September 20, 2005

Game Lit Links

by Andrew Stern · , 8:24 pm

Some game / literature links I’ve been collecting over the past few weeks have reached enough critical mass to warrant a post.

Aleks Krotoski, contributer to the Guardian games blog, imagines games that “take their inspiration from novels, pulp fiction, high-brow literature and other variations of the written word”. She muses about several books she’d love to see turned into games, ranging from Jane Austen to Philip K. Dick.

Speaking of which, what would your grandmother like to play? Robin Hunicke moderated a panel on this topic at the recent GDC Europe, in the same format as Eric Zimmerman’s Game Design Challenge at GDC North America, including (who else?) the game designer of Katamari Damacy. Not your grandmother’s game, indeed.

At last week’s Tokyo Game Show, echoing his remarks from last March’s GDC, Neil Young of EA again suggests the game industry is pre-Citizen Kane, and wonders can a computer game make you cry? “Rather than thinking empathy VERSUS activity, we need to think of empathy THROUGH activity.”

The Orange County Museum of Art just completed an exhibition of Yucef Merhi’s Poetic Engineering. “An artist, poet, and programmer, Merhi engages electronic devices-computers, video games systems, and other machines-in the presentation of his written words. The resulting artworks expand the limitations of language and the traditional context of poetry, proposing a bold new role for the poet in our culture.” Works included Super Atari Poetry (pictured above, looks cool!), Poetic Dialogues, Telepoesis and more.

Finally, the Guardian game blog again, raves about Quantic Dream’s new release, Fahrenheit (aka The Indigo Prophecy, in the US, minus sex scenes). However commenters have a lot of trouble with the bizarre Dance-Dance-Revolution / Dragons-Lair-esque interface. I haven’t played it yet, so can’t comment on it, but I want to try it.

6 Responses to “Game Lit Links”

  1. Ian Bogost Says:

    Tsk, Andrew. Linking to Aleks’s post without also nodding to my comment, in which I mention the graduate course I’m teaching this semester at Georgia Tech (the host of this humble blog) on videogame adaptation and translation. From the syllabus:

    This seminar deals broadly with games as a unique kind of representational medium, and specifically on representations of cultural, social, and human experience in games. We will focus on the procedural production and representation of such phenomena, borrowing form a wide variety of literature, film and games, and paying special attention to the way specific aspects of human experience are represented in rules and code.

    We will focus especially on comparative approaches to game design and criticism, and to that end we will work extensively using an approach that I am calling “procedural translation,” taking themes and figures from poetry, literature, film, and television (from 7th c. BC Greek poets to Seinfeld) and asking how such themes are could be represented in games. We will interrogate this problem through the lens of the last hundred years or so of translation theory as well as through writings on film and television adaptation. Works covered cover three millennia of human production, including works by Archilochus, Sappho, Marie de France, Baudelaire, Laclos, Eliot, Bukowski, Coppola, Scorcese, Stillman, Seinfeld, and Groening. We will seek to understand not only how translation studies can influence existing approaches to game adaptation, but also what new opportunities for adapted games remain unexplored in the current marketplace of Hollwood-bound blockbuster IP.

    Students will produce fifteen game designs and implement at least a third of those designs in prototypes for simple, completed games. Students will be expected to execute at least one complete, professional quality game based on these designs and prototypes. Active participation in weekly design workshops, including regular in-class presentations and critique is mandatory. This course assumes intermediate to advanced programming, graphic design, sound design, and critical skills. Game sessions and film screenings outside of class are likewise required. Reading knowledge in one or more foreign languages is beneficial but not required.

  2. Robert Yang Says:

    I actually went to that “Poetic Engineering” exhibition. It’s not actually at the museum per se, but in a “special” location inside a shopping mall. The Super Atari poetry was intriguing for a while, but I found the Poetic Clock and the “Poet in New York” pieces more interesting.

  3. andrew Says:

    Ian, hey, I was distracted just trying to restrain myself from mentioning that Aleks plugs Facade in her discussion of Jane Austen’s Emma!

    Thanks for re-blogging your comment here.

    Robert, cool, thanks for the info. New media gallery art in shopping malls — welcome to the future I guess. (Well, it is the O.C. …)

  4. noah Says:

    I went to the show as well. It was certainly interesting, but also in some ways curious. For example, one had the sense that people thought the poetic clock presented there was interesting because of its novelty, when we’ve certainly seen things like John Cayley’s Speaking Clock before…

  5. andrew Says:

    Here’s an amusing reaction to Indigo Prophecy’s interface.

  6. andrew Says:

    A post-mortem on 1up by Indigo Prophecy’s writer/director David Cage has him calling it an “Interactive Drama”. cool.

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