Empty

It’s not really Empty

Empty image

Trying something different…

21 Responses to “Empty”

  1. cdeleon Says:

    A visitor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently attempted to post the following anonymous comment for this project:

    Name: the average player
    E-mail: chris@deleongames.com
    Date: March 21, 2008

    So you give me one choice in this game: to wait around and click through these links until things start happening, and then you have the nerve to chastise me for doing so? Why so preachy? Do you think you are better than me?

    If I allow this post to display, “the average player” will be able to post additional anonymous disgruntled messages, and that doesn’t seem particularly constructive. All the same, I welcome discussion and criticism, and do not wish to silence disagreement, so the message above is included in its entirely, so that I may respond to it in a place that “the average player” may find it.

    When/if “the average player” wishes to return and post something without hiding behind relative anonymity, I’d be happy to have more back and forth discussion.

    Response to “the average player”:

    Your response to the project presents an extreme misunderstanding between what I aimed to communicate with it, and what you seem to have read from it. This is more likely my fault than yours, but severe misunderstanding is a risk that I invite unto myself daily when trying to experiment in search of things new to my understanding of the world. There are not well defined conventions nor books/websites full of answers when it comes to trying novel things.

    You were not intended to wait during this game - progress is only instigated here by action alone, and waiting serves no purpose towards its completion. I did not realize while conceiving of this project that it might be perceived as a situation to wait. In hindsight I should have thought of this and made the distinction more clear, out of respect for the time of my visitors. I have now appended the program to clarify this detail, so that future visitors will not suffer time lost to the same misunderstanding.

    I do not think that I am “better” than you - I do not believe that “better” is a meaningful word when comparing two living things (part of why I’m Vegan). I think that you and I are very different creatures, and that consequently there are things that we can learn from one another.

    If I could refund your time, I would.

    Sorry to have upset you, and thank you for the feedback,
    -Chris

  2. cdeleon Says:

    My willing discussion with the anonymous poster continues.

    As a reminder to him/her and anyone reading this, putting a real face and identity behind the discussion points made enables a considerably more adult discussion to take place. I’d like to point out that under absolutely no other circumstances have I ever stifled, edited, or blocked comments - that I even have a moderation step in place is only so I can block out the dozens of spam messages I receive every day.

    I go out on a limb daily saying and expressing things on this site that could cause me personal or professional complication, because I believe in what I’m doing (by simply being an open atheist, I am virtually ineligible from elected political office in this country). If someone wishes to attack me out of misunderstanding, terrific, all I ask is that people stand behind the ideas that they express, instead of hiding from them.

    Latest post:

    Name: the average player
    E-mail: chris@deleongames.com
    Date: March 21, 2008

    you misunderstand me, I mean “waiting” as in waiting for a friend request, etc. I didn’t waste any time not clicking on links. Like in the end when you say “Stop waiting.” Which I can’t get to show up now (or the “YOUR LIFE” - By YOU” poem). I assumed you meant to imply that we shouldn’t spend time checking for emails. You then chastise the player for it, when there was no other choice.

    In the end when it used to say “Stop waiting”, it was part of a two step Todo list:

    1. Stop waiting.
    2. Start affecting.

    I did declaw the program a bit from the first iteration to the second, removing the last 3 of the poems and changing the end message, in my attempt to help prevent future visitors from having an experience that was as long, preachy, and generally negative as you imply that your experience was. I don’t want that for my visitors, and I continue to not understand why you are acting like I made this program out of insane malice towards you. I took your feedback to heart and promptly acted on it. I think that this project is better for my having done so. This is not a published newspaper, it is a swf on the internet, meaning that I can change it from one moment to the next when I have good reason to do so. How upset you were was good enough reason for me to change this one a bit.

    And yes, it is an anti-internet internet program. Yes, it was saying that people shouldn’t drain their lives sitting around clicking on links, and that people shouldn’t waste their days waiting for messages. That was the message that I intended to get across, and if that message does not apply to you, then perhaps you might identify some aesthetic value or appreciate the meaning the program might take on for someone else? Or, if you prefer, you could forget about this particular program, discarding it like a book that you read but didn’t like, and continue browsing for something that better fits your interests and needs?

    As Jen from Missouri wrote in reply to my facebook posting:

    I can only say what I got out of it: and that was that I spend way too much time clicking links on my computer, lost in an electronic daydream, when I should be going outside, interacting and finding some inspiration.

    Because while I occasionally find gems of thoughtfulness tucked in, it’s often an arduous search with too much down-time.

    It’s an art piece. If you find that preachy, or aren’t interested in what I have to share here, there are millions of other places on the internet with millions of other kinds of things that might make you happier.

    “You then chastise the player for it, when there was no other choice.”

    Of course there’s a choice.

    No one has a gun to your head forcing you to check facebook, play my experimental/art game, continue playing it, and then linger on my site trying to posting aggravated anonymous messages about how annoyed you are over how I chose to convey my message in one of my projects.

    What I really want to know: why on earth did you play more than 25 of my projects before this one, for over an hour, if you so badly hate what I’m doing here? Why have you played 19 more of them since? Did you hate all of those, too? Were/are you just browsing until hitting something that makes your blood boil before posting thoughts?

    (Server stats are useful.)

    I am genuinely sorry that my initial version of this program upset you, used up more of your time than you were willing to allocate to it, and that a few details in my presentation were found hurtful. I am thankful for the feedback you have provided that has helped me to improve upon its design. I would very much be happy if you would come out of the shadows, start posting as yourself, and allow us to put this frustration centered argument behind us.

    On a lighter note, your frustrations don’t seem so bad when compared to the poor soul in Illinois that left ArmisticeKey running for over 16 hours straight without success, from failing to think of the old hacker’s shareware protection trick.
    ;)

  3. Dave Says:

    “Or, if you prefer, you could forget about this particular program, discarding it like a book that you read but didn’t like, and continue browsing for something that better fits your interests and needs?”

    Yeah, but you forget I played your Criticism game.

    To tell you what you want to know: I played your games because the idea of games as art, or at least as something other than a time waster, is interesting to me, though I don’t like the way you go about it. I find many of your games, like this one, insulting. Including some sort of lesson in art implies that you’ve got something to teach the viewer/reader/player, that you know better than them. It’s insulting when art is didactic, like the audience is a bunch of ignorant fools for the artist to enlighten. In my opinion, art does well when it explores issues, not make judgments.

    This “I’m better than you” motif you often have even comes across more directly in some of your games: Steak, for example.

    “No one has a gun to your head forcing you to check facebook, play my experimental/art game, continue playing it, and then linger on my site trying to posting aggravated anonymous messages about how annoyed you are over how I chose to convey my message in one of my projects.”

    No, I’m talking about in the game world. When I play a game that only lets me do one thing (like kill the guy in “Violence”) and then tries to make me feel bad about it, I get a little resentful, because I know the creator was just thinking “boy am I going to make them guilty!” from the get go. It’s a trap.

    It’s not just you, a lot of “artsy” game designers do it, I think. Have you played “Gravitation”? Same basic thing, tricking the gamer to do something out of normal gameplay conventions until he feels guilty.

    Art is about eliciting emotion. It’s disappointing, I think, that thus far game designers have only been good at eliciting guilt.

  4. cdeleon Says:

    “Yeah, but you forget I played your Criticism game.”

