Is Dots the first contemporary art game?

Much love has been professed for the new mobile game, Dots, by Betaworks, not only about its fun factor but about it’s aesthetic charm. What strikes me about Dots, aside from its simple gameplay, is that as far as I can tell, it might actually be the first contemporary art game. It’s also hitting the zeitgeist as other parts of popular culture are also having their dots (or spots), moments as well.

Hirst, Eames and Kusama are having their moment. It was just a year ago that Damien Hirst presented his spots show at the Gagosian Gallery. Hirst may be a lot of things to a lot of people, but for lovers of a certain, simple mobile game, we can see his influence. Here’s an image of the game:


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Here’s an image from Hirst’s work:

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and another

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here we dots showing up in ceramics

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here we see 30 seconds from mars feeling the inspiration on their new album


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It’s clear also that as John Borthwick pointed out to me, that Charles and Ray Eames are a huge influence


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And Yayoi Kusama is also a big influence.


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you get the point yet?

Even the cover of this years Frieze New York art show makes an oblique reference to the power of dots.

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I think it’s pretty cool to see a design aesthetic jump from the art world to music to games. There has been a much more active relationship between contemporary art and fashion. But to see it in mobile games is a first. I think we are used to WoW posters, as well as retro and 8-bit art when we think about games. But until you prove me otherwise I am going to say the Dots is a first – the first mobile game with a direct design pedigree inspired by contemporary art. It’s doubtful we will see game designers prowling the halls of Art Frieze and Art Basal, looking for their next inspiration, but I think we can say in certain areas, we are having a “Dots” cultural moment.