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1  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: Repetition is beautiful on: May 04, 2012, 12:04:15 pm
It seems you are in favour of  play in its most genuine sense – as Huizinga and his followers see it.  A repetitive movement without goal, without coming to an end. (As the wind playing with the leaves in the crown of a tree.) Just pure ”self-presentation” for the joy of being.

From the point of view of information theory: the semantic information rapidily goes down to zero. There may remain an ”aesthetic information” –  or else, the profit of playing cannot at all be expressed in terms of information. 
2  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: bored by emotion on: April 20, 2012, 12:02:52 pm
"the immanent transcendence of play" - as Gadamer says ...
3  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: Games are wasting time on: April 16, 2012, 09:52:35 pm
Even films today have a tendency of being too long, I think. Two hours or even more, instead of the old ideal of 100 min.
Furthermore- the most rapid way of getting a story is by a comic strips book. You get it in half an hour, the animated version would take a couple of hours ..

On the other hand, a real good piece of art is "timeless" -- there is no question of spending too much time on it or not.
4  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: All playing is a being-played on: April 16, 2012, 09:37:53 pm
Thanks for that reference, Michael! It is an admirably clarifying and inspiring piece of text.

In the spirit of Gadamer I even feel tempted to go one step further and think about (and hope for the possibility of) games-as-poetry

Which brings up another important aspect: a poetic game does not need to be long.  It would be pointless to run through it just once, from beginning to end. Rather, you will like to return and play it over an over again – and it will (in the ideal case) give you even more, the more you get aquainted with it.   Discerning new gestalts, discovering new layers. According to Gadamer, this is the only reasonable way to arrive at a true understanding of a work of art.
5  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / All playing is a being-played on: April 15, 2012, 12:11:26 pm
All playing is a being-played. The attraction of a game, the fascination it excerts, consists precisely in the fact that the game masters the players. Even in the case of games in which one tries to perform tasks that one has set oneself, there is a risk that they will not ”work”, ”succeed”, or ”succeed again”, which is the attraction of the game. Whoever ”tries” is in fact the one who is tried. The real subject of the game (this is shown in precisely those experiences in which there is only a single player) is not the player but instead the game itself. What holds the player in its spell, draws him into play, and keeps him there is the game itself.

I stumbled upon this passage in H-G. Gadamer’s ”Truth and Method” where he discusses quite extensively the concept of play (Spiel), in order to arrive at an understanding of art as play.  It is often enlightening to reverse perspective in this way: in a sense I think he is right. 

Of course, Gadamer knew nothing about computer games – he speaks about games and play in general. But what he says could include computer-games as well. The computer-game is a quite ridgid structure that must be accepted as it is, but you, the human player, is infinitely adaptable and flexible in your perception and mind. You accept to obey the game in order to to enter into it and make it ”come to life”.

”Every game has its own proper spirit”, Gadamer says, and ”Play fulfills its pupose only if the player loses himself in play”. 
6  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: Powers of Ten - don't mess with the universe on: March 12, 2012, 12:29:20 pm
Anyway, the supply of high quality energy by the radiation from the sun, is more than enough for our needs. Energy processes are continuously going on, so why not just join in?
It is a question of sufficiently smart technology ..  we do not have that yet, but are approachcing, I hope.
7  General / Everything / Re: Dear Esther took 5 hours to become profitable on: March 09, 2012, 11:00:36 am
Today it is reviewed in the Swedish newspaper SvD.
High score. Praised for its beauty and mood, not leat the music.
8  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Games and notgames -- again! on: March 06, 2012, 11:22:38 am
I don't understand why such an emphasis is placed on rules. 

When I think about it, you are intuitively right. Play is essentially rule-breaking. The very function of play is to oppose the conventions, habits and rules of ordinary life.  So it is paradoxical to speak about rules as something characteristic of playing. 
But I think there is also an inevitable process involved: how free play successively turns into an ordered activity, finally being established as a set of strict rules. Which means that the element of play has been, in the end, eliminated. 
Then you have to start up anew, being playful, breaking rules.  As when the joker is introduced into an all too formalized card game!  The joker is just the card that breaks the rules the ordinary cards are obliged to follow. And it makes the game more fun and irrational.
9  Creation / Notgames design / Re: use of music on: March 02, 2012, 10:44:05 am
What's the opinion on the use of music. I don't feel comfortable to use music to create mood, emotions or whatever.
You are not alone. Robert Bresson, one of the good old masters of cinema, says in an interview, concerning this:

I was very slow to notice that mysteriously invisble orchestral scores were contrary to the essence of film. I was slow to realize that sound defines space on film. People who experimented with 3D cinema were barking up the wrong tree. The third dimension is sound. It gives the screen depth, it makes characters seem tangible.  It makes it appear that one might walk amongst them. (...)
I have completely done away with atmospheric music in my films. It took me a long time to see how nefarious it was, particularly if it is glorious music.  Immediately, it makes the pictures seem flat, whereas a sound effect will give them depth. 
 


