‘Art Sqool’ Is a Game About Following Your Passion in an Exploitative World
is as an insightful critique of the arts education. It’s a cynical critique that sees art schools as a big private grift that ask you to do a bunch of arbitrary assignments in a classroom setting that are graded purely by magic. And then, to make matters worse, if you actually want to get better and develop new abilities, you’ll have a better chance of just going out and finding them instead of actually having them delivered through instruction. All of this is built on the enthusiasm of Froshmin, whose intro is one of the best-directed and cutest things I have seen in the past little while.
Another way of reading Art Sqool is that it truly is about adventure and betterment. You can half-ass the assignments, game the AI that evaluates them, and slide through the game to complete them all. You can find a couple skills, maybe one or two colors, and then make do with what you can. You rumble around every corner of the map, turning up new brushes all the time, and you fully exploit that free range to do whatever you want. In this reading, having to make your own way isn’t a glitch; it’s a feature. Froshmin’s enthusiasm is not fuel for the eternal combustion of capital extraction from student bodies, it’s the coal that keeps the train of life running. Beep beep.
Whatever your chosen interpretation, Art Sqool manages deftly to present us with one of the problems of contemporary civil society: you’re going to be eaten alive, and you need to recognize it. The whole world is Art Sqool, and we’re all Froshmin. We’re brought into systems we don’t quite understand and told that we need to be entrepreneurs of our own fate, and anyone who doesn’t get these facts immediately is being taken for a ride down a one-way track to exploitation.
It’s a common rhetorical move to suggest that anyone who is going down that track made a choice to go there. The purpose of articles on business sites about a 30-year-old with millions of dollars in savings and five rental properties is meant to grind home the fact that if that isn’t you, then you’re a failure. If you’re trapped in the horror of debt or an educational hole, these articles seem to say, then you did something wrong.
But Froshmin’s education at Art Sqool, and the myriad ways of reading that education, should temper our reactions here. If you get swept up in the debt-creating, emotion-annihilating, discipline-generating systems that Art Sqool is an allegory for, you’re not a fool. We’re all Froshmin. We’re all making tactical decisions about how to take advantage of, or be taken advantage of, by our circumstances every single day. Sometimes that’s the effect of choices we make, but more often than not it’s simply the effect of a ball of debt and limited mobility rolling downhill from decades before we were born.
The power of Art Sqool is that it so cleanly presents this paradox of thinking for us. Froshmin’s trapped and makes the best or worst of it, and it’s unclear what the “right” way of being in Art Sqool is. That ambivalence can be frustrating, but I personally find it very empowering. It’s not often that a game presents a social problem as well as Art Sqool does.
For more of this kind of thing, you can follow Cameron on Twitter.
Source : Cameron Kunzelman Link