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theory: Curtis Johnson: Art vs Entertainment
Art Games
Curtis Johnson, student of game developer and theorist Celia Pearce, provides us with a few interesting thoughts on the popularly held diametric of Art and Entertainment.

His take on it is that Art itself is already a culturally rarefied form of entertainment and cannot be easily considered otherwise. As a result, this places games, as a self-confessed form of entertainment, well within the realm of art (or at least a little less conveniently separable). I've archived it here for posterity (all copyright belonging to Curtis).

Posted by julian on Wednesday, May 14 @ 10:46:21 CEST ( )
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theory: Patriot Games
After years of using videogames in training, the U.S Army has decided to set up a dedicated game development studio strictly for the purposes of military simulation and training. Looks like state-sanctioned violent videogames are coming to a disillusioned American kid near you..

Wired has the full report here.

For a thorough breakdown of this phenomenon and its origins, read Ed Halter's book From Sun Tzu to XBox: War and Videogames.

Posted by julian on Thursday, December 13 @ 11:03:28 CET ( )

theory: Konstperspektiv Game Art Article

The December 2007 issue of Swedish-language art magazine Konstperspektiv has a feature article on Game Art by editor Mathias Jansson. The article also has a webpage with links to examples of Game Art and an interactive essay about Game Art. Most of the information is in Swedish, but Mathias writes to let us know the links and examples could be of use to others. I look forward to checking out some new artists listed there to start with.



Posted by rebecca on Tuesday, November 27 @ 00:02:44 CET ( )

theory: 50 Greatest Game Innovations
Art Games
Truth be told, I'm not normally into these 'top lists'. However, a list compiled recently by Next-Gen proves to be a fairly well thought out and comprehensive breakdown of the innovations that have defined this thing we call computer gaming over the years.

Because I think it may be useful for researchers, I'm archiving it in the theory section.

Here 'tis.

Posted by julian on Wednesday, November 07 @ 20:01:18 CET ( )

theory: Games Episode of Marcus Westbury's 'Not Quite Art' doco

Not Quite Art is a short Australian documentary series currently screening Tuesday evenings on the ABC channel. The second episode features an interview with the mastermind behind Escape From Woomera. It will be available for a limited time on the ABC website as well. http://www.abc.net.au/tv/notquiteart/

The Not Quite Art facebook group can be found at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17133164480 and Selectparks has a group at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=4084839274

Posted by rebecca on Monday, October 22 @ 09:38:42 CEST ( )

theory: Wolves Evolve Blog
wolves evolve logo

I just wanted to point everyone in the direction of  Christian McCrea's Wolves Evolve blog. Here he shares academic insights into technology, aesthetics and games. Christian is currently teaching games and cultural studies at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, and is rather a fun guy to sleuth the real identity of in anonymous internet chat rooms. xxx


Posted by rebecca on Tuesday, October 16 @ 06:55:04 CEST ( )

theory: Evaluating User Experiences in Games
Art Games
Regina Bernhaupt writes:

Call for Position Papers

The workshop "Evaluating User Experiences in Games" invites position papers on evaluation methods for user experience in games. Submissions are invited addressing one or more of the following questions:

What kind of evaluation concepts and methods are used in the industry, and what are their limitations? Do today's game evaluation concepts and methods address industry needs? What factors of game experience are measured and have to be measured? How can we evaluate new forms and developments of interaction techniques in gaming, for example emotion or eye-movement as input for games, ambient displays or virtual environments as output? Is there a common framework of methods that are appropriate to evaluate the user experience in games?

Deadline for submission: Oct 19th 2007

More information about the workshop here.

Posted by julian on Saturday, September 15 @ 11:31:58 CEST ( )
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theory: Ebert vs Barker: Videogames are not 'High Art'.
Art Games
Says Ebert:

Barker is right that we can debate art forever. I mentioned that a Campbell's soup could be art. I was imprecise. Actually, it is Andy Warhol's painting of the label that is art. Would Warhol have considered Clive Barker's video game "Undying" as art? Certainly. He would have kept it in its shrink-wrapped box, placed it inside a Plexiglas display case, mounted it on a pedestal, and labeled it "Video Game."

Wait.. I'm confused. Do you mean something like this?

Ebert, I think you need to get out more.

Posted by julian on Tuesday, July 24 @ 14:52:36 CEST ( )

theory: Seriously Fun.
Gamasutra asks, Who Says Games have to be Fun?"

A good overview for those a little lost on so-called Serious Games. Alongside it offers a few healthy perspectives from the likes of Frasca, Bogost and Molleindustria.

