Game Experimenter’s Manifesto
(At the start of Experimental Games)
My experimenter’s manifesto is to have people take a look at themselves after playing the games I make and reflect on the experience in terms of how it is applicable in their own lives. I want my players to be able to empathize with my characters and to be able to see themselves in different ways as a result. If the game is story based, that game should provide meaningful gameplay that tells that narrative in a purposeful manner that utilizes character development in interesting ways. Character art and animation will be important in conveying an emotion to the player; as my games affect my player’s emotional state through its aesthetics I will gauge the reaction of the player. The player’s’ interactions with others in real life could be influenced by relationships between my characters and their own environment or more directly through multiplayer. I plan on making games that explore a variety of concepts that of which may include identity, social issues, current events, overcoming obstacles, relationships, trust and faith. Many times my games will also attempt to throw something unexpected at the player, perhaps breaking the 4th wall and facilitate a level of emergence.
Not all the games I make will directly follow my own personal views, but rather I would like to create a space where players can explore topics from different perspectives and let them form opinions for themselves. However, not all of my games will have a focus of a deep story, for those that don’t, I want to focus on fun and the delight of playfulness. In addition to this, I would like to experiment with in what ways can a game be defined with new types of systems of play and how they can relate to different ideas and themes, whether they are explored in deep or more simpler ways. I am interested in exploring new technologies such as VR and MR to increase immersion or even providing a sense of presence. I would also like to explore the many different themes, one of which is the concept of afro-futurism, in correlating how futuristic and sci-fi themes relate specifically to people of color in how they identify with genres where they are not typically the main focus of the plot. One additional notion I would like to explore is the concept of the hacker and the cyborg and how I as the designer give agency to the player in allowing emergence to form vs how I as the designer intentionally lead the player into looking at topical areas they might have not otherwise considered.
Final Essay – Manifesto after taking Experimental Games
First, reread your Experimenter’s Manifesto and your Project Reflections.
As you read what you wrote, ask yourself:
Am I the same now as I was when I wrote this?
I don’t believe I’m entirely the same. This is because I now see more of the different ways in which games can affect people’s’ lives and how to make use of the unique properties games have in making a difference therein. A main idea in my manifesto before was centered around how I could use games and the affordances of emergent media in new and positive ways as a means to tell stories. What I see now is that the way in which I planned to use games as powerful mechanism of influence was through utilizing only a few components that video games accomodate, such as play and narrative. With my current insight gained from broadening my horizons throughout the course of the class, now I have a more holistic perspective on how I can use the medium of games as an artform in and of itself.
How have I changed?
I’ve changed in the ways that I see how games facilitate experiences and how games can explore and bring to attention various meaningful subjects that concern our values. I still now more than ever hold the vision of using games for good and now I am more aware of the details of how to go about that. In addition to using the affordances of new technology, I want to make full use of the affordances that games hold as a medium of artistic expression altogether in way that can only be done by games and interactive experiences. There are many different types of art from painting, sculpture, music, storytelling, performance and ext. Now I am more mindful one of the greatest things about video game design is that it is an artform which can combine all other arts together and even promote new ways of experiencing art, for instance through interaction, play and emergence. Now in addition to my previous philosophy, I also want to use as many of the arts as I can in game design, while also creating a space where the player can artistically express themselves as well, through play.
What happened to me, that changed me?
A number of things have contributed to my view on games today such as the readings I’ve done and also the thought provoking discussions I’ve been in. The many experimental experiences I’ve played have also influenced me, as well as what I’ve learned from developing my own experiences. Also, by reflecting on my own philosophies, I’ve been able to analyze play in new ways. Risks I’ve taken in design have lead to various revelations, for instance, how it is possible to have meaningful plot without conflict by emphasizing other mechanisms, like the essence of humanity. When telling immersive stories, I’ve learned the importance of worldbuilding, giving the player agency and how games can use any correlation of ludology versus narratological practices to make them even more powerful in their delivery. By reading and indulging in art of various types from both within games and outside of games, I’ve been able to analyse their meaning for inspiration. These different devices have made me think differently and re-evaluate what I think is important about games.
What have I learned about myself?
What I’ve learned about myself is that even when it seems like there’s not enough time because of circumstances and obstacles, as long as I put my mind to something, things can work out in the end if I take initiative keep pushing forward. In developing these experimental projects, I learned about my process for organizing ideas, various methods for solving problems and how I can go about scoping projects more efficiently. I learned that I had the ability to create media in many different types of ways, of which could even include programming, although I am still learning. Additionally, I’ve learned that I can use my art to have people identify with various subjects, themes and one another. Other concepts I’ve learned include finding out what my priorities are as a designer of games and more about practical ways in which I can bring my visions into reality.