I once had the idea that the use of  background music in film is a survival from the days of silent film. In that case the accompaning music did really contribute something, difficult to name – but evident if you compare running a silent film with and without its music score.   

But all of this is also a question of film style. I can't imagine Fellini's films without Nino Rota's music.       
10  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Games and notgames -- again! on: March 02, 2012, 10:37:54 am
I don't understand why such an emphasis is placed on rules.  The idea that the ruleset is the basis of a game or of play is an adult intellectualization of something that is really freeform at its root. 
As I see it, the rules come in when you get so fond of some improvised pattern in playing that you want to be able to play "the same game" at later occasions. Of course you may just remeber it. Taking down the experience in terms of some "notation" is a step towards developing it into a work of art.

I know I'm a bit allergic to dichotomies. So I remain sceptical about this distinction between ordinary world and play. But maybe that's a contemporary phenomena. Maybe it's only recently that this "serious" world had been functioning like a game. Or maybe I simply don't take life as such seriously enough.
 
I agree.  Personally I would rather see a bit of playfulness in everything we do – more or less, as the case may be. We are capable of consciously being at the same time in the fictitious worlds of media and in the ”ordinary” world, or switching between. Normally without experiencing this as a problem.

Perhaps Huizinga deliberately emphasizes the difference between play and not-play in order to make his idea clear. In practice he usually speaks of ”an element of play” in various contexts.
Moreover he has the perspective of a learned historian. And he speaks mainly of playing games as a social, collective activity. Folk dances, contests, festivals and whatever.

Playing a single person computer game is more like sitting somewhere peacefully reading a book.  With MMORPGs the social aspect (with its rules of behaviour) becomes important for the experience.

It is important to keep to the rules, because of the fragility of the illusionary virtual world conjured up in playing. Breaking the rules means a flip back to the ordinary world.

Ah yes, this is an important insight into why the computer reduces the need for an abstract rules system. The virtual world on a computer is not fragile at all!

The computer takes the burden of keeping to the rules off of the player.
The fragility at issue is the fragility of the illusion, i.e. the experience of being in that virtual world, you are invited to visit. It can easily be demolished by a critical attitude – or critical comments from somebody standing beside you, when you play.  Or by a sudden pain in your eyes, reminding you that you should perhaps do better leaving the computer. 
 
After all you are looking at a computer screen with a changing pattern of colour areas. Your perceptual imagination helps to make this be experienced as an object world, in which you move around, and where there are things you can confront and manipulate. 
Playing the game presupposes an acceptance of this illusion.  Accept it as it was intended. Ignoring all defects and shortcomings, all the cues that inform you that it is not ”real”. This acceptance is voluntary, or at least should be so. If you are manipulated into a passive acceptance, you will not contribute anything out of yourself. Playing will not be a kind of dialogue, which I think it should ideally be.
11  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: A medium to be left to the storytellers on: February 28, 2012, 03:44:52 pm
It cannot be denied that film is an excellent medium for story tellling – you just sit down and get a story in two hours, without having to take the pains to read the corresponding novel, spending ten times as much time. (But people usually say: the novel was better..)
This does not mean to say that the film medium cannot be used for more serious artistic purposes.  I think of Tarkovsky’s Mirror. It is essentially autobiographical, but it tells its ”story” by a series of scenes that are visually so overwhelmingly touching. They really ”tell” you something, but in visions, not words.

12  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Games and notgames -- again! on: February 28, 2012, 11:30:37 am
Play is a voluntary activity or occupation executed within certain limits of time and place, according to rules freely accepted but absolutely binding, having its aim in itself and accompanied by a feeling of tension, joy, and the consciousness that it is ”different” from ”ordinary life”.
I have issues with Huizinga's insistence on the voluntary aspect of playing. But I refuse to interpret his definition as meaning that anything that is not done voluntarily cannot be called playing.

Like Michael I was intrigued by the stress on ”freedom", so I have spent some time studying Huizinga’s book ”Homo ludens”, from 1938, to find out what he meant. It was not altogether easy to follow his line of argument, but this is how I understand it.

To begin with, we need not worry about the terminological issue, because H. does not primarily speak about games. He focuses on the mere activity of playing.  It does not matter what or with what we are playing, but that we are playing.  