Says Ian:

“For 30 years now we’ve focused on making games produce fun,” adds Bogost. “Isn’t it about time we started working toward other kinds of emotional responses?”

.. that and a broader scope for where we allow ourselves to have fun.. Why is it so often considered somehow wrong/evil to have fun engaging with a 'serious' topic?

The effect of having fun is often produced when we're taking risks and learning from those risks, with the reward of increased freedom of movement, control and/or understanding. Several 'serious games' I've played provide directly for this already..

I've archived this link in the Theory section for posterity.

Posted by julian on Sunday, July 01 @ 20:12:17 CEST ( )

theory: AcmiPark - A Case Study of a Virtual Public Place
AcmiPark - A Case Study of a Virtual Public Place by Helen Stuckey (Curator of Games Lab at ACMI) is available over at firstmonday. The paper outlines "issues surrounding the design and reception of the virtual world acmipark: an innovative artwork commissioned by the Australian Center of the Moving Image. And how they had to keep it 'nice' ".


Posted by rebecca on Wednesday, April 18 @ 00:00:00 CEST ( )

theory: Women in Games 2007 Conference
The programme for the forthcoming Women In Games conference (Newport, UK) has been announced. This year's focus is on aesthetics in play. Keynotes are Sharon Knight - Vice President and General Manager Europe Online Electronic Arts; Alice Taylor - Vice President, Digital Content BBC World Wide Americas, Los Angeles; Dr. Mary Flanagan - Associate Professor and Director of the Tiltfactor lab researching innovative educational uses of games; and Raina Lee - Publisher and editor of 1-Up MegaZine. Stellar lineup!

19th - 21st April 2007.


Posted by rebecca on Thursday, April 05 @ 02:11:07 CEST ( )

theory: ACMI Machinima Film Festival, Melbourne, Australia
Saturday 24 - Sunday 25 February, ACMI Cinemas

Watch, discuss and meet award-winning creators of some of the latest and best machinima from around the world, when ACMI presents highlights from the 2006 international Machinima Film Festival (New York) on 24-25 February.

Returning to ACMI for its second year, the Machinima Film Festival will also give fans opportunities to meet numerous local and international Machinima-makers including Eddo Stern (Landlord Vigilante, Darkgame), Jessica Hutchins (Landlord Vigilante), Gus Sorola (Red Vs Blue) Jacqui Turnure (Stolen Life), Peter Rasmussen (Stolen Life), Freidrich Kirschner (Austria) who will be attending the festival to talk about their work and conduct workshops. ACMI is also pleased to welcome Machinima Film Festival director and Executive Director of the Machinima Academy of Arts & Sciences, Paul Marino, who will present a full day showcase from the international Machinima Film Festival (New York).

Further information & bookings: www.acmi.net.au

Posted by rebecca on Monday, February 19 @ 01:24:18 CET ( )
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theory: Psychoanalysing Horror Games
Game Career Guide
has a great piece that follows on from an earlier article that attempted to "illuminate the overlap survival horror games shared with psychoanalytic theorists."

From the article:

"The Resident Evil series conservatively positions a player as a defender of Lacanian "symbolic order," the psychological force constituting subjectivity (discussed further below). On the other hand, Silent Hill subverts our anticipation to occupy this position. If Resident Evil comfortably positions us as analyst, then Silent Hill mischievously collapses the distinction between analyst and analysand-undermining with it the surrounding symbolic order upon which such distinctions rely."

Via /.

Posted by julian on Wednesday, February 07 @ 02:41:39 CET ( )

theory: Nationality: Pirate Bay
The Pirate Bay wants to buy Sealand to ensure the ability to define it's own laws regarding freedom of information.

Julian, you might get your open source island after all!


Posted by rebecca on Sunday, January 14 @ 05:06:15 CET ( )

theory: Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty is an interactive installation by Claudia Hart and Michael Ferraro (2005) offering an alternate approach to virtual, sexual corporeality.

From the artists: Sleeping Beauty is an interactive odalisque, using a projected 3D animation that responds to a viewer's presence. Portraying the compressed time and space of painting, Sleeping Beauty shows a dreaming character whose slow, drowsy movements articulate all of the minutia of a single moment. This “painting” is life-sized in scale, constructing a representation that is more personae, penetrating a viewer's space whose actions may awaken her. When awakened, Beauty opens her eyes to gaze at the viewer, in a moment of transformation, allowing the object of our gaze to subject us to hers.

