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1  General / Check this out! / Re: Designing Journey on: May 04, 2013, 05:26:58 PM
Manipulation would be welcome, it's one of the cornerstones of any noble form of entertainment from stage drama to magic. I don't believe that to be the case at hand. Video games are admirable agents of conditioning, on the other hand. At hindsight, my favorable experience with the last two Jenova Chen games was more consonant with a process of conditioning - a tour de force at that, however benevolent - rather than one of manipulation. I would add that there exists a substantial schism between the two.
2  General / Introductions / Re: Hello and a quarter of a year on: April 13, 2013, 01:28:41 PM
Very interesting concept. I'm going to spread the news to my own little group. Thank you.
3  Creation / Reference / Re: IGF 2013 on: April 03, 2013, 11:42:55 AM

That's true also of its "spin off" Limits and Demonstrations.

Yes indeed. What a remarkable way to enhance the by granting it depth beyond request or expectation. The Man and Horse sculpture were in fact present in the basement of the opening chapter, this in the Beta version, and not the ramblers' board game scene. There it stood against the lamplight, in the foreground, like a shadow play. As you switched the lamp on and off it would tell a small story and then set you free. It had nearly the same close-up magnetism in my humble perception as did the television screen delusion.

There's value to this ability to be poetic without being lyrical, much like the great American literature of the modern and contemporary age. If we're to evolve as a culture, us computer users I mean, I'm fairly certain that we'll look back at Kentucky Route Zero one day with longing and breathless admiration. Players' fast pace motion, hopping between high speed trend trains every seven days, makes it impossible to appreciate the slow paced splendor of Conway's Homeric odyssey.
4  Creation / Reference / Re: IGF 2013 on: April 03, 2013, 11:29:59 AM

(EDIT: In a way I need to know what you all think about it to know whether my thoughts are just whimsy or rational.)

Both, I suggest. As a video game, its mindset is held captive by daydreams and fantasies from 1980's computer game simulations of the quotidian life in the city. I'm not saying it's a game I don't appreciate for one or the other reason, I'm sure, but were it an underdog, I'd be more compelled to explore it. There is prejudice in my appreciation, I realize, given that the words of praise that have inflated it reputation among players come from voices whose assessment I find poor - at best. Perhaps it's most unfair to the game, I'm well aware, but bearing in mind that the first hour of interaction didn't present me with any additional arguments that could revert my opinion in favor of it, I'd say it's reasonable to say what you say.
5  Creation / Reference / Re: IGF 2013 on: April 01, 2013, 11:59:17 PM
As a project backer I played such early demos, and indeed the game has evolved a great deal since its initial kickstarter phase presentation. It alludes to videogames and videogame history, no doubt, but there's no discernible game element to be found there: no difficulty, no puzzles, no wrong choices, nothing. It bears the resemblance of a point and click adventure and the text has an IF gist to it, but the experience itself is irrespective of those genres. If we're to be technical, it's more a notgame than many so-called notgames. Perhaps I could invite Jake Elliot to be a part of this community?
6  Creation / Reference / Re: IGF 2013 on: March 30, 2013, 11:44:26 AM
Walking Dead.

Well, it figures (part two). Yes, it did, ACT 1 was released in January. I thoroughly recommend it.
7  Creation / Reference / Re: IGF 2013 on: March 29, 2013, 12:30:28 PM
Oh well... it figures. Cart Life is right up that sort of crowd's alley. At least they got the nominations right for the most part this year, so I can't complain. And good old Kentucky earned some deserved recognition.

The question remains: who won the "Best Narrative" award?
8  General / Check this out! / Re: In Defense of Notgames on: March 07, 2013, 02:51:28 PM

While it is nearly certain that Beardsley never discussed videogames, in his article explicating his definition of art, it seems that one of his specific goals in this definition was that it should serve us as art evolves beyond its conceptions at the time; thus I do not believe his definition is less useful to us.

