The Nature of Videogames
As the medium enters its post-modern phase, where the traditional definitions and boundaries lose their significance, it is important to raise pertinent questions about the way we perceive and analyze games. Whether it’s through our creative practices or the way we critically understand the games, these talks can be seen as a starting point of a larger, open-ended discussion which invites the audience to engage and introspect on how they view certain aspects of the medium. Each of these talks seeks to initiate challenging discussions around familiar aspects of games that we take for granted by casting a different perspectives on it.
“Video games dehumanize. Video games are irrevocably tied to SYSTEMS and SYSTEMS are overpowering. Whatever art or story or sound or anything we wrap around them, SYSTEMS emerge triumphant. We can’t progress without engaging SYSTEMS, and we’re rewarded for our obedience. Some have tried to co-opt SYSTEMS and use them to express, but SYSTEMS laugh, we’re only ever talking about SYSTEMS themselves. Some tried to reduce SYSTEMS to nothing, and we’ve seen human work emerge here, but surely we can use interactivity meaningfully SOMEHOW?? This talk will demolish traditional approaches and point towards new structures for MORE HUMAN, DIFFERENT games!!”
“Abstraction has made its way into the gaming lexicon, but many discussions fail to recognize its complexity. This talk argues that abstraction is not only a fundamental ingredient of video games but is also integral to shaping players’ ideas, experiences, and impressions during and after gameplay. The question of abstraction in games today is both a sign of their growth and the potential for new creative possibilities. References to historical precedents, Jesper Juul’s definitions of abstraction, and the qualitative analysis of two independent video games that utilize abstraction in unique and meaningful ways form the basis of this discussion.”
“Video game level design is often pursued in a functionalist sense, in the vein of modernist architecture theory, where “form follows function.” What’s weird about that turn is that labeling someone a “formalist” is largely an insult in the field of architecture, which has forked into at least two diverging branches: the “starchitects” working on huge glass citadels, and smaller firms building sustainable public infrastructure for communities. What is formalist architecture, why did it fall out of favor, and what is going on now? We can also readily apply these concepts and histories back to level design: what does sustainable postmodern level design look like? What is the future of level design in games?”