Based loosely on works such as Titian's Venus and paintings by the Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens, Sleeping Beauty is meant to introduce direct sensuality into the virtual realm, but employing an idea of beauty defined by a woman rather than men in which the subject does not express conventional canons of body and facial type. In so doing Sleeping Beauty inverts the typical 3D character-based animations of interactive gaming, not just through its visual language buy by also rejecting their violence and aggressive speed. By implicating viewers through involving them in the interactive process, Sleeping Beauty rejects the voyeurism of the historical odalisque and is sensual rather than pornographic. The agenda of Sleeping Beauty therefore, is to intentionally redefine the cliché, misogynist representations such as commercial gaming characters like Blood Rayne and Lara Croft.

Link via Sex & Blogs

Posted by rebecca on Tuesday, January 09 @ 22:34:16 CET ( )

theory: SP critique of the RealTime Art Manifesto: The authors respond.
Art Games
Michael and Auriea respond to my critique of their Realtime Art Manifesto presentation, in Athens at Mediaterra06.

Read their response here.

Thanks guys for getting back in touch. Keep up the good work.

Posted by julian on Sunday, November 19 @ 21:04:52 CET ( )
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theory: Sex In Video Games
As chair of the International Game Developers Association’s Sex Special Interest Group, and with an impressive 21 published products under her belt including Playboy: The Mansion, Brenda Brathwaite brings a respectable package of experience to her latest book Sex In Games Video Games. This hard copy text book is an essential reference for any game makers considering the sex games market, and any teachers or researchers exploring the interrelationship between sex and games. Sex In Video Games provides a well-informed introduction to all aspects of this complex and challenging thematic unity.

Of most use to developers are the areas of the book strategising regulation, with Positive Inclusion and Self Regulation offered as solutions to the child's media / adult's content debate.

Teachers will also find an abundance of reference material with the collections of research results Brathwaite has made available for further discussion (for example a collection of interviews exploring culturally differing attitudes towards sex in games).

For academic researchers already exploring the area of sex in video games, the conceptual weight of the book may seem too light, however the abundance of interviews and other raw research materials make Brathwaite's Sex In Video Games an invaluable reference material.


Posted by rebecca on Saturday, October 21 @ 00:00:00 CEST ( )

theory: The Third Place
While I've never been to South Korea, I've heard that the extremely popular MMO Lineage is often referred to as a 'third place' there, next to those other places of regular occupation, work and home. In the western-world however it is still uncommon to hear of MMOs as referred to as a place as all, in fact they aren't even a considered a location in themselves, despite being common sites of great public interest. Tasty Research (my first time there) posts a link to a paper called Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as “Third Places”, that directly situates MMOs as places in their own right.

The essay looks at the societal value MMOs hold and the wider roles they play in the context of everyday life, particularly in the production of diverse social outlooks otherwise innaccessible to us due to imposed social delimiters in the corporeal world.

While this is certainly true, anyone that's spent time playing any one of the great majority of MMOs will know that Class, in the traditional sense of social power derived from capital status, often manifests in game as a character's 'level', even so much as governing your freedom of movement and right of social access throughout the game world itself. Sure, this status isn't granted or inherited as it is in the corporeal social world, but it does makes the author's use of the term 'Leveler' - to describe third-places as a common plane for social interaction - a little ironic.

Nonetheless the paper offers some valuable research, much of which is derived from study done in the game they're talking about - as opposed to decidedly outside of it, something all too common amongst many videogame theorists today. Alot of the time what's considered videogame theory might actually be a branch of the increasingly popular 'Immaculate Research', a discipline where great insight is instantaneously transferred to the researcher by means of spiritual injection, perhaps from a great bearded academic living on divine tenure just behind the clouds.

For your interest, my take on MMO's as public places is here: Proxy Life and Public Space in the MMORPG.

Posted by julian on Wednesday, September 20 @ 17:28:02 CEST ( )

theory: Microsoft tells fans to cease development of Halo mod
Art Games
, an RTS 'mod' of Halo, had been in development for 3 years when it received a letter from Microsoft that creating the game, using ideas and designs from the Halo universe, infringes on the intellectual property of Bungie's original game.

From the Halogen site.

Hours ago, we finally recieved the words we've been dreading since the mod started to get noticed. Microsoft has decided that we are infringing on the intellectual property of Bungie Studios and has asked us to stop development on Halogen.

I was going to write a big sappy letter here, but what's the point. So..that's it then, I guess.