Monroe Beardsley can be very useful today, I concur. His name is a valuable reminder of an intellectual movement which laid the carpet for postmodernism and a long tradition of North-American moderation in academia - he sought to conquer the middle ground between emerging extremes in art appreciation, in different continents to wit, rendering for the purpose that which I find to be a specious and narrow-minded establishing of art's (lowest) common denominator: aesthetics. The allegation itself, I emphasize in his defense, is contained within not only the context of his works which cannot be erased altogether, but also the context of his times; and is in great part a reaction to the pragmatic reforms witnessed in modern art and the theories of men such as Marcel Duchamps. My best assessment is, alas, that it bears only residual significance when applied to the contention of "digital games" as an indisputable form of art.

In fact I'd suggest once again that the argument of "aesthetics" is equally applicable - often applied, and legitimately so - to the field of industrial design for one. Such a claim, as that which you quote in your blog, allows for an acceptance of a designer alarm clock radio as a work of art; the design of a roller coaster wagon a work of art; taking Le Corbusier and his Bauhaus brethren to lackadaisical extremes. But having been made in a certain context, one which is known to us, it is exceeded by those innovations, in this case technological, which Beardsley himself could neither predict let alone fathom. Such is the limit of any vague and all-encompassing theory or attempt at a law, axiom or definition: it is bound to be opened to exceptions and, most importantly, to be weakened in its own reason and value with the passage of time. Very few maxims, if any, have persevered the unanticipated. Even though I find Kant's axiological approach quite interesting, but they too have been the object of dispute and not all of which unreasonable as you're no doubt aware, this regarding the matter of subjectivity.

It is required to modulate these factors in a more convincing manner if we're to take the premise of "games as art" more productively. I've long searched for an essay or thesis that could suit such needs - in fact attempted to compose one - if to no avail. In my own writing I use the arts as the source of countless parallels, given the palpable contiguity between both, but find it sensible to prevent them from mutually infusing one another. The recognition of each's merit is not even considered here, as it would likely cause me to feel lightheaded.

I do not subscribe to merit-based definitions of art, in fact I do not subscribe to a single, or perhaps not any definition of art at all. I recognize them and make all possible efforts to see beyond them. As an Art Historian, I always suggest others to first acquaint themselves with the arts, to expand their knowledge and understanding of them in the greatest depth and amplitude possible, making use of as much theory as needed though not accepting any as dogma or the last word on any given subject unless it refers to the flatly factual. Only the knowledge of art can drive one towards a sense or intuition which, once obtained, allows for a clearer view of these and other matters. I cannot prevent art from being defined or evaluated in the thousand ways or through multiple sensibilities, however they're obtained and matured. Whereas you speak of this premise as objective, I say it's merely the product of a certain - and manifestly contemporary - consensus. Art itself surpasses these newfangled conceptions by centuries.

As a closing comment, I would only say that I find it quite reasonable this notion of digital interactions as a rather salubrious field in which new expressions may flourish and we have certainly been shown how those can be achieved. But I refuse to recognize empty acreage as an orchard until I have a glimpse of the said orchard. Thank you for this edifying discussion, good Sir.
9  General / Check this out! / Re: In Defense of Notgames on: March 06, 2013, 05:54:16 PM
Thank you Sir, it was my pleasure and is my pleasure still.

The origin of the term is in this case a sizable contributor to the origin of the conception itself, one might say, and as such it is always advisable to seek the root, which isn't at all a tangential aspect insofar as this discussion is concerned. Then again, this is my method or approach and it needn't be yours, I agree.

Certainly, Crowther's game could exist in such an aural interface without the need of written text, with no changes to its content, if the experience itself would be an entirely different one and that is by no means irrelevant. Someone who has read a book and listened to an audiobook can denote the differences, though I wish not to embark on a qualitative appreciation of each, let alone size the one against the other. I argue only that text is a visual element, that Colossal Cave Adventure was created bearing such a realization in mind, and that nothing about it challenges the "video" definition since "video" (which is not equivalent to pictorial as I emphasized earlier) was precisely that which once enabled it to be.

Surely you simplify the question of artistic aspirations and that of video games' own merits. The issue at hand cannot be decided with merely the (questionable) theory originating from proponents of that premise - especially those whose only recognized field of expertise is videogames or philosophy; let alone with an appropriation of Monroe that never wrote a single word - not to my knowledge - on the subject we now discuss. Truly, I see no hint of any artistic worth in any of Bateman's own creations, most of which bordering on the appalling, although I concede that, like most hypothesis weaved in that direction, it presents the question of art as an unrealized potential of this largely industrial or artisanal medium. That, nonetheless, is an altogether different question I contemplate with much greater pleasure.

