[-empyre-] The Playsthetics of Experimental Digital Games: Week 1 Featured Guests and Questions

Sandra Danilovic s.danilovic at mail.utoronto.ca
Sat Mar 8 10:50:21 EST 2014

Felan, thanks for your last post - some very loose and informal threads from my end, since it's Friday. Thank you for your great game examples and for the fact that you entertained my idea of 'radical honesty' in such a rich way.  

Actually, I thought about adding a few more ingredients to whatever we have brewing in this discussion...including  "homebrew" games, the demoscene, and what Casey ODonnell calls “pre-indie games”... 

We do have upcoming guests this month that will be able to address a variety of hobbyist, retro, and DIY contexts, including tinkering and playing with game design, and a host of other practices that relate to our starter ideas surrounding experimentation, games as experiments, experimental games, demo games, DIY game prototypes, etc. I was also thinking of computer geek sub/cultures and hackers who design computer games for the sake of gaining their hacker credentials (and learning to code) in a community of creative hackers, where perhaps there is competition in this regard? (If anyone with more knowledge could comment on this, it would be great). 

So, here I am going to pick up on Bart's idea of experimentation as a "humble" and "mundane" process. I think this is very important (Bart, apologies if I am appropriating your idea in unintended ways, I hope that in the spirit of conceptual remixing, you will allow it). So, yes, the humble and mundane process of experimentation usually strikes me as unacknowledged yet a very significant one. I hate to jump the gun and bring up Twine (this is a topic of discussion in upcoming weeks), but in the case of Twine, is the humble and mundane process of experimentation becoming the so-called "Twine Revolution" (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/gamesblog/2013/apr/10/anna-anthropy-twine-revolution) or some other event? Here again, I stress the messiness of experimentation as a way into something not so mundane and humble... 

I myself have been experimenting with the Twine software quite a lot for my own creative objectives and secondly, as a way to learn JavaScript. Theoretically speaking, a huge nod to Ian Bogost’s “procedural literacy” here, a concept worthy of mention, especially in the context of telling and sharing  stories in Twine as portals into procedural literacies? Imagine if we turned to Twine as a "procedural" form of social media...and would we be retro-regressing to (pre Web 2.0) days when we had to code to post and publish online? There is something both futuristic and retro about a software such as Twine... 


By the way, I have played with Twine as a multi-purpose creative platform for not just interactive narratives, but also presentations (instead of my usual humdrum PowerPoint, Twine is much more exciting)... I will also reference Lev Manovich's latest book, "Software Takes Command". He argues software is becoming  "our interface to the world, to others, to our memory and our imagination" (p. 2)... In fact, speaking of this idea of software as a mobilizing device, a rich and vibrant online community has mobilized around the Twine software and I think this elevates the experience from its usual mundanity. Coding for me is a form of demystification of computer technologies. Because I am the amateur, I have learned to declare a variable or two, and then, call it a day. This is very humbling for me, but it's not mundane at all.  
With regards to Felan’s comments about “collaborative storytelling” and the “materializing process” of theory and praxis, here’s an idea: I can start a Twine file, and "we" can "all" add to it, via empyre? (I am kidding, except for those who are really interested…) 

Happy Friday! 


Sandra Danilovic, BFA, MA, SSHRC Doctoral Fellow
Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au <empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au> on behalf of Felan Parker <felan.parker at hotmail.com>
Sent: March 6, 2014 10:09 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] The Playsthetics of Experimental Digital Games: Week 1 Featured Guests and Questions

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