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TIGSource ForumsPlayerGeneralThe issue of games as self expression
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torncanvas
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« on: July 15, 2007, 01:13:38 PM »

Just watched Mak's interview with Game Zombie.  Wow, I feel that his comment was aimed specifically at me with this thread: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=227.0.  Thankfully, the interview was from March 16th. Still though, I can't help but feel pretty hurt by him bashing people for asking what other people like about something...

My intention with that thread was just to hear about cool moments so I could experience them and see what all the fuss is about with the shmup genre (I haven't played many shmups).  I'm not even going to be making a shmup anymore, so that isn't too important.  I guess that brings up the question, though:

How do you go about creating games as a means of self expression?

My interest in game development centers around creating an experience that will impact the lives of players.  Because of this, I think about other people when designing games instead of thinking about myself.  Does that mean I'm not an artist?  Does treating game development as pure self expression necessitate an inward focus and negate an outward one?

What if the core aspect of my being is in serving others instead of myself?  Wouldn't my own self expression therefore be represented by making a game that others would like?

I don't need any comforting - I'll continue to make games no matter how much of an asshole people are by making comments like that.  What I would like is some opinions on this issue.

For the record, my opinion is that yes, you can be an artist if your focus is on making games for others.  However, if the general consensus is that art is a purely selfish endeavor (i.e. self expression can only be accomplished by serving your own desires), then I want nothing to do with art anymore.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2007, 01:31:00 PM by torncanvas » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2007, 01:43:06 PM »

Are you really that offended?

I think at some point its valuable to get feedback from others. I think Jon's point was that its uninspired to start with a committee telling you what to do, if you're intending to do something artistic.

It seems the majority of great game concepts came from one or a few creators with an inspired idea that they fought to bring to life. i.e. Super Mario Brothers

Not by polling a large group of people and going with the average.

But it depends what your goals are. Some people like to make games just for the craft aspect of building the code and having it work. They're not really interested so much in a vision or doing something that speaks to them.
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2007, 02:25:53 PM »

Hmm, I was rereading my post, and felt I should clarify...

I don't think that design by committee necessarily means a game will be bad or anything. The ingredients to making a good game aren't limited to certain things, and great games can come out of any kind of development practice. Its like a combination of talent, timing and luck.

But I also don't find Jon's statements offensive. I don't think he's trying to say he's better than anyone. Its just his opinion.
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2007, 03:10:11 PM »

I am offended, yes. 

First of all, I don't think Jon had bad intentions by what he was saying.  But it was kind of a mean comment, even though he probably didn't mean it that way.  I'm guessing he was just saying that was a bad process, not that that person was dumb. But comments like that can tend to cause more harm than good.

And I do know there are other people that are actually assholes when it comes to that position.

I am specifically talking about art, though.  What is self expression?  Is it purely inward focus?  Can you focus on others if that is part of who you are and still have self expression?
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2007, 03:21:34 PM »

http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/

Art isn't self expression whatever bullshit. Art is a communication. That's why literature and film and painting and music and nature are all considered art by so and so blah blah who's who. From the beginning art was a way to bombard the senses in a very hedonistic way. Of course, millennia later we have become a little more sophisticated in our approach, but it's still the same thing.

When Mak talks about "self expression" it's merely just being honest. When you sweet talk a girl, you need to think about her, but you can't be not you either. When you make art, you need to do the same thing. The greatest jazz musicians understood this - they listened to other jazz artists that were doing well, felt around, understood what good and bad jazz was, and then they put themselves out there. They pushed it just a little bit. All good music is like that today.

You need to be able to funnel everything good you know and make your own decisions on what to do for your own creations. If all you do is isolate "great moments in Shmups!" and then mix them together in your own shmup, then that's all we see. But if you take the time to understand the inner workings, the rhythms, the feel of the moments, tweak them until they're your own, well fine and good, great. You have finally moved on from Gameplay Stealing 101.

This is a really horrible post. I'm sorry. Just get your head out of your ass. Here are the rules to making art: 1) You can do everything 2) Except for things you can't 3) Be aware of what you are doing. That's it.
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2007, 03:25:38 PM »

For the record, my opinion is that yes, you can be an artist if your focus is on making games for others.  However, if the general consensus is that art is a purely selfish endeavor (i.e. self expression can only be accomplished by serving your own desires), then I want nothing to do with art anymore.

I'm absolutely certain Jon thought of the experience others would have with his game when designing and developing it.  I think what he's saying is that if you are passionate about games, and want to design games, then design them.  Letting other people design your game is something very different.

But, I do think it was silly of him to talk about Doom and Quake fans like they were lesser designers than he.  Those games aren't really my thing, but I don't think they invalidate a person from being a game designer just because the designer likes those particular games.  Just as a pop rock musician is still a musician, even if he doesn't jump into experimental sounds, or classical music, or jazz.  You might get bored with pop rock, but some people do love it.  Their love or passion isn't necessarily any less authentic than yours.
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2007, 03:28:07 PM »

I took it that he was just poking fun at how many kids want to make those kinds of games. Tongue

i.e. Like all the dudes that want to start making MMORPGs, and they're just like every other MMORPG but with "better features", etc.

Its just not really inspired.
 
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2007, 03:39:27 PM »

I only disagree with the choice of example.  Having a poll asking people what their favourite shmups are could just as easily be a springboard for your own ideas (even if it is a facile, shallow question).
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2007, 04:20:20 PM »

I think a lot of misunderstanding has to do with it being an off-the-cuff interview.  He had to interrupt himself several times because he had too many ideas going on, and I think he wasn't able to expound on anything he brought up.   He wasn't able to fully communicate what he was trying to say. 

So yeah, don't worry about what he said.  It's not worth getting offended over.  Even if he defines art as something you do only for yourself (which I don't think he was saying at all), that doesn't mean you want no part of it.  It just means that you make your own definition, and go for it, just like he did.  No one man dictates what art is or isn't, and I whole heartedly believe he wasn't attempting to do so.
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2007, 04:37:14 PM »

JON MAK KEEPS HAVING A GO ON YOUR MUMS YOU CUNTS. AND YOU'LL LIKE IT.

NOW GET BACK TO WORK!
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2007, 04:51:42 PM »

Quote
I am offended, yes.

If being told "make what you want" offends you, then you have a hard life ahead of you.  Honest critiques will ruin you.

Shed that stuff man.  Contemplate why it offends you, and the point of even being offended.  You'll be a lot happier if you can laugh at yourself.  I'm not saying "go Vulcan", but you should be worst case offended when singled out in a crowd, mocked, and collectively laughed at.  Even that can be shed if you accept mistakes.  You should not be offended when presented with an idea.
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2007, 06:17:52 PM »

Quote
I think a lot of misunderstanding has to do with it being an off-the-cuff interview.

Of course; any conversation would have dozens of moments like this if it was recorded and put under scrutiny.  It doesn't bear too close of a looking.

Quote
I'm not saying "go Vulcan"

I am!  GO VULCAN.
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2007, 07:37:47 PM »

get a helmet.
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torncanvas
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2007, 08:47:13 PM »

Don't worry, I'm over it.  Being told "make what you want" isn't the problem.  Being told "art is only doing what you want" and "people who are inspired by Doom and Quake are dumb" is the problem.

I just don't like it when people try to force an idea of art like that.  It's too close-minded and I think it can have a harmful effect on other people.

Plus, he was putting down others with his attitude about it.  It's ok if you're inspired by Doom and Quake - you're not stupid for it.  There are other threads here and elsewhere with the same "what do you like about x" subjects.  Those people aren't dumb, either.  They're just humble and willing to be educated.  I believe someone said it here, but when you're no longer willing to be educated, you've lost.

Like I said, I don't need comforting. I just wanted some discussion on what self expression is exactly.
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2007, 08:48:37 PM »

I just don't like it when people try to force an idea of art like that.  It's too close-minded and I think it can have a harmful effect on other people.

Naw, he said earlier on that there is no method to art in the same interview. You're just misinterpreting what he said.
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2007, 09:04:39 PM »

I don't know, man.  I don't think you can say "there's no method to art." Isn't that a self-defeating statement?

He was on the IGS innovation panel and had some of the best points to make about games.  First of all, the way he talks is just awesome, and then he just spoke so eloquently about his view.  His main point was that you shouldn't worry about innovation for the sake of innovation.  You should just express yourself.  I guess the point of my, in hindsight, horribly written post was to bring up this:

What is self expression?  Is it just about looking inward?  What if looking inward points back out again?  Then what?
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« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2007, 09:18:38 PM »

I think art *necessarily* includes self-expression, and that it's impossible to avoid it (art will reveal your tastes and worldview whether you like it or not) but that self-expression isn't the whole purpose and point of art.

I don't think art is communication either, it's not like a get well soon postcard or even a love letter, those things are communication, they convey concrete information. Art's different in that it conveys more universal or abstract information, that anyone anywhere could make sense of and apply to their particular situation.

A good definition I heard once of art by Bakunin, the anarchist who tried to destroy every government in the world:

"Science cannot go outside of the sphere of abstractions. In this respect it is infinitely inferior to art, which, in its turn, is peculiarly concerned also with general types and general situations, but which incarnates them by an artifice of its own in forms which, if they are not living in the sense of real life none the less excite in our imagination the memory and sentiment of life; art in a certain sense individualizes the types and situations which it conceives; by means of the individualities without flesh and bone, and consequently permanent and immortal, which it has the power to create, it recalls to our minds the living, real individualities which appear and disappear under our eyes. Art, then, is as it were the return of abstraction to life; science, on the contrary, is the perpetual immolation of life, fugitive, temporary, but real, on the altar of eternal abstractions." - Mikhail Bakunin

That's worded a bit unclearly, but in simpler language: science looks at the concrete world and organizes it into universal principles, whereas art takes universal principles and organizes it into a concrete object.

(Science there used the broad sense, so it includes things like philosophy and the humanities and such -- back when he wrote it science had a broader meaning of all academic knowledge.)
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« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2007, 09:24:45 PM »

Awesome.  That's a nice quote. Smiley

Let's assume that we already know what art is, and we're assuming that it is self expression.  What about self expression then?

I hear people talk about what is art all the time.  But I've never really heard a discussion on self expression.  That's what I'm trying to figure out.
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2007, 09:26:58 PM »

I don't have another quote on self-expression unfortunately. But one idea about it that I like comes from George Kelly (a forgotten psychologist who wrote during the 50s), where he says that everyone organizes the world their own way, in their own unique conceptual structure, and self-expression would be conveying that structure to someone else.
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« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2007, 09:29:57 PM »

Ooo, I like that. Smiley  Thanks.

Any notable books of his?  Recommendations I mean, I see he has a couple listed on Wikipedia.
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