    Touché. Almost. Turning on Criticism in that game emphasized what worked (putting pebbles on the correct path), ignoring what didn’t.
    ;)

    “To tell you what you want to know: I played your games because the idea of games as art, or at least as something other than a time waster, is interesting to me, though I don’t like the way you go about it.”

    Great! If you have a suggestion of any sort that you would like made, (as you no doubt noticed) I readily accept public requests. If you don’t want me to touch it from fear that I’ll poison it or do a poor job of bringing it to life, then do you intend to act on these ideas of yours? I would very much enjoy it if you will, since doing so would spell good things for developers everywhere. I.e. if you’re willing to either help me see how to do a better job, show me up, or otherwise do something with the ideas, as a collective “we” need every ounce of input and considered thought we can breathe life into.

    “I find many of your games, like this one, insulting. Including some sort of lesson in art implies that you’ve got something to teach the viewer/reader/player, that you know better than them. It’s insulting when art is didactic, like the audience is a bunch of ignorant fools for the artist to enlighten. In my opinion, art does well when it explores issues, not make judgments.”

    Not all of my games make judgments. Some of them do. Those that do are conveying an idea - which, like anything written, you are invited to disagree with. A counterargument in text is acceptable, or a counterargument in “game” form would be even sweeter. It is my way of presenting ideas to discuss, because what I’m striving to do (and have only succeeded in a few times) is to express through this format things that I cannot do justice to in text.

    “This ‘I’m better than you’ motif you often have even comes across more directly in some of your games: Steak, for example.”

    I didn’t say I’m better than you. That’s in your head. Yes, I would be happier if I could figure out a way to persuade more people to live their lives in a way that involved less of what I consider to be suffering on the same plane of relevance as human suffering.

    I suspect that you would be at least slightly happier if little kids weren’t being forced into the army in parts of Africa to kill one another with guns. Or if people didn’t kill each other in the middle east. Or maybe you’d like to see the world have fewer people starving to death in it.

    You and I both (probably) have ways that we wish the world was different than it is now, ways that from our own frame of reference, would seem to be somehow “better” than the state it is in now.

    I’m exploring ways to express my views, because where I draw the line for suffering that is worth paying attention to often gets me marked as a nutjob or someone just trying to lose weight. What about my attempting to affect this situation offends you? And Steak was an early and admittedly flawed attempt, so I took a more modest jab at it with IsItVegan, trying to demonstrate that although people often imagine it would be hard to figure out what can be consumed/worn, most things are obvious and it doesn’t take long to learn the ones that aren’t. That idea was embodied by that game (or, at least, that’s what I intended).

    “No, I’m talking about in the game world. When I play a game that only lets me do one thing (like kill the guy in “Violence”) and then tries to make me feel bad about it, I get a little resentful, because I know the creator was just thinking “boy am I going to make them guilty!” from the get go. It’s a trap.”

    If I may say so, you completely misunderstood Violence (as always, I’m as likely or more likely to blame myself for misunderstanding of my message than any given viewer). I don’t care what someone feels after playing that game. I feel like you’re going around my site projecting what you don’t want to see onto my projects.

    You aren’t supposed to feel guilty. What does guilty have to do with me projecting the cursor on top of the screen? What does guilty have to do with anything about that game?

    I meant for that game to express the idea that we’re all part of the same greater living superorganism, and that damage to any one part of it is really just as much damage to ourselves. In Violence you are shooting yourself, which is the same as shooting the guy.

    Once more, what does that have to do with guilt? It’s an idea to explore.

    “It’s not just you, a lot of “artsy” game designers do it, I think. Have you played “Gravitation”? Same basic thing, tricking the gamer to do something out of normal gameplay conventions until he feels guilty.”

    I have not played Gravitation. I’ll look it up though - thanks for the tip!

    “Art is about eliciting emotion.”

    WHOA. Where did that come from? You’re suddenly telling the world what art is? How preachy of you ;).

    You’re saying that M. C. Escher’s work isn’t art? Or maybe that Da Vinci wasn’t an artist, because his work wasn’t about illiciting emotion? Are inventors not artists? Was Salividar Dali’s surrealism about emotion? Was Picasso’s cubism about eliciting emotion? Seeing as you have already ruled out some of the people that I admire as history’s greatest artists, maybe we could consider more modern art… like Duchamp’s Fountain? Or Worhol’s life and public image (his greatest art piece, IMHO)?

    My mother dying would elicit emotion from me. That would not qualify in my mind as art.

    Art is a very rich and complex field, with a wide variety of aesthetics, many of which do not revolve around emotion. Although I bounce around a bit in my efforts to explore, and through that exploration, better understand, I explicitly am not on a mission to make emotional games.

    “Friends” came close for some players, but that wasn’t my intention - my intention was to express what happens in my head regarding basic social dynamics. Likewise for “Break Up” - the visuals are meant to be a little intense, but that isn’t to evoke pain or a sense of power, rather it’s to point out the depth of responsibility in handling such situations carefully, since both parties involved wield a great deal of power and no break up is ever truly without some damage done. The game also conveys a very particular “first draw” pattern of who gets hurt, and why, and it’s a procedural dynamic that interests me as an illustrative simplification of very complex human interaction.

    It is the complex relationship between things that concerns me, not the emotion of anything. If what concerns me does not meet what you say defines art, then please, do not think of my work as art. A raw and early attempt at technical, conceptual, or philosophical literature maybe, or a condensed explanation of how I see something, but not art.

    “It’s disappointing, I think, that thus far game designers have only been good at eliciting guilt. ”

    Only good at eliciting guilt? SimCity didn’t make me feel guilty. Nor does Jason’s Passage. Nor Rod’s Marriage. Tower of Goo. Super Paper Mario. Bogost’s work isn’t about guilt. Nor is Jenova Chen’s. Nor the Sims. Here are how a few commercial videogames make me feel:

    Powerful (God of War)
    Heroic (Zelda)
    Clever (Super Paper Mario, Myst)
    Smart (Big Brain Academy)
    Overwhelmed (Resident Evil)
    Skilled (Devil May Cry 3)
    like an expert (Mechwarrior 2)
    like a leader (Pikmin)

    Doing well in Rainbox Six relies more on careful planning and anticipation than it does on reflexes, teaching what it feels like to thoroughly focus while executing a carefully planned group maneuver. Final Fantasy required me to earn money and experience plus stock up on supplies before confronting decisive boss castles - it taught me to feel when I’m prepared or unprepared. Bubble Bobble taught me to feel the difference in approaching the world’s problems alone versus with a friend (if you can bubble me up to that platform, I’ll take out the Super Sockets!). Command & Conquer taught me to feel the surge of success that comes from efficiently managing investment into a limited pipeline to out strategize my opponent - and whether I won or lost, “guilt” wasn’t the emotion that caught me, but rather it’s the sort of way I’d feel if a business I helped launch failed or succeeded.

    And all that considered, I still don’t care one fig about emotion from games. I care about exploring the potential to rapidly transfer some system of thinking about things from one brain to another.

    Thanks for the engaging conversation!

  5. Dave Says:

    “Touché. Almost. Turning on Criticism in that game emphasized what worked (putting pebbles on the correct path), ignoring what didn’t.
    ;)”

    Maybe I was unclear, but I thought I had expressed some of the qualms I had with the game. Mainly, that you chastised me for going along with the only choice you gave me in the game.

