May 25, 2003

Comic Book Dollhouse

by Michael Mateas · , 9:23 pm

Chaim Gingold, a recent graduate of the IDT masters program at Georgia Tech, has put his excellent written thesis (pdf) and thesis project (mac pc) online at His thesis provides a description of a miniature worlds aesthetic derived from the work and thoughts of Shigeru Miyamoto, Will Wright, and Seymour Papert, introduces the idea of “magic crayons” as lightweight computational languages that integrate conventions of artistic practice, and describes his thesis project, Comic Book Dollhouse.

His treatment of miniature worlds unpacks the design aesthetic of Shigeru Miyamoto. As Chaim states:

“Shigeru Miyamoto, designer of Super Mario Bros., often mentions his ‘miniature garden’ aesthetic in interviews with journalists. Probably attributing this curious phrase to a mistranslation from Japanese, journalists never fail to not ask the question ‘what do you mean by that?’ Miyamoto, without a doubt one of the greatest game designers, is telling us one of his fundamental design principles, and nobody bothers to ask him what he means. What follows is an attempt to interpret the phrase ‘miniature gardens’ with respect to games using materials on Japanese gardens, literary microworlds, constructionist microworlds, play, and game analysis.”

Comic Book Dollhouse (CBD) supports the construction of comic book stories drawn with an appealing pencil-sketch aesthetic. In CBD the player can easily move between authoring levels, reading already written stories, using an authored collection of verbs, props and characters to make new stories, or authoring new verbs, props and characters to create a new framework for story construction.