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<  3D Aesthetics  ~  Games as poetry

Michael
Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2002 11:39 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
In a response to unvoid, I recommended he try and see games as poetry when he found himself frustrated because he couldn't look under the table. Poetry as a cristallized version of reality, where one word can mean many things and nothing extraneous exists. In that sense long games like Neverwinter Nights and the like, can be seen as stretched out poems or epics if you want.

Personally I haven't read much epics. The form does not appeal to me. I prefer the short poem or the poème en prose. It's an interesting thought to me to see the game we are designing as a poem. This means that you do not add more and more sentences to describe each and every little detail, but that all content, all emotion, all narrative should be concentrated in a sparse amount of game elements. And that nothing in the game world is without meaning. In extremis, the poetic game designer would aim for a game that takes under 2 minutes to play entirely but that has such an emotional impact that it changes the players life completely (or at least for a few days Very Happy ).
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Seretar
Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 7:40 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Dec 2007 Posts: 8 Location: Harvard
This is a very interesting idea, expecially the concept that

Quote:
nothing in the game world is without meaning


In Philosophy of Art terms, this would be referred to as 'relative repleteness' - every difference makes a difference, just like the brush-strokes on a canvas or the word-choice and placement in a poem.

But is this possible to achieve in an interactive medium? If every difference makes a difference, and the designer has done a good job, then changing any meaningful element could result in a less meaningful whole - not necessarily a satisfactoy experience for the player.

On the other hand, if the player's task if to arrange elements to maximise meaning, then the initial product may be itself unappealing...
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Michael
Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 9:26 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Let's mix the two then: lure the player in with clear meaning and then give him or her things to fantasize about.
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Seretar
Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 11:02 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Dec 2007 Posts: 8 Location: Harvard
Do you think this isn't done at the moment? I still fantasise about 'Bioshock' an awful lot - it's been very deeply affective for me. Likewise many other games.
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Michael
Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:03 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Good for you. The game mechanics prevent me frow playing such a game. But I wouldn't mind watching "Bioshock - the movie".

Yes, this is done already. But Bioshock seems to be an exceptional case in which the authors actually care about the theme of their game and had something meaningful to say (even if they may have failed to express it in the gameplay).
I do think, indeed, that the industry is slowly evolving to a more conscious authorship. At some point, perhaps, we will be able to distinguish between good stories and bad ones. For now, we should be happy to have a story at all, I guess.
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Seretar
Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:33 am Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Dec 2007 Posts: 8 Location: Harvard
I think I know what you mean by the idea that they failed to express their ideas in their gameplay, but I'm fairly sure we can separate the good stories from the bad!

In any case, I'd like to offer an alternate conception of the video game medium to the idea of games as poetry: video games as score or script, with the player as performer. Such a model is outlined in a paper on forgery and plagiarism in video games that I'm submitting tomorrow, and I'd be happy to share it with you if it seems to offer something fruitful.
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Michael
Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 12:39 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Sounds interesting. Please post a link to your paper.
I have often thought about the player's performance as an essential part of the experience. In action games, the player needs to achieve the game's goals and succeed in the missions. Meaning you have to be good at such games to have fun.
In my mind, this applies to non goal oriented games as well: you have to play them well. People who get into your role and perform their part well, will have more fun with those types of games.
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