    That brings up a side point for me–your games oversimplify issues that I think are really complex. For instance, in the Criticism game you might have included the idea that criticism sometimes leads you in the wrong direction, as mine potentially could be doing right now. It would help prevent it from becoming a black and white depiction.

    “Not all of my games make judgments. Some of them do. Those that do are conveying an idea - which, like anything written, you are invited to disagree with.”

    I’m not disagreeing with your arguments. I’m disagreeing with your methods in presenting them. That is, presenting what appears to be a standard game until a sudden and instructive moral appears. Part of my qualms about your games are that you make the judgment at the end–and tell it to me–as if I were incapable of making judgments for myself. Or even worse–telling me how I should feel, like in Unprepared. Or in Break Up (You are depressed, etc..)

    “I didn’t say I’m better than you.”

    No. But you did draw me as a demon with horns and a tail. And I doubt that demon included you, being a vegan and all.

    “I meant for that game to express the idea that we’re all part of the same greater living superorganism, and that damage to any one part of it is really just as much damage to ourselves. In Violence you are shooting yourself, which is the same as shooting the guy.”

    Honestly I don’t know how anyone could get that from the game. And I don’t see how feeling or emotion is disconnected from that response. How do you expect me to get that if you don’t expect me to feel anything after playing the game? How do you not expect guilt to come into the idea of a person destroying a part of themselves or of other people?

    “WHOA. Where did that come from? You’re suddenly telling the world what art is? How preachy of you ;).”

    Sorry. I meant: Art, to me, is about eliciting emotion.

    “You’re saying that M. C. Escher’s work isn’t art? Or maybe that Da Vinci wasn’t an artist, because his work wasn’t about illiciting emotion? Are inventors not artists? Was Salividar Dali’s surrealism about emotion? Was Picasso’s cubism about eliciting emotion?”

    I would say that their art does elicit emotion. Besides inventors; but I don’t consider them artists, really. Their work is driven by usefulness and practicality.

    “My mother dying would elicit emotion from me. That would not qualify in my mind as art.”

    A implies B does not mean B implies A.

    “Powerful (God of War)
    Heroic (Zelda)
    Clever (Super Paper Mario, Myst)
    Smart (Big Brain Academy)
    Overwhelmed (Resident Evil)
    Skilled (Devil May Cry 3)
    like an expert (Mechwarrior 2)
    like a leader (Pikmin)”

    None of these games I consider good art. Jason’s Passage, I admit, is a better example of art (Jason also made Gravitation, btw). But these emotions are fairly shallow, and I’m not even sure “clever” and “smart” are emotions.

  6. cdeleon Says:

    That brings up a side point for me - your games oversimplify issues that I think are really complex. For instance, in the Criticism game you might have included the idea that criticism sometimes leads you in the wrong direction, as mine potentially could be doing right now. It would help prevent it from becoming a black and white depiction.

    If I am still struggling to convey a single layer of the message effectively, I am hesitant to add more depth and layers to it. Like training in fencing, I think it’s important to get the fundamentals right before trying to do something fancier with them, and after 120+ days of this I fully acknowledge that, by my own assessment, I am still wading in the kiddie pool.

    One of the other subtle aspects of Criticism was that the criticism only leads the player to the very same goal that the player already saw, and could have reached less efficiently on its own. I still see my goal, plain as day, and your (very helpful) criticism is not going to easily change it. It is helping me to discern some of my wasted efforts and missteps, however, by casting light on my work from an additional direction. If I was accepting all of your points at face value, there might be risk of being led arbitrarily away from my goal, but I think that the fight in me makes it quite clear that I’m rather selective about which feedback I’m agreeing or disagreeing with; in other words, I am being critical of the criticism.

    Part of why I reduce things to black and white depictions is that I intend to eventually represent more complex, non-binary states through the combination of elements that are, each in themselves, simple binary divisions. Basic neural network construction in AI shed light for me a few years ago on why this works, although as previously mentioned, I’d like to get my unit operations and base axioms straight before trying to intertwine them for more depth.

    I’m not disagreeing with your arguments. I’m disagreeing with your methods in presenting them. That is, presenting what appears to be a standard game until a sudden and instructive moral appears.

    This is an extremely useful point for me, and helps lead to the realization that my misguided attempt to say on stage what I ought to be acting out on stage is potentially destroying my efforts for all audiences. My attempt to take something obtuse and explain it afterwards is still likely too obtuse for anyone needing the explanation, and too patronizing for anyone that doesn’t need (want) that verbalized explanation present.

    No. But you did draw me as a demon with horns and a tail.

    Ah, I thought that was sufficiently tongue-in-cheek, playful, silliness, and generally an attempt to introduce humor to the situation to be a little less serious about the situation. Those that I tested the program with, in every case, chuckled, rather than reacting to it as if they actually felt I was demonizing them. Perhaps my deliberate style choice is being misattributed to laziness? It likely also has a very different effect to someone that does not know me in person; I’m rather playful about what I consider serious issues, and serious about much more common matters, so people that knew me came to it primed very differently than someone than a stranger that was already finding my work irritating.

    Honestly I don’t know how anyone could get that from the game.

    I thought it was quite clear - particularly that as you move the cursor across the man’s face, it moves in the opposite direction across the screen, and greatly increased in size. Your eyes are his eyes.

    Maybe I should have put a text explanation at the end of this one? ;)

    And I don’t see how feeling or emotion is disconnected from that response. How do you expect me to get that if you don’t expect me to feel anything after playing the game? How do you not expect guilt to come into the idea of a person destroying a part of themselves or of other people?

    Because you didn’t really destroy anything. It’s (sort of) a videogame. It’s an electronic mapping between an input and a display system. I don’t see what is even remotely emotional about this technical interplay between user action and on-screen consequence.

    Sorry. I meant: Art, to me, is about eliciting emotion.

    I made this point in jest. I actually respect when people are willing to speak out on such far-reaching phrases as, “ART IS…” I think that many excellent artists (by my own interpretation) have made such statements, very often in disagreement with one another, and the uniqueness of how they finished that sentence helped set their work apart in the face of critics and peers that misunderstood and tried to nudge their work back into a prior category.

    I would say that their art does elicit emotion.

    If the artist’s inspiration, purpose, and methods do not revolve around emotion, but you have an emotional reaction to the work, do you consider their work about emotion? To me, that statement is a reflection of you, not their art. If every time I see a Pollock I want to poop, that does not (to my mind) make Pollock’s work about poop.

    Besides inventors; but I don’t consider them artists, really. Their work is driven by usefulness and practicality.

    And aesthetic. Even machines that operate in a factory must be sold, and while we all know to not judge a book by its cover, we also realize that which books get opened for further inspection is a choice based on covers (and titles). Are people that design auto body curves artists or inventors? What about expensive, inefficient spidery-looking juicers (referring to Philippe Starck)? Inventors are artists to me, but as a matter of semantics, it seems like on our choices of definitions we may as well agree to disagree since I don’t think either of our objectives has to do with refining the definition of a deliberately ambiguous word.

    A implies B does not mean B implies A.

    Valid catch. I was getting carried away in patterns of argument and was drawing a quick double dissociation, which was, as you’ve pointed out, entirely not useful in this case.

