recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : jenovachen   11

Robin Hunicke Wants to Change Video Games, But She Can’t Do It Alone | VICE | United Kingdom
""As a developer, it's my job to evangelise the games that I think are different, that are doing new things. And when they come out, I want everyone I know to know about them. But it'd be really awesome if we could somehow give away space, or create platforms of promotion, that were just about innovation."

Robin Hunicke knows a thing or two about going against what the gaming public might perceive as the stylistic grain, the marketable middle-ground, sales-numbers safe spaces of play. Having worked on MySims and Boom Blox at Electronic Arts, the San Francisco-based game designer (and professor of game design, at the University of California, Santa Cruz) moved to thatgamecompany, where she produced Journey. Perhaps you heard of it, as it was kind of a big deal.

Journey was a critical and commercial success that arrived without much in the way of how-it-works precedent, playing like nothing most that picked it up had seen before. A multiplayer game in which human-to-human interactions were all but stripped away. A short experience, coming in at under 90 minutes from start to finish, but with lasting, memory-making resonance. A story told only one way, yet left open to all manner of individual interpretation. Journey earned rave reviews and collected all manner of industry awards (dominating the 2013 Game Developers Choice Awards), and broke PlayStation Network sales records."



"Quite where Woorld fits in the wider gaming landscape, though, is hard to get a handle on. This is a new tool, a new toy, for new technology, coming through at a time when augmented reality is enjoying a spell of popularity courtesy of Pokémon Go; but without that kind of massive IP to drive its marketing, merely the wonderfully colourful and somewhat surreal visuals that Takahashi's fans have come to expect, it's not like the game is about to follow in said record-setter's monstrous footsteps. And Robin sees this problem of visibility, of public accessibility and appetite for something left of the expected, not just as a headache for Funomena, but everyone making games outside of the triple-A sphere.

"There are a lot of very different games out there, but as an industry we're not so good at presenting that in our marketing, and our PR, and the stories that we write. And that's what really carries this medium forward – how people perceive it. How many games get covered that are radically different from whatever else is around? How many of them are featured on the front of the online stores? How many are appearing in top ten lists? When your top ten lists are based on sales, and sales are influenced by marketing budgets, you're only rarely going to see a Papers, Please or That Dragon, Cancer, or Firewatch or even The Witness, right up there amongst the most popular games. And I think it's on us to change that.

"Wouldn't it be great if anyone could make the next Minecraft, or the next Journey, or the next Papers, Please? If independently made games keep growing in popularity, and we keep on expanding the marketplace – because there are a lot of people right now who don't play indie games at all – then that'd be amazing. Let's do that."

One way of doing that would be for distribution channels to place greater emphasis on highlighting experiences that are so far from the norm. "Why not have an innovation tab in online stores?" she asks, rhetorically. "Maybe the labels we're using are out of date. What are they, like, twenty, thirty years old?"

Those labels don't just mean "action", "adventure", "puzzle" or "sports"; Robin's talking about the language that flows through every way that the gaming industry presents itself, how it reflects and addresses issues that eat away at its insides.

"I've been to the White House on this initiative called Computer Science For All, and I try to volunteer for it whenever I can. That's full of fantastic people, and the last time I was there I met with the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Megan Smith, and she was talking about Maria Klawe's work at Harvey Mudd, and she's been promoting an idea that when people come into the college, as programmers, they get divided into two groups: people who've already programmed a lot, and people who haven't at all.

"So you have experts, and beginners – two safe communities. It's not about gender, or race, or class – it's about how much experience you have. Then, in both of those groups, unconscious bias is being removed from the learning cycle. In this exercise, you will help the robot move rocks into a pile. That's one version. In this exercise, you will help the robot move the groceries from the kart into the boot of the car. The same exercise, essentially. Then in this exercise, you'll help the girls from Frozen move these snow bricks over here so they can build a castle. Same exact programming. Separate the frame from the exercise, separate the communities into beginner and expert, and they're at parity in six years.

"So let's do that across gaming – separate the gender and the cultural status of developers from their work, and from the way we write about it, and the financing, and the relationship of scale from our evaluation of its innovative qualities, and use better vocabulary. We do all that, and in ten years, we'll have moved very far away from the problems of having to discuss things like gender imbalance in the industry, and towards a situation where our values – the things that we value – are reflected in the things that we write, and the way that we give awards, and the way that we promote.

