Tag Archives: creativity

Reflection VII: «Pathos»

I’m on overtime again. Been postponing due to lack of creativity. Trying to mine the information gathered last week. We talked about morality in games, and we attended the installation Textransformations by our professor Mia Zamora. Which I did enjoy, but my views on installations are often binary – I either like it or not. I often find myself trapped in the realm of traditional art.


The installation opened for collaboration with the viewers. A container of words and glue gave us all we needed to compile poems. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘lyrical word-smith’, but I found some words that gave meaning to me – happiness, shining, for, camera. Which is ironic, since I prefer taking melancholic portraits. I do however feel happiness when I capture something beautiful, and hopefully the recipients feel the same.

MPE-9325


Feelings are in a way the keyword for last week. When talking about games, and art in general, is it possible to produce an empathic reaction? I do think so, but it’s not always an easy task to accomplish, because human emotions are tricky.

We played some micro games based on morality in class. I chose the game Bad News, a text-based game with some graphical elements, were the goal is to make you an expert in spreading fake information. The game emphasizing how people exploit human emotion to polarize society, to push us towards tribalism. Anger, and the related feelings, are easy to manipulate, and I often quote one of my favorite characters from the Star Wars saga, Yoda: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Morality is no easy subject. Philosophers have tried for centuries to find a decent theory to explain it, and the area of ontology and epistemology is rough. I’m glad that Norway still require students to go through Examen philosophicum and Examen facultatum, even though lots of students find the course to be tedious. I believe that a basic understanding of philosophy is necessary in our society – and that it will be more than ever useful in the future. One thing that I learned last semester is that there is no perfect theory within the humanities, but by learning about the existing ones, we can use them for understanding, if applicable to the situation.

Bringing this back to video games; I do believe that one can construct artwork that can make other people feel something – either empathy, sympathy or compassion. I’m not going to wander into the steep canyon of morality as an objective phenomenon, but I guess that there are people out there able to produce art as in video games with an empathic core without deep theoretical knowledge. I do however think that combining theory and some understanding of human perception will benefit a developer. More on this topic in the next post.


In other news; I want to mention some games, people and content from a classic. Beginning with the new game A Way Out, which is an action-adventure game, developed to be played with another person in a split-screen configuration. I’ve not played it myself, but I’ve watched a full walkthrough by one of my favorite gamers, jackfrags, and a friend of his – almost 5 hours. Story aside, I was really intrigued by the game mechanics and how the developers use several aspects of game theory to experience – even jumping over to a 2D perspective with horizontal scrolling. The game also includes a homage to the earlier types of games – like Four Across and early arcade fully playable in-game. You can also pick up a banjo and play some tunes with the same mechanic as Guitar Hero.

 


Earlier in this course, we talked about digital art and the difficulties in preserving it for the future. Technology required to view certain pieces become obsolete and emulators are not always a perfect solution. I stumbled upon an interview from VICE with a man dedicated to preserving gaming history.
He decided to as much of the history as possible – from the games themselves to packaging to literature and other aspects of relevant culture. “What I’ve come to understand, is that the game itself is only part of the story, you can play Super Mario Brothers, if you play it now, it’s a good game. That game if you examine within its context was a revolutionary game.” (Frank Cifaldi)

 


Lastly, a gem from the content box. The GTA franchise has been praised and loathed since its inception 1997, but one aspect of it is amazing – the radio channels. I’ve spent so many hours just driving around the cities just listening to the radio – music, commercials and talk shows, tailored to the game. My favorite is from GTA III and is a purely talk show channel called Chatterbox FM. Filled with satire and humor.

 

Reflection V: «Good luck, have fun»

playerunknowns-battlegrounds-screenshot-2018-03-09-23-14-07-42.png

It’s often difficult to start a text, any text. Whether it’s just another blog post, text to someone you adore, that paper you should’ve started on days ago, or answering back in the in-game chat.

So, I brought up a chunk of trivial examples to end with the topic of the blog this week – gaming. It’s usually easy to break in with some ‘fillers’ to soften your fingers across the keyboard; even though it often results in rewriting the text. I’m going to stop the warm-up here, I hope.

This week has been focused on video games; some history, some vocabulary, and some insight from the business by a developer in the class. I’ve made some notes and churned my thoughts around some feelings I have regarding games, because I am sort of a gamer.
It’s been a loaded term, “gamer”. If you tell people ‘outside the community’ that you’re a gamer, then you’d often be regarded as a loner, nerd, someone without social skills or ambitions. It may look like the stigma is slowly breaking apart, and that’s maybe because of mobile games. So many ‘non-gamers’ spend hours on their phone playing simple games. Wait, did you write that non-gamers game? Yes, because the stigma goes the other way as well. The Internet community of ‘hardcore gamers’ shun the idea of mobile gamers, because they don’t know what true games are.