    “Powerful (God of War)
    Heroic (Zelda)
    Clever (Super Paper Mario, Myst)
    Smart (Big Brain Academy)
    Overwhelmed (Resident Evil)
    Skilled (Devil May Cry 3)
    like an expert (Mechwarrior 2)
    like a leader (Pikmin)”

    None of these games I consider good art.

    Holy mackeral. You don’t think of Miyamoto as an artist? The guy - still living and still very much working - created universes from nothing that have defined a significant, international experience among my (and probably your) generation. And to say that Myst isn’t art? There is no artistry in the universe crafted, the surreal, dream-like fantasy world where D’ni writing links into worlds as real as any other? According to how you define art, is something not valid “art” if it managed to reach more people, and in the process, turn a profit? When I was younger and still distanced from the cold electronic reality, these games certainly elicited a curiosity and a fascination within me, fueling my imagination to go places that (a.) did not exist in any of the games (but b.) would never have been dreamed up were it not for the games. I take it then, based on what you have said about art, that these games have never elicited any emotion from you?

    Jason’s Passage, I admit, is a better example of art (Jason also made Gravitation, btw). But these emotions are fairly shallow…

    When do I get to see your work?

    …and I’m not even sure “clever” and “smart” are emotions.

    It seems as if you are disregarding the entire list by saying those games are somehow “not good art” then calling attention to these two on a matter of semantics (?). And you’re also changing my words into yours - I was explicitly listing ways that games have made me feel, and of course someone can “feel” smart or clever independent of actually possessing these qualities, just as players can be led to feel “powerful” even if that isn’t an emotion. It’s a rather generic game design exercise to set up a series of affordances and suggestions leading a player into a solution while feeling as if the actions taken were of their own choosing.

    And what are some examples of what you’re calling emotions? Happy (Viva Pinata)? Sad (Vampire: Bloodlines - The Masquerade)? Angry (God of War 2)? Jealous (WoW)? Bored (E.T.)? Impatient (E.T.)? Frustrated (Battletoads)?

    Final Fantasy? Rainbow Six? Command & Conquer? Not art to you?

    Why?

    Thanks again for the detailed discussion.

  7. Jen Says:

    Sorry, I need a clarification here because I’ve never played Jason’s Passage…what “emotions” are being referred to here, and why are they considered “shallow” ?

  8. Bezman Says:

    http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/passage/

    Best to play it yourself! Easily installable on Mac, 10 minutes from when you click the link is all you need.

  9. Dave Says:

    “I’d like to get my unit operations and base axioms straight before trying to intertwine them for more depth.”

    Honestly I think you should just skip ahead and get complicated. I think you will learn much more while producing more interesting things, even if they are not completely successful.

    “Because you didn’t really destroy anything. It’s (sort of) a videogame. It’s an electronic mapping between an input and a display system. I don’t see what is even remotely emotional about this technical interplay between user action and on-screen consequence.”

    You don’t see anything emotional about turning a happy face into a sad face?

    I admit I was confused about the second pair of crosshairs, I see what you were going for now. Though I think the point where it broke down for me is that I didn’t translate the game screen as my face.

    “it seems like on our choices of definitions we may as well agree to disagree since I don’t think either of our objectives has to do with refining the definition of a deliberately ambiguous word.”

    I agree

    “If the artist’s inspiration, purpose, and methods do not revolve around emotion, but you have an emotional reaction to the work, do you consider their work about emotion?”

    Ultimately, I think a work needs to be judged and evaluated on its own merits, and without taking the artist’s intent in to consideration (any further than what can be gleaned from the work itself, anyway). And I don’t see how inspiration, purpose, and method can work completely without emotion… I don’t think they are that separable.

    “Final Fantasy? Rainbow Six? Command & Conquer? Not art to you?”

    I said not GOOD art. Of course all the games you mention are art.

    “Powerful (God of War)
    Heroic (Zelda)
    Clever (Super Paper Mario, Myst)
    Smart (Big Brain Academy)
    Overwhelmed (Resident Evil)
    Skilled (Devil May Cry 3)
    like an expert (Mechwarrior 2)
    like a leader (Pikmin)”

    Here’s the point I was trying to make with this list: every one of these games, besides Resident Evil, is geared to making the player feel good about themselves. It’s the trend in games, and understandably so. Everybody enjoys feeling powerful or smart, so it’s hard to shy away from that. And so many games are worked around a black and white dichotomy (generally good and evil). In this list my favorite is probably Resident Evil, simply because instead of making me feel bad ass every time I win a fight, I feel downright lucky.

    But I think “feeling good” is a shallow emotion, and one that’s relatively easy to produce in a game, compared to any other emotions. (Oh, and before, I meant that “guilt” was the emotion that “artsy” game designers seem to be going for. Which would be better if there wasn’t so often a heavy manipulation by the game designer apparent). There are no complexities in it, it’s more like a pat on the back.

    I don’t consider those games good art because they work with dichotomies and try to make me feel good (and only that. so often are other attempts in the games at other emotional arcs half hearted and so poorly done they seem like afterthoughts).

    I’ve never played a game that has emotionally affected me on the same level as a good book or good movie. That’s why I don’t consider those games good art. If it were clear a book or movie was just trying to make me feel good about myself, I would toss it aside. I like complicated emotions from complicated characters or complicated situations. Video games rarely, if ever, offer me any of those.

    “It’s a rather generic game design exercise to set up a series of affordances and suggestions leading a player into a solution while feeling as if the actions taken were of their own choosing.”

    Right. When you take this design to other emotions it can be dangerous. The guilt trip thing I was talking about is an instance of this. Leading me to regret what I do in the game is probably the direct opposite of the “feeling good” aspect, and as a result, is just as shallow. Not to mention that when I spot a game designers manipulation that way I’m angered, it seems more tricky.

    “Sorry, I need a clarification here because I’ve never played Jason’s Passage…what “emotions” are being referred to here, and why are they considered “shallow” ?”

    I was referring mainly to the games Chris posted, not Passage. Passage is a better example of exploring emotional concepts in a game, though it is still fairly simple.

    “When do I get to see your work?”

    Listen, I’m not trying to say that there’s a way to make good artistic games and you simply don’t know it. If someone had already figured it out, I would have pointed to the game that by now and ended the discussion. I’m not trying to say it’s easy to create this sort of game that I’m talking about (whatever that is), or to forge new ground in the way a game affects you intellectually or emotionally or what have you. All I can do is tell you my response, tell you what I like and don’t like. I’m not a game designer (and I hope that doesn’t invalidate for you anything I say).

  10. Jen Says:

    Fair enough - but I still don’t quite understand WHY guilt and self-appreciation are ’shallow’. And what are examples of ‘complex’ emotion - what distinguishes these from the shallow ones?

    [I’m in the psychology field, so this part of the discussion is of particular interest to me :) ]

  11. cdeleon Says:

    Honestly I think you should just skip ahead and get complicated. I think you will learn much more while producing more interesting things, even if they are not completely successful.

    I suppose it’s worth a shot. I tried doing a lot with AbstractDating, and it didn’t seem to strike a chord with anyone besides myself, except to perhaps offend a few friends. But there were other problems there, certainly, in terms of immediacy of consequence, proper interaction affordances, and clear communication of game state. I’ll work on it.

    You don’t see anything emotional about turning a happy face into a sad face?