Not to mention that Monroe's is nowhere near a definite interpretation of the purpose and nature of art, seen as that is far more complex than he could ever objectively simplify - which, I believe, was in no small part his intention. I can accept that your subjective view is inclined to pair with such a conception of art, with such a conception of video games as objects whose aesthetic prowess qualify them as being art. Such is drawn far beyond the boundaries of my intolerance, you see.

But when you write and pose a question such as the validity of the term "videogame", you're addressing one of the key elements of that dreadful "games as art" argument - indeed, what are "videogames" to begin with, what artifacts or groups of artifacts does the word refer to? Is it meant to be an equally subjective demarcation, even though the term is arguably very precise in what it refers to? It's not an academic fool's errand to exercise such caution nor to seek a secure foothold before climbing ahead into further considerations.

Aesthetics - in the sense we now employ the word - and criticism - idem - possess great affinity for the arts; they're characteristic of the arts, plausibly enough, albeit not exclusive to them. Aesthetics can be correlated, and it is often, with design for instance; criticism's focus, in its turn, is even wider at that.
10  General / Check this out! / Re: In Defense of Notgames on: March 06, 2013, 01:34:01 PM
A few notes on your text, Chris, coming from someone who agrees with the basic premise behind this reasoning.

My work is cut out for me: the name videogames, as descriptive instead of prescriptive, seemed apt enough for 50 years of the medium. The very earliest videogames, from Tennis for Two and Spacewar! up to Colossal Cave Adventure (which challenges the designation “video”, if not “game”) were explicit in their gameplay structure.

Colossal Cave Adventure, as many of the text-based programs created before and after it, do not challenge the "video" designation at all. That comes as a viewpoint which is characteristic of an age of advanced graphical - pictorial - representations; but the presence of scrolling text with which the user can interact is respective only to the manipulation of images allowed by a screen display, and could hardly - if at all - be attained with any other medium in similar characteristics, certainly not with ink and paper. Related as these things may be, Advent is not a gamebook. In fact it represents a very sizable technological leap, that of preparing computer systems to operate with textual interfaces, as opposed to strictly numeric ones - I underline the term "interface" here.

The origin of the term "video game" is not properly analyzed here, either. One of the most probable origins for the term may have been Baer's research materials and the patent he tried to register, since the goal of his invention was to create games - distractions, interactive pastimes - on a video display, namely the Television. We can say to some extent that the birth of what we today call video games springs from a few engineer's desire to revert or convert available technology into allowing an experience both interactive and markedly ludic. Baer wanted to manipulate the commonest of video displays, the television, to enable viewers to take a participatory stance, though in his mind he always used the word "games" which is perfectly correct in the case of his Brown Box.

I agree that the word no longer suits the diversity and range it comprises, that it is now more than ever before stretching to its limits and, hopefully, close to bursting. As you point out, Cinema, deriving originally from "registering movement", is far more accurate nonetheless since it was further refined into "movement" alone or referring to "moving pictures", which encompasses a much more ample variety of objects in its ambiguity than "videogame" does, on cause of the specificity of both halves of this portmanteau. When Kenji Eno developed Real Sound: Kaze no Regret he made neither use of video nor did he create anything but a sound novel, a non-visual form of Interactive Fiction. However we choose to look at it, the term "video" is altogether inapplicable. And this took place sixteen years ago - I say it so you can understand the advanced age of the questions you pose.

As for the subject of whether or not we can call IF a videogame genre, it's rather open to dispute though my own research has led me to believe that it isn't, solely in what pertains to its potential; although in real terms we do speak of a field overly attached to video games, more so than to the realms of written fiction (or literature).

This suggests another characteristic: interactivity. It does not, I believe, stretch the imagination to suggest that videogames are unique among the arts in their interactivty (...)