This case with Halogen is a fuzzy one, as it appears that no original art or code from Halo itself is being used in the project - it's not a 'mod' of Halo at all. 'IP' - in the sense of actual data - isn't being mis-used here. In Microsoft's eyes the project is like an illegal 'cover' of Halo; they are treating Halogen just as RIAA would a piece of music that had a tune or motif borrowed from another pop-song without paying royalties. Furthermore, it's somehow out of the question that the IP of Halogen and Halo could be considered separate, but compatible, as is the case with Counter Strike and Half-Life (despite CS needing Half-Life to run at all). Put simply, if it were truly a mod, and required the original game to run, would Halogen be seen as a breach? Probably not. It'd be supported as a value-adding extension of the original game. So, it appears that the real contest here is over re-use, or appropriation, of ideas from the Halo universe in an independent project.

This is a dangerous kind of generalism applied to 'property' we'd all rather not see as artists working with games; can a mythos, style or design fall under the duress of copyright? If so, then how much of the formal aesthetic, 'narrative' and conceptual content of a game are we free to manipulate, reference and develop upon?

In literature or cinema the act of openly referencing or deriving from an existing work, in the production of a new work, is known as an 'adaptation of', an 'inspiration upon' or even a 'tribute to' the original work. It'd be a shame if we as modders weren't allowed the same room within our medium.

The Halogen site may not be up for long, so the project link above may soon become dead. Article edited 10-09-06 for clarity on Halogen's status as a 'mod' of Halo.

Posted by julian on Sunday, September 10 @ 14:56:55 CEST ( )

theory: New art engines blog
Performance Instruments


Performance artist and theorist Adam Nash, has launched a new research blog investigating "realtime 3d, single-user and multi-user worlds" as art engines. Adam has some interesting observations on virtual location, infinite space, and why Second Life's recent performance initiatives are lacking.

I’m conducting similar research as part of my Masters degree at RMIT University and I'm interested in receiving submissions of simulated performance work for review. I’ve coined the moniker “Simformance” as a descriptor, with Joseph DeLappe’s Dead-in-Iraq one of the more powerful examples of the genre. Put simply, a simformance is an avatar-driven, performance-based artwork conducted inside a virtual environment. Suggested links and comments can be sent to chris(at)iconinc.com.au

Posted by christo on Monday, August 28 @ 04:12:57 CEST ( )

theory: Google Flight Sim
and just for a laugh while on the topic:


Posted by rebecca on Saturday, August 12 @ 00:00:00 CEST ( )

theory: Future-Making Serious Games
Blog by Eliane Alhadeff, and architect and urban studies professional looking at the possibilities of educational computer games to effect social change.


Posted by rebecca on Friday, August 11 @ 04:21:14 CEST ( )

theory: Anat's Filter Magazine Features Australian Game Art

'Art Defining Games' was the topic for Filter magazine Issue 60 by the Australian Network for Art and Technology. Guest edited by Selectparks' Rebecca Cannon, this issue includes a feature on Australian female game modder and designer Anita Johnston, an interview with Troy Innocent, and a discussion about whether games can fulfil the role of documentary.

The pdf is now available online.

Posted by rebecca on Tuesday, July 25 @ 10:28:41 CEST ( )

theory: Conservation of 'Virtual Architecture'
writes that an Italian group has come up with a convention that seeks to preserve, largely through archiving, the 'virtual architecture' of videogames so that it may be studied at ease in future.

The preservation convention is an important step, lighting fires that need to be lit - especially where intellectual property is concerned. Are the architectures of games public enough for them to be considered part of our 'digital heritage'? We spend countless hours in game environments, becoming local to these places. They are shared in memory from player to player and sometimes shared at the same time, but how 'public' are they really?

Their project is extremely ambitious, and perhaps entertaining madnesss at several points. It's no doubt that good will come of it however even in the case they have a few uphill battles. Read on to hear what I think they are ..

Posted by julian on Monday, July 10 @ 11:48:53 CEST ( )
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theory: Skye Gellman on Indie Game Development in Australia
Podcast of a radio interview with Skye Gellman, who discusses the state of indie game development in Australia, and outlines some concepts for his 'blind' aural-perception game.


Posted by rebecca on Friday, June 23 @ 00:00:00 CEST ( )

theory: Visualising social diffusion patterns in games

Andrew Vande Moere's Information Aesthetics is an inspirational collection of data visualisation techniques (well worth a weekly visit). The image above stems from the 2003 paper Social diffusion patterns in three-dimensional virtual worlds. Beautiful stuff.