What have I learned about other people?
Concerning other people, I’ve learned about the psychology of others and about what can go through the minds of my players as they experience my games. I’ve learned about what types of actions, themes and other components that can trigger other people’s’ emotions in a way that can make players care about what they’re seeing and doing. Also, I learned about the different perspectives other game designers and players of games as well have on themselves, society and the world around them in general.
What have I learned about art, interactive media and games?
One of the things I’ve learned about art is about how I would go about defining it in my own terms. My definition of art is that it’s a work or series of works created with meaning and purpose through the use of a practical skill. Art is used for many functions, but often times it is used to shed insight into details we don’t often notice or take for granted and reveal to us their significance in unexpected or irregular ways, using aesthetics of some kind to appeal to one’s emotions. I’ve also learned to form my own definition of a game, which would be – A rule based system in which the goal involves playful mastery of a skill with some type of feedback indicating progression. Games distinguish themselves from other forms of art and entertainment because they are able to invoke the feeling of fun and accomplishment upon gaining mastery of the gained skill. For me, the gamification of interactive media is the combination of any or all of the existing arts into a feedback loop and the emergence of new ways to experience art that arise as a result.
What have I learned that is useful, to me or to others?
What I’ve learned that is useful to me and to others is how to create experiences that use aesthetics to evoke emotional responses in others. Through my experiments, I’ve learned that my games have the power to impactfully affect one’s feelings of fun, joy and engagement as well as having the ability to evoke many other responses as well. Psychological techniques are other tools I’ve learned to use such as positive/ negative reinforcement and cognitive flow. I’ve learned about different ways to tell deeper narrative, sometimes without even involving conflict and how to teach as well as promote the learning of various rules or concepts of systems. In reading “A Cyborg Manifesto,” I’ve become more cognizant of the social implications of manifesting the multiple facets of one’s identity onto the environment, about the contrasting dualisms between logics and traditions in society and about the autonomous tendencies of the human condition. In learning about these concepts it has been revealed to me what the structural paradoxes in society are and how these dialects instill the inclination of agency in people to emerge from the confines of their boundaries. Once more, other things that have been useful in learning about myself and others are in the analyzation of the works of Miyazaki. Here I learned about the underlying aspects of human nature and how depicting the details and flaws of others go a long way in portraying the inner will, vitality and idiosyncrasies of characters.
What kind of play and interaction do I enjoy?
Single player games are great because of the ways in which the player can uncover new content/ mechanics and how they can tell more personal stories at the player’s own pace. Multiplayer games are also enjoyable to me because of the social components they possess and also because of the affordances they have to allow the players to create their own stories.
In terms of interactions, I enjoy anything that encourages creativity, strategy, fun, learning, experimentalism, exploration of different concepts or themes and discovery. However, I also find most games that breed originality in some way and ones that challenge normal conventions established in other games or in our perceptions of life to be fascinating as well. I enjoy games that are inspiring, a positive influence, thought provoking, as well as games that have powerful, deep and meaningful messages that resonate with our emotions and values. Lastly, I like games that are insightful and fun as well as those that have characters that convey empathy and intimacy or have other redeemable qualities, despite their flaws, that people can relate to.
What do I value, or, what are my values?
I value my relationships with people, friends, family and God. I also value my education, USC and the knowledge, abilities and insight I have worked so hard to nurture and grow. My values are to achieve a level of self-fulfillment by finding happiness and meaning in all that I do. I value fun, play, self care, humility, art of all kinds, and life. I also value being able to benefit others in some way through the work I do. And I believe developing games are a great way to bring joy to others because they have brought me much delight and have been very influential in my upbringing.
Then, take the remainder of the time to make a final statement with your final essay, that summarizes your responses to at least one of these questions, or that otherwise makes a statement that reflects on your experience in our class.
I’ve gotten a lot out of taking this class. There have been so many things that I have learned about throughout this course concerning games, myself and other people that can have an effect on many multitudes of different aspects in life. I’ve learned not only about rapid development by making a game a week with limited resources, but also about the state of the industry, what my priorities are as a game designer and much more. As for my priorities now as they concern game design, I want to create art through games that make people feel, build worlds that have meaning within the context of reality and bring people together for the good of mankind. Looking forward, I want each new endeavor I set out to achieve in the future to always be growing by leaps and bounds from the last and to create games that are bigger than games. Whether it’s growing in the knowledge I acquire, growing in the scale of my projects and teams or growing in the outreach I have on society, this class has made me more aware of my ultimate goal with games, which is to use them to serve others and change the world by making a difference in people’s lives.