Monday, April 2, 2012

The Museum as Game Space

This week we have class at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and, although we'll look for how digital narrative is used in the museum experience, and talk about contemporary art, basically we're going there to play and make up some games using the museum space as our game space.

We'll start here:
 Ice Floe (2011), Wendy Jacob

and end here:

Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism (2007) Josiah McElheny

And, oh, in between . . . . .


Today we will:
1    1) Think about the museum as a space, and examine the experience of being in 3D space.
        2) Consider how digital media and digital narrative are used in the museum.
    3) Play/create some games, or some game elements (easy on the ilinx!)  There are some below to try out.  Then, in your group, come up with at least one of your own.  Take some pictures (stop if a guard tells you to).  Upload them to the blog, or do some other clever thing with them as part of your game.

INTRODUCTION: Contemporary Art, Interactive Experiences, & Wendy Jacobs’s “Ice Floe”

Choose one or two partners. 

Agôn: It’s you and your partner against the other teams.  Who will find the clue under the Edward Hopper painting, A Room in Brooklyn, first?  Follow the clue for the next steps.

Alea: Whose birthdate is the lowest number?  You are the team leader for the next 5 minutes.

Mimicry:  You are a secret agent, under cover, now with your mission directive from the woman in the room in Brooklyn.  Find the man who is watching her.  One of your team is an eager, young recruit, another is an older, jaded more experienced hack.  Anyone else is someplace in the middle and hiding a secret.  Go to the next place and argue about how to proceed for 1-2 minutes.

Ilinx: Oh, it is so tempting . . . but we are not going to do much with this one.   You can spin around outside by the giant baby heads on your way home if you feel this is too much of a copout.  Spin and look a giant baby head in the eye.

Think about what is paidia, free-form open play, and what is ludus, rule-based play.  How does one shift between the two?

PART 2: Play a game.  Start by 11:45. Choose one of the following as a starting point and do the game activity. 

Heist! There’s been a heist!  Because of the lockdown as soon as it was discovered, the thief , a master of disguise, wasn’t able to escape from the museum, and is still hiding , cleverly concealed as a sculpture.   Find the culprit by finding a sculpture with one of your names on the tag. 

Color Match: You are a collector of rare paintings and if you can find a match for the colors in your paintings in any gallery, you will donate that painting to the museum.  Each person choose five colors by the next five colors you see by looking to your right (and NOT at a painting!)  Then go into a gallery and see who finds a painting with all 5 colors first.

Art Talk: Pick a gallery to start, and each player chooses an artist to role play.  Discuss the paintings in that gallery, then move to another gallery.

Find the _______:   In the following order, find in the art: a fish, a red flower, leaves on the ground, a bare shoulder, a horse, a musical instrument, an abstract with blue and green.

Random tour:  Politely ask someone what their favorite painting is in the museum.  It can be someone who works there.  Go to that painting.  Read the note on the wall until it mentions another painter.  Go and find a painting by that painter.   If that note doesn’t mention another painter, or if the painting doesn’t have a note, go to the next painting in that room that does.  If you can’t find a painting by the mentioned painter, find one by a painter with the same first letter of the last name.    Now look at the painting directly across from whatever one you just found. 

Movement: Start on the third floor of the American wing in any gallery.  Choose the painting or object with the most red in it.  Walk 15 steps to your right (or your left if right is not an option).  Find the nearest staircase.   Go down one level.  Find the object with the most blue that you can see.  Walk away from that object, 3 steps forward, 3 steps to the right or left (choose one direction and stick to it) until you find another interesting object.  Look for the most yellow object in the room.  Walk 5 steps forward, 3 left or right until you find another interesting object.

PART 3:  Your own game.  Start by 12:15.
Now, with your partner/s, design your own game that takes place in the space of the museum.   You can stay in the American wing or go to the Contemporary Gallery back in the Linde Wing.  Think about game objects (including the players), their properties, behaviors, and the relationships among the objects.  Consider the system dynamics (how much information do the players have about the system? What aspects of the system do they control? Feedback? How does it affect the game?)  Does your game use technology like augmented reality?  What kinds of devices?  Is it an alternate reality game?

