaps it’s the format of a game, in which players move toward some kind of predetermined triumph or goal, that is self-limiting. But even visual artists working in the medium have tended to adopt gaming formulas. Artist Feng Mengbo spent 15 years making his video game Long March: Restart, recently acquired by LACMA. In it, a Red Army soldier battles through a historic Chinese landscape with only a Coca-Cola bottle as weapon. The visuals are fantastically lush and layered, putting ancient history, communism and Westernization on a collision course, but the game can be won, when a player fights through 14 stages and lands in front of Tiananmen Square. Journey, designed by thatgamecompany, a collective that has shown work at MoMA and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, was supposed to be transcendent, a kind of self-discovery process. But the point was to reach a mountaintop.

July 30, 2015