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October 23, 2014, 01:17:55 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignHow something that has design in it's name can be considered an art?
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Author Topic: How something that has design in it's name can be considered an art?  (Read 3180 times)
JulioRodrigues
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« on: April 18, 2013, 07:26:00 PM »

DISCLAIMER:
This post is just a provocation, a teaser.

Specifically talking about game mechanics (which is unique to games, unlike other parts of game design as storyline) design.

Is the point of game design creating questions?
Is it supposed to be used to express yourself?
Or, as other design disciplines, game design is supposed to solve problems?
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Archibald
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2013, 11:41:32 PM »

I will be unoriginal and will say that games are supposed to be fun to play Smiley
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Europe1300 - Realistic Historical Medieval Sim
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 02:52:08 AM »

Three quick points before I leave a longer reply

1) Words are flawed, the term 'game design' is what it is for a lot of arbitrary and inherited reasons - the word 'game' itself isn't always appropriate, and definitions are blurry and dynamic

2) Storyline is not a part of game design

3) Games aren't necessarily supposed to be fun to play


edit: Also, 'what is art' etc
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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 09:55:30 AM »

Design is solving problem for a desired objective
art is the desired objective
therefore design is a tool to achieve art not art itself
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ILLOGICAL, random guy on internet, do not trust (lelebĉcülo dum borobürükiss)
thersus
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 12:13:50 PM »

What is love? Baby don't hurt me!
Some kind of discussions have got old and have been discussed without any conceptual additions for many years. Games vs Art is one of those, I think. Design vs Art is another.
We've been studying design schools and games in the scope of art for some good years by now. Also, we've been seeing design products and games in some art museums and expositions for some good years too. So, even if we don't agree, it is kind of institutionalized that games, design products, ready mades and other stuff can be characterized as art sometimes. It all depends on... a series of factors.
Game design is the design of the game, the project and planning of it. It is, naturally, different than the game itself. Game design can be art as much like as the production process of a music album can be considered art. Game design can be used to express yourself as much as the pre-production of a movie can be used to express yourself.
Its all a matter of pragmatic definitions.
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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 01:45:18 PM »

That's because there is an assumption that because something is something it can't be something else at the same time, evidence prove that to be wrong. Your computer can be an entertainment machine as much as a design piece and say something about our society (first candy imac vs graybox)
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ILLOGICAL, random guy on internet, do not trust (lelebĉcülo dum borobürükiss)
C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 03:37:40 PM »

art is an institution and as such is defined by its function in society yo
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moi
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 03:43:14 PM »

If Art is a crime
     May god forgive me
            -Ramo
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TheLastBanana
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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 04:23:04 PM »

Storyline is not a part of game design
Why not? I feel like one of the main reasons that games are still struggling as an art is that people seem to feel like there's a distinction between gameplay and narrative. I think it would be interesting to see a game that actually uses its mechanics to help tell the story, and not just something that you do between the story.

Every medium has unique ways to convey its message and story. Movies and theatre use visual metaphors; poetry often uses punctuation and spacing on the page. It seems like games have a great opportunity to use play mechanics in a similar way.
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JulioRodrigues
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 05:41:15 PM »

I agree with you TheLastBanana, the thing that's unique to the medium, mechanics, are still not very understood as artifacts that can contain meaning, story.

This morning, I was thinking, does abstract game mechanics, without a theme for them, can convey messages? And then I thought of Tetris, in Tetris you can learn that to progress you need to be organized and think ahead at least for some length. Does Tetris have a theme? Or I can say that it is an abstract game?
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thersus
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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 07:01:03 PM »

Why do people think that games are struggling as art form? They are in art expositions and museums everywere, as I said before. I live in Brazil, in a medium sized city, and a couple of years ago a friend of mine received a city fund for an artistic production, which was a virtual reality game - the same kind of fund that is given to painters, writers and musicians. Of course, if you ask to, say, my aunt, she may tell you that games are not art, but also, she may say that all the avant-garde stuff from 100 years ago are not art too. It's all on the field of opinion vs institutionalization, and sadly, not always the ones who have opinions are the same ones who institutionalize things.

Storyline is part of the game design if it is definined in your game design documentation (even you your game design documentation is just a cloudy thing inside your brain). Storyline MAY not be part of the game mechanics. But even the mechanics can, somehow, carry messages, just as the purely audiovisual construction of the movie Koyaanisqatsi can carry a message too. Think about that McLuhan famous phrase "the medium is the message" : the medium by itself can say a lot of how we perceive things.

