[-empyre-] Week 2: The Playsthetics of Experimental Digital Games : experiment/art?

Lynn Hughes Lynn.Hughes at concordia.ca
Wed Mar 12 01:22:49 EST 2014

Thank you all for a really interesting first week. I¹m not sure I am
receiving the posts this week so I hope I haven¹t missed the beginning of
the discussion!

I am going to try to begin with how games matter to me. I am essentially a
practitioner ­that means I continue to be motivated by
making-as-producing-a-complex-proposition. (As soon as I write this I
think: shouldn¹t it be making-as producing pleasure, making as producing
surprise, making as making to seeŠ?)

The second thing is that I don¹t come from games. I was a visual/new media
artist for many years (do these things really go away?) until I gradually
began to want to see and think interactive environments as play rather
than art. It¹s been another steep learning curve motivated by 1. a
conviction that Fine Arts in the university can¹t afford to pretend that
games aren¹t culture 2. my increasing lack of interest in the museum and
gallery based art world. 3. curiosity.   2 and 3 have a lot to do with
preserving a sense of experimentation in my practice.

It¹s been a few years now and I know a bit more about games. I still don¹t
have enough time to play and it sometimes even feels like a choice between
play or make. Frankly, I can walk into a gallery and look at a room full
of art in 15 mins and walk out with everything I need to process the
experience. As a novice game player it takes me even longer than it takes
other people to play a given game. And making is unreasonably time

I can¹t say my relation to games is getting any simpler. On the one hand,
I am unreasonable attracted to simple games, odd games, broken games, to
people trying out games.  (Game jam groups and results, Pixelles
presentationsŠ.)  I am deeply reassured by experimentation and by the
relatively unselfconscious.  Maybe this refers back somehow to Sandra¹s
idea of ³honesty² although the word makes me a tad uncomfortable. (What is
dishonest?) On the other hand, I am disappointed with many of the
ambitious games I see because they look much too niche to me. There is a
kind of self- referential aesthetic that seems sadly limiting. Why does a
game with great game play have to have cute aesthetics?  Games are the
contemporary cultural form to me. As I keep pointing out to people, the
game form even when it is not digital) is the paradigmatic form of ANY
interactive (and therefore interesting,) digital work. But games still
usually look (and often sound and act) niche. I¹m struggling with this.

(I¹m over 300 words so I¹ll try to tackle embodied gaming in the next



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