Games, Development, Art and Story Telling.

October 10th, 2010

I have been looking at the intersection of games, MMO’s, virtual environments and art for a few years now.  It would be interesting to have a conversation about the future of the form as desktop game development continues to take hold and under-represented populations see it as a viable form of storytelling.

It would also be interesting to play some games from the show (games as art)

—update with notes—

Notes from Memory:

If you have not played it yet, look at passage by Jason Rohrer (download and play), it takes no more than 5 minutes and expresses the idea of an aesthetic experience in the game play, it is not the same as reading about it, watching video of it or watching it being played.

If you liked the game I demo’ed during the Dork Shorts it is called Every Day the Same Dream by Molleindustria.   On top of being beautiful the process of playing teaches and facilitates the aesthetic experience.

Game Development tools are cheap and run on low end machines for examples see Scratch by MIT (which is also a visual programming language but lends itself very well to moving and interacting with sprites on the screen) and Game Maker which is now available for the Mac and the PC and provides a simple development environment that can be introduced to young audiences as well as non-programming audiences.

In curating the show Learn to Play there were several basic lessons regarding art and games.  The subject is still somewhat contentious among both groups (artists and game developers) and there has always been a degree of crossover. L2P specifically looked for art at the point of interaction, one of the side effects of this is similar to that of conceptual art in that the experience is not always visual or obvious.  Game Developers seem (like many creatives) to want to see much of what they do as culturally relevant and artistic, artists have long employed game like features in both interactive and other work.  Our greatest takeaway was that the fundamental stories in games are still essentially controlled by the hegemony, or in this case by the white male game developers.

This is unfortunate for two reasons, the first is that the tools are so simple and the skills used in creation of games so valuable that essentially everyone should practice them at some point (and in fact my art students will all be required to make video games this semester). The second is that this is such a powerful medium for expression of stories and transmission of understanding.  The industry feels like it is gridlocked and stuck in blockbuster mode where it cannot deviate from the stories that have been told. This is sad and unnecessary.

Moving forward we want to reach out to underrepresented communities and teach the tools that will encourage them to put forth their stories.

4 Responses to “Games, Development, Art and Story Telling.”

  1. James G. Leventhal on October 9, 2010 2:07 pm

    feels essential….also to understand how these are “viable forms of storytelling”…would love to be part of this.

  2. Disney, Stories and Ownership at THATCamp Bay Area on October 9, 2010 4:36 pm

    […] Right now I am a bit overwhelmed by concepts of narrative theory, as Francesco Spagnolo highlights and “games, art and Story Telling.” […]

  3. Cribbed from THATCamp « a musing on October 11, 2010 2:28 am
  4. @starpause on October 11, 2010 4:37 pm

    This was a great session! Some more resources linking artists and developers to create games:
    We support affordable, effective, fun learning games. We’re starting with an existing $10 TV-computer as a platform for learning games in the developing world.
    “We curate and present videogames created jointly by artists and indepedent game makers.”
    “Dedicated to bringing together the freshest, most innovative and creative minds and works in independent game design.”

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