    Real faces, sure. Fake faces? Pictures of faces? Not really. But if it has an effect on other people, I guess it’s useful for me to consider that. I worry sometimes that I’ve been doing this so long that I’m starting to see the paint more than the painting, the ink more than the text. I’ll experiment a little more with this in the future (like last night’s GaD: Burlesque).

    Ultimately, I think a work needs to be judged and evaluated on its own merits, and without taking the artist’s intent in to consideration (any further than what can be gleaned from the work itself, anyway).

    Why is the spectator any more trustworthy or qualified than the artist to avoid misunderstanding, or introducing what isn’t there? If we put it up to a vote, wouldn’t Rothko’s works be “about” blurry rectangles? How is that useful?

    Meanwhile, I know my share of artists that barely understand what they’re doing, and sometimes that’s an important ingredient in their work. I think in spite of my ongoing arguments I’m starting to side with you on this one.

    And I don’t see how inspiration, purpose, and method can work completely without emotion… I don’t think they are that separable.

    This aspect of the thread isn’t going anywhere between us :). With a few exceptions, my inspiration, purpose, and method have nothing to do with emotion. They have to do with duty, or personal mission, and the work is serious, bordering on sterile, to me. To borrow another reference, I’m reminded of the exchange between artist Alberto Giacometti and his biographer James Lord:

    James Lord: In some of your sculptures and paintings I find a great deal of feeling.

    Alberto Giacometti: You may find it but I didn’t put it there. It’s completely in spite of me.

    Here’s the point I was trying to make with this list: every one of these games, besides Resident Evil, is geared to making the player feel good about themselves.

    I think that the games on that list convey a lot of other information and systems of understanding that come across independent of whatever emotions are conveyed. Perhaps it is that extra information that interests my tastes, but does not seem to interest you, that explains the divide as to why I esteem these as fine examples of game “art” and you toss them into a pile of all the other games that (and you’re right about this) produce the same base emotion?

    I don’t consider those games good art because they work with dichotomies and try to make me feel good (and only that. so often are other attempts in the games at other emotional arcs half hearted and so poorly done they seem like afterthoughts).

    Well put. One of the reasons why (despite the title of this ongoing project) I’m trying to shy away from “game” as the word to describe my work is because I hate that it ensnares people that use it with these loaded ideas of “play” and “fun” and “reward” and “success.” I think that’s been the damnation of developers and participants (the word I prefer over players, when I’m aware of what I’m saying) everywhere, that as soon as something tries to take two steps outside those lines, the work is judged as a failure because it isn’t “fun” and a “game” is “supposed to be fun.”

    A major part of why I’m extremely defensive to casual outside criticism is because what I’m aiming to do has nothing to do with the word “game”, and for most of my visitors, that’s the main idea on their mind.

    My general example - that you may have already found elsewhere on this site - is that the history of literature would be ruined if the word “book” implied “romance novel” or the word “film” implied “action flick.”

    Or going into a museum expecting to see pornography. “What did you think of the David?” “It was bad. Not arousing enough.”

    I’ve played with other terms, but until I find the right one that I’m happy with (best so far: commucept - yea, that bad, and I’m still searching) that fits the vision, I won’t replace the word Game in Game-a-Day. Meanwhile, “Game-a-Day” gives outsiders at least some sense of what they will find at this site, versus calling it Commucept-a-Day etc. (which would only last until I came up with a better term). For now calling these things games is a poor default, but useful from a marketing perspective. The academic route has been to make up words and then try to make things according to them; I wish to make something that demands its own word first, and then see if I can make more things according to the word that it demands for itself.

    When you take this design to other emotions it can be dangerous. The guilt trip thing I was talking about is an instance of this. Leading me to regret what I do in the game is probably the direct opposite of the “feeling good” aspect, and as a result, is just as shallow. Not to mention that when I spot a game designers manipulation that way I’m angered, it seems more tricky.

    While it usually not my intention to put emotion in my work, it’s dangerous and troubling to realize that if I’m not very, very careful, emotion may be created by the viewer without my intent, distracting from what else I’m focusing on. I partly blame this on the “game” semantic mentioned earlier, and the attitude that people have when starting a “game” - that they’re going to win or lose, succeed or fail, and that immediately limits their emotional range to the black and white that you’re mentioning. I.e. I still think that it’s more in the head of “game players” than it is in most of my work, but I nevertheless need to figure out how to work with/around that

    I’m not trying to say it’s easy to create this sort of game that I’m talking about (whatever that is), or to forge new ground in the way a game affects you intellectually or emotionally or what have you.

    Then all I ask is that you allow me to fail in my search of something to answer that question. Barking at me as if I’m some kind of know-nothing idiot while pretending you’re a genius that magically has all the answers, despite having never done anything about it, particularly while I’m actively doing something very real in search of an answer every day for 3-8 hours outside of my full/over-time job for 125 days and counting, having devoted half of my lifetime to developing competency in videogame creation - that was not constructive, and it was out of touch with reality. I’m glad that since using a name (and this was precisely why I wanted you to use a name, whether or not it’s your real name) your comments have become infinitely less childish and reactionary.

    I’m not doing this under the delusion that what I do every day is a perfect embodiment of my goal. I’m doing it so that after maybe a few thousand of these (or less, or more), I’ll learn enough and cover enough ground that I may arrive at something worthwhile that might never have been discovered without first making so many mistakes. In my mind, I am an inventor that’s still striving to invent, and this is partly why I asked earlier if you consider inventors artists. It not, then perhaps it’s best to not think of my failed (or successful) attempts as having anything to do with art.

    All I can do is tell you my response, tell you what I like and don’t like. I’m not a game designer (and I hope that doesn’t invalidate for you anything I say).

    Nope, doesn’t invalidate what you say at all. In general I find you to be a significantly more astute and articulate critic (again, after “the average gamer” posts) of these things than at lot of the other “artsy,” academic, and professional game designers that I know, most of whom narrowly define games in a way that only fits exactly what they wish they were doing, do something else entirely with their actual development time according to market demand, and don’t give much thought to the subject otherwise.

    Whether or not we agree on your responses, you’re doing unusually well when it comes to verbalizing your reaction in a way that I find helpful, in a format that I can consider or question to inform or shape my future work. This project is far from over, and if you don’t like what you see in the ones that were done in the past, I’m not going to change them, but if only as an occasional experiment to dabble in emotion to increase my awareness of it, perhaps some of my future efforts on this site may better fit what you’re looking for.

  12. Dave Says:

    “Fair enough - but I still don’t quite understand WHY guilt and self-appreciation are ’shallow’. And what are examples of ‘complex’ emotion - what distinguishes these from the shallow ones?”

    Perhaps shallow isn’t the right word, it’s just that they are emotions that seem to me as formed from only either positive or negative feedback–either verbal or implied–trying to make the audience feel good or bad about themselves. As for complex emotions, I also mean a combination of emotions, or anything with a varying degree of ambivalence. Anything that is not just “good” or “bad”–a lot of games, as I said, I think just go for one purely positive or negative emotion or feeling “heroic” or “just” ect.

    “Real faces, sure. Fake faces? Pictures of faces? Not really.”

    I find this really surprising. If you don’t find any emotional value in symbolic images, why did you even include them in the game? If you had to choose between a frowny face and a smiley face as your desktop background, which would you pick? Would you really not care?