"I think it's just about living the values that we want to live, and saying the things that we want to focus on, rather than reacting to older labels that may or may not be appropriate. There's always going to be room for great art, and room for new experiences. And, if you invest in those experiences, the chances are that one in ten, or one in twenty, will deliver a really big return, on a level with a game like The Witness, or Journey. But it's impossible for one, small person to really know how we proceed."

Impossible at an individual level, maybe, but Robin's words are essential food for thought for what could, or should, happen on a united front. During our time together I ask for her opinion on how to bring more women into the making and marketing of video games – but as she so neatly elucidates in her answer to me, I'm really speaking to the wrong person. And in many ways, video gaming is constantly asking the wrong questions to the wrong people.

Want to get more women into games? Go and speak to the guys that hold the keys to those positions, not the women knocking on the doors. Want to see more innovative, independent games being played alongside the big-budget shooters and sports sims? Consider why those cover-grabbing games are enjoying such heightened visibility, and if you need to add to their oxygen of hype at the expense of something genuinely new. We could all be better at supporting games-makers who want to progress this medium in all the right ways – through sharing, through inventing, through fun, rather than rinsing and repeating what's known to "work". Robin Hunicke is just one of many people wanting to encourage change in the way we work within and relate to video games, but it's exciting to imagine what'll happen when all of the voices around hers, singing equally inspiring songs, do band together."
robinhunicke  games  gaming  videogames  gamedev  2016  funomena  thatgamecompany  jenovachen  keitatakahashi  computers  compsci  education  learning  play  gender 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Robin Hunicke's extraordinary journey • Eurogamer.net
"Hunicke's path to this moment was unorthodox and unexpected. She grew up near the mountains in Saratoga Springs, New York, close to Vermont. Her mother taught maths and weaved. Her father was a nuclear engineer. They lived on a street alongside 20 or so other families, all with children of similar ages. In the summer Hunicke and her friends would build forts in the forest, and race twig boats in the frothing river. In the winter there were board-games and NES. It was a playful, often idyllic childhood, she recalls. Each summer during high school, Hunicke would be sent to art camp, where she'd paint and build.

One year Hunicke and her father built a grandfather clock. It had been, rather befittingly, her grandfather's project originally. He built the base from African red hardwood then, upon realising the scale of the job, shipped the materials to his son and granddaughter to finish. Hunicke's father ordered the clock mechanism from Germany. The finished clock still lives at her father's house. Every time she returns home she listen to the rounded tock of the mechanism. "It fills me with joy," she says. "I love the experience of seeing something you've made come to life."

Video games were a natural fit for Hunicke's nascent interests, combining her mathematical talent ("At night, when I couldn't get to sleep, I'd count the leaves on a branch out side of my bedroom window," she recalls. "I'd multiply that by the number of branches I estimated the tree to have, and that figure by the number of trees in our yard, then our road, then our town, then our State") and her artistic sensibilities. But she has a magpie temperament. "I was interested in everything", she says. "So when I went to college I made up my major, a combination of fine art, film studies, women's studies and computer science." While at the University of Chicago Hunicke's aptitude for computers earned her a job at a police station where she would schedule the officers on a database system. "I soon discovered that was less fun than working on the computer lab at college so I got a new job managing the Mac lab there." As Hunicke learned more and more computer languages her focus narrowed. She began studying for a doctorate in artificial intelligence.

Video games had, up to this point, played only a supporting role in Hunicke's life. Her first love was M.U.L.E., the Commodore 64 game in which players compete against each other and the computer in a bid for survival, which she'd play at a friend's house when she was 12. "I loved trying to outwit each other and the game at the same time," she recalls. It was only when Hunicke started her PhD in AI, and became interested in adaptive difficulty in video games, specifically Half-Life, that she began hanging out with game-makers."



""I needed a break," she says. Perhaps, but the peak she faced in Bhutan mirrored other towering questions in her life. Was she going to stay in Los Angeles? Was she going to stay in her current relationship? Was she going to continue making games? While ascending the mountain Hunicke met other English-speaking climbers who were also taking a step back to examine their goals and challenges. "It made me realise we are all on a similar journey," she says. "That helped me with imposter syndrome." As she came over the top of the mountain, a burden lifted, she says. Then, when she arrived in Los Angeles, she received a message from an old friend, Jenova Chen: would she like to be lead designer on his new project, a game about a pilgrimage to a mountain where, en route, you meet people who fleetingly join you. "It felt right," she says.