I'm surprised that you presuppose videogames as art form. You are on the one hand attempting to dissect the definition and question it throughout the text but make no issue of considering it an art form beforehand. Such a consideration should follow this reasoning, perhaps, not precede it. At this point, I'm afraid I was forced to bring my reading of the text to an end, Sir.
11  General / Everything / Re: A rant: I'm tired of the same old geek bullshit on: February 23, 2013, 04:39:43 PM
This was interesting, especially because I also watched most of those films as a child and understand the root of his nightly terrors. Thanks for sharing, György.
12  General / Everything / Re: A rant: I'm tired of the same old geek bullshit on: February 23, 2013, 12:07:03 PM
It displeased me. The film suddenly takes a turn from mind-boggling esoteric science fiction to a Carpenteresque Michael Myers slasher for no reason other than the fact that the director didn't know what else to do with it. Anyone can come up with a good premise these days and it seems that suffices. Personally I'm more susceptible to how that premise translates into something, not just the pledge of something. THX 1138, of which we spoke earlier, shows you how you can expand a good premise into something memorable. Who could forget that shot of Duvall covering his eyes whilst gazing at reality for the first time in a life lived underground. We never quite know if he will return to that society or break free. This alone has Plato's Allegory of the Cave written all over it.
13  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Unconventional is depressing? on: February 22, 2013, 04:05:02 PM
I wouldn't say uplifting myself. Rewarding, passionate and stimulating, certainly, but never gleeful or entirely optimistic. I do agree, however, that unconventionality is a sizable origin for this precise reaction, insomuch as a person is entitled to feel uneasy when in the presence of a stranger; or when venturing into unknown territories.

I find it very difficult to play Bientôt l'été or The Graveyard, I must confess, since it makes me face a number of sentiments I am unprepared to handle most of the time. It perturbs me, at times. But I'm one who believes that this technology was tailored for such purposes.

Others do not, and surely they have their reasons.

For instance, I don't intend on watching Haneke's "Amour" ever again. It's painfully intense - painfully beautiful in fact. It's bleak and morose in its own way. It is not written in stone that art, even that which sets out to celebrate beauty, is under any express obligation of being uplifting. Edifying, perhaps, though-provoking. But not cheering, despite its known and proven efficiency at that.

But no, I don't see unconventional as necessarily depressing. Your singular brand of unconventionality, however, often drives me towards that sentiment.
14  General / Everything / Re: A rant: I'm tired of the same old geek bullshit on: February 22, 2013, 03:29:46 AM
I have watched "Beyond the Black Rainbow" almost a year ago. It reached a point when I felt convinced that I was witnessing one of the most important science fiction films in many years. However, despite the memorable aesthetics and a strangely captivating performance by Michael Rogers, Cosmatos lacked the vision, perhaps even the intellect to give it a proper conclusion. The film brings itself to a ruin near the end.

Then again, what could one expect from the son of George P. Cosmatos, the director of "Rambo 2" and "Cobra"?
15  General / Everything / Re: A rant: I'm tired of the same old geek bullshit on: February 20, 2013, 02:18:11 PM

I have watched the early George Lucas of THX 1138 (and his student film on the same theme).

As did I. THX 1138 suggests that there was once a guileless director there, one with some degree of vision. It's a serious science fiction classic by its own right, with some very powerful subtext and aesthetics to it; a fine spin on the Iron Heel / Brave New World / 1984 type dystopia, no doubt enriched by elements of a certain Platonic allegory. I haven't watched it in over a decade now, so it will be interesting to see whether it passes the test now. Or, maybe, I better keep the favorable impressions of my youth intact.

 ------------ // -------------

As for the rant, Shane, I couldn't agree more. It has long reached a point where this causes me nothing but disgust. But we must realize that, to some, these series of consumer products - evergreens, perhaps? - sustain that delicate balance between their living a satisfying life in their own retreat from reality and being forced to face a world we know is unbearable to them. There's a protecting veil of fantasy that must be kept intact, otherwise the consequences could be quite catastrophic from a social and economic standpoint.

But it was our industrial age - our commercial age - that spawned this breed of geeks and nerds with their bizarre consumerist habits and inability to adjust. If anything, I feel compelled to regard them as victims; theirs being a complex condition displaying many similarities with, for instance, the widespread dependency on prescription drugs.
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