Category Archives: Games as Art

A Very Special GDC Event

At the Game Developers Conference on Thursday March 8th, I will be hosting an unusual session called Nuances of Design. The session is a collection of four presentations by four different speakers; the unusual thing is that you play the speakers’ games during the presentations. The idea is that by playing, you can more directly share in experience they are trying to express than you would as a passive listener at a lecture.

The speakers are:

  • Raph Koster, with his experiences developing the Andean Bird game, which is about what it feels like to fly;
  • Chaim Gingold, with a prototype he used to develop the touch and feel of Spore’s cell game, how “programming and touching is believing”, and various tricks he learned.
  • Rod Humble, with his games The Marriage and A Walk With Max, which are about expressing emotions directly through gameplay;
  • Jonathan Blow, with some experiments about how small changes in a game design can greatly influence a player’s intention and play experience.

I hope plenty of folks will come and help make this session a success. To fully participate in the session, please bring a laptop running windows XP

Continue reading A Very Special GDC Event

Details on the Gameworld Exhibit at Laboral Centro de Arte

They don’t have the list of games posted on their page (here is the link summarizing the exhibit), but the list has been emailed to me, so I am sharing it here.

The exhibit seems to be split into four parts: classic / genre-defining games, current experimental games, machinima, and films about games being played.

Continue reading Details on the Gameworld Exhibit at Laboral Centro de Arte

Gameworld Exhibit in Spain

Braid will be on exhibit, with other interesting games, at the Laboral Art and Industrial Creation Center in Gijón, Spain. The exhibit runs from March 30th until about June 30th, 2007. Here is the main web page for the event.

Babelfish does a pretty good job of Spanish-to-English translation, and I quote:

The Gameworld exhibition explores videojuego as art form and presents/displays contemporary work examples of art related to videojuegos. By means of that double line of investigation, the exhibition explores the videojuegos and computer games like entertainment, form of art, agent of innovation and cultural force.

So, score another point for the Games as Art team. Laboral has not yet posted the full list of games in the exhibit; I’ll announce it here when they do.

Braid won’t be at Slamdance after all.

Recently, a game about the Columbine High School shooting — in which the player takes the role of the killers and wanders through the school shooting students — was kicked out of the Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition, due to pressure from sponsors.

The game lacks compassion, and I find the Artist’s Statement disingenuous. But despite this, the game does have redeeming value. It does provoke important thoughts, and it does push the boundaries of what games are about. It is composed with more of an eye toward art than most games. Clearly, it belongs at the festival.

So, in protest of game’s expulsion, I have dropped Braid out of the competition as well.

This decision has been difficult. Festivals like Slamdance are important to the continued deepening of the independent games movement, and the competition organizers are very hard-working people who understand games. I don’t want to hurt the festival or undermine the efforts of the organizers.

But games should be taken seriously as an art form that can expand the boundaries of human experience. Games can help us to understand situations in a fully-engaged fashion, as participants and co-creators, which the passive media cannot do. As an art form they contain a tremendous power to shift perspective and to heighten wisdom. For the art form to achieve these potentials, game developers need to explore the space of possibilities in earnest. But if games are denied their appropriate level of societal recognition, growth of the form will be very difficult, and human culture will be the lesser for it.

If left unchallenged, the expulsion of the Columbine game sets a precedent in the wrong direction. Dropping Braid out of the competition, while not a huge act, is the strongest protest I have the power to make.

This may seem paradoxical, but I do respect the sponsors’ decision to pressure Slamdance into dropping the Columbine game. They are just preventing their money from supporting something they consider morally reprehensible. So, good for them.

In the unlikely event that Slamdance re-admits the Columbine game, Braid will consent to rejoin the festival as well, assuming they still want it.

Jonathan Blow

Braid developer