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January 21, 2021, 01:52:16 PM

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TIGSource ForumsPlayerGamesVideo Games, High Art, Roger Ebert & the Cultural Ghetto
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Author Topic: Video Games, High Art, Roger Ebert & the Cultural Ghetto  (Read 5368 times)
michaelplzno
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« Reply #80 on: January 13, 2020, 11:14:23 AM »

is there such a thing as meaningfully moving the artform forward, redefining previous works in retrospect, becoming a reference point for future works? doing something nobody before could achieve, in a way that objectively deserves some special recognition (or a place in a canon if you will)?

One must place the first stone to eventually build a bridge.

I don't think this thread is a revolution, nor should it be. But much like Sisyphus we roll the stone up the hill. To me, a good artistic movement should have a real foundation. In math, logic flows from axioms that are not proven true, but rather are simply accepted as fact because they are so common and clear. As one who advocates logic be included in the artistic process, clearing the air on basic semantics is valuable to me at least.

Also, my dream artistic direction for the next decade would be to throw some value to the mundane and ordinary, as opposed to glorifying each incendiary comment chasing clout and attention with some short meaningless riddle that is carefully calculated to piss off the right people. The last 10 years have been mostly artistically thrown away chasing "riling people up" and a poorly chosen group of clerics to decide what counts as the artistic cannon. When one looks back at art as to "redefine" it we may be forced to accept that we've hit a dead end. I see us as being in a bit of a cultural wasteland at this point. Finding a new way is not trivial. Some common sense, though not glamorous, might be a good place to start rebuilding?

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Schoq
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« Reply #81 on: January 13, 2020, 12:37:03 PM »

Based on this thread you don't seem concerned with being clear about semantics at all
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Schoq
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« Reply #82 on: January 13, 2020, 01:28:08 PM »

I'm also already seeing cultural progress on the horizon btw. Are you sure you're not looking in the wrong places? We had one long decade of toothless and cowardly post 9/11 bullshit and a short decade of confused and from the top down encouraged baby culture war distraction. What I'm seeing now is an increasing interest in grounded sociology.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #83 on: January 13, 2020, 04:11:45 PM »

I joke about pizza semantics but I hope I've made some points about where confusion can come in. To be clear with what you mean is to care about semantics, and if you've left yourself open to easy misinterpretation you are leaving necessary stuff unsaid.

I hope that we are entering a better era. I know this "confused and from the top down encouraged baby culture war distraction." cannot be beaten by yelling real loud, but it is upsetting that we've wasted so much focus on that kind of outrage nonsense.

I think of games like Kind Words: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1070710/Kind_Words_lo_fi_chill_beats_to_write_to/ as a sort of step in a better direction and I hope to see more of that. Interestingly the game did not even receive an IGF nomination, I think it got honorable mention, so I still wonder about the "top" that seems invested in this foolish culture war to distract us all. Its so confusing that I have no idea who is affiliated with whom and what people really want to do with that kind of nonsense, a horrible situation indeed.
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Schoq
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« Reply #84 on: January 13, 2020, 07:19:35 PM »

To be clear with what you mean is to care about semantics, and if you've left yourself open to easy misinterpretation you are leaving necessary stuff unsaid.
that's what I'm saying, you seem to aim for less clarity on purpose.
You're also going beyond intentionally misinterpreting things in the dumbest way possible when you need to put words in someone's mouth to do it.
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« Reply #85 on: January 14, 2020, 06:56:18 AM »

Math is frequently balanced, although sometimes there are multiple answers.

I read something interesting about writing fiction. Fiction is mostly written mimetically or as didactism. Mimetically, just for its own sake. Didactism, meant to convey a lesson or moral.

I've also heard an arbitrary rule about paintings "the meaning should be self-contained".

Can a game be written, with full intent to avoid a lesson? Yes, being cryptic or incredibly difficult, a game can be meant for only skilled users with extra knowledge.

A graphic artist Massimo Vignelli drew a map so it was easier to understand back in 1972. People complain the measurements are wrong. Well, my understanding is the map was replaced by a satellite render of a roadmap, grinning technocrats can look at their phone, and then the map on the wall, and rest assured they're in the right city.
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Pfotegeist
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« Reply #86 on: January 22, 2020, 07:05:21 AM »

Storytellers, the real storytellers, get the audience involved. I can mimic one well enough after all this research and electronics.

