Monday, 30 May 2016

Meaning and Fun

What did you have for breakfast?
Is breakfast a game?

Last time I talked here it was about semantic misunderstandings regarding art. I covered how capital A art is invested in meaning and that games have very little to say in this regard. This seemed quite difficult for some people. Full transcript of that talk is available online.

This talk is based on our hunger for reality. For folk like us TV is too slow, reddit isn't even fast enough, I'm constantly reloading the twitter feed, it's just not enough. This is mostly going to be a list of questions I find myself asking. You may answer but I won't stop for you. 

Things I say about myself during this talk might be lies. Last month I went up the west highland line and got off at the stop after Ranoch Moor. There isn't anything there besides a YMCA and a cafe for Munroe baggers. I walked for about 2 miles away from anything man-made and I used a trowel to dig a potential grave in the peat bog. What would the game equivalent of this be?

Hiedegger saw the objective way of living as one molded from the earth.

Capital A art pursues meaning. Games pursue fun. Can something be both? Are these aspirations at odds in any way? What is your aim as game developers?

Do you want a chocolate egg?

I perhaps see meaning as an equation involving novelty and influence. Other parameters might include: technique and atmosphere.

Meaning is not often an aspiration of entertainment. It is said that Jack Kerouac ‘had no interest in trying to redeem the world, or in how to live the good life, or in telling a story. What he wanted was to capture in words what everything is like.’

Narrative structures

Sometimes I think about the equations we give to narrative structures. A to B a journey. A to B to A a journey there and back again. A to B to C, what happens at B to make C valid? Some kind of fundamental shift, that's what. What if it is just an A? Is that something static or perhaps some kind of circle, A to A? A A B B A is the rhyme scheme of a lymeric. Tolstoy and Hitchcock start at M and pull out to reveal the rest of the alphabet.


Do you keep your eyes open during visits to the dentist or do you close them? Closing them seems weird to me likesay. But if you keep them open you are trying your hardest to never ever make eye contact. Here's a game for you, next dental visit try to maintain eye contact with your dentist throughout. What are you meant to do with your tongue?


For PC games there only seems to be one path regarding dissemination, one end goal at least: tweet it, press releases, more press releases to the ones that fell on deaf ears, greenlight (alternatively publisher) and then Steam. Does anything come after this? I mean, besides sales? Merchandise? If I'm not in it for the money then what is my ideal final product? I think something physical perhaps. I've made some recycled card cases for my last work, I've collected seeds and recipes from the village to include in them. I have 6 or 7 months to think of an alternative to online distribution for my next work. Is there an alternative. Perhaps only to those who ask me directly. I'm really ok with having a player base of 500.


I leave imperfections in my work. I've started calling it “my work” and not “my games” Why do you think that is? Here is a little maquette of a naked man. When I tried to articulate him the clay cracked and now he is more interesting, more visibly hand made. My first games I cut the sprite sheets a bit off, I never loop my music so that I have to play the same phrases over and over until I inevitably mess up. What is gained through perfectionism? If money isn't the point I need make no compromises. I will never submit to a competition or sign with a publisher. I don't think that is what my life is about really.


Who wants to make lots of money? I said …

Quotes from The Westminster Media Forum event
"Games devs are not special & unique snowflakes. They’re businesses. The sooner they realise this. The sooner they find investors"
*"More than 7000 people in the UK studying games design, development and production. But are we producing the right skills? "

Capitalism thrives on the exploitation of workers. Can you see how capitalism poisons everything? The pursuit of knowledge is now worthless if it doesn’t provide skill sets that can be applied to make money. Might not seem like a problem at first but look at everything you cherish; music, art, nature, the well-being of those around you, the area in which you live. I’ve got news for you, the skills that maintain these things are not financially worth pursuing. The people who give company, hand massages and an ear to the 5 million lonely, older people in the UK who say their main companion is their TV set do so voluntarily. Musicians, writers, game devs, artists and graphic designers, those who colour our grey existence, work for "experience" and "exposure". Imagine if this was applied to any other profession, a cleaner working to enhance their portfolio.

There are three chocolate eggs hidden in this room. Is that a game?


Infantilisation feeds media, media feeds infantilisation. It is a circle dance. The music is provided by capitalism. What does capitalism's music sound like? Point finger. Wrong. Star Wars on the Bag Pipes. How did Artsy become a pejorative term? The average age of folk playing games is 35. Do you think the medium reflects this? Are we destined to be perpetual teenagers? Ave we becoming an audience that expects to be pandered to?. Do we only think we know what we want?

Exhibit A) What you know you like, bathed in all the qualities you know you like.
Exhibit B) Something that has never been seen before.
Exhibit C) Something that you don’t like because it is unfamiliar.

Which is best for progress?

Is this a compound crisis: a shallowness? If we were grown ups would we see the problems we ought to see coming? Would people still rather be watching screens.? Eternally pubescent, domesticated by media.

The reaction to ironic and infantilised and capitalistic culture might be the metaphorical "turning the TV off". Not taking part. By simply being we add to culture. The epiphany of looking at the people on the street and seeing that everyone is wearing exactly what the should be wearing. How the world is.

Anti-intellectual is like being anti-mountain gorilla.
The dividing thing between what is ok and what is not ok isn’t a definable thing. There can’t be rules. It’s the spirit in which a thing is made.


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