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What Are the Different Types of Art Games?

Art games come in various forms, from immersive simulations that let you create masterpieces to narrative adventures that explore the essence of creativity. They can be puzzle-based, focusing on pattern recognition, or action-oriented, requiring quick reflexes and strategic thinking. Each type offers a unique way to engage with art. Curious about which art game might unleash your inner artist? Let's dive deeper.
Jennifer Voight
Jennifer Voight

Art games can help children or adults develop artistic and creative skills in a fun way. Types of art games include those that develop art techniques or explore different media, those that develop knowledge of art history and artists of a specific period, and those that help develop creativity and divergent thinking. Ideas can be found through online searches; on websites devoted to making online interactive art games available; and in books on art technique, art projects, and teaching art.

Some art games that that teach artistic technique require the participant to mimic a famous artist’s technique. An extra creative edge can be added by injecting the student’s own interpretation or adding a creative twist. Other students can try to guess the artist based on the finished product. Some art games help students learn more about different media, like charcoal, paint, or collage, by creating an art project with the same theme using several different media. There are also interactive quizzes online that test a student’s knowledge of artists or media.

Coloring can be a fun way to teach children about creative thinking and developing technique.
Coloring can be a fun way to teach children about creative thinking and developing technique.

The study of art historical periods and famous artists lends itself well to quiz games and puzzles that require a student to match periods in art history with the corresponding artist. Flash cards can help art students match works of art to their creator. Artistic techniques and technical terms can be used to make a crossword or seek-and-find puzzle.

Perhaps the broadest category of art games is based on developing divergent thinking and creativity. Many creative games are not directly artistic in nature, yet the creative thinking skills they help develop are useful to any artist. A popular, charade-like game requires players to make teammates guess a word by drawing it on paper. This helps generate conceptual thinking and open-ended ideas. Another art game begins with random brush strokes or shapes and requires artists to complete the picture by finding animals, faces, or other real-life images.

Some art games help develop visual memory and observation skills. Many art game websites have games that fall into this category, like shape memory games and figure copying games. Other games that help develop visual acuity are the common puzzle that consists of two images that appear identical. Upon closer inspection, there are very subtle differences that are observable only when closely scrutinized.

Parents and teachers should choose art games that are more than merely fun; art activities should help develop either technique, ways of seeing, or creative thinking skills. Games that may look fun may not be educational. Some examples include coloring pages and their electronic point-and-click equivalents that appear on many websites but sometimes do little to develop creativity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are art games and how do they differ from traditional video games?

Art games are a subgenre of video games that emphasize artistic expression and exploration over conventional game mechanics like points and competition. They often focus on delivering a narrative, evoking emotions, or presenting unique visual and auditory experiences. Unlike traditional video games, which prioritize gameplay and entertainment, art games are designed to provoke thought and offer a deeper meaning or commentary, similar to how one might interpret a piece of fine art.

Can art games be considered a form of digital art?

Yes, art games are frequently considered a form of digital art. They blend interactive media with traditional art concepts to create immersive experiences that can be interpreted and appreciated in ways similar to installations or sculptures in a gallery. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, for instance, has included video games in its collection, recognizing them as a unique medium that combines visuals, narrative, and interactivity to create something new and expressive.

What are some examples of popular art games?

Popular art games include titles like "Journey," which offers a visually stunning and emotional experience through a mystical desert, and "The Stanley Parable," which plays with narrative conventions and player choice to create a thought-provoking commentary on free will. "Flower" is another example, where players control the wind, influencing the environment and music to create a serene and poetic experience. These games are celebrated for their innovative approaches to storytelling and game design.

How do art games impact the player's experience compared to more conventional games?

Art games often provide a more introspective and contemplative experience compared to conventional games. They tend to de-emphasize objectives like scoring points or winning, instead inviting players to reflect on the themes, messages, or emotions presented. This can lead to a more personal and subjective experience, as players are encouraged to derive their own meanings and connections from the game, much like one would when engaging with a piece of abstract art.

Are there any educational benefits to playing art games?

Playing art games can have several educational benefits. They can foster creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence by encouraging players to interpret and engage with complex themes. Art games can also serve as interactive tools for learning about art history, design principles, and storytelling techniques. For example, games like "Passage" can teach about the brevity of life and the inevitability of death, while "Papers, Please" offers insights into the moral complexities of immigration and bureaucracy.

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Discussion Comments


@Mor - Teachers can have such an influence on artistic confidence. My nephew called me up in tears a few weeks ago because his class was making some kind of arty thing out of newspaper and he couldn't manage it so he felt like he was stupid.

An art game should be easy to a point, because you want everyone to be on the same page before they get creative and then there shouldn't be a right or wrong answer.


@irontoenail - If that's the goal, then you have to refrain yourself from using competitive games, as that might dishearten children without confidence in their artistic abilities even more.

When I was assisting a kindergarten class a couple of years ago the teacher would do what she called "bossy drawing" which was where she would basically demonstrate drawing a picture (usually an animal) bit by bit so that the students could copy her and then they could decorate their sketches however they wanted.

That isn't something I would do with much older children, since they need to learn how to depend on their own skills but for very young students it's a good way for them to develop basic drawing ability.


It's really important to make art fun for children, so they don't start thinking that they are bad at it when they first start developing an eye for it. Little kids don't worry about whether or not the squiggles they draw are good enough, but as they get older they can start getting it into their heads that they are either good or bad at art and this colors how willing they are to try.

Art games for kids can definitely help to relax them and make them see that it's not about being the most talented artist in the world. There is no right or wrong answer to art, there's only having fun and trying your best.

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    • Coloring can be a fun way to teach children about creative thinking and developing technique.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Coloring can be a fun way to teach children about creative thinking and developing technique.