    “Why is the spectator any more trustworthy or qualified than the artist to avoid misunderstanding, or introducing what isn’t there? If we put it up to a vote, wouldn’t Rothko’s works be “about” blurry rectangles? How is that useful?”

    Because art, I think, is a form of communication (can we at least agree on this? :) and if the artist has to explain his art to me for me to get it, then what is the point of making the art in the first place? Art that isn’t self-sufficient, to me, fails.

    And yes, that’s probably what the vote would be, and I’d vote the same way.

    “Alberto Giacometti: You may find it but I didn’t put it there. It’s completely in spite of me.”

    In my opinion Giacometti is either being naive or cute. Humans are emotional beings, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that our emotions won’t get imbued in what we do. And I think it’s a good thing when they are.

    I am a writer, and often I will write a story and afterwards noticed a submerged theme or idea or emotion that I never intended to put there, and when I find it suits the story I try to pull it out and make it a stronger point of it. I’m surprised that instead you want to repress any emotional content. Can I ask why that is? i would think it would be better to work with it than against it.

    “With a few exceptions, my inspiration, purpose, and method have nothing to do with emotion. They have to do with duty, or personal mission,”

    I don’t consider duty or personal mission separate from emotions either.

    “Barking at me like I’m some kind of know-nothing idiot while you’re some kind of genius that magically has all the answers, particularly while I’m actually doing something about it every day for 3-8 hours outside of my full/over-time job for 125 days and counting, having devoted over half of my lifetime to the development of videogames - that was not very constructive, and it was a little out of touch with reality.”

    I’m sorry, are you referring to my first post, or the part you quoted, or everything in between?

    My first post was a result of feeling insulted and I posted only to let you know at least one person thought your game was overly didactic.

    I thought that everything since then has been much calmer.

    With the part you quoted, basically what I was trying to say there was, sorry that I had been a little resentful and that I wasn’t trying to convince you to change your games so much as bring up a viewpoint that I think is widely different from your own.

    The only reason I bothered to say anything at all was because it’s clear that you are serious about this (as you have built up an impressive collection of work), and that a comment from a stranger (even vitriolic) is unlikely to deter you.

  13. cdeleon Says:

    I find this really surprising. If you don’t find any emotional value in symbolic images, why did you even include them in the game?

    I believe that there’s such thing as meaning apart from emotion, and that is why I use symbols. Happy Face = good, Sad Face = bad, as used in say, AlwaysLearning. Seeing a happy face doesn’t make me happy, and seeing a sad face does not make me sad. I don’t care what my desktop background is (for over a year now it has just been solid black), so long as it isn’t something sufficiently horrible to look at (ex. torture or severely wounded people) such as might distract me from what I use my laptop for.

    Because art, I think, is a form of communication (can we at least agree on this? :)

    Here we go again! If someone makes a magnificent sculpture or painting, maybe reaching into the depths of their soul and laying out every last feeling, or perhaps finally succeeding in finding a release for a breakthrough vision that has been taunting their expressive ability for years - and then they burn it, perhaps as a symbolic way of “releasing the energy from it,” destroying the ashes or tossing them into the sea, did no art just transpire?

    It did to me. It had an audience of one.

    and if the artist has to explain his art to me for me to get it, then what is the point of making the art in the first place?

    All kidding aside, the world does not revolve around you (or anyone else). Artists do not all make their art for you. Entertainers make their entertainment for you (part of why I hate the word “game” since it has heavy connotations of entertainment), and perhaps that’s where there’s some mix up. Artists sometimes make art that only, to them, needs to speak to their intellectual peers, people with an aesthetic and judgment that they value. When no such peers (yet?) exist, then they march to their own drum beat, and press forward with their vision, not caring whether or not others will understand what it is that they do. Van Gogh died poor and mostly unrecognized. Was he not an artist, because the people around him at that time did not understand his work?

    Part of what makes art, to me, is that it’s not about what’s fashionable (which is what entertainment does), but instead it’s a window into something that either exists somewhat apart from time, or perhaps (ironically) by recognition of that quality, is something which is in touch with what will be fashionable when others in the population ‘catch up’ and recognize that quality generations later.

    This is part of what I have come to respect about Rothko’s work, after years of openly hating his work. A major turning point for me was having time to study his work in person. I had only seen it on posters, in books, and on websites. Virtually everything that is significant about Rothko’s work is lost in reproduction - it does not scale nicely, it does not print flat, and significant details are lost when rasterized into pixels. The idea behind his work - which is an important part of what cannot be reproduced - is even more significant to me than the actual paintings, and while I’m as shocked as anyone at the price his pieces have fetched at auctions (1.) that shock applies to most of the art trade in general, which isn’t Rothko’s fault (and 2.) as an artifact of this man’s work and accomplishments, especially such that without it (as I claim) there’s literally no other way to see his work, it’s understandable as a much desired collector’s piece.

    And if something can only be communicated through combination of visuals and text, accepting for a moment your definition that art is about communication, then is that not art, because the visual alone will not suffice, despite it’s ability to facilitate discussion or message in text which otherwise could not exist?

    In my opinion Giacometti is either being naive or cute.

    Not only are you deciding what an artist’s work is about (and saying it is not the artist’s place to do so), but you also deciding what their words mean, knowing little to nothing about the context or (I’m making an assumption here) the artist? Are you suggesting that art is about communication, but only how you hear it?

    I’m surprised that instead you want to repress any emotional content. Can I ask why that is? i would think it would be better to work with it than against it.

    As mentioned earlier about symbols, I believe that there are ideas, thoughts, and concepts in the world that cannot be expressed through emotions. I think that most things fit this description. If I were attempting to develop a new class of expository or persuasive oratory, but every time I opened my mouth rap music blared out, that would be distracting and prevent me from conveying the message that I aimed to convey. Rap is a terrific medium to express rage, frustration, and passion, but there are things in the world that are not rage, frustration, and passion, and those would quickly drown out a speaker’s attempt to be convey a clear message about something other than these very “bright” elements.

    When someone says that they had an emotional reaction to a project like Friends, I lose. They didn’t see what I put there, but they did see what I didn’t put there, and again (to work from your definition of art as about communication), then what am I communicating? Could I have abstracted it more - perhaps changing the name to something arbitrary? When someone tells me that they find OutAtSea pretty, I want to delete it. That isn’t why I made it. It’s about the desperate human want to frame theories and imagine patterns to explain away the “cause” behind the cold, indifferent thrashings of nature. “Aw, that’s cute.”

    I don’t consider duty or personal mission separate from emotions either.

    Again, in an effort to keep you consistent, you’re saying that “clever” and “smart” are not emotions, but “duty” and “personal mission” are emotions? I’m still wanting of a more clear definition for what you mean when you’re using the word emotion. There’s been an outcry for “emotional games” since before EA was founded, and every time a game is made about some emotion, critics say “that wasn’t it.” Ok: what is it? I trust that you’re not from the school of thought that hides behind, “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

    I’m sorry, are you referring to my first post, or the part you quoted, or everything in between?

    Just the very first post, but it was something that I finally felt able to say in the context of what was quoted. I actually didn’t feel like it was a very constructive thing for me to say, either, and was actually opening this page to edit it from my comment when I discovered that you had just posted your reply. (I.e. it was my intention to recant it but it was already too late.)

    My first post was a result of feeling insulted and I posted only to let you know at least one person thought your game was overly didactic.

