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<  News & gossip  ~  Mention of your Manifesto

Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 11:26 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 14 May 2007 Posts: 5 Location: Santa Cruz, CA
I have been reading and writing about this manifesto for a bit now and love it to pieces. It may not agree with EVERYTHING but this poetically put to words all my rants about video games in the past 5 years (and I talk about this sort of stuff a lot Smile ). I didn't think that the manifesto was saying that rules were completely undesirable (and aren't they unavoidable to an extent?). And in response to rinku, I also would argue that rules are definitely not explored fully. There is much to be explored in terms of goal/reward structures and player motivation (I have a game in the works that I would love to hear what you all think about - I will post something soon).

Oh, and this is the first time I have had someone other than myself bring up Majora's Mask as one of the few commercial artistic games. Majora's Mask uses plot (the whole game you need to pretend to be other people and other's obsession with Masks drives the plot) and game rules (the groundhog's day-ness) much more artistically than most games and creates quite an experience. However, it also falls victim to much of the same problems other commercial games do...
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Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 11:03 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Our main point about game rules and structures is that we shouldn't think that they are necessary. Of course, games being an ancient craft, it is much easier to make interactive pieces that are games. But we think it's worth exploring the vast domain of non-rules-based interaction because we feel there may be forms out there that are more adequate at expressing certain emotions. If only because games are extremely limited in the emotional spectrum that they can evoke. We believe this limitation is caused by applying strict game structures. So rather than forcing a game to tell a dramatic love story, e.g., we simply try and look for other types of interaction to express such a story.
We also believe that it is hard to play a game and be emotionally invested in a story simultaneously. As soon as you start playing, the story starts dissolving. In a way, the game protects you from whatever the story might be telling you. This is how it is easy to kill people in games. But we would like to talk about how awful it is to kill people, e.g.
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Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 7:19 am Reply with quote
Joined: 24 Sep 2006 Posts: 17 Location: aus
i think humble is being needlessly combative in defining 'rules' in a thoroughly obtuse manner. Of course, all games involve rules. So does logic, and the act of trying to catch peanuts in your mouth. Rules of the "if x then y" variety are not what the manifesto seems to be about. Eliminating all rules indiscriminately is counterproductive as well as entirely impossible in life and games, resulting in a vacuum or the programming equivalent blank screen page. The undesired rules in this case are the ones of the "get thirty points in half an hour and win! win! win!" or "stay alive as long as you can!" Like, environmental rules as opposed to gameplay rules: the rules that keep a soccerball on the ground as opposed to the rules that say you aren't supposed to touch it with your hands or the other team gets it.

The Marriage has solid rules of gameplay, but they can only be discovered through trial and error. I played it repeatedly, got most of the idea, then read the rationale behind it. The critique i have is that the unspoken rules of the game involve "if you can't keep both the pink and the blue square happy with your ceaseless meddling then YOU ALL DIE!". It places immediate pressure on the audience to do something quickly before they game over, as without interaction, the game lasts about a minute before the pink square fades out of existence, depending on whether or not the blue square happens to hit it. Almost every step you take for the first five or six tries will result in a five-second game-over. The only reason i persevered is because he expressly stated that the game was intended to be art, and as such "enjoyable but not entertaining in the traditional sense most games are". He's right in that my own process as audiennce of experiencing the game, discovering the rules, and extrapolating a meaning from them and the game's elements made a interesting artistic statement. I believe he's wrong in dismissing the RAM as exclusive and the implied statement that the direct progeny of it will be not of interest, because he seems to be being exclusive rather than inclusive, and regarding his opera as more legitimate art-games than your instrumental music or vice versa.

On a side note, deconstructing that game with gender theory could be really interesting, but more on that later.
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Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 8:53 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
You are absolutely correct about the rules of course. There's many rules in our games of the "if x then y" variety. They are fun. And quite necessary as you point out. But these are not the rules that game designers talk about. I prefer not to turn this one into another semantic discussion, though. It makes my head spin. Surprised

As for The Marriage, it's biggest flaw is that it's ugly. Even for an abstract piece, it's ugly. There. Razz
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Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:42 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 24 Sep 2006 Posts: 17 Location: aus
i wasn't planning on jumping into semantic wrangling, I think i just didn't do my research thoroughly enough: At this stage i know near nothing about the mechanics of game design so i had no idea which way the word is being used, so i had a go at the obvious one. Any educational glossaries you could point me toward so i can figure out what i'm saying>?

That's a harsh call about The Marriage's ugliness, but completely justified. While it's supposed to be as minimally functional as possible, it sort of cuts its own legs off: the explanation it comes with, while spoiling Humble's intention a lot, is absolutely necessary. Seen as an artwork, one that starts off giving nearly nothing for the audience to go on, the program first comes across mostly like a high-school research project on "class gathers around monitor and says 'ooh' at the right moments while beaming student explains how computers make it possible to have an abstract painting that bounces! in a gallery". The 'game-rules as art' vehicle Humble's using, like alternative-experience-games or non-games or anti-games or whatever isn't developed enough to allow something with as minimal cues for interaction as 'The Marriage' to stand alone without detailed explanationy-readme-things, at least in the context of a visit-website-and-download-to-desktop experience.

edit three! sorry for accidentally turning this thread into a big bitch about that one guy and game: actual positive constructive points i can tug out of the post:
1) in what sort of contexts could un-games meet with the public?
2) how compatible or incompatible are the 'game-rules and art' and the 'realtime art manifesto' points of view, and
3) what constructive/counterproductive feedback results from such different, even conflicting points of view?
Also, sorry for being obnoxious

Sorry for super-edit-long-double-cross-posting!
Sorry for apologizing so much!
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