But look, we're now talkin about messages and communications, and falling more to the sides of semiotics than to the sides of aesthetics. And that's what I think people should be discussing, the mechanics and effects of the way semiotics and aesthetics are crafted into games, and not "are games message carriers that can use hybrid languages to produce aesthetical and semiotic productions?".
If you read something as old as Homo Ludens, you will see that games (and other forms of play) are intrinsic to the culture of all animal groups. And human culture is like a virtual storage of the semiosphere that surrounds the human kind. And everything an human make has this semiosphere embeded into an object that can be also defined as an aesthetical object. And everything that is considered as art is something that was produced by an human, as a result of its cultural burden materialized into an aesthetical object, which was accepted as art by some group of people who are seen by the rest of people of bearer of the "power" to name what is art and what isn't. So, as we can see, until the last step, almost any human creation can be considered as art.

I think one of our biggest problems is that, just like that Manovich's book title, we still consider some not-so-new media as "New Media", and kind of blindfold ourselves to the recent studies on this stuff, and preffer to stay on the common sense. But, if we are game makers, we must study the more we can handle, not only the design books and the programming books, but also the industry reports, the academic papers, the doctorate thesis... we must not only learn how to make our shmups and 8bit sprites, but also learn the place of the games in the society, the new models of education and how they can use gamification as an ally, the influence of chiptune in the mainstream bands and what anthropological meaning this has. If we do that, we can waste less time asking ourselves WHAT we are doing, and can think WHY and HOW we are doing.

And I swear I'm not drunk at the time I write this.
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TheLastBanana
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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 07:23:17 PM »

Some people are starting to recognize the potential for games as art, but I don't think institutionalization is necessarily the be all and end all of art. I wasn't really talking about acceptance so much as the actual impact. Theatre, novels, short stories, poetry, movies, music, sculpture (the list goes on) have all, at some point, had a defining piece which has been culturally significant not just as entertainment, but as something thematically profound. I don't think games have made it that far yet.

This is entirely arguable, of course, but that's what I meant by "struggling." I don't think games have reached their full potential as an art form, and part of that is because game developers still haven't fully fleshed out the artistic language of games. Viewing the "game" and the "story" as two different components of the experience is certainly one way of producing a game, but bringing the two together seems to me like an interesting (dare I say, artistic) way to go. Smiley
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thersus
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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 07:51:13 PM »

[...] have all, at some point, had a defining piece which has been culturally significant not just as entertainment, but as something thematically profound. I don't think games have made it that far yet.
Maybe they have, but we just didn't notice... like those old composers who became famous many years after their death, remember? Maybe now we don't recognize any games as masterpieces, but in 50 years from now, I don't know, Ocarina of Time or Symphony of the Night or Chrono Trigger would be considered seminal works of different schools of gaming! Some things need time...

Viewing the "game" and the "story" as two different components of the experience is certainly one way of producing a game, but bringing the two together seems to me like an interesting (dare I say, artistic) way to go. Smiley
That's why I said we should study theory and not only practical knowledge on how to make games: many developers try to separate this things, but at the same time, it has been a while since I listened the phrase "the fight between narratologists and ludologists lost its meaning a long time ago" by some phd, which means that those academic researchers (who are not producing games for the masses) already agreed that story and mechanics should be an holistic construction.

But yeah, I think we have a synergy on our thoughts :D
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TheLastBanana
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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 10:26:49 PM »

Maybe now we don't recognize any games as masterpieces, but in 50 years from now, I don't know, Ocarina of Time or Symphony of the Night or Chrono Trigger would be considered seminal works of different schools of gaming! Some things need time...
That's a good point. That said, it seems like nostalgia has been one of the driving factors in the games industry for the last few years, so if there's going to be a cultural revelation over a passsed-over masterpiece from that era, you'd think it would have already happened, haha. You're right, though — only time will tell.

