[-empyre-] baggage and utilitarian tools

Nicky Donald nicky.donald at gmail.com
Sat Jan 1 04:00:32 EST 2011

Dear Matthias,

Well said. Furthermore, "play" in the engineering sense is briefly mentioned
by Callois.

Examining a winch motor with a colleague, I remarked on a big red plastic
star. I assumed this was  packaging but was told it was essential, allowing
"play" at the head of the drive shaft where the stress was hugest.

Other high-speed and high-precision winches also use an exquisite laser-cut
titanium spring or "flexible coupling" to the same end.

The most demanding engineering projects all balance precision with play in
this manner- think of skyscrapers swaying in the wind.

Similarly, well-engineered software and games allow developers and players
to develop unforeseen strategies and exploits without falling apart.

A leading larpwright also told me how he engineered frameworks of character
and setting, then let them play themselves out, knowing that the structure
would hold, whatever the players threw at it.

Sorry if this is meaningless to some people- you may be working to an
academic definition of engineering of which I'm unaware.


On 30 Dec 2010 13:02, "Mathias Fuchs" <mathias.fuchs at creativegames.org.uk>

I completely agree with Micha.
To consider games as "utilitarian tools" and to forget about the historical
context is as shallow a view as can be.
The historical and cultural dimension of software and hardware is most
important when the tools are announced to us as being utilitarian,
value-neutral, non-historic... That is when ideology slips in big time.

Nobody would consider a car as a mere tool to go from A to B and everybody
acknowledges the difference of a Ferrari and a Volkswagen in regard to going
from A to B. It is not only the speed and the sound, it is the social
connotations, historical framing aso. The same is of course true for games.
The question that Adorno asked in regard to music is interesting for games
as well. Why do I prefer to listen to certain musical styles? Why do I
prefer to play certain games?
An interesting inverstigation on that is by Garry Crawford and Victoria
Gosling: "Who plays?" But even in Huizinga and Caillois one can find a lot
of hints on the aspects of games beyond rules and efficiency. If one sees
"game designers fundamentally as engineers" one does not see how games are
received by the players. One does also not see that game designers who
consider themselves as mere engineers carry consiousl or unconsciously a
huge bag of historical and social framing and that they drop elements of
that into the products they create.

Mathias Fuchs
 European Masters in Ludic Interfaces
 Programme Leader MA Creative Technology and MSc Creative Games
 Salford University, School of Art&  Design, Manchester M3 6EQ
 mobile: +44 7949 60 9893

residential address: Ratiborstrasse 18
 10999 Berlin, Germany
 phone: +49 3092109654
 mobile: +49 17677287011

empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://mail.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20101231/343107e9/attachment.html>

More information about the empyre mailing list