When Hunicke joined thatgamecompany she was the sixth employee. The team was working from a "closet-sized room" and had just completed a prototype of the game, which would later be named Journey, in Flash, in which players were represented as coloured dots. "I supervised the first four player playtest," Hunicke recalls. "We brought people in through different doors so nobody knew it was a multiplayer game. Then we brought them together to discuss what they'd seen. These were just coloured dots that could only move or, if the player hit the space bar, say 'hey!', but people immediately would project emotions and personalities onto the dots they were playing with, calling them the 'mean' one, or the 'helpful' one. That's when I knew the idea was special.""



"Takashi and Hunicke make for a harmonious paring. Both designers have a background in arts and crafts and Hunicke's new studio Funomena, founded in 2012 with her former colleague Martin Middleton, is filled with sand, clay, pipe-cleaners, wire toys and so on. "We often model stuff by hand before putting them in our games," she says. Funomena is currently working on three games, one of which, Wattam, is being directed by Takahashi. Wattam, for which a release date has not yet been announced, reflects the foundations of Hunicke's childhood: playfulness, creativity, collaboration. "Keita's view on childhood and play is similar to mine," she says. "People should make things. We want this game to be more about you as a player than about us as the designers, artists and musicians behind it."

Games that encourage this kind of playfulness rather than than seek to force a specific message are at the core of Hunicke's interest. While she holds up Papers, Please and Cart Life as prime examples of what games can achieve she wants her work to have looser interpretations. "I know people who make films who feel their film has a single interpretation," she says. "But they are rare. The majority of people who write or make films and art are just trying to get something out of them. When it's in the world it's there for everybody to draw what they will from the work. Besides, you can't control the context. For example, art that's made in this moment around Brexit could have a very different interpretation in ten years depending on what happens to Britain's fortunes."

For today's context with its climate of fear and uncertainty, of strongmen on the rise, of nations baring teeth, playfulness is, Hunicke believes, a necessity. "We've been spending a lot of time thinking about mechanics and systems as an industry," he says. "Doing something a little more open is important right now for this difficult, sad and important time. We're having conversations about all of the forces that inform how we behave, and how we sustain our planet. They are crucial conversations. But that needs the counterbalance of playfulness. All of the games I'm working on at the moment are about interacting with others in purely playful ways. I hope they encourage people to help one another, not for what they can get out of it, but just for the sake of it.""
robinhunicke  games  gaming  videogames  gamedev  2016  funomena  thatgamecompany  jenovachen  keitatakahashi  childhood  computers  compsci  education  learning  play 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Want To Learn About Game Design? Go To Ikea - ReadWrite
"The path is constantly curving to keep you enticed."

[also posted at: http://killscreendaily.com/articles/game-design-ikea/
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKCDJ89ODyM ]

"IKEA’s reach extends beyond simple economic heft. In Lauren Collins’ epic 2011 New Yorker profile of the company, she casts the IKEA vision as something that extends beyond pure commerce. “The invisible designer of domestic life, it not only reflects but also molds, in its ubiquity, our routines and our attitudes.” Our IKEA, ourselves, as it were.

But to become that successful requires a unique understanding of the consumer mindset and there are certainly many explanations for why this might be. I wanted to introduce something else. Intentionally or not, IKEA embodies some of the best values of good games. I’m not saying that IKEA is a game, per se, but it exhibits many game-like characteristics.

So how?

DESIGNING A GOOD MAZE …

BUILD A STORY WORLD THROUGH DETAILS …

"Because Ikea's founder is dyslexic, the company built a whole taxonomy for products to help him remember. Furniture is Swedish place names, chairs are men’s names, and children’s items are mammals and birds. (Lars Petrus’ Ikea dictionary reads like a key to reading Ulysses in this respect.)

The act of naming an object is an incredibly powerful key to immersion that games use all the time. Think about the names of the drones in BioShock or inventory descriptions in Dark Souls. Each of these games uses unique in-game language to build a convincing story world and keep you there.

For Ikea, they want you to identify with a place, in this case the Swedish concept of “folkhemmet,” a social democratic term coined by the Social Democratic Party leader Per Albin Hansson in 1928, that means “the people’s home.” And this identity is bolstered through numerous elements that want to capture a full-bodied Swedish identity, despite the global presence of the store. The colors are the Swedish national flag; the store sells traditional Swedish foods; the children’s play room is called Smaland as a nod to the founder’s hometown and so on.