    I think there are much better ways to make that point than the one you chose. Although I’m just as happy to move on. As made clear at the end of my previous post, I’m quite glad that you posted at all, and then continued to follow up in the fashion that you have, leading to this very worthwhile discussion that could not have happened otherwise.

    I thought that everything since then has been much calmer.

    Agreed.

    …it’s clear that you are serious about this, and that a comment from a stranger is unlikely to deter you.

    Indeed. :)

  14. Dave Says:

    “Here we go again! If someone makes a magnificent sculpture or painting, maybe reaching into the depths of their soul and laying out every last feeling, or perhaps finally succeeding in finding a release for a breakthrough vision that has been taunting their expressive ability for years - and then they burn it, perhaps as a symbolic way of “releasing the energy from it,” destroying the ashes or tossing them into the sea, did no art just transpire?

    It did to me. It had an audience of one.”

    I don’t understand your point here.

    “All kidding aside, the world does not revolve around you (or anyone else). Artists do not all make their art for you. Entertainers make their entertainment for you (part of why I hate the word “game” since it has heavy connotations of entertainment), and perhaps that’s where there’s some mix up.”

    I’m not from the school of thought that only “art” is worthwhile and that entertainment is some trash that the uneducated masses eat up. Art can be entertaining and entertainment can be artistic. They are not mutually exclusive. Personally, I wouldn’t read a novel that was highly “artistic” if it was as boring as hell, I don’t know why someone would seek to write one.

    “Artists sometimes make art that only, to them, needs to speak to their intellectual peers, people with an aesthetic and judgment that they value. When no such peers (yet?) exist, then they march to their own drum beat, and press forward with their vision, not caring whether or not others will understand what it is that they do.”

    If an artist wants to hole himself up and revel in his own genius, I guess it’s his prerogative. But I think it’s extremely masturbatory.

    “And if something can only be communicated through combination of visuals and text, accepting for a moment your definition that art is about communication, then is that not art, because the visual alone will not suffice, despite it’s ability to facilitate discussion or message in text which otherwise could not exist?”

    The visual alone cannot suffice? Since when can visuals not express ideas or emotions? In my opinion, visual art is at its best when it expresses something that cannot be expressed another way.

    “Not only are you deciding what an artist’s work is about (and saying it is not the artist’s place to do so), but you also deciding what their words mean, knowing little to nothing about the context or (I’m making an assumption here) the artist? Are you suggesting that art is about communication, but only how you hear it?”

    I am suggesting that just because an artist intends his work to mean something doesn’t mean it means what he intends, just like I may write out a sentence and through a failure communicate something other than I intended. I am suggesting there is a subtext that an artist’s subconscious might imbue into a work that just because it wasn’t intended doesn’t mean it’s invalid.

    “When someone says that they had an emotional reaction to a project like Friends, I lose. They didn’t see what I put there, but they did see what I didn’t put there, and again (to work from your definition of art as about communication), then what am I communicating? Could I have abstracted it more - perhaps changing the name to something arbitrary? When someone tells me that they find OutAtSea pretty, I want to delete it. That isn’t why I made it. It’s about the desperate human want to frame theories and imagine patterns or go so far as to personify a cause behind the cold, indifferent thrashing of nature.”

    Why does emotion have to be mutually exclusive with your ideas? Can’t they exist along each other? I don’t buy your rap analogy. Instead if you were making a speech and without intention people detected some personal and emotional investment you had in whatever you were talking about, and you had intended to talk about it coldly and mathematically, I guess I see your point. But you could still get your idea across.

    “It’s about the desperate human want to frame theories and imagine patterns or go so far as to personify a cause behind the cold, indifferent thrashing of nature.”

    You don’t see anything emotional in that!?”

    “Again, in an effort to keep you consistent, you’re saying that “clever” and “smart” are not emotions, but “duty” and “personal mission” are emotions?”

    I said there were not separate from emotions. A duty or personal mission seems to me caused by some desire–to serve your country, live up to a promise to a dying father, to revenge the death of your brother, whatever. But duty and personal mission do not exist on their own, they are fueled by desire (an emotion). It is my belief that you won’t find any human actions that are separate from emotions at their deepest level.

    “There’s been an outcry for “emotional games” since before EA was founded, and every time a game is made about some emotion, critics say “that wasn’t it.” Ok: what is it? I trust that you’re not from the school of thought that hides behind, “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it.””

    I don’t know what games you are talking about, so I find this hard to answer.

    In any case you are oversimplifying the issue. Like I said before, it’s not easy to figure out what exactly it would take to make this hypothetical game. If I had already figured it out, we wouldn’t be having this discussion and I would have already made it.

    But to try to answer your question: I want a game that presents and explores complicated issues and has a unique emotional affect in a way only a game can.

  15. Jen Says:

    Perhaps this is a bit left-field but…all this debate leaves me hungrily wondering how a blind person would answer these timeless “What is art? What should art do?” questions. It does seem like we’re rather dependent on the visual processing above all else, but that doesn’t make it more important.

  16. shaktool Says:

    When I would talk to people over instant messaging services in past years, I put a lot of effort into saying what I believed as accurately as possible, but put little effort into framing how I said it. I probably would have described my tone as “neutral”, or “matter of fact”.

    Later, after some IM conversations with a friend, she told me in person that I sounded angry to her over IM. I was shocked, as that wasn’t at all what I intended. It hadn’t really registered in my mind that people might read emotion into everything that I said. My words, intended as “neutral”, became “standoffish” or “austere” in my friend’s perspective. In her worldview, there’s no such thing as a human expression lacking emotion. I realized that it was impossible for me to talk to her without expressing an emotion.

    In a sense, she is right. While emotions might not be what I was trying to communicate, I do agree that everything I choose to do and say is, at some level, rooted in emotion. As we grow older, we build on top of our emotions with logic, and our reasons for doing things may be so distant from our original emotional causes that we may believe we are perfectly rational, but without emotion we would all be nihilists. Or, you know, computers. Emotion : Logic :: Spark : Tinder.

    It might help to know that the words “emotion” and “instinct” mean the same thing to me. They are the forces that initially compel humans to do things… including altering their own minds (through experience and logic) to provide new reasons for doing things.

    There are, of course, many things worth talking about that don’t have any basis in emotion (math etc) even if our interest in them is rooted in emotion. cdeleon has said here that these are what he concerns himself with, and as his roommate, I can attest to this. He’s serious about it.

    I believe that cdeleon is not intentionally making anything that Dave would call art. I also believe that, like it or not, some people will continue to judge cdeleon’s games by their own standards of art that do not parallel his, and they will be disappointed. I advise people who value the emotional aspect of art (including Dave, and also myself) to try not to judge cdeleon’s games as art, because that’s not what he’s making. And I advise cdeleon to be careful about associating his commucepts with the word art, because many people have very different associations with that word than he does.

  17. cdeleon Says:

    I don’t understand your point here.

    That despite your assumption that I’d agree art is “about” communication, I do disagree.

    I’m not from the school of thought that only “art” is worthwhile and that entertainment is some trash that the uneducated masses eat up.

    I didn’t say that. I said it’s the goal of entertainment to make you its audience. Art, in many cases, doesn’t care what you think. Rod Humble makes this distinction between his role with EA and what he does with his own time - the former is supposed to make millions of people happy (a perfectly noble goal, as he points out), and the latter, he doesn’t care even if 6 (or 0) people like or understand it.

