ONE. I can see the edges of the paper, the little drips of watercolour paint. I can see the punch-holes where they were ripped out and the paper layered on top of a mess of other sheets and I can see the wood grain of the desk. It’s all a frame for the delicately messy landscapes of Jack King-Spooner’s Beeswing, ephemerally and impressionistically creating a window into the world of a small, Scottish hometown. The landscape as both a dream-space and autobiography. A window into and out of the special context created by the characters seen through King-Spooner’s eyes. The gentle browns and greens of the forest and the countryside contrast with the harsher, hotter pinks, reds, orange highlights on the gray of the city, and the black-and-white sketches of its alleyways. The country is serene, calm. The city is busier, dirtier. The country expands and the city winds. The city is a twisting of lines and the country is a curving gradient of soft colour, like rain, like a meditative pond reflection. Like quietly paddling through the water to happen upon a mythic aquatic creature. The muted blackish-purples and wintery whites of the graveyard inspire a feeling of cold, finality, mortality. A somber sleep.
It took me awhile to get this down, because I guess I’m still burnt out. But I’d like to push through that, and leave it in 2014 where it belongs.
It’s comforting though fallacious to believe that in the split second between one year and another there’s some invisible, arbitrary finish line that lets everything from the past resolve and reset. But that isn’t true. Nothing from the previous year has really ended. There hasn’t been any closure. And a lot of what existed in 2014 existed because of things we, collectively, allowed to build up in 2013, 2012, 2011…
At least we can have perspective.
This is a list of games I found personally meaningful or interesting over the past year. It’s not a complete list of all the great games out there. I know I missed a few.
This list also doesn’t rank the games in any particular way. They’re ordered the way they are to help me illustrate some ideas, that is all.
I don’t want to say I’m writing a design manifesto, because games already have so many as to render the purpose of writing yet another manifesto meaningless. But if I were to impart any wisdom I’ve developed in my experience designing games, it’s this:
Fuck the player.
I know how that sounds. It might take you aback and offend sensibilities. That’s fine. I don’t really care. But I ought to explain myself, candidly and clearly, so that I’m not misunderstood.
Happy Holidays, everyone. Here’s a porn game.
I’ll be honest, I’ve had this Twine game kicking around for a bit, and I haven’t been as productive as I would have liked this month, so I thought I might as well release this little monster upon the world while I finish up some writing for this week. This was my first real (completed) attempt at a porn Twine, so I don’t know how, let’s say, effective it is. But hopefully you get some kind of enjoyment out of playing it.
(If you’re into sexy-scary domineering computer brains like Shodan, this might be the Twine porn for you!)
I’ve put together a Twine poem-game-thing (I’m still not even convinced of the nomenclature for the things I’m making, to be honest with you), that makes extensive use of Darius Kazemi’s “Random Words” macro. This one’s a little simpler than the other two of this late-November digital poetry series, in part because it was made in a bit of a mad scramble, but it allowed me to exercise some of my ideas regarding computer generation in poetry, “happy accidents” and a more free-verse or projectivist style of poetry in a digital form. I wanted this to feel somewhat like Brian Kim Stefans’ The Dream Life of Letters, and despite the hurry in which this was made I hope I captured some of that sensation. I had wanted to stick the game on this page in an iframe, but it didn’t look quite right and the random word macro refused to work properly, but it looks great in full screen at Philome.la (link below).
Here’s the second in my small series of game poems. It’s a villanelle! Sort of. It loosely follows the structure of one but I’ve definitely taken a few liberties in terms of foot, rhyme and meter. I put this one together in Construct 2, partly to keep things interesting (for me, mostly) and partly to demonstrate that I think the connection between digital games and poems is a little deeper than just what’s reflected in “text”-based tools like Twine. (Even that one’s debatable, but my inevitable essay on the subject won’t be for a while.)
I’ve created another Twine poem. This will be one of a handful of posts over the next few days all exploring different moods and styles of digital poetry. I’ll cut the pretense and admit I’m doing this, at this point in the month, to combat a weeks-long rut of writer’s block and creative and emotional lethargy. Also, to get paid before November’s out. This little experiment is as much for me as it is for you, and I really do enjoy doing these little works with relatively more ease (at least, less time committed to actual labour) than writing my typical-length essays.
It’s time for another artgame rundown! In this episode, Zolani and I critique a handful of cool, small artgames, many of which conveniently happen to be pretty ~spooOooOoky~. We get into the spirit of the season talking about how many of these games are able to use space, movement, tone and symbolism to build feelings of dread, suspense and horror. We also get into the subtext of the situations these games present to us, contemplating the statements they make on everything from alienation and identity to self-sacrifice and mortality.
Playing Icosa is like running my hands down the aisles of a fabric shop. Everything is so neatly aligned and carefully proportioned, and then I start pressing buttons, moving my mouse around, fucking up the neat display and making a mess of colours and textures. Sometimes it’s more deliberate, an attempt to collect disparate fabrics into a single tapestry. Sometimes I’m mashing buttons, draping myself in silk and pashmina and PVC like a cat that got into a ball of yarn.