As Ursula Lindqvist, an associate professor of Scandinavian studies at Adolphus Gustavus, writes, “The Ikea store is a space of acculturation, a living archive in which values and traits identified as distinctively Swedish are communicated to consumers worldwide through its Nordic-identified product lines, organized walking routes, and nationalistic narrative.”

But the language plays the largest part Ikea builds their retail universe, the same way that Borderlands doesn’t just call a pistol a pistol. It’s a Lacerator or The Dove or the Chiquito Amigo or Athena’s Wisdom. Ikea doesn't just sell you a coffee table; it sells you a Lack or a Lillbron or a Lovbaken.

As writers Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn said of their Significant Objects project, “It turns out that once you start increasing the emotional energy of inanimate objects, an unpredictable chain reaction is set off.""

ALLOW SHOPPERS TO CREATE THEIR OWN MEANING …

THE VALUE IS THAT YOU HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF …

"But the value is that you have to do it yourself, which makes it more meaningful. Researchers found this is at the heart of “the Ikea effect” which suggests that people will value mass-produced items as much as artisan wares … if only they build them piece by frustrating piece. In their 2012 paper, “The Ikea Effect: When Labor Leads to Love,” Michael Norton and his team explain that the reason people love Ikea is a form of “effort justification.” You’ve put so much time into building Lack shelves that it has to be valuable."

DEVELOP UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCES

This is something we take for granted in games, but think about if you couldn’t play Tetris if you didn’t speak Russian or Super Mario Galaxy if you didn’t speak Japanese. Games are their own language and can be played by anyone, regardless of the nationality, location or background.

IKEA has a similar idea about decorating your home. They call it “democratic design.” As founder Ingvar Kamprad wrote, “Why do the most famous designers always fail to reach the majority of people with their ideas?” So IKEA tries to takes its designs to everyone in the world and designs products that ostensibly could fit in any living room from Shanghai to Berlin or Los Angeles.

This has obviously been a source of critique. Bill Moggridge, the director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York, calls IKEA’s aesthetic “global functional minimalism.” He says “it’s modernist, and it’s very neutral in order to avoid local preferences.” IKEA flattens the experience of every home by selling the same furniture which, of course, benefits the company but also benefits the mission of the paradoxical non-profit that technically owns IKEA and is somehow dedicated to furthering the advancement of architecture and interior design.

Regardless, that impulse for world domination has a pleasant by-product in that creates a common design language for people around the world. It’s the same type of experience that Jenova Chen wanted to make in Journey. Chen argued to me that the language we use is a facade and that games like Journey can be played by anyone. One could argue is the same desire to explains the lack of words on IKEA’s instructions."
ikea  gamedesign  2014  games  gaming  jaminwarren  jenovachen  journey  design  videogames  effortjustification  dyslexia  names  naming  flow  objects  economics  effort  language  constructivism  construction  mastery  difficulty  ingvarkamprad  culture  acculturation  robwalker  joshuaglenn  billmoggridge  homoludens  significantobjects  ursulalindqvist  adolphusgustavus  universality  global  meaningmaking  michaelnorton 
december 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA | Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters
"We are very proud to announce that MoMA has acquired a selection of 14 video games, the seedbed for an initial wish list of about 40 to be acquired in the near future, as well as for a new category of artworks in MoMA’s collection that we hope will grow in the future. This initial group, which we will install for your delight in the Museum’s Philip Johnson Galleries in March 2013, features:

• Pac-Man (1980)
• Tetris (1984)
• Another World (1991)
• Myst (1993)
• SimCity 2000 (1994)
• vib-ribbon (1999)
• The Sims (2000)
• Katamari Damacy (2004)
• EVE Online (2003)
• Dwarf Fortress (2006)
• Portal (2007)
• flOw (2006)
• Passage (2008)
• Canabalt (2009)"
zelda  corewar  marblemadness  yars'revemge  supermario  supermario64  streetfighterii  nethack  donkeykong  spaceinvaders  tempest  zork  snake  pong  minecraft  chronotrigger  animalcrossing  grimfandango  jenovachen  pacman  tetris  anotherworld  myst  simcity2000  simcity  vib-ribbon  thesims  katamaridamacy  eveonline  dwarffortress  portal  flow  passage  canabalt  moma  design  videogames  art  gaming  games  paolaantonelli  2012 
december 2012 by robertogreco
The Most Dangerous Gamer - Magazine - The Atlantic
"Thoreau…“With a little more deliberation in the choice of their pursuits,” he proclaimed, “all men would perhaps become essentially students and observers, for certainly their nature and destiny are interesting to all alike.”

