Unlike books, music, or even film, I often treat the virtual spaces that games carve out in the world as though they exist unto themselves, in a vacuum free from outside influence and/or knowledge; alien artifacts churned out of some unknowable machine. This perspective does not gel well with the fact that I am also constantly searching for and interested the origins of things; searches which often take me several leaps away from the thing that piqued my interest.
As I’ve grown older and thus my mind expanded I really appreciate being reminded that an artist exists behind the art. Valve is a developer who regularly sets off these little reminders for me. As I’ve discussed previously, their attention and dedication to crafting mechanically solid as well as visually interesting and informed games is almost unlike any other currently active developer. Portal 2 is but the most recent example of their amazing talent at art direction.