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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  August 2014

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING August 2014

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Subject:

Re: Video Games into the Museum

From:

Johannes Birringer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Johannes Birringer <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:49:02 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (152 lines)

Hallo Adam

thanks for (not only) your very interesting reply, but also for the links you gave from 
the Double Fine Productions' Ron Gilbert (designer of LucasArts' classic 1987 adventure game Maniac Mansion)
talking about the design processes, the design inspirations (the Lucas farm, movies, other games, popular culture), the 'concept art' early on, their not knowing what genre they were
working in,  the choices for the programming languages, the SCUMM system, the characters,  etc etc
in fact this "classic game postmortem  at GDC - which I had not really known about (as I don't play games) seems
wonderfully interesting –- at the end he says ""If there's anything to take away from this talk, it's that we had no idea what we were doing....."  [?]  – 
and the talk is accompanied by excellent visuals and examples:
I would not mind imaging such "postmortems" to be a part of an exhibition (in the manner in which
films or docs sometimes accompany visual art shows), hearing the designers address design questions,
and then perhaps constructing other display elements and critical responses (but also "fan" replies
like cozplay, which I gather had a huge presence in Japan at one point) around the look backs
and also set against recent/current evolutions...

Today, I read in the FAZ in Germany that "Egoshooters" are "auf dem Rückug", the digital
gam world is undergoing significant changes (fewer egoshooter games, losses in games
sales and console sales, sizeable increase in female gamers, increase in collaborative games
enacted via smartphones, etc), thus it would be interesting to analyze demographic and behavioral
changes amongst user bases (and also looking at different cultures and how games feature
in cultures, in education, in trends regarding coding and sharing of apps etc, independent
design not as closely related/indebted as Gilbert seems to have been to Hollywood, Pixar, etc.)

regards
Johannes Birringer



...[Adam schreibt]

Just a further thought on experiencing systems. Certainly I feel the
videogames medium (experienced through interaction/play) is powerfully able
to provide direct experience of a system, as opposed to external
representations of systems in the form of charts / maps. However, two
problems occur to me if we take this as an argument for playable exhibits.

Firstly the system experience *provided* by an existing game is not
necessarily the system we want to examine through an exhibition *about*
that game and its design. The designers' own work involves various systemic
perspectives which are not necessarily made overt to the player / end user.
For example a "string-of-pearls plot graph in an interactive narrative",
which I mentioned previously, is not necessarily experienced by the player,
but a systemic perspective employed in the design of the narrative. So to
provide direct experience of these 'design systems' through the medium of
videogames might require designing an entirely new videogame about the
design of the first game! This is clearly impractical :) Thus we are left
with other forms of (non-playable) presentation regarding the systemic
qualities of the design of the first game.

Secondly this direct experience of systems through playing games generally
takes a long time, far longer than any visitor is likely to interact with a
playable exhibit. Thus again we are limited to their impressions of the
visual representations, sound design, short-term interaction loops etc. but
no long-range 'deep' systems become evident unless presented in some other
way e.g. a flowchart

An unusual example that was exposed at GDC 2011 is the character graph used
in the design of Lucasarts' Maniac Mansion, which actually appears
(anonymously) on a wall *in the game* as a visual image, but is not a
system the player experiences directly: "we were so proud of this map that
Gary actually added it to Weird Ed's bedroom"
http://www.gamespot.com/articles/building-maniac-mansion/1100-6302341/
http://zebratigerfish.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/maniac-mansion-flag-in-weird-eds-room.html
[first screenshot]
http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1014732/Classic-Game-Postmortem-MANIAC [14:00]

Regards,
Adam


On 25 August 2014 19:06, Johannes Birringer <[log in to unmask]
> wrote:

> dear all
>
> what would such "unexpected effects" on culture or contemporary subjects
> be?
>
> and how would you exhibit games (or their design evolution) –- as their
> intimate use is proposed here as one of the main aspects, perhaps similar
> to fashion/costume objects –  if you don't invite the visitors to gallery
> to play them or
> experience their "systemic" aspects as Adam suggests?
>
> I don't think I imagined an arcade, when I raised the question. Rather, I
> was wondering how one could exhibit, for example, the
> "interface-manipulation" that William writes about without the
> game-playing; and how one might progress to offer a critique of the
> (apparent) dominance of interactivity and participation in the museum –  (I
> hardly think the interactive paradigm is dominant in the visual arts). It
> would interest me to hear more about the game-based aesthetics you mention
> (e.g. the 'twitch') and how you would interrogate and expose these, and
> expose them in a meaningful relationship to "other fields of cultural
> activity". Are you implying that game design is comparable, for example, to
> process art, generative processes (in music/sound), performance? what
> notion of performance is imagined by game designers, is it an action based
> concept (without the actor, in a theatrical sense) or is performance
> process related to the "world" (represented) in the game, the narratives,
> or the gain (level advancement, competition, etc)? Finally, would you have
> an example of exhibiting different "scale"  - are you here thinking of game
> as an "expanded field" (as it was once said about sculrture in the 90s,
> when sculpture came to include not only Beuy's notion of a social sculpture
> but public art projects, neighborhood & community projects? Is there a
> critical approach (on design matters) regarding the evolution of
> multiplayer online communities (MMORPGS) etc?
>
> regards
> Johannes Birringer
>
>
>
> [William Huber schreibt]
>
> Hello, everyone. I work with Gregor as a Lecturer at Abertay University;
> my research is in the field of game studies,  from an art/media historical
> perspective.  What follows are some disparate thoughts about the exhibition
> of games, and how a museological approach might illuminate our
> understanding of the way that games are made, and the unexpected effects
> they might have on us as contemporary subjects.
>
> I agree that conventional chronological approaches, as well as
> genre-historical ones, may not be the only best use of exhibition space,
> and that simply creating a space to play games ("arcade in the museum")
> fails to contribute to any real understand of them: it risks being a crude
> mechanism for naive claims of cultural significance.
>
> Responding to the call for thinking about the relationship between
> producers (from solo makers to globally distributed networks of
> production), the objects (platforms, software, representations, systems)
> and publics (players and other stakeholders), scale, rather than chronology
> or genre, may offer another organizing principle, and within expansions of
> scale, we might think about the effects which games sustain, and take them
> as the dominant native aesthetics of games.
>
> There are three broad categories of game-based aesthetics (in the broadest
> sense of the term, as descriptions of the qualia of human experience)
> which I think could be considered: relational, procedural, and "twitch"
> (kinaesthetic/cognitive.) Of course, games participate in traditional
> visual, auditory and conceptual aesthetics, as well, but these three strike
> me as the most "native" to game design, and also represent the strongest
> contributions that games make to our understanding of the space of the
> aesthetic.
>
> I think, following Gregor, that disaggregation of the elements of design
> and game experience would help foreground their contributions to
> contemporary culture (e.g., could we imagine Twitter and Instagram becoming
> important elements of network-driven culture if a set of literacies and
> competencies in interface-manipulation hadn't been forged by generations of
> game-players? Have games participated in a reorganization of human
> attention that has significance for other fields of cultural activity?)
>

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