    Personally, I wouldn’t read a novel that was highly “artistic” if it was as boring as hell, I don’t know why someone would seek to write one.

    I read a lot of books you may find boring as hell, including historical law, engineering texts, cognitive neuroscience, business cases, politics, outdated philosophy, psychology, and medical books. Not all books are novels. Novels generally exist entertainment, which aligns with my point. I want to know stuff. I want new ways to see things, and not in the same way that metaphor or allegory in fiction provide (because I don’t want my understanding twisted by whatever happens to “make for fun reading”).

    If an artist wants to hole himself up and revel in his own genius, I guess it’s his prerogative.

    I don’t believe that someone’s sense of value needs to be validated by the outside world, and that includes matters of personal discovery, growth, and exploration of self. Genius is something the outside world would or would not label someone - so that isn’t what I’m referring to - because in my example no one would know.

    The visual alone cannot suffice? Since when can visuals not express ideas or emotions?

    For some things, yes. For some things, text alone suffices. The combination of these things can communicate things that neither alone can, and is likely an ill fit for other things which are better communicated by text or image alone.

    I am suggesting there is a subtext that an artist’s subconscious might imbue into a work that just because it wasn’t intended doesn’t mean it’s invalid.

    Agreed.

    Why does emotion have to be mutually exclusive with your ideas?

    Because it’s LOUD. Because it gets in the way of subtlety. Because you can’t think about anything in any of my projects besides your emotional reaction, because I failed to normalize out emotional impact. Also, this has to do with what I mentioned above about what “makes for fun reading”. If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, I suggest Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, which gets the point across rather well. Not all things can be communicated best through emotion and fun, and simply because something isn’t emotional doesn’t make it unworthy of being learned or discussed.

    You don’t see anything emotional in that!?

    No.

    It is my belief that you won’t find any human actions that are separate from emotions at their deepest level.

    You are welcome to frame the experience of other people in whatever way makes sense to you. If your goal is to be a reductionist, you can also blame physics, chemistry, and (although this isn’t as “deep” a level as those other two) biology for all of my actions.

    In any case you are oversimplifying the issue.

    You don’t know what issue I’m trying to address. You fundamentally are not seeing it. Again, I blame myself for this, not you, but all the same what we can probably say accurately is that I am not addressing the issue that you think I am in the way that you think I ought to.

    But to try to answer your question: I want a game that presents and explores complicated issues and has a unique emotional affect in a way only a game can.

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Let me clarify what I want: software that presents someone’s mental model in a way that enables the participant to either apply the scientific method against another’s understanding or to explore that model through immediate experience. The mental relationship or understanding modeled may or may not have anything to do with literal counterparts, i.e. it may be based on more abstract or heuristic thoughts.

    I’m interested not in how things are, but in how they are within the mind, and in particular, how things within the mind are in relation to one another. This is something that I think this electronic interactive medium (independent of the notion of “games” with win/lose states, rules, challenge, compulsion, balance, etc.) has a better shot at conveying succinctly and completely than other forms of communication. Not with the intent to “argue” anything so much as “demonstrate” how things work within a particular mind, which could then be discussed in terms of usefulness, internal correctness, or how it relates to the mental models of others.

    To reiterate a point I brought up earlier: I don’t think that I’m accomplishing the above daily with these projects. What I’m doing, quite deliberately, is chipping away at questions and theories that I pose for myself to help me succeed in creating that type of thing later in life. A lot of people have a lot of ideas that they talk about, and very few people are testing any of their ideas. I’m trying out my thoughts, and I think that over time my understanding will improve by doing so.

    Everyone’s initial assumptions are wrong, but I don’t see enough people doing anything to get past their initial assumptions.

    I believe that cdeleon is not intentionally making anything that Dave would call art.

    I think shaktool is spot on about this one. I still think of what I’m aiming to do as “art”, but in much the same way that to me there’s an art to philosophy, business, politics, and most importantly, invention. As I understand and use the terms, for someone to not see the relationship between art and invention is to misunderstand one or both ideas. I freely admit, of course, that this observation is deeply related to how I use the words, which (as with anything in language, but especially with a word like “art”) cannot be said to be universal.

  18. cdeleon Says:

    To Jen’s question:

    My friend Eitan over at MIT studies has worked on videogames for the blind, and done some research on the subject. That may or may not be fitting with your question about “art,” per se, depending upon which definition we’re going with…
    ;)

  19. Jen Says:

    THAT is perfectly fitting, thanks!

    We all get stuck on visual processing, probably because we know the most about it, and when it is undamaged, we tend to default to this particular sense over information from other senses. But I’ve never been interested in the normality of things, lol.

  20. Dave Says:

    Since I think it’s clear that we simply disagree on so many aspects of this, I’m only going to try to clarify some points that I don’t think I expressed clearly enough.

    “You are welcome to frame the experience of other people in whatever way makes sense to you. If your goal is to be a reductionist, you can also blame physics, chemistry, and (although this isn’t as “deep” a level as those other two) biology for all of my actions.”

    The reason I don’t go down to those levels is because we, as humans, can not continuously and directly observe the cause of our actions on those levels. The deepest we can go is emotions.

    “I don’t believe that someone’s sense of value needs to be validated by the outside world, and that includes matters of personal discovery, growth, and exploration of self.”

    I never said that the artist should look to the outside world for validation. What I meant was that the artist should be concerned with how their art communicates to other people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the artist really cares what the audience thinks, just that they present their art in a way that isn’t coy. I have an imaginary ideal reader that I care about–a clone of me. Someone who has the same values and concerns likes as me, but doesn’t know exactly what I am doing with my art. Keeping him in mind, when I make art I want to make it so I don’t have to explain it to him–it’s already evident in the art. It’s nothing to do if everyone likes it or not, it’s whether there is the potential for comprehension inherent in the art. I think not caring what other people think is a fine thing.

    “It’s about the !desperate human want! to frame theories and imagine patterns or go so far as to personify a cause behind the cold, indifferent thrashing of nature.”

    “desperate human want” is chock full of emotion, and I honestly have no idea as how you see it another way.

    “Because you can’t think about anything in any of my projects besides your emotional reaction, because I failed to normalize out emotional impact.”

    Okay, I see your point. But I still think it’s futile to expect to be able to create no emotional reaction, rather it would be best to guide it to serve your own intentions rather than fighting it.

    As I think we both believe fundamentally different things about all this, I’m not sure how much more we have to talk about until we’re just going in circles. I hope this discussion has been interesting and illuminating for you, as it has for me, even if only in simply considering an unfamiliar point of view.

    Take care.

    (though I’m saying goodbye now, if there is some point you still want to talk about, I’ll gladly continue :)

  21. cdeleon Says:

    “desperate human want” is chock full of emotion, and I honestly have no idea as how you see it another way.

    Of course, but it’s not an attempt to put the participant in those shoes, nor to make the person at their computer feel desperate. It’s intended to present a simple system of understanding about what types of circumstances and issues might lead people, in a more general abstract sense, to feel that way. (PS At least with most people that have “played” OutAtSea, I failed. :)

    I hope this discussion has been interesting and illuminating for you, as it has for me, even if only in simply considering an unfamiliar point of view.

    Indeed! Very much so.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!