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Slide No. 1 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
Analytical Game Design.
Digital Game Studies between theo...
Slide No. 2 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
Problematizing ‚the‘ digital game studies
• Ian Bogost: „...
Slide No. 3 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
‚Analytical‘ practices in different arts and disciplines
...
Slide No. 4 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
The role of practice in film studies
• The ‚Kuleshov expe...
Slide No. 5 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
The role of practice in film studies II
• Only iteration ...
Slide No. 6 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
The role of practice in film studies III
• Supercuts and ...
Slide No. 7 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
Reflective playing practices I:
Theorycrafting
• Speedrun...
Slide No. 8 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
Reflective playing practices II:
In-Game Photography
• ‚T...
Slide No. 9 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
The role of practice
in Digital Game Studies
• Reflective...
Slide No. 10 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
The (potential) role of practice in game studies:
Video ...
Slide No. 11 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
The (potential) role of practice in game studies:
Game e...
Slide No. 12 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
Analytical game design
• The independent game scene alre...
Slide No. 13 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
(How) Can games ‚answer‘ questions?
• Bryan Lawson: „How...
Slide No. 14 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
Playful knowledge production, or:
The digital game studi...
Slide No. 15 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
OUTLOOK: Thematic links to the workshop
‚Reading and Wri...
Slide No. 16 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014
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Analytical Game Design: Digital Game Studies between theory and practice

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Identifies symbiotic relationships between theory and practice in different disciplines (particularly with reference to film) and outlines ways for Digital Game Studies to benefit from incorporating design experiments as a playful means of knowledge creation. Cf. http://agd.swerning.org/ for more information.

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Analytical Game Design: Digital Game Studies between theory and practice