What are true games then? There are lots of definitions available and most of them are valid in my opinion. Just like with any other form of entertainment, there are genres for most every taste. Some love story driven fantasy games played on a computer monitor for proximity, some love a fun car game to relax with in the sofa, and others like to exercise their reflexes on a mobile phone.

We should embrace play and creativity. I believe it’s important in our hectic society. How games affect us has been discussed for many years and the debate is often renewed every time a youth is caught doing violent acts towards others; it had to be because of violent video games!

game-violent-lag Aristotle used the term ‘catharsis’ for the act of purging emotions and relieving emotional tensions, and it’s believed that playing video games can help people in just that. However, like any theory, there are arguments against it. So I can only speak from my own experiences at the moment.

I do believe that most people can achieve some steam to be released in playing games – either violent or non-violent. Just like playing violent games can help some to release aggression, it’s been said that aggressive music can also give the same affect – as I’ve experienced myself.

Art in general can create a framework where we can pour our emotions into.

This framework can have many benefits. I recently saw a TED talk about how the game Minecraft can help kids with autism to communicate and learn in a safe space. That’s one of the bad things about the online community, lots of players bring toxic behavior to the forums, comments on videos, and in-game chat. I guess the steam must go somewhere, but the pipe has been going the wrong places for far too long. I learn today that Ubisoft is developing an automated system for detecting hate speech in chat and banning players. Maybe we’ll see a universal system for keeping the community clean without falling into too harsh censorship.

I’ve got so much to say, but I always stray and start to run down another path – which can be a side-effect of reflection. I guess that I’ll have to keep some content for the next post also.

I do want in my final words to sum up some of my thoughts on escaping to the realm of video games. Like I wrote in the beginning, about the way gamers was and sometimes still is portrayed, there are a lot of people that do escape to a virtual world as therapy; either offline or online, or just watching other people play on Twitch or YouTube. One of my favorite players and streamers goes by the alias JackFrags. He sums up some of my thoughts in a recent video he made.

 

“Good luck, have fun” or just “glhf” is often said before an online match starts, and “gg/good game” when it ends. Toss on a “wp/well played” if the match was fun.

Reflection II: «Permission»

Sunday again, and time for another reflection over the past week. People say that everyone can write, but can anyone become a writer? I’ve struggled with writing most of my life. I can speak with passion about any subject that I fancy, but I often find a mental barrier, or filter, that somehow causes thoughts to scramble, which leads to incoherent text at times. I’m also in a constant rush to catch the monkey in my mind, running around with the dictionary.

I recently heard the idea of thinking in images and thinking in words, Dr. Jordan Petersen talked about his fascination for the well-known Carl Jung. People leaning towards either side, and some people having the ability to do both. With regards to creativity, I believe that highly creative people within visual arts do think in the realms of images, academics in words, and some of the best writers can probably do both – as in describing their imaginary fantasy with perfect sentences.

I believe that I’m of the image-type. I often struggle to convey thoughts that I have, often during photoshoots. Being able to draw can often ease that tension. So where am I going with this introduction. I was sitting here wondering about what I was going to write about this week, we’ve been through some basic meme creations and talked about eras within digital arts. About people breaking free from the traditional art found in museums. People striving for a new way to be creative. So, I thought about this for some time, and then I remembered someone I truly appreciate, John Paul Caponigro, fine art visual artist and photographer. He’s spoken about the creative process at a number of occasions (links below) and believes that everyone is creative, and that permission, passion and persistence are key points.

Gail Sher laid out some simple thoughts in the book “One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers”; Writers write, writing is a process, you don’t know what your process is until the end, and if writing is your process, the only way to fail is not to write. This thought is applicable to most creative fields if you just replace the word ‘write’ with anything else.

Caponigro speaks about the power in using words to form association with creative ideas. They can help us spark the fire to light up the subject at the right time. This made me think about Google Cloud Vision API, a system for image analysis. Anyone can use it to detect a large number of details in an image, like if there’s people in them, text, relevant keywords, colors, and other properties. Fun way of ‘seeing’ deeper into an image and extracting useful information.

I’d like to say in summary that we need to be open to artistic expression. We may not enjoy the aesthetics of every piece or specific genre, but there is always someone that does. The debate around subjectivity and objectivity in aesthetics is not an easy nut to crack, but I do enjoy this quote from David Hume:

“Not to mention, that there is a species of beauty, which, as it is florid and superficial, pleases at first; but being found incompatible with a just expression either of reason or passion, soon palls upon the taste, and is then rejected with disdain, at least rated at a much lower value.” (Of the Standard of Taste).

Google Cloud Vision API: https://cloud.google.com/vision/