Posted by christo on Wednesday, June 21 @ 05:50:37 CEST ( )

theory: From GunPlay to GunPorn
A techno-visual history of the first-person shooter

"In this paper, I intend to examine how a recent fist person shooter, Criterion's BLACK (2006) articulates these different components. By juxtaposing the game within the broader range of cultural artifacts, the aesthetical and phenomenological implications of the first person shooter will be discussed. Specifically, I will argue that the first-person shooter represents the last step in a long history of mediated gunplay, a history that begins with the emergence of the photographic medium in the 19th century. At the same time, I will try to explain how and why the first-person shooter emerged as a key genre of digital gaming, and why it holds such a prominent place in the menu of leisure activities that we all choose from."

By Matteo Bittanti

Download the full pdf
Download the video presentation

Via Videoludica

Posted by rebecca on Wednesday, June 21 @ 00:00:00 CEST ( )

theory: Game Politics

Game Politics provide a fairly US-centric, but none-the-less thoroughly researched coverage of political events affecting the games industry.


Posted by rebecca on Monday, June 19 @ 00:00:00 CEST ( )

theory: The Daedalus Project

Tony Walsh discovers the edge of WoW's world

Nick Yee, aka The Daedalus Project – the Psychology of MMORPGs, has been collecting images from MMO players who stumble across the strange and interesting. My favourite (see above) evokes the fables of past where explorers encountered (and often fell off) the edge of a flat world. More to be found after the jump

Posted by christo on Friday, June 16 @ 08:11:41 CEST ( )

theory: Game Designer Survey
Gonzalo Frasca lets us know that 'Amyris Fernandez is a PhD student who is currently visiting the Center for Computer Game Research. As part of her research project, she is looking for game designers willing to take part in a questionnaire. If you are a game designer and want to help, please click here. The test doesn't take more than 30 minutes and you can only do it once. Thanks!' - The survey appears to be for players as well.

Posted by rebecca on Friday, June 16 @ 00:00:00 CEST ( )

find stuff

old articles
Monday, June 12
· How E.T killed Atari
Wednesday, June 07
· Gamer Detox Center
Tuesday, June 06
· MMO surveillance questionnaire
· We Make Money Not Art
Monday, June 05
· Fun-Motion: Physics Games Blog
Tuesday, May 30
· MMOG Subscription Chart
Thursday, May 25
· Dr. Chris Chesher Papers Online
Wednesday, May 24
· Archive of the Empyre Politics and Art In Computer Games discussion
Monday, May 22
· Cast-offs From The Golden Age
Thursday, May 18
· Sex and Games
Tuesday, May 16
· Aminima special on Computer Games
Sunday, May 07
· Artificial Art Games Special
Saturday, May 06
· Furtherfield interview with Mary Flanagan
Friday, May 05
· Unit Operations
Wednesday, May 03
· New World Notes - Second Life Blog
Tuesday, April 25
· Rules Of Play
Tuesday, March 21
· Game Deconstruction
Monday, March 20
· Massive - Research Summit
Sunday, March 19
· What is the relationship between games and the movies?
Sunday, February 19
Monday, February 13
· Gameplay = Mental Agility
Friday, February 03
· Game play notation
Monday, December 19
· New issue of Neural.it out
Tuesday, November 29
· Juul's 'Half-real' hits the shelves.
Wednesday, November 16
· Fahrenheit - Are videogames the future of storytelling?
Wednesday, November 09
· Andreas Lange talk on, “Computer Games as Digital Artefacts.”
Thursday, October 20
· Accelerating Change 2004 - Physical Space, Virtual Space and Interface
Thursday, October 13
· Realism vs style
Wednesday, October 12
· Evolution of gaming
Tuesday, October 11
· Games Are Art
Monday, October 10
· The Dot Eaters
Sunday, October 02
· Mindplay - digital media theory, culture, practice and play
Saturday, September 24
· The Narrowing Experience of 'Experience' in Video Role-Playing Games
· The Aesthetic Experience, Emotion and Artistic Virtual Environment
· Race, Sports Video Games and Becoming the Other
· SCORE: Development of a Distributed, Object Oriented System
· From First Person Shooter to Multi-User Knowledge Spaces
· QUAKE-ING IN MY BOOTS: Clan Community Construction in an Online Gamer Population
· POLYGON DESTINIES: The Production of Place in the Digital Role Playing Game
· THE SIMILAR EYE: Proxy Life and Public Space in the MMORPG
· Papers by Matt Barton
· Online games increasingly a place for protest, social activism
· DEVELOPERS IN EXILE: Why Independent Games Developers Need An Island
· The Significance of Character Generation and Customization in MMOGS
Thursday, September 22
· FuturePlay Conference Papers
Friday, September 16
· The Revolution revealed.
Thursday, September 15
· Video Game Controllers
Monday, September 12
· Spatialities of Gaming and Playing at Being Mobile
Saturday, September 10
· Music in Games

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