Showing posts with label museums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label museums. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

"Voluntary Attempts to Overcome Necessary Obstacles" at EFA Project Space, Sept 23 - Oct 29, 2022

My gay historical bathroom cruising game "The Tearoom" is part of a new upcoming group exhibition "Voluntary Attempts to Overcome Necessary Obstacles" at the EFA Project Space in New York City, curated by Nicholas O’Brien. 

The show will run for about a month, from September 23rd to October 29th, 2022. Although I won't be there, since I currently live on the opposite side of the planet, I encourage you to check it out. There's a lot of great people and good stuff.

I've copy-and-pasted the exhibition blurb below:

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

We Dwell in Possibility as queer gardening simulation

all drawings by Eleanor Davis

"We Dwell in Possibility" (WeDIP) is a new queer gardening simulation game about planting bodies and ideas, and watching them grow into a kinetic landscape. You can currently play it in your browser on the Manchester International Festival's (MIF's) "Virtual Factory" website. The game should take about 5-10 minutes to play.

It was made over several months in collaboration with world-famous illustrator (+ co-designer) Eleanor Davis and Manchester-based rockstar musician aya as a commission for MIF. (Also shout-outs to illustrator Sophia Foster-Dimino and sound designer Andy Grier for their incredible work!)

Some people may be familiar with my past work: uncanny CG beefcake sex games that toy with hardcore gamer aesthetics, which only run on laptop / desktop computers. For the longest time, I've wanted to make a gay mobile game, but I was unsure how to get my queer politics past Apple and Google's anti-sexuality censors. It's impossible to get anything on a phone without their long withheld permission... unless... I made a browser game? 

The history of browser games celebrates the open internet that exists beyond Silicon Valley's sterilized closed garden. However, the photorealistic 3D graphics of my past games are too heavy and slow for a mobile browser, so I need to make a 2D game even though I've neglected my 2D visual skills. Fortunately, MIF's support has made my creative collaborations not only possible, but enjoyable.

NOTE: this post "spoils" much of what happens in the game, so proceed at your own risk.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Hard Lads as an important failure

This post “spoils” what happens in my new game Hard Lads. If you care about spoilers, you should play it before reading. It takes about 5 minutes to play once, and maybe 20 minutes to play it to 100%.

In 2015, a phone video of young muscular White British men hitting each other with a chair went viral. Why make a game about this meme now? Some might characterize all my output derisively as "meme games", which is fine, but personally I’ve tried to avoid doing it on purpose. First, my games themselves should strive to be the original meme, and not merely a fan reproduction. Second, many memes are steeped in internet gamer culture, the only circle jerk I want to avoid.

However. I think British Lads Hit Each Other With Chair is one of those classic internet videos that merits special attention. It does so much in a single minute, and it's not about video games at all. So that’s why I made Hard Lads.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Radiator European Tour 2019 (London, Berlin, Milan) + Level With Me hiatus until April 17

In April, I'm going to cram ~6 different events into a whirlwind week of travel through London and Berlin. What's wrong with me? Why did I sign up for all this? There's only one way to find out how much of a wreck I'm going to be...

I'm planning on covering a wide variety of events, both free / non-free, and for gays / gamers / insiders / general public alike, so take your pick:

  • April 6: EGX Rezzed at Tobacco Docks, London
    I've heard nice things about Rezzed and I've always meant to go, so now is the time of reckoning. My talk "Designing For Sex Games" will be a short teen-friendly PG-13 introduction to sex and intimacy in game design, aimed at the general gaming public, at around 4:30pm on the last day of the festival.
  • April 7: Now Play This at Somerset House, London
    Now Play This is one of the jewels of the European game festival circuit, and I've always been meaning to go. I'll be presenting at their very very cleverly named mini-conference "A Series Of Interesting Decisions" on the design choices going into my next sex game Macho Cam.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Consider supporting Wonderville on Kickstarter

I rarely stump for Kickstarters on this blog. Maybe once or twice a year? So it's a big deal when I spend this year's quota on Wonderville, a new indie game arcade / event space / bar in Brooklyn run by longtime non-profit art games organization Death By Audio Arcade.

They need $70,000+ to support their first year of operations, as they take over the space from Secret Project Robot, a well-known and beloved queer-friendly performance space / venue in Bushwick.

