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THE LAST CYBERFLANEUR

” Whenever I m…

” Whenever I mention GameMaker on Twitter or something people will tweet at me and say, ‘Oh, you know the real solution to your problem is to just learn a real programming language’ or some shit like that. That’s all bullshit of course. That’s coders feeling smug about what has historically been their protected space and if some coders wanna feel emasculated by the fact that people with no computer engineering experience can now impede on what I guess they perceive as their territory, then that’s their problem. I don’t really see it as a problem.  ” (Anna Anthropy)

This is a rock crystal ewer. They were making them during the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt, which was a long long time ago. They’re really hard to make! Artists had to hollow out a single big piece of rock crystal. And then carve it with these really shallow detailed decorations. Without breaking it.

These ewers are usually interpreted as representing a major part of Fatimid Shia theology; like the light illuminates every part of the ewer, the light of God animates all things, although it is untouchable. It especially animated the descendants of Muhammad, because they got to be caliphs. All of which is whatever. The main point here is that they were really hard to make! Not only was the material not easy to come by–it was very hard to craft. And the craftsmen had to have a patron supporting them or, you know, it wasn’t going to happen. But people did it because the ewers are beautiful things and also they capture an idea really important to the Fatimid dynasty.

(Or there’s the Muqarnas:
Way prettier! Harder to make! Also cooler! Go Abbasid architects!)

Videogame development often involves or requires a lot of the same things: time, knowledge, skill, money, access to technology, resources, publisher’s demands, technological limitations, overworked teams. These are pretty familiar problems for most artistic efforts in most mediums (something I think game designers and critics would do good to remember). But also like a lot of other art forms, videogames have cool methods of productions that are way more accessible. Which is why I like the idea of Rock Paper Shotgun’s new series on what they’re calling “Punk Games”. (Unfortunately there is no punk Muqarnas or Rock Crystal Ewer. Which is where I wish I had been taking that connection to Islamic art. Because now I’m not really sure what it was all for? BLOGGED.) 

 

 
 
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Why do videogame theory?

So I was reading a bunch of blogs and got miffed seeing all the different ideas.

Now I’m thinking about the value of game theory.  This is probably important as I get further along in this project. What do I hope to get from finding out how to think about games?

When I play or critique a game I want to be able to articulate what it is. I want to make compelling meanings out of a game, ones that I can understand and express. I also want to be able to articulate how to make more meaningful games. And the knowledge that comes with game studies has its own rewards: to dig my hands into a game and know its parts by touch would feel good.

In Unit Operations, Ian Bogost writes that a lot of theories “focus on making sense of the gameplay experience, rather than giving expression to that experience through criticism.” (103) I guess I sort of want both?