Archive for April, 2006

Bit Generation
April 27, 2006

After this year’s GDC Experimental Gameplay Workshop, my friend Marco asked me if I believed that the brilliant works exposed at that conference had the same feeling of the Renaissance period of pictorial art. The question was quite good, because if you think about it there’s some sort of revival of the classic games of the 80’s at the indie scene, with that same spirit where gaming is what matters the most; just like Europe got to re-discover the great Greek thinkers.

Also, in the mainstream-world, the obsession for hyper-realism in the game industry where there’s a great skill in dominating the techniques behind light and shadows in 3D worlds, has a strong reference to the chiaroscuro and the domination of perspective that occured in the Renaissance period.

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On the other hand, the blog of my friend Patrick Dugan -which also assisted to the GDC- really surprised me when he compared this generation of Scratchware Auteurs with the Beat Generation that inspired America in the 50’s. He organized a clandestine meeting/interview with Greg Costikyan (Manifesto Games), Jenova Chen (Cloud), Chris Bateman (IHobo) and myself. That moment, was to me one of the most inspiring debates about games and it felt the true spirit of the original GDC was in that room.

We are definitely part of a new generation that understands culture in radical new ways. Games and the internet are leading towards unexplored territories, and probably we could be remembered in the future as the Bit Generation.

Immersive Fallacy
April 11, 2006

To me, the most interesting rant at this year’s GDC 06 Rant came from Frank Lantz and his simple theory on the Immersive Fallacy where he expressed his concerns about how focused on realism and simulation games are becoming. Here’s a brief transcript:

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“Why does the phrase �the player will be able to go anywhere and do anything� sound like nails on a chalkboard to me? It�s based on a very na�ve and unsophisticated understanding of how simulation, how representation works. You have a thing, a part of the world, and you have a simulation of that. There�s a gap in between, the gap is made up by all the differences, the way that this is not this.. the immersive fallacy is this idea that computer simulation allows us to close this gap and makes these things identical. But this gap is an essential part of how this representation works, this gap is where the magic happens.Let�s say a bear is attacking a friend of yours and is about to kill him. The word �bear� will warn your friend. The word �bear� would not be better if it had teeth and could kill you! The same thing is true of the bear mask that the tribal priest puts on, or the bears on the wall of the cave, and of the game �Bear�. Statues wouldn�t be better if they could move. Model airplanes would not be better if they were the same size as airplanes! By the same token, if you think about it, the incredible sense of freedom created by GTA is created by carefully limiting the actions of the player.

(…)

Even if you could by some magic create this impossible perfect simulation world, where would you be? You�d need to stick a game in there. You�d need to make chess out of the simulation rocks in your world. It�s like going back to square one. I don�t wanna play chess again. I wanna play a game that has the dense simulation and chess combined. This requires a light touch. This requires respect for the gap. The gap is part of your toolset.”

Brilliant!