"Concrete media" "written in stone" was aristocratic, and by design, not a game. Science was aristocratic as is early written form, heavily invaded by a governing force.

If education doesn't inform about art then people will think about it less until something like the money tag, or up-votes, have the last say in its worth.
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Pfotegeist
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« Reply #87 on: January 24, 2020, 07:42:27 AM »

I'm really interested in learning about illusions, because they prove we can be convinced something is real, when it's not.

I was spurred on by reading this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology

Advertisement is performance art. Business is a script. The thing ads sell is an illusion, it's everyone else's burden to prove or disprove it exists.
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« Reply #88 on: January 30, 2020, 08:03:13 AM »

Consider an alternate reality. A sort of challenging art form, Paint by Numbers with some crumbly clay placed on needle point sewn hides. The physical challenge of color vision and hand eye coordination is very healthy.

Workers build and repair mud brick houses all day. Their architects work with stone masons on monumental monoliths with something of a cuneiform language forming.

Someone adds clay coloring to the cuneiform. That was an unpopular move at the time, nobody remembers who did it first, but it became easier to see from a distance.

The paint company orders the masons craft tablet-sized monoliths and people put clay in it to finish the work. This is a product extension in their eyes, and in broader scope a technology evolution, because the art form has fidelity.

So there are some metaphors here, a bit crudely expressed so I have to mention what I'm thinking of, there's no perfect representation. Painting is like our TV, the monolith is any other governing body, trying to produce meaning through size, duration, and lack of physical contact. The masons aren't just skilled at rock, they're supplied it by the governance. The unpopular move to combine the clay paint turned anonymous because of backlash. The tablets are evolving electronics, and the art form became something like an oddity, but still well worth sales from an economics standpoint.

In this fictional world, they worry about running out of mud huts so he art form is mud. The hide is an abstraction so people stop thinking about their daily life, similar to real life evolution of paper, and electronics. The monoliths display an incomplete written language and rare resource allocation few people could control. Until the tablets were introduced, nobody would put rocks and mud together, it's useless. Also adding clay to a monolith is a bit like drawing in a book full of arcane writing, even though you don't know how to read or draw.

Masonry was art in their eyes, paint by numbers wasn't, and the tablets still can't be, mud houses are art as much as architecture is, but everyone needs to do it daily.

Are you going to convince people who need mud houses their tablet paintings changed the world in 1000 years?
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« Reply #89 on: March 07, 2020, 06:54:05 AM »

I think something has to be created deliberately as art to a certain degree in order to count as such. For example, a real life tragedy (such as the currently ongoing Australia fires) can't count as art because it's not created intelligently, it's simply an event incidental to the state of the world. However, a game about fighting forest fires (such as Firewatch) does count as art because it's deliberately created to evoke specific feelings associated with being a firefighter.

That mention of forest fire put me off. I don't know how to respond.
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Pfotegeist
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« Reply #90 on: March 07, 2020, 07:09:00 AM »

I joke about pizza semantics but I hope I've made some points about where confusion can come in. To be clear with what you mean is to care about semantics, and if you've left yourself open to easy misinterpretation you are leaving necessary stuff unsaid.

I hope that we are entering a better era. I know this "confused and from the top down encouraged baby culture war distraction." cannot be beaten by yelling real loud, but it is upsetting that we've wasted so much focus on that kind of outrage nonsense.

I think of games like Kind Words: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1070710/Kind_Words_lo_fi_chill_beats_to_write_to/ as a sort of step in a better direction and I hope to see more of that. Interestingly the game did not even receive an IGF nomination, I think it got honorable mention, so I still wonder about the "top" that seems invested in this foolish culture war to distract us all. Its so confusing that I have no idea who is affiliated with whom and what people really want to do with that kind of nonsense, a horrible situation indeed.

I'd need to hear kind words to repeat them. I've only got trashtalk I never use and logical rigor.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #91 on: March 21, 2020, 06:29:23 PM »

So this video actually goes into some of the philosophy about art that I think about. If you can get past the presentation of this guy showing off his body it is pretty illuminating about what art is and even how audiences themselves are constructed things. It gets a bit off topic when he talks about the parasocial relationship which is more personal to his experience.
 


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« Reply #92 on: March 27, 2020, 05:32:16 PM »

I started to really pay attention around the midpoint and what I got out of it was:

Art can be seen as alternative currency which nobody really knows the value for.

Parasocial relationships are a one-sided thing the artist has control of, which is also a potential way to take advantage of the audience, which makes it a bit of a moral pecking ground.

The audience is shaped by content, getting involved with something creates expectation it will remain the same.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #93 on: March 31, 2020, 06:13:19 AM »

Yeah that's a good summary of the second half. He also talks about the emotional vs the logical art as a sort of night and day mythology and some other art theory in the first half of the video.

One of the points is that he talks about art showing us what the world can be, so as to allow us to aspire to make our world better which I really like as an artistic philosophy.
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Silbereisen
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« Reply #94 on: May 28, 2020, 03:20:57 AM »

i think the late 00s/early 10s "games as art" debate was super confused. there were people desperate to validate their favorite AAA shooters/RPGs/walking sims/indie puzzle games as great works of art. there were also people holding video games to outdated standards of "high art" that aren't even used in academia anymore. the elephant in the room, cultural legitimacy, was almost never addressed.

the "citizen kane of games" sub-debate was emblematic of this: people were too busy looking for the one game to "finally" prove that games can be art to stop and question if the narrative that citizen kane "made movies art" is even true.

here's the thing: the scholarly and critical view of popular culture became a lot more nuanced in the intervening decades since citizen kane's release. we've unpacked some of the more problematic aspects of the high/low distinction (i.e. how it closely mirrors class, gender and race relations). we're also more ready to recognize artistic qualities outside of traditionally "highbrow" works. for example, charlie chaplin comedies and john ford westerns were "lowbrow" movies intended for simple entertainment in their time. today, there are extensive scholarly analyses of these movies that treat them as important and pioneering works. of course, this also has a lot to do with film, which was widely considered a trivial and "lowbrow" medium when it was new, having acquired enough cultural legitimacy to be looked at in that light. the citizen kane narrrative is simply not needed anymore because everyone recognizes the artistic potential of movies.

all of this happened decades before anyone started talking about video games as art and yet here we were, rehashing cultural debates from the first half of the 20th century on websites like this. i mean, on some level i get it: video games were relatively new had to assert themselves much like movies back in the 1910s to 1950s. but also most people involved in the debate seemed weirdly unaware of these more recent developments, leading to the suspicion that they didn't know what they were talking about.

the debate died down because the cultural legitimacy issue, which was really at the root of it, kinda sorted itself out. video games are ubiquitous now and in a generation or 2, they'll be as "normal" to us as film and literature.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #95 on: June 01, 2020, 08:59:10 AM »

I agree: Cultural legitimacy is clearly why a lot of people want to make games that are Art with an A. "If the New Yorker writes about my game then my parents won't think I'm wasting my time."





Getting back to "Shit Game" I feel after thinking about it for a while I had a bit more clarity on it. Back in the 00s there was a strong cynicism to the indie movement: making a game that makes a sincere statement about love, loss, and difficult relationships using pop music laid on top of meaningful game design choices like jarring false turns and crude art assets that tell a story would never make it in the indie world of the 00s *IF YOU WERE SINCERE ABOUT IT* so there is a purity test (or an impurity test?) you have to sort of appeal to an ineffable rule of the indie world: that you have to acknowledge that games are shit and so are the people who make them and even the whole system is shit. There has been a kind of a hidden vetting process that seems to keep people who have a sincere love of games and the people who play them from having any kind of a voice in the industry, no matter what angle you come at it, if you actually love games and want to make games too you are really stuck in a lot of ways. And that's part of my objection to Shit Game: when it is called shit it can be seen, as long as that cynical world view is enforced.

On both accounts, the desire to be legitimate, and the unwillingness to be sincere, those things are the signs that the industry isn't mature, or at least it isn't lead by very mature people. When we make noise about Art and then we have to be cynical constantly I see that as the sign of an immature creative process. Which its tough to know yourself and what you want to do with your art and what you make. It takes time to get comfortable expressing yourself within the constraints of the whole society we are in, its part of why so few people actually become artists.

But I think that we need more "pure" creativity, hold the shit. Games can be fun and sincere and show us a better way and shine a light on a more colorful world. Its just the way everything is set up that kind of work is very much against the grain because such a game would really steal a lot of people's thunder. Some small budget game that is sincere and beautiful? "STOMP THAT OUT" will be the reaction most people in the game world have.
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« Reply #96 on: July 12, 2020, 07:15:02 PM »

 most video games are basically industrial products pushed out with little in the way of artistic ambition
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« Reply #97 on: July 12, 2020, 10:30:20 PM »

But I think that we need more "pure" creativity, hold the shit. Games can be fun and sincere and show us a better way and shine a light on a more colorful world. Its just the way everything is set up that kind of work is very much against the grain because such a game would really steal a lot of people's thunder. Some small budget game that is sincere and beautiful? "STOMP THAT OUT" will be the reaction most people in the game world have.

I feel like you're being dangerously vague here. I've reviewed a bunch of games that were successfully "stomped out", they definitely flopped, and many of them were obviously created with love and sincerity: https://store.steampowered.com/curator/34839685-Foxwarrior-Reviews/ Would you say any of these count as sincere and beautiful games?

Similarly, if you watch some of Tom Francis's design ramble videos, it's clear that the kinds of systems he puts in his games are the ones that he sincerely finds fun and obsesses about all the time, and his small budget games have been pretty successful.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #98 on: July 13, 2020, 05:26:38 AM »

@Foxwarrior, To some extent you could say that Shit Game was created with love and sincerity. I think Golds has argued that too. And the content of Shit Game is meaningful and playful, it has merit in a number of ways as an interesting piece. Then it was marketed with the cynicism needed to get it seen. Had he called it "Love is Shit" or "Love is War" or something like that would it have been seen? Unclear. I don't blame him for sailing with the wind at his back. It was a "Games are Shit" era so he put out "Shit Game" and collected his reward.

I was thinking about it, it reminds me of the Marylin subway scene from the 50s:





The architects of Marilyn were selling a very specific image. And all the players in that movement really put their backs into it. Sadly they didn't seem to care too much about the health of the people who worked to create what was considered "cool" for the time. Marilyn gave too much of herself to a movement that didn't respect her in any real way and as a result look what happened.

And through history we've seen artists give a pound of flesh to make something known, from Van Gogh to Alec Holowka, artists who suffered for their art as part of some movement that may not actually have anything to do with the actual artist. An artistic direction that is more of a meat grinder than anything that actually rewards artists for being themselves. And that's what I mean by "pure" creativity. Creativity that is true to the artist, not to what is politically expedient for whatever the current movement is.

Again, I rail about indie meaning in-de-club. Typically to get an invite you have to drink the coolaid of one political camp or another. Sometimes you have to actually go to parties and literally drink, which is absurd considering that making games is not a spectacle or even a social event so why are we judging which indies make it based on how many beers they chug? I do think we should try to hold up people who express themselves with dignity and integrity, as opposed to people who pander to the most powerful. (Just for full disclosure, I'm negotiating for myself here, I make games that express my vision as well as I can without worrying about what the rest of the "scene" thinks, for better or worse.)

I had never heard of any of the games you mention. I just looked up Tom Francis who's personal website is titled "Tom Francis Regrets This Already" So he is clearly trying to make some advances at passing as cynical, but yes I think he is having fun marketing his games.





When I watch this video, as someone who has actually worked with Sid, I don't see it as particularly insightful. Just as a grumpy math guy: if we take a billion and half it 10 times we get around a million: 976,562.5 so I'm not sure what case he is working on where 10 iterations of halving or doubling doesn't get you to where you need to be if you make a reasonable guess (Say within a a million or so.) at where the starting value is. Its a binary search. He is simply trying to rebrand that as his own thing, which Sid did ages ago already, *but* despite the fact that this is an obvious branding push I do think that he likely thinks his games are good.

Also I'm not saying you have to be giddy working on your project 24/7 to make it. I doubt there are many devs who haven't gone through a day of being down on their project, particularly if its taking longer than they want, getting less attention than they want etc:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeZqW6eqK2M

But in general, I think there are a ton of games that could be as big as anything else that simply get ignored due to the "great ineffable filter" Which I'm trying to eff as saying there are people who have a given direction that they want the wind to blow and if your project goes against the grain you are at a big disadvantage. Just to clarify: the direction I want the wind to blow is that we reward people who are true to themselves.

PS: I'm looking through your reviews and they seem fair and reasonable, I was kind of hoping this one was good: https://store.steampowered.com/app/421870/Quatros_Origins/ I remember back in college having a ton of fun with an old arcade 3d tetris game on mame.

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