  1. 1. Slide No. 1 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 Analytical Game Design. Digital Game Studies between theory and practice. Dr. Stefan Werning (University of Utrecht)
  2. 2. Slide No. 2 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 Problematizing ‚the‘ digital game studies • Ian Bogost: „a mess“ (2009) * – Few consensual terms and concepts – ‚Imported‘ structural metaphors such as „design patterns“ (Christopher Alexander) are still often limited to specific sub-discourses – Limited corpus of examples • E.g. >40 references to Psycho Mantis in game- analytical texts on Google Scholar (as of July 2014) – Focus on discursively ‚claiming‘ new subject areas and phenomena – Limited demonstrability of hypotheses since games are more volatile as ‚proof‘ than e.g. films • Reconsidering the role of practice might be one way to address this* Bogost, Ian. 2009. Videogames are a Mess, online: http://www.bogost.com/writing/videogames_are_a_mess.shtml.
  3. 3. Slide No. 3 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 ‚Analytical‘ practices in different arts and disciplines • Literature – Oulipo: Prototyping ‚littérature potentielle‘ – Literatur based on ‚algorithms‘ (or: rules of play) • S+7/N+7, snowball, palindromes, univocalism – Allowed for ‚testing‘ the feasibility of literary techniques – Explored the relation between textual and procedural rhetoric • E.g. Raymond Queneau, Un conte à votre façon (1967) • Music – Variations on a theme – Alexander Skrjabin; Theodor W. Adorno • Reenactment and games in historiography – Includes aspects of corporeality into historical analyses • E.g. spatial experience, weight and texture of weapons – Kevin Kee, Rob MacDougall, Timothy Compeau • Using ARGs in teaching history • Architecture – Parametric design practices – Iterative and intrinsically playful
  4. 4. Slide No. 4 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 The role of practice in film studies • The ‚Kuleshov experiments‘ – Part of an ‚experimental culture of filmmaking‘ • cf. e.g. ‚creative geography‘ und ‚creative anatomy‘ – Situated within the opposition between performance (actors) and montage (editors) • Conceptually similar to the early opposition between ludology and narratology • Experiments facilitated a productive resolution – Fostered a quantitative perspective on film • Kuleshov drew on the quantification of actors‘ movements in time and space following Frederick Taylor (Prince/Hensley) • Notation syntax for on-screen movement • Faciliated the ‚rapid prototyping‘ of aesthetic ideas
  5. 5. Slide No. 5 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 The role of practice in film studies II • Only iteration and comparison produced new insights – The singular experiment propagated montage rather than analyzing it – ‚Testing hypotheses‘ about film syntax – Made viewing conventions and bias observable and, thus, analyzable • Call for a „Citizen Kane of videogames“ – http://thecitizenkaneofvideogames.tumblr.com/ – „Citizen Kane moment“ (EDGE Online) – Instead, we rather need lots of video game experiments following the example of Kuleshov
  6. 6. Slide No. 6 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 The role of practice in film studies III • Supercuts and video essays as analytical ‚tools‘ – Kogonada: Kubrick // One-Point Perspective • Several ‚experiments‘ within a single video – Implemented by recontextualizing the same footage within different contexts • Adds an ‚aesthetic quality‘ to the hypothesis – E.g. through the juxtaposition of images and music • Already used in institutionalized film analysis – Cf. e.g. Catherine Grant on ‚direct addresses‘ in Bunuels Los Olvidados
  7. 7. Slide No. 7 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 Reflective playing practices I: Theorycrafting • Speedrunning as a conceptual ‚precursor‘ – Quasi-analytical playing practice • Theorycrafting – Methodical iteration on player behavior and documentation of the ‚results‘ – Hypotheses on game-internal parameters – Mostly with reference to MMO(RP)Gs – Analyses are limited to game-internal phenomena • E.g. used to optimize playing strategies • Do not generate ‚new‘ insights • I.e. rather a self-referential activity
  8. 8. Slide No. 8 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 Reflective playing practices II: In-Game Photography • ‚Testing hypotheses‘ on aesthetic aspects – perspective and framing – Genres such as architecture, portrait or still life – mis-en-scène • ‚Testing hypotheses‘ on photographic and ‚touristic‘ practices and perceptions • Deemphasizes the element of ‚ludus‘ • ‚Photos‘ are being archived, documented, evaluated and used as the basis for new ‚experiments‘
  9. 9. Slide No. 9 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 The role of practice in Digital Game Studies • Reflective practitioners in game design/analysis – Ian Bogost, Dan Pinchbeck, Jesper Juul – Perform similar functions as Eisenstein or Kuleshov • Rationalized media practice – Second of six ‚phases‘ of media theory (Rainer Leschke) – Lindley/Eladhari: Causal Normalization: A Methodology for Coherent Story Logic Design in Computer Role-Playing Games – Bjork/Holopainen: Patterns in Game Design
  10. 10. Slide No. 10 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 The (potential) role of practice in game studies: Video production as a form of analyzing games • Videography as a form of knowledge production with a long tradition • EXAMPLE: Recutting game footage according to cinematographic syntax – ‚Analyzes‘ the game and its relation to other narrative media – Makes structural incompatibilities evident and more easily analyzable „The main reason this game is often criticized is the fact that it is extremely repetitious. Even with the editing I did, you will definitely notice this to be true. However, I hope the form of editing I did helps move the story along smoother than actually playing the game does, which should allow this game to possibly be more watchable as a movie than playable as a game.“ „I've done my best to try to bring out the movie experience in this game. I've removed as much of the HUD as I could, and as with the Uncharted series, I've only included the bare minimum gameplay necessary to understand the story.“
  11. 11. Slide No. 11 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 The (potential) role of practice in game studies: Game experiments • Which? and More Which? (Nekogames, 2012) – Differentiate between outwardly identical objects – Experimental setting through iteration – E.g. hard/soft, full/empty, 2D/3D – ‚Analyzes‘ the (im-)mediacy of game-internal perception • Triggers the introspection and self-reflexivity of the player – Does not produce ‚answers‘ but rather important follow-up questions
  12. 12. Slide No. 12 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 Analytical game design • The independent game scene already ‚iterates‘ on concepts through sheer quantity – Sophie Houlden, The Linear RPG – Nekogames, Parameters • Hypotheses need to be tested through iteration and remixing – Problem: Existing games are not easily remixable and repeatable • Adapting methods from (commercial) software development – E.g. game analytics (Google analytics) – E.g. split testing as used in web and app development – E.g. platforms for collaborative code editing • Forking and embedded comment functionality
  13. 13. Slide No. 13 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 (How) Can games ‚answer‘ questions? • Bryan Lawson: „How Designers Think“ – Always multiple ‚solutions‘, none of which is clearly ‚ideal‘ – Every solution can only be assessed in its practical application • Design as „conversation and perception“ • Even the DT heuristic of the Hasso- Plattner-Institute (Stanford) is being constantly varied and ‚redesigned‘ – Understand – Observe – Define point of view – Ideate & choose – Prototype & test – Implement
  14. 14. Slide No. 14 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 Playful knowledge production, or: The digital game studies as a game • 1) Game prototyping as a game in itself – Iterative process allows for quick recombination of design elements (paidia) – Scripting language as ‚ruleset‘ (ludus) – Optimization problems similar to common gameplay mechanisms • 2) Similarly, analytical game design encourages playful heuristics of knowledge production – Playing with the parameters of the experiments /prototypes (paidia) • 3) Games can and should be part of the ‚dispositif‘ of game studies – Cf. e.g. Beat Wyss: slides/diapositives and Powerpoint as the dispositif of art history • Collecting, taxonomizing, organizing as educational principles • Philology rather than philosophy
  15. 15. Slide No. 15 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014 OUTLOOK: Thematic links to the workshop ‚Reading and Writing Game Poetry‘ • Game poetry (Ian Bogost) as one potential manifestation of ‚analytical game design‘ • Goal of the workshop – Designing new ‚gameplay vignettes‘ that allow for approaching the concept of (game) poetry from different angles • Slides will be available online
  16. 16. Slide No. 16 of 16GAP Summer School – Utrecht – August 21st, 2014

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