Meet back at the Linde Wing, 2nd floor, Contemporary Gallery at the big mirrored cube piece towards the back of that gallery at 12:30, then we’ll go downstairs to get coats and head out in time for you to be back on campus at time for your next class. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

McLuhan: The Medium Is the Message

Game Project

Your second project is an original game, which can be based on the fairy or folk tale you've been working with for your interactive fiction project, or something new.

Make a game with one of the recommended programs, such as GameSaladStencyl, Scratch, or one of the others on the lists of resources.  You could use your fairy tale as a basis, or take an element from one of the games we played in class as a starting point (but you cannot make a GameSalad version of the board game).  Consider the formal and dramatic game elements and system dynamics covered in the chapters 3,4, & 5 of the Game Design Workshop as you design your game (every game will not include every possible element).  
Your goal is to make a playable game.  
Your project will also have a written component in which you connect theory and practice.  In the first paragraph, state the "X" of your game.  Then in the rest of the 1-2 well-written pages, focus on analysis (posing and answering how and why questions, and considering the signficance or greater meaning, rather than describing or summarizing), and discuss how your game illustrates or confounds (or however it relates to) at least one concept from one of the readings. Suggestion: Discuss your game in terms of Roger Caillois's categories of games, and also consider agency as the third axis, like in my 3D model that revises Caillois's chart.  Where would your game belong on the play rubric?  Why and what is the significance of its position there?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Games, Film, 3D Environments: Where Aesthetics Meet and Diverge

Games, Film, 3D Environments: Where Aesthetics Meet and Diverge

From film techniques in games, as so eloquently illustrated by Chris Solis in his analysis of Super Mario 64 to the very different kinds of camera angles and spectatorship that can occur in games, it is instructive to explore these two cultural forms in relationship to each other, and to consider how they have been mutually informing, first with film's influence on games, and now with games' influence on film. We also can include the human-computer interface.

Opening shot of Welles's Touch of Evil that Solis discusses in his blog post:

Solis writes, "So why do we introduce the camera before we introduce the main character? Simply the camera is more important then Mario in this title." Does Welles's film also introduce the camera before the character?

How has this evolved in games? In film? Why?

What does it mean to be able to navigate 3D space?  To be able to control the camera?  To split camera point of view and the character that you control?

In this frame from my film, Avatar with a Kino-Eye, made with machinima--animation captured in real time in a virtual world or other 3D game environment--the top and bottom shots show the two characters' points of view, with the scripted eye moving around to show where one of them is looking.

It is a visualization, a dramatization, of visionary Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov's 1923 ideas about the "kino-eye" (cinema-eye):

The kino-eye lives and moves in time and space; it gathers and records impression in a manner wholly different from that of the human eye.  The position of our bodies while observing our perception of a certain number of features of a visual phenomenon in a given instant are by no means obligatory limitations for the camera, which, since it is perfected, perceives more and better.

As the camera has become ubiquitous in everyday life, we've seen people using the "kino-eye" more and more as another way they can see (and remember, and communicate).  With the advent of the virtual camera in 3D environments, the filmmaker or the player has unprecedented control, and the camera can go even farther afield than Vertov ever imagined as he exulted in the possibilities in the early 1920s:

In this image, the scripted "eye" object is the plane, and I used it as a prop in a keynote presentation ( starting at 17:00) I gave at the New Media Constortium Symposium on New Media and Learning, March 2009.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Game Playing and Design

You've analyzed a game for your assignment for this week, and we're playing board and table top games in class so we can analyze them for system dynamics. This is the beginning of the unit that will culminate with the game you make for Project 2, so at each point, be thinking about what choices you want to make in the game you design and create.

Your mission for Thursday: with your group, test out GameSalad and Stencyl. Discover and discuss the merits and limitations of both. Individually, decide which program you want to use, or if your search is not yet over and you want to explore other options, like Unity 3D, try using JourneyMaker, Flash (if you already know it), or . . . . If you are not going to use GameSalad or Stencyl, send me an email about what you are planning.

For next week, using the process described in ch. 6 as a basis, brainstorm your basic idea for your game. Be able to articulate your X.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Campanile Movie

This is getting a little ahead of ourselves, but I wanted to post this video while I had the link handy.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hero's Journey, The Monomyth, and Structuralist Approaches to Narrative

The stages of the monomyth illustrated with moments from movies like Star Wars and The Matrix

The Mythology of Star Wars--George Lucas interviewed by Bill Moyers

This is the first of six one-hour interviews with Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers.