Last week the Museum of modern art  in NYC started taking in video games for a new exhibit.

The exhibit will include several video games such as “Pac-Man (1980), Tetris (1984), Another World (1991), Myst (1993), SimCity 2000 (1994), Vib-Ribbon (1999), The Sims (2000), Katamari Damacy (2004), EVE Online (2003), Dwarf Fortress (2006), Portal (2007), flOw (2006), Passage (2008), and Canabalt (2009).”  This is to the detriment to those against video games as art. On the other hand video game critics, enthusiasts, and designers should be thrilled to see the medium grow.

Each game will be presented in a different manner depending on the game itself. Short games can be played in their entirety, while long games will feature a demonstration video. For game cartilages that are extra fragile, the museum wisely has placed arcade cabinets with computers emulating the game to replicate the experience.  This method of presenting games should help people of all ages and ability learn about and experience games. For example, I love games like Dwarf Fortress, but I have found much difficulty explaining it those around me. A video that highlights the features of a game is a good way to explain Dwarf Fortress to non-gamers.

The games exhibited are chosen based on the behavior, aesthetics, space and time for each game.  Behavior covers scenarios, rules stimuli, incentives, and narratives. “A purposefully designed video game can be used to train and educate, to induce emotions, to test new experiences, or to question the way things are and envision how they might be.”  This is good for those worried how the museum will display story based games such as Zork. It is clear that have made it a point to show these games in an excellent light.

The aesthetics will focus on the game experience. Games such as flOw and vib-ribbon will be added as examples of aesthetics in games. I could not have chosen better art games to showcase what art games are about. By putting these indie games in a museum for all to see, viewers may learn to broaden their definition of what a game is and can be.

“The space [is where] the game exists and evolves”. This is good show case the variety of game world sizes. Pong, for instance, takes place on screen, while Dwarf fortress is about the size of Maine. These examples should show people new to video games the wide variety of game worlds.

The exhibits also contain a wide verity of game length and progression.  Some games, like Portal, have end goals while others do not ever finish. People new to video games can experience and learn about game length. This introduction could introduce people to games they would have time for.

In conclusion, the Museum of modern art featuring games is a great stepping stone for the game industry. It will help new people learn about and enjoy games they would not have normally had access to. It will also help preserve the beginnings of a rather new industry. Hopefully I will see everyone there.


Game Emotions

GlowBear “more effort in general is needed to produce stellar, story-driven games. Emotions aren’t a sissy thing; they’re not a gender-exclusive trait and they aren’t limited in description or occasion. There are hundreds of ways to express sorrow and joy, fear and indifference. Games that have the means in terms of technology for character model expressions, writers who really care about their worlds, and voice actors who treat games with the same respect they would a job where their faces were seen can produce amazing works that reach and reverberate with gamers and the whirlwind of emotions we feel on a daily basis.”

Evaluating attitude and emotion in videogames

Sarah:  “Perry had some great insights into the games mechanics necessary to bring about emotional shifts in players, as well as interesting ideas for evaluation and user testing. One of the most useful aspects of the talk for HI was the discussion on evaluating the efficacy of game designs. Perry opted against the use of a quantitative measure. Rather, she asked players to describe their experience with an open-ended drawing.”

Catherine review review

matthew pellett

Catherine is a puzzle-platformer psychological horror adventure game for the ps3 and 360 game systems. The game distinguishes itself from mainstream games with its unique mix of block puzzles which take place in the main character dreams, while the story is explained within the waking world. The main character, Vincent, is cheating on his long term girlfriend. Throughout the game he struggles to find the correct path to take. Should he stay with his girlfriend or break up with her for other girl. While the main protagonist struggles with this question, he is subjected to terrible nightmares. If he doesn’t escape the nightmare, he doesn’t wake up.

                Matthew argues that neither of the girls is appealing to the player. He didn’t feel that the game provided him difficult choice. Since both girls have their own faults and neither girl was presented as the right choice, Matthew “didn’t feel guilty [for cheating], or conflicted [over which girl]”. He complains is that the protagonist is an “unlikeable wuss” and it annoyed him while playing. Matthew uses a Fallout 3 as an example a player-built vs. a pre-fabricate relationship.

                Ok, first let me start with the genre of the game. Catherine is a psychological horror game. Psychological horror is known for making the player feel “emotional instability” and to “create discomfort by exposing common or universal psychological vulnerabilities and fears”. The annoyance that Matthew felt is not poor game design, but a due to careful planning of the protagonist’s personality and situation.

                He argues that both girls were the wrong choice and that he (unlike the protagonist) didn’t feel conflicted over them. The protagonist is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to these girls. It is because that neither girl is the obvious correct choice that the main character is so conflicted between them.

                Matthew brings up fallout 3 and how the developers introduce the player to a girl and backing off to let the player to develop the relationship as he pleases. I find this example extremely interesting because Catherine and Fallout 3 are completely different genres. Fallout 3 offers a wide variety of choice for you to choose from. Catherine offers some choice, but it doesn’t allow for the player to act unlike Vincent’s personality. This seems to be the cause most of the frustration with Vincent’s character.

                Catherine is not a game for everyone. Unless you’re a fan of the genre, this game may not provide you with the experience you’re looking for. This is not an adventure game.  You cannot judge Catherine as if it was an adventure game. Your argument is invalid.

Game designers make games for their audience. You should expect to like a game just because its popular. You cannot argue the story is bad because you didn’t like it.

Facial expressions help game immersion

JAMIE MADIGAN: “Upon seeing facial expressions, mirror neurons fired as if the subjects were making those expressions themselves, then triggered activity in the brain’s emotional centers so that subjects could actually feel the emotion being imitated.

Iacoboni notes that this process puts us immediately in ‘somebody else’s shoes,’ in an effortless, almost automatic way. This is why we get so immersed in the movies we watch and the novels we read.”


Learning from movies.

Dr. J. W. Wiley’s blog post offers a list of several movies which make him cry. This list includes the movie title and the specific scene in which the author cried.  At the end of the post, Dr. Wiley asks his readers “if other men cry as much” and “is crying a gendered emotion.” The comments proceed to extend his list as each responder lists movies scenes in which they cried. They also justify each other that it is normal cry in these movies.

So you must be thinking “why post this if it has nothing to do video games?” Let me answer you, Video games are made for people and people includes Dr. Wiley and his reader. Psychology plays a big part in crafting a video game. That is why we can benefit as game designers by looking at these emotional movie scenes and understanding how they were able to make their viewers cry.

The post itself is poorly formatted. Every paragraph in the list begins with “every time I see ” X … I cry.  There is no indentation within the paragraphs and on the whole hard to discern paragraph from paragraph.

If you ignore the formatting you will see a very rich data mine. A list of situations that made the author cry is very valuable in understanding how to evoke emotions. These situations can be watched and studied so that game designers can mimic and replicate the same scenes in their own game. The comments extend the list the author provided and can give even more insight into the psychology behind the movie scenes.

As a game designer you have to “look outside your field in order to find great experiences” that you can put into your games. These experiences are what make games so thrilling to create.