Playing is different from other activities, such as going, eating, working, sleeping. We know what is meant by: ”Now it is time to stop playing and go back to work!”  or  ”Don’t play, please be serious!” or ”I didn’t mean to hurt him, we were only playing”.
To play is not to work, not to be serious, to do things that are not meant to be what they seem to be …  But what is it then?

H. notes that playing is not exclusive for human beings, animals also play. It seems to be a general characteristic of living cretures. Something basic in our existence. We do not need any excuse for doing it, we do not need to ”explain it”, it is just a matter of fact.  But we have reason to try to characterize it – and ask ”is there a point with it?”

H. had studied the development of human culture in a historical perspective.  To him it had become evident, that people, especially in earlier times, made a difference between playing and the doings of ”ordinary life”.  They now and then sung and danced and put on fanciful clothes, and were joyful – despite the fact (or perhaps rather because of the fact) that their ordinary life was hard. Full of necessities, tasks, duties, work to earn their living. Having to tackle the brutal forces of the material world, in order to survive.
In relation to this ordinary world, the world momentarily entered in playing was experienced as a realm of freedom.  You played not because you were forced to do it but because it was fun.

The freedom in playing is the freedom of Homo Ludens (the playing man) from the rational domination of Homo sapiens (the rational man).

Playing spontaneously shapes itself into periodic patterns of movement. Rythm, balance, harmony, enhance the joy of playing. Certain shapes become favorites, you memorize them in order to be able to repete them. They get individuality and a name. In that way a ”game” is born and taken up into tradition.
The defining ”rules” of a game are freely invented, i.e. they are not dictated out of any necessity. They may imitate traits from ordinary life, and get their flavour from being ”faked”. They are only valid within the confined region of space and time, where the playing occasionally takes place.  It is a fun in itself to follow rules, and introduces a moment of tension in the play.  It is important to keep to the rules, because of the fragility of the illusionary virtual world conjured up in playing. Breaking the rules means a flip back to the ordinary world. Because of that you are a ”Spielverderber” if you don’t accept the rules. (To Huizinga, playing is first and foremost a social acitivty, involving serveral people, as players or as spectators of the play.)    

So, playing – at its very essence -- is an unnecessary activity, freely chosen, without purpose, unproductive, irresponsible, completely irrational. Is it then not just worthless, a waste of time?  
Well, since the nineteenth century there is a tendency to look upon it that way, H. says. The element of play has been pushed aside under the influence of the industrial revolution with its idolatry of work and production.  And this is regrettable, since playing is essential for the existence of human culture. In his historical studies H. finds that almost all cultural habits, conventions, institutions, have in their early stages of development been ”played”.  They need this space of freedom to grow and establish themselves, before entering ”the ordinary world” and being taken for granted as belonging to our cultural inheritance.

You don’t play in order to survive, but in order to give meaning to life.  Playing introduces meaning and beauty into life.

Concerning the arts, it is evident that music and dance, as performing arts, are most closely related to playing. They are more or less born out of the joy of playing. So is poetry, H. says.
But painting, sculpture, architecture do not belong there. Because they are essentially dealing with the material world, struggling with matter, giving it form. It cannot be a completely ”free” activity. Whereas playing essentially deals with the immaterial world, and its values, and that is the reason for its quality of total freedom.

I am not ready to accept that conclusion, without qualifications, I must admit. Maybe this is a suitable point where to leave the issue for discussion in our forum.
13  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: A medium to be left to the storytellers on: February 28, 2012, 11:24:14 am
I am convinced there is a deepgoing difference between film and video games, despite their seemingly likeness in some respects. It struck me, what you, Michael, once said, that interactive 3D games are more like archtecture.
14  General / Check this out! / Re: Art made interactive on: February 25, 2012, 09:12:44 pm
Yes, I also like that idea.
You could even start with a landscape painting and then walk into it ...
15  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: error-free universe on: February 14, 2012, 08:53:18 pm
You know the ”impossible figures” by Escher, Reuterswärd and others.  These are drawings of objects that are impossible to make physically.  The parts just do not fit together simultaneously, into a consistent body. However, locally they are OK. So if you are very small compared with such an impossible object, and walk around on it, you would never detect any error.

Now, the laws of physics are local, so the universe as a whole could be logically inconsistent, without violating the laws of nature. Free of errors, as far as we can find out, but yet ”impossible”.  We cannot decide whether we live in a logically impossible universe or not …

 (I don’t know what my physics colleagues would say about this)

By the way, I should like to make a computer game based on impossible drawings.
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