You've mentioned academic research into synthesis of narrative and gameplay a few times. Do you know of any specific articles on the subject? I'd be interested in reading about it. I figure there's no better way to look into how that can be done than to give it a shot myself, so any existing theory on the subject would probably be helpful.
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« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2013, 03:26:11 AM »

Good posts, thersus Smiley

I just want to clarify my thoughts on storyline withing game design: I reacted that way because, when I read JulioRodrigues' post - "Specifically talking about game mechanics (which is unique to games, unlike other parts of game design as storyline)" - it seemed to me that he was including in 'game design' to separate things, ie. mechanics on one side and storyline on the other. In that case, if they are independent from one another, I'd say that storyline isn't game design. However, if they are intertwined in such a way that storyline emerges from mechanics, then of course it's game design. It's not something new, many games are conceived that way already - like thersus said, it's a debate that's been going on for so long... most people agree on this now.

There's one interesting thing to consider however: the difference between storyline vs. narrative. TheLastBanana, you were talking about Tetris and its potential themes - I think that's narrative. Tetris doesn't have a story, but every game has a narrative that you can extrapolate and interpret from the game itself and your experience with it - actually, each game could be said to suggest an infinity of narrative, and mechanics only serve to direct interpretation towards a potentially authored meaning.

But then again, this is all linguistics, and it doesn't really matter, so I apologize for that remark which doesn't really advance the discussion.

WRT the influence of games, we might not have had 'one' significant game which would be regarded by all as the major influence on this medium and culture in general, but I think as a collective form games already have a huge impact on other mediums. There isn't a single action film today which isn't directed in ways that draw direct inspiration from videogames. And look at electronic music: game-inspired chiptunes are making their way into both the most mainstream hits and lesser known experimental things. Even fashion takes cues from games, just as the 80s and 90s are enjoying a huge revival - those years imply, to the majority of the influential 30-40-something intelligentsia, the dawn of videogames - and you can see how pixel aesthetics are now a trend. If an art form is defined by its influence on the culture that surrounds it, games definitely fit that description.
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TheLastBanana
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« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2013, 01:14:24 PM »

That was actually JulioRodrigues talking about Tetris, but I agree that every game has a narrative of some kind, regardless of whether or not it's an explicit story. No need to apologize about your remark, either! I've just been thinking about meaning in games lately, and your post brought it to mind. Smiley

You're right about the cultural impact of games — I hadn't really thought about those kinds of influences. We're also seeing the rise of gamification, which looks like it's going to have a pretty huge effect on culture. It seems like culture is largely drawing its inspiration from the aesthetics of games. You could say the same for movies, given the fascination in the last century with Hollywood, or even from the point of view of games, given the focus in AAA video games on huge, cinematic environments. So, perhaps I was looking at this from the wrong point of view!
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« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2013, 01:29:30 AM »

My definition of art is simply something that evokes a mindset of beauty, or other strong emotions that the viewer enjoys. Love songs/plays/movies are powerful art because it triggers the emotions and memories associated with love. The more the viewer relates to it, the more the user can spot the subtle hidden bits, the more of an art it is. My favorite work of art are war memorials... while they're rarely ever 'beautiful', many do a good job of capturing the pain, tragedy, sacrifice, devotion, relief, and comradeship of a specific war.

As with things like philosophy, management, and psychology, art has become too 'academical'. A lot of the people who specialize it have no fucking idea what they're doing, so they choose to make it inaccessible to make it seem like something complex and difficult.

But the people who don't play games simply have no emotional attachment to games. They don't get why there's nerdrage behind WoW or why people would cosplay as a moon elf. Gamers do get emotionally attached to it. But there's little overlap between people who spend thousands trading art and driving to galleries and the people who sit at home playing Spelunky.

Games are not defined as art because the people who define art don't view them as art, and the people who view them as art don't like what society defines as art.

Art is not supposed to be this mystical thing that nobody understands except the artist. You can design for it, just find proper associations. There are two pieces of modern art which have tons of design put into them: architecture and movies.

You find patterns to bring up the art form. Sometimes you take a piece of art, iterate off it, and improve on it. Sometimes you branch a piece of art and interpret it differently - e.g. turning a strategy game like Warcraft into a MMO. All this pattern recognition and association is art.

Creativity is freedom to think. It doesn't mean you have to always think outside the box; that in itself is not freedom and quite uncreative. There's a lot of tried and functional ideas within the box... but those who know the design 'rules' should know that they are guidelines, and when to break from them.
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2013, 04:18:01 AM »

Art isn't supposed to be anything

Art doesn't exist and yet everything is art
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« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2013, 08:57:58 AM »

Games are whatever you want them to be, if you can make them so.
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moi
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2013, 11:42:02 AM »

every snowflake is a unique snowflake
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