Recess! 11 – Restate My Assumptions

Recess! is a cor­re­spon­dence series with per­son­al rumi­na­tions on games.

Dear Alper and Niels,

My apolo­gies, I fell off the Recess! horse there for a minute. But I’m back in the sad­dle. Let’s see, what were we talk­ing about again?

Alper obses­sive­ly played Ultra­tron for a while, got bored, stopped and felt guilty for spend­ing 11 hours on it.

Niels helped make Toki Tori 2, got all con­flict­ed about his feel­ings for the game and went on about how ele­gant­ly its world con­veys his sto­ry.

Sigh. I hope you’ll both excuse me while I don my schoolmaster’s cap and pro­ceed to school you.

It’s telling Alper feels Moves offers more mean­ing­ful play than Ultra­tron. He’s stuck in what Sut­ton-Smith calls ‘the rhetorics of ani­mal progress’. The idea that play is only mean­ing­ful when it con­tributes to ‘indi­vid­ual devel­op­ment and group cul­ture’. Alper, you should light­en up and maybe sub­mit to the rhetoric of friv­o­li­ty. Put sim­ply, you should allow your­self to play the fool. Because “unlike the rest of us, who are all losers in most of the con­ven­tion­al sens­es, and most sure­ly in the mor­tal sense, the fool tran­scends triv­i­al­i­ty.”

Niels, on the oth­er hand, should do him­self a favor and read Reme­di­a­tion because he seems to think ‘imme­di­a­cy’ is the holy grail of media. The medi­um should dis­ap­pear, it should not get in the way of the audience’s expe­ri­ence of the mes­sage. Well Niels, I have news for you: imme­di­a­cy is only one pos­si­ble media mode and its draw­backs are con­sid­er­able. Most impor­tant­ly, it pre­cludes crit­i­cal engage­ment of an audi­ence with a medium’s mes­sage. Hyper­me­di­a­cy, on the oth­er hand, fore­grounds the work­ings of media. It fore­goes ‘immer­sion’ and ‘seam­lesness’ in favor of brico­lage and seam­ful­ness (PDF). In doing so, it allows for active audi­ence engage­ment. Don’t you wish that for your sto­ries?

In short, let’s restate our assump­tions. I’ll go first:

  1. Play can be mean­ing­ful and use­less at the same time.
  2. Games can tell sto­ries with­out being immer­sive.

Kars

Week 174

STT again

This week on Wednes­day I found myself in the love­ly KNAW build­ing to talk about the far future of applied game design. I was invit­ed to do so by STT, togeth­er with David Shaf­fer, Jeroen van Mas­trigt and Jeroen Elf­ferich. I talked about the inca­pac­i­ty of design as well as sci­ence fic­tion to effec­tive­ly imag­ine a future, how to deal with that as a design­er, and two areas that I see as tru­ly vir­gin ter­ri­to­ry for applied game design: the new type of city we’ve seen emerge in the East, and syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy. I got some nice respons­es and some chal­leng­ing ques­tions from the crowd, so I guess things went OK. The anno­tat­ed slides will find their way to the Hub­bub blog soon.

Aside from this, I spent the week work­ing on PLAY Pilots — con­tin­u­ing work on the next pilot for Le Guess Who? togeth­er with Monoban­da. And at the HKU, work­ing with my stu­dents on the Pam­pus project. Final­ly, my interns have kicked off their third game at the Learn­ing Lab, this one run­ning on their inter­nal blog plat­form. It involves mon­keys and a blind drag­on. Look­ing for­ward to the write­up for that one.

Quite a few bits of con­tent found their way online too, by the way. In case you missed them the first time around, here they are:

Plus a video of the Boc­ce Drift ses­sion Hub­bub ran a while back: