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. Continue reading
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). Continue reading
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.) Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
[TW: This piece discusses depression, anxiety and suicidality.]
When poetry is performed, the audience is invited into the spectacle and becomes instrumental in the making of meaning. In most cases, this is a passive, private exercise on the part of the reader, but it can be transformed into an active, playful one for every soul in its presence. As I examined in my previous piece, a more active, improvisational, Boalian approach to audience participation can help us understand some of the more playful dimensions of poetry as a form, in terms of performativity, dialogue, exploration of semiotic devices and of text as a kind of architecture, fluid roleplaying (as reader or poet, for instance), and the creation and transformation of meaning on personal and collective levels. I used Charles Olson’s ideas about “composition by field” to talk about poetry as something of a dynamic system in which meaning is shaped and reshaped by body language, where the human breath is living grammar. Continue reading
[This is part one of a two-part series of essays in which I explore poetry as a vector for play. I discuss the dynamics of author and reader, the form of poetry as a “field” for active audience participation, creativity, exploration, performance, cooperation and playful modeling of systems. This first piece deals with explicit, mediated audience participation in physical or online spaces. This will foreground a discussion on hypertext and other digital poetry in part two.]
Back in April 2013, I attended SpokenWeb’s “Approaching the Poetry” Series Conference at the VAV Gallery, the exhibition space connected with the Fine Arts department of my alma mater, Concordia University. I actually only attended the poetry reading component of the conference, offered as extra credit by my Canadian Literature professor. I thought I would at least get some mild enjoyment out of it, and—hey!—extra credit. But what I didn’t know at the time, sitting on a plastic fold-out chair in a sterile, angular, white gallery space, was that I would be given much to think about in terms of play. Continue reading