[-empyre-] Michael Wilson's comments

Hello All,

I'm joining the conversation late as well. I have read through all the posts
with great interest and joy. I'd particularly like to thank Michael Wilson
for his synthesis.

With Crosser and La Migra, we were attempting to create a subtle multi-level
critique. Cute is deployed tactically and strategically to give the games a
chance. Two points of view are presented so as to not be too comfortable in
our own skin -- as makers -- and to attempt to feel the empathy we wish to
inspire in others. If a "victory condition" can be said to exist, it is if
the games are capable of invoking, evoking, or provoking thought, sensation
and memory. With this metric they have been successful (as measured by my
admittedly modest personal interactions). The reactions have typically been
to respond to Crosser's iconic nature by projecting onto it other aspects of
border crossing that it might portray. I find this reaction to be very
interesting. It suggests to me that a creative imagination is being sparked
into action in the minds of the player.

It could, conversely, be read as that the games are somehow incomplete. I
don't subscribe to this reading, though it was the subject of considerable
self recrimination for quite some time. I've come to understand that the
games, any games that attempt to deal with the real, will be incomplete. The
map is not the territory, the stakes are not life and death, and a player
can walk away when the thrill is gone. Rather, I have come to understand
Crosser and La Migra as poems, where the absences and silences are as
important as that which is stated. As a maker I -- and my collaborators --
have attempted to attend to these silences, so that they will be as
meaningful as that which is expressed.

It was also important for us --the SWEAT collaborative -- to investigate the
emotional power of the early electronic games. They were iconic in an
extreme. And yet they were found by players to be compelling. We stood on
the shoulders of our antecedents, even as we made faces at them. Our
recasting of iconography and game play points to the idea that even
purposely "trivial" game play could have carried a non-trivial meaning.
Michael's experience with Waco reporters locates public thoughts about video
games in the same place that was given to early comic books. Funny picture
books systemically incapable of treating serious subject matter in a weighty
way. We here engaged in this conversation seem, judging from the work
engaged and the comments exchanged thus far, to think otherwise.

Thank you all for sharing your work and ideas.

On 2004.07.15 01:29 PM, "mwwilson@uci.edu" <mwwilson@uci.edu> wrote:

> i'm joining this discussion very late, but i've been following it with
> interest. i'm turning over a few basic dynamics of the game as we move
> ahead to the next phase of the 'endgames' project.
> i just returned from an interview with the nbc waco affiliate. many of
> the questions asked were driven by reactions to the game within the
> waco community (law enforcement, survivors, citizens). the key point of
> contention seems to reside within the act of reinterpreting a traumatic
> event through a 'trivializing' medium. even though we'd like to dismiss
> this reaction as facile, it's been the most pervasive one - dominating
> the press generated by the project. until now, i've thought of this
> dynamic as a limit against which to push - but it's occurred to me that
> it might instead be the logical starting point for wider discussions.
> for me (and i'm not speaking for the group), the most interesting
> aspect of this project hasn't been it's relative success or
> failure as a computer game. that's not to say that we shouldn't try to
> make the game viable - but an independent game is just not going to
> succeed under the same rules established by the industry. besides, the
> criteria for determining good vs. bad or fun vs. boring seems much too
> crude at this point. the importance of generating a visceral experience
> IS important, however - but i don't think that experience is or can be
> located exclusively within the game itself.
> eugenie seems to be advocating a kind of 'gaming in the expanded field'
> approach that i agree with completely. we had hoped to provide a new
> lens through which to view the incident - a POV through re-creation not
> available in the media coverage (they were kept at a distance - duly
> reporting government PR) or the various documentaries produced on the
> subject. another advantage to using the computer game medium is it's
> perceived uselessness and anti-social connotations - attributes that
> contribute to the notion of of this style of game-playing as absurd -
> and, of course, there's something intrinsically absurd about a
> large-scale paramilitary assault on a church.
> all of this is to say that the next logical step is to expand the
> notion of the 'game' to the media and the actual members of the
> community in question. the 'game' becomes a 'thing-in-the-world' that
> generate it's own life and discussion. as eugenie said, this object
> should be deliberately considered and it's public interface
> deliberately constructed. we've been discussing a more fluid approach
> to this dynamic that would dictate more community interaction while
> incorporating the results of that contact into the game. the point,
> however, would be to own more fully the social impact of the process -
> making the game-construction more fundamental to the project. this has
> the potential to move beyond the 'game-with-political patina'
> phenomenon.
> michael wilson
> http://www.mwwilson.net
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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