As contemporary art, like every other branch of the culture industry, gets Web 2.0-ified, video games are turning out to be one of the most interesting creative fields. We're not talking Doom and World of Warcraft here, I mean games designed by one artist or a small collective that pose completely original (sometimes incomprehensible) puzzles and challenges. If you've been to The Generational at the New Museum, you've seen (and possibly played) one such game, Mark Essen's Flywrench (2007), which consists of, well, flying a wrench through a series of mazes without hitting the walls.
Tonight, a show curated by Essen (aka Messhof) and featuring his latest game, a helicopter-shooting and organ-thieving saga titled The Thrill of Combat (pictured), opens at X-Initiative (548 W 22nd St). The exhibition, titled Instant Gratification, will feature two other games (Sexy Hiking by Japanese game designer Jazzuo, and a new 3D game from Swedish designer Jonatan Söderström) and is the opening event of X-Initiative's week-long exhibition extravaganza of new media, contemporary art, film and documentary, No Soul For Sale. Events and exhibitions continue through June 28, tonight's opening gaming event runs from 6-9pm. Click here for details.