One of my refrains in response the complaint that there aren’t any games with artistic merit has been that people aren’t looking outside the blockbuster titles. Just like blockbuster films, blockbuster games are much less likely to be artistic – after all, they’re profit oriented and art doesn’t generally make anyone much money…until the artist is dead.
So here’s a little taste of what I’m talking about to get you started:
The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1, released back in 2006 (so some of the content is no longer compatible with current versions of Flash). Sure, not all of these are games, but some are, and some of the interactive content is really only not called video-games for reasons of semantics. Check out Bad Machine if you can deal with text-based games, it’s a fantastic piece of interactive science fiction.
Jason Rohrer’s site. This guy is trying, he really is. And some of his stuff is pretty damn good.
FATALE. Tales of tales are also trying hard – I mean, a video game based on Oscar Wilde’s Salome? You can decide for yourself how successful you think the project is.
And that’s just a start. All I’m saying is that if you keep your ear to the proverbial ground, there’s a lot out there to find. Even just paying attention to Newgrounds yields the occasional attempt to create art. Designers aren’t always successful, but this is a young medium, and it’s being mostly worked with by young people. Both the medium and the artists need to mature. And they will.