Blow clicked off the stereo and turned to me. “I honestly didn’t plan that,” he said.

In so many words, Loud Thoreau had just described Blow’s central idea for The Witness. Whereas so many contemporary games are built on a foundation of shooting or jumping or, let’s say, the creative use of mining equipment to disembowel space zombies, Blow wants the point of The Witness to be the act of noticing, of paying attention to one’s surroundings. Speaking about it, he begins to sound almost like a Zen master. “Things are pared down to the basic acts of movement and observation until those senses become refined,” he told me. “The further you go into the game, the more it’s not even about the thinking mind anymore—it becomes about the intuitive mind."
literature  narrative  taylorclark  miegakure  marctenbosch  interactivefiction  asceticism  storytelling  payingattention  attention  observation  noticing  intuition  myst  littlebigplanet  money  belesshelpful  fiction  jenovachen  flow  tombissell  gamedev  chrishecker  einstein'sdreams  alanlightman  invisiblecities  italocalvino  jonblow  deannavanburen  art  2012  thewitness  thoreau  srg  edg  videogames  gaming  games  braid  jonathanblow  if  cyoa 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Jenova Chen: Journeyman • Articles • Eurogamer.net
"[Saint] Augustine wrote: 'People will venture out to the height of the mountain to seek for wonder. They will stand and stare at the width of the ocean to be filled with wonder. But they will pass one another in the street and feel nothing. Yet every individual is a miracle. How strange that nobody sees the wonder in one another.'"

"And because we are mostly lonely as human beings the desire to be accepted by others is so strong. When people experience a shared sense of loneliness their immediate reaction is to reach out and make contact. I would imagine anyone who is creating something is searching for connection.""

"…only three ways to create valuable games for adults…intellectually…emotionally…by creating a social environment…"
saintaugustine  wonder  emotion  acceptance  experience  ps3  humanism  2012  social  design  videogames  interviews  gaming  art  gamedesign  emotions  journey  jenovachen 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Journey's Jenova Chen on God, Authorship, and Creativity - PlayStation 3 Feature at IGN
"video games will not become a mature medium if Uncharted 2 & Gears of War do not exist. Even in film, books, & music there's always action—there's always rock & roll. Young people appreciate that kind of experience. When I was a teenager I felt my life was constrained by rules, school, my parents. I wanted to feel like I was empowered & different, that's why super heroes, comics, manga, & video games filled my needs. When I got older I realized power is not free, it comes with responsibility. I wanted to have a better understanding of life & the world around us. A lot of the greatest artists, their work is always about life & the world. I think there needs to be that for video games…

…Then no one will say, "Are you a gamer or not?" They will just say, "What kind of games do you like?" That's the day I want to see. That's the day video games will be treated as a high art and something that will be loved by everybody."

[via: http://notgames.tumblr.com/post/2184778164/then-no-one-will-say-are-you-a-gamer-or-not ]
jenovachen  games  gaming  play  art  highart  josephcampbell  videogames  culture  youth  adolescence  power  freedom  responsibility  experience  action 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Games Without Frontiers: 'Flower' Power Blooms in First Climate-Change Game
"Yet here's the ultimately cool thing: Flower does not, in the end, demonize human civilization. When you begin the game, you start with a bleak, gray-scale vision of a city, where cars stream through the dark streets. At the conclusion of the game, if you succeed in bringing the various blighted fields and areas to color and life, what's your reward? To hang around and glory in those lovely fields of gold?
games  gaming  videogames  flower  jenovachen  ps3  environment  sustainability  humanity  clivethompson 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Daffodils Wander Lonely as a Cloud, in Flower - Video - Wired
"In February, thatgamecompany will release Flower, a "video game version of a poem" for PlayStation 3. Flower lets the player explore the dreams of city blooms trapped in urban decay, longing to caress the soft grasses of the countryside." see also: http://www.wired.com/gaming/gamingreviews/commentary/games/2009/02/gamesfrontiers_0223
games  gaming  videogames  poetry  jenovachen  ps3  flower  sustainability  environment 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Tale of Tales » Interview with Jenova Chen
“As a long-time gamer who is nearly bored with most of the mainstream games on the market, my desire is to challenge myself and create something refreshing and different.” “…when I work on games, I always start from a message and a feeling.”
games  gaming  videogames  gamedesign  jenovachen  flow  interviews 
april 2008 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read