Monday, April 23, 2007

Final Essay: “I Might Be a Game Designer”

Your final essay is due on May 7, our last day of class.

This 2-3 page assignment is a self-reflection, designed to help you translate what we've been doing in class to your ongoing art practice.

Choose any 3 key concepts or insights– new terms, ideas, design principles, or theories that you learned in this class – that best intersect with your own art practice. Discuss how you might use these ideas to develop further work, in any medium or for any platform, in the future.

What will you make in the future that reflects your new expertise in ubiquitous game culture? Do the concepts apply well to other genres of art practice? How will game design influence your work in other media? Which key concepts from the new fields of ubiquitous game design, context-aware play, theories of fun and performance, alternate reality design, or collective intelligence might inspire a different approach to your work as an artist?

Each concept or insight that you discuss should be from a different reading or project home page. In addition to the ubiquitous computing manifestos and context-aware gaming essays and interviews we read in the first half of the semester, you might also consider our more recent texts: Richard Schechner’s performance theory, Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman’s playtesting framework, Raph Koster’s theory of fun, Pierre Levy’s collective intelligence, or William J. Mitchell’s Me++, for example. Or you might wish to quote from the Frank Lantz interview, the Zero Game Manifesto, or the online mission statements of World Without Oil, SF0, or Cruel 2 B Kind.

You may find it helpful to directly quote the readings, although I would also like to see you discuss the concepts in your own words, so that I can see you demonstrating a clear understanding of the material.

Feel free to discuss your own art practice goals and work outside of this class at length here. You don't have to focus on game design, unless you want to. I'm very interested to hear how ideas of gaming might fit in the future with your broader work.

Length: 2 pages minimum, double-spaced, 12 pt font, 1 inch margins.

NO LATE PAPERS ACCEPTED. If you miss class, the paper must be emailed to me by midnight (my first name at avantgame dot com)


Evelyn Kolodin - said...

I've been very surprised to find that that most arguments made in favor of games do not aim to demonstrate the artistic merit of games or claim that certain games which already exist exhibit a level of artistic merit. Often, the association of games and art is presented as statement of fact, as though there were nothing extraordinary about such a proposition. While the contemporary state of affairs in the art world is such that many things which have not traditionally been considered art are now widely accepted by the art establishment it is not the case that games have ever commanded the level of respect and dignity which game designers are claiming for their work. this is not to say that games have always been viewed as frivolous activities, the olympic games and the gladiator battles in the coliseum are familiar examples of serious games, the meso-american ballgame is another, perhaps less familiar. But while games have historically been viewed as culturally significant or serious, they are nonetheless viewed predominantly as entertainment.

I say this not to assert that games cannot be art. On the contrary I think that games certainly can be art. What I am hoping to draw attention to is the problem that occurs when documents like the Zero Game Manifesto assert without further discussion such statements as "Games are art."Zero Game Manifesto. Perhaps the lowercase 'a' is meant to distinguish art as artifact from art as Art but since that notion runs contradictory to the aims of the document overall that seems unlikely. Like previously contested art forms such as performance and video, games have to assert their position as a viable artistic medium before they can be accepted as such. There is so much confusion and debate within the community of people designing games that even highly regarded creators like Hideo Kojima, whom I regard as an artist, do not view their own work as art. I disagree with Kojima's reason's for denying that his work and that video games are art but at least he provides a reasoning for saying so which can lead to fruitful discussion. Since there is such widespread disagreement within the context of game designers alone, it is a great disservice to everyone to give such cursory attention to this issue.

Jane said...

Hi Evelyn! Thanks for thinking out loud about this issue. You're no doubt right that making blanket assertions without discussion is a kind of unproductive dodge. If you haven't read it yet, you will be interested in a recent argument by Henry Jenkins about games a "the new lively art". He is focusing on traditional PC and videogames, but I think in some ways ubiquitous games actually embody his argument even better than those other genres. I recommend it to everyone actually! You can find it here:

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