Make art, sell art, get reviewed. That’s the basic formula familiar to both starving artists and those showing at blue-chip galleries. The journey from rags to riches is often grueling and full of hardship—unless, that is, you’re playing the new video game Passpartout
In this enchanting art-world simulator, released last month, you play the titular character, creating virtual paintings; in my case, they generally involved a series of brightly colored squiggles. The next step is to try and sell these masterpieces to discerning (and often quite rude) collectors. With any luck, you hock enough canvases to pay off your bills—including for what the game deems artist-required expenses, such as wine and baguettes. Time goes on—at some point, a spindly critic comes to review your work—and you progress from a humble, dingy garage all the way up the art-world ladder. Ultimately, your version of the storyline depends on the art you create.
Developed by Sweden-based Flamebait Games, Passpartout is partly a light-hearted satire of the art world (hipsters stopped buying my work once I got too popular). But it has also provided a platform that genuinely empowers players to be artistically creative. Gustav Rosberg, a graphic artist at Flamebait, describes the core of the desktop computer game succinctly: “You have a Microsoft Paint set of tools, and then people come and criticize your work.”