The video game industry is a global phenomenon with billions of players around the world. Artists using video game engines and games investigate the affordances of the medium, looking critically at how it impacts culture. What ideologies are present in our favourite game franchises? How can game mechanics shape our expectations or behaviour? 

In the programs below, artists discuss their work created through game engines and platforms. 

Section Glossary

Affordances – What a space, platform, or object offers a user through its properties and what it can do. 

Artificial intelligence or AI or chatbot – A computer program that imitates aspects of intelligence, such as conversation or the ability to learn. 

Conceptual – A style of art where the idea is the primary focus, with aesthetic or technical concerns being less emphasized.

Contemporary – Current or happening now. When talking about art, contemporary refers to work created since the 1980’s. 

First-person-shooter or FPSA popular genre/style of video game, where the player controls a character from the perspective of that character, moving across three dimensions (forward/backward, up/down, left/right).

Game – An interactive activity, often engaged in for fun or entertainment, that may involve skill challenges, competition, cooperation, creativity, and more. 

Historical Precedents – Situations, people, places and things from the past that provide ways for understanding relations today. 

InteractiveThe ability to change an experience such as a computer program through user input and choices.

MMOG – Massively Multiplayer Online Game (also known as MMORPG, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), a genre of video game where the player shares a game world with other players, and gameplay involves elements of cooperation and competition between players.

Non-Player Characters or NPCs – computer-controlled characters in a video game that the player can interact with, often contributing to their experience of the story or game world. 

Render – In computing, the process of making an image using shading, colours, shapes and textures, often in a way that looks 3-Dimensional. 

Side-scroller – A two-dimensional video game where the player typically moves a character along horizontal and vertical dimensions of movement. 


Pippin Barr: Video Games as Art

What do we mean when we say video game art? Dr. Pippin Barr discusses critical uses of the medium and its application in art spaces. Through examples drawn from his practice, Barr demonstrates how art using video game technology can subvert art world hierarchies and expectations. Live-streamed August 20, 2020.



Ender Gallery

Ender Gallery is an artist residency and exhibition series that occurs entirely on the video game Minecraft. In its inaugural year, the program hosted four artists who explored the platform’s potential for artistic expression. Over four exhibitions and more than a dozen events, these artists consider the affordances, expectations, and limitations of the Minecraft platform. Exhibition and residency programs ran March 8, 2021 – January 22, 2022  and are available as documentation and recorded events.

DAiR v1: Video Games by Artists

Tour the archive of of six digital works created by Saskatchewan artists. DAiR v1: Video Games by Artists explores the conceptual, creative, and narrative boundaries of video game design to explore its potential as an artistic medium. Each work investigates an aspect of our contemporary moment, making inquiries into the subjects of care, control, mental health, isolation, and shared crisis. The exhibit is available as documentation and recorded gameplay (ran March 4 – May 26, 2021).

Nathalie Lawhead (alienmelon) for Gone in a Flash

Nathalie Lawhead is a net-artist and award-winning game designer that has been creating experimental digital art since the late 90’s. They have been creating Flash work since its inception, including their IGF winning Tetrageddon Games. Lawhead presents their practice and its growth alongside the evolution of the Flash software, and considers how Flash experimentation paved the way for the popular independent game developers of today. Live-streamed December 3, 2020.


Paolo Pedercini (Molleindustria) for Gone in a Flash

Paolo Pedercini joins us to discuss his practice as an artist and educator and their intersections with the Adobe Flash software. Working under the project name “Molleindustria,” he produces videogames addressing social issues including environmental justice, religion, and labour and alienation. Many of his projects, including the viral 2006 “McDonald’s videogame” were built using Flash and are at risk through the software’s dissolution. In this program, Pedercini presents his work through a lens of culture and access, reflecting on historical precedents. . Live-streamed November 19, 2020.


Kara Stone: UnEarthU

Kara Stone’s UnEarthU explores the commodification of health and wellness through a seven-day interactive experience. The audience is guided through by KARE, an artificial intelligence self-discovery program. UnEarthU is a measured reflection on personal, environmental, and technological resources and the systems developed to manage them. Live-streamed July 2, 2020.



Maize Longboat: TerraNova

Maize Longboat’s Terra Nova is a two-player game that speculates on a first contact encounter between Indigenous and Settler peoples occurring thousands of years in the future. The project highlights the affordances of video games to convey messages through interactive storytelling. This video features a full play-through of Terra Nova with live commentary from the artist. Live-streamed June 18, 2020.

Cat Haines, Huidi Xiang, and Ender Gallery at A MAZE. 2021


Ender Gallery’s first and third artists in residence join co-curators Sarah Friend, Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll for a panel discussion for A MAZE. Games and Playful Media festival. In the context A MAZE.’s hybrid media arts festival, the group considers Ender Gallery’s own practices for virtual programming and how artist projects can inform online spaces. Live-streamed July 24, 2021.

Plugging in the IndigiNES with Dallas Flett-Wapash

Artist and game designer Dallas Flett-Wapash discusses his project IndigiNES as seen at the Art Gallery of Southern Manitoba’s !in.Site; digital exhibition. The IndigiNES is a collection of games inspired by Flett-Wapash’s own experiences of life on the reservation. Through 8-bit aesthetics, Flett-Wapash develops an Indigenous Retro-Futurism to speculate how Indigenous artists may have represented themselves in the early days of video game design if they’d had access. Live-streamed July 23, 2020.


Things to think about

  • What do you think makes up the language of video games? In other words, what ways do video games share ideas with us?
  • How do you define a video game? How do you define art?
  • How is a video game different from other digital mediums?