[-empyre-] Week 4: The Playsthetics of Experimental Digital Games: digital game design praxis

Christine Kim limbtolimb at gmail.com
Tue Mar 25 10:59:29 EST 2014

Hi everyone. It has been a pleasure following the thread over the past few
weeks. There is a lot of productive discussion that is happening here and
it is nice to be able to reach out to a group who all have a specialized
knowledge of this specific intersection of digital games and art!

Sandra did a wonderful job at coordinating the weeks past and I think that
this week's panelists will offer a unique perspective as we all have
experience with making games. Though I can't speak for everyone, I made my
games using free game making software that requires no programming skills
at all.

Though I was never trained to be a graphic designer, that is now what I do
professionally. It is those skills that made game making easier for me than
perhaps someone who doesn't think visually on the computer. I also have a
theory that I think in pixels from playing too much Tetris as a child.

I made my game through a 6-week incubator that was organized by Dames
Making Games and partially funded by Feminists in Games. Here is a link to
the program and you may find out more about the women who were involved in
this program. (http://jeuxly.com/).

This group was made up of women who, like me, had some kind of creative
computer job or an arts background. Looking back at the games now the
majority of the participants did not use the medium as a form of
self-expression. Why this is I can't really speak to but for me I wanted to
make an homage to the history of early computer games. My game takes
inspiration from the maze game Adventure, the snake game on Nokia, and
Japanese bullet-hell-shooters.

At the time, I was thinking about producing a playable project. I wasn't
looking to make art. It was only when I was invited to speak at the Art
Gallery of Ontario as a video game artist that I thought maybe what I am
making could be considered art ... still grappling with this idea.

The game that I made is not visually pleasing by any means and it was
likely due to the lack of computer programming language. Peter's point that
'a lack of computational literacy will undermine the voice of artists who
might desire to access the malleability afforded by programming languages."
The artist is limited to what he or she can do with the medium if the only
way they can manipulate the technology is through the surface. I used game
maker. A drag and drop program that is not actually that different from
photoshop. Popular games such as Spelunky and even Hotline Miami were made
using Game Makers. So it goes to show that when it comes to game making, it
helps to have computer programming literacy.

The image of the artist as a lone wolf is still present amongst popular
representations of artists within mainstream media. It seems as though In
contemporary art the artist is more willing to collaborate, corroborate,
and conspire with mainstram and consumer cultures. Perhaps they are even
rejecting the label of the outsider artist altogether. Artists like Takashi
Murakami, Andy Warhol, and the person I am throwing out there is Keita
Takahashi. The creator of Katamari Damacy.

Given that I do not have the adequate programming skills to produce a game
that would fulfill my imagination I am now collaborating with skilled
programmers to create original games. One of the projects I am working on
now, as the game's director, features the work of Peruvian video artist
Madi Pillar. We have hired on a well-known Toronto based programmer and a
developer who has a background in film. This non-narrative game is a way to
preserve Pillar's archive of video art work that she's made over the past
decade or more.

Video games are used as tools for self-expression but they can also be used
as a gateway to introduce audiences to new experiences. For instance, there
was an exhibit here in Toronto that featured Inuit art, (I'll have to look
into finding that link again). This exhibit featured an interactive digital
game as one of the highlights to see amongst the ancient artifacts. I see
many video game exhibits as a way for museums and art galleries to draw in
new audiences. Come for the video games, stay for the "art" is what I can't
help but think.

I'm curious, to anyone here who has made a game. Did you go into it
with theintention of
making art?

On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 2:20 PM, Sandra Danilovic <
s.danilovic at mail.utoronto.ca> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>  Dear All,
>  I want to thank Emma Westecott, Alison Harvey and Peter Coppin for their
> wonderfully insightful posts this past week.
>  It is my pleasure to introduce to you Week 4's fabulous featured guests, Kara
> Stone, Christine Kim, Chris Young, and Mark Chen.
>  We will be discussing game design praxis in more detail and I hope that
> we can incorporate Alison's, Emma's and Peter's excellent points into this
> week's conversation. I will post the starter questions later this evening.
>  Christine Kim (CA) is an independent curator and video game artist. She
> is a founding member of the curatorial team behind Vector Game + Art
> Convergence Festival and is the founder of the international game
> collective called Parallel Play. Her curatorial philosophy aims to create
> awareness of, and appreciation for, experimental video game art and
> independently made games. Her video game "Bitmap," was made through the
> Dames Making Games incubator and has since been shown at Digifest, Toronto
> Global Game Jam and was featured in the Globe and Mail.
>  Kara Stone (CA) is a student at York University, achieving an MA in
> Communication and Culture. She previously completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts
> in Film Production. Her work consists of feminist art with a focus on
> gendered perspectives of affect, mental illness and emotion. Coming from a
> theatre background, she transitioned into film and video making, working as
> a picture editor on dramatic and documentary features, shorts, music videos
> and activist videos. Now, she is expanding her media of focus and
> experimenting primarily in alternative modes of video interactions,
> traditional crafting, and videogames. Her videogames include Medication
> Meditation, Hand to Heart, and Cyborg Goddess, and her work has been
> featured in NOW Magazine, Toronto Star, Marketplace NPR, and The Atlantic.
>  Mark Chen (US) is an independent researcher of gaming culture and
> spare-time game designer. He is the author of Leet Noobs: The Life and
> Death of an Expert Player Group in World of Warcraft. Currently, he is
> looking into experimental and artistic games to promote exploration of
> moral dilemmas and human nature, researching DIY subcultures of Board Game
> Geek users, and generally investigating esoteric gaming practices. Mark
> also holds appointments at Pepperdine University, University of Washington,
> and University of Ontario Institute of Technology, teaching a variety of
> online and offline courses on game studies, game design, and games for
> learning. He earned a PhD in Learning Sciences/Educational Technology from
> the University of Washington and a BA in Studio Art from Reed College. You
> can read more about Mark on his blog at http://markdangerchen.net
>  Chris Young (CA) is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto's
> Faculty of Information researching the information practices of game and
> play cultures under the supervision of Sara Grimes. Chris's research
> interests include games and play cultures, information seeking and use
> practices, and cultural industries and labour. Over his career, Chris will
> be researching how the information practices of hobbyist games and play
> cultures affect the information practices of the "professional" cultural
> industry of games, particularly how hobbyist grassroots cultures and
> movements affect the wider economy and culture of the games industry. As
> well as researching hobbyist games and play cultures, Chris is a new
> hobbyist game developer working on narrative-based games that incorporate
> book history and print culture with fictional storylines. Chris is
> currently working on a small multi-part game, tentatively titled "Typoe"
> that narrates the development of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg
> through the protagonist Typoe: a fragment of an illuminated manuscript that
> assists Gutenberg in illuminating the knowledge he needs in manuscripts to
> develop a wooden printing press, as well its necessary, auxiliary
> components, such as ink, paper, type matrixes, and moveable type. Chris's
> current hobby of developing book history and print culture related games is
> driven through his work as a part-time librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare
> Book Library.
>  Warm wishes,
> Sandra
>   Sandra Danilovic, BFA, MA, SSHRC Doctoral Fellow
> Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
>  http://current.ischool.utoronto.ca/students/sandra-danilovic
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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