After a sprint Monday afternoon, I prepared a proof of concept for my upcoming generative fan-non-fiction adventure based on the works of Slavoj Žižek: Dessert of the Real to show at a local demo night for indie developers. I had little courage and still less success presenting it to attendees, but I took the opportunity to tweet about it since it was functional and deployed. A couple people asked about its functioning, so here is a pre-partum on its current design.
How relevant are the username, handle, and avatar next to the 140-or-fewer-character messages in your Twitter timeline? How do the experience and meaning change if content is decoupled from social context? How clearly can you recognize the ‘voice’ of individual people you follow? If you use Google Chrome, you can find out using Twitgnostic.
Tokyo Jungle, a feral post-apocalyptic urban simulation game, is ostensibly about survival; its Challenge system and player affordances wrap that core in ambition and domination. Where the avatar’s need of food is insufficiently compelling, the game dangles carrots in front of the player directly. These carrots and the behaviors they produce are very familiar to anyone living in the pre-apocalyptic societies we know today.
@ haikus_by_KN: Right, so I see the mainstream game industry body is going to be running the Indie Booth at @PAXAus…Now, I’m disappointed. I was hoping EA would run it. Or the ESA. I would love my indie games to be curated by those guys. I mean, what’s an independent game anyway. It’s just a game that hasn’t yet received approval from the industry powers that be, right?
If the game is about how good it feels to lean against walls and dismember aliens with a chainsaw, don’t try fitting a tale of loss and redemption in there. If the game is about navigating social, political and romantic conversations with others, don’t quantify everyone’s reaction to the choices you make.
To paraphrase a very worn quote on perfection: “Dumbness is achieved not when there is nothing left to take away, but when there is nothing left to add.”
Challenge is not punishment, I tell myself. I bristle at references to players of games like Super Meat Boy and Dark Souls as “masochists.” I may love difficult games, but I’m no masochist—I should know if that were the case! In the process of reading up to support my thesis that this is an unfair categorization I was forced to admit: maybe I’m a masochist after all.
This morning, Twitter brought me to this article about “The Guys Behind Verge” scooping up well known contributors and editors from Kotaku, Joystiq, UGO, et al to form—Voltron-like—a new gaming venture. There was some courteous feedback about lacking even a single woman—their ratio worse than the actual Voltron squads—and Justin replied that this would be addressed before they launch.
Soon after, a post [no link available] at the Vox Games page on Facebook asked the multitude who their favorite “female games writer” is…
Matthew Dowd was top campaign strategist for the Bush-Cheney reëlection in 2004 and went on to lead Schwarzenegger’s winning gubernatorial bid two years later in California; he hasn’t worked a campaign in the five years following those two high-profile victories. What would get him back in the game? A woman for president——who isn’t Hillary Clinton.
When presented the specter of choice to mask a foregone conclusion, alienation of player from player-character isn’t the greatest risk; this sleight of hand potentially renders the entire experience hollow. The game world becomes a space to navigate instead of a world to experience, affect and be affected by.
By rewarding what the player may consider failure, you open the world of your game to be interacted with in a free and playful manner, instilling a sense of possibility—even wonder—while removing frustration and stress associated with a player slavishly doing what they guess you intend as the “right” thing.