Honestly, that last bit caught me by surprise. I didn't know Secret Project Robot was looking for someone to take over? If we're deciding between allowing the death of yet another creative venue in NYC vs. finding a worthy successor to carry on similar work, the choice is obvious.

Everyone knows and recognizes the importance of independent venues to sustain a local music scene. Well, it's also the same ideal for video games too: we need these physical places to build and sustain creative communities. And once we have these local anchors and templates, we can follow up in other cities throughout the world too.

For more context and discussion, see my older post on "Theorizing local games cultures in a post-TIGSource era".

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Panel for "Cruising Pavilion" at the Goethe-Institut in New York City, February 27 at 7 PM

Some of my gay sex games are currently featured as part of the "Cruising Pavilion" at the Goethe-Institut's Ludlow 38 gallery space in New York City (gallery hours: Thursday-Sunday, 1:00-6:00pm) until April. I imagine some of particularly gay and artsy blog readers might recall a popular Cruising Pavilion in the Venice Biennale; well, this is the exhibition's second incarnation.

I will be speaking at the institute's main location with artists John Lindell and Ann Krsul on February 27 at 7 PM. I suspect it will mostly be gay people and artist-types in the audience, so I'll probably be serving as an ambassador for video game world, apologizing for our industry's many sins, and so on. If you want to hear me apologize, feel free to attend tonight.

February 27, 2019 at 7 PM
Goethe-Institut New York
30 Irving Place (near Union Square)
New York, NY 10003

The full blurb for the Cruising Pavilion is quoted below:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thick skin: complexion, realism, and labor in games

In Dublin, I visited the Lucian Freud Project at IMMA.

If you're not familiar with painters (who is these days?) Lucian Freud is often held up as one of the greatest realist painters in the 20th century. And like many other artist men of the 20th century, his work also has a lot of racist and sexist baggage to deal with.

The IMMA curators figured out a pretty clever solution here -- they basically surrounded his stuff with women artists and intersectional feminist political theory. Instead of pretending to be a "neutral" celebration of a Great Male Painter, the curators did their job, and made an argument for real interpretation and criticism in the 21st century. It felt responsible and complicated.

The main basement gallery has two monitors in the middle of the room, running constant loops of John Berger's iconic feminist media studies primer Ways of Seeing. Specifically, it's Ways of Seeing episode 2, the one about the difference between nudity and nakedness, especially within the long history of European oil paintings depicting nude/naked women.

The second half of the episode is famous: the male narrator and host (Berger) shuts up and just listens to a panel of women critique patriarchy and art through their own experience. At first it seems like they're talking about the art shown in the film 30 years ago, but in the style of the Frankfurt School, they might as well be critiquing Freud's many paintings hanging on the walls today.

If you want to read more about the various artists and works, this Quietus post by Cathy Wade is a through walkthrough of it all. In this post, I'm just going to talk about one of the paintings and how I relate its form and politics to games:

For some reason, I gravitated towards a small painting hanging in the corner, a portrait simply called "Kai".

Monday, September 10, 2018

"Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt" @ Victoria and Albert Museum

I got to attend the private premiere of the new "Videogames" exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The show features a special HD remastered version of my game Rinse and Repeat, configured to run once per hour instead of once a day. At about halfway through, I'm also in a video panel of talking heads, giving a pithy quote on video game violence. Oh, and Nina Freeman and I interviewed each other for the exhibition book. I also spoke to several British newspapers for the exhibition, like The Guardian and The I.

In the past, most mega-museums have gone with nostalgic industry-approved perspectives (The Smithsonian) or they curated games as part of a generalized technology exhibition, and in doing so, barely say anything about games (Museum of Modern Art, New York). The V&A, in contrast, is the first huge museum to balance an industry production perspective with a specific political and cultural approach. The curators Marie Foulston and Kristian Volsing rejected the boring historical survey methods of other museums (fuck off, Spacewar and Pac-Man) and even their commercial AAA choices feel slightly eclectic and unusual.

It is, by far, the best major museum exhibition on games that I've ever seen, and every other huge cultural institution in the world should be taking notes.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward" at ICA Philadelphia, February 2 - August 12, 2018

A bunch of my gay sex games will be appearing as part of an exhibition "Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward" at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia next year, a show about "queer play" curated by artist Nayland Blake.

I'll hopefully make it out for the opening in February too. They also might be using my game screenshots as the basis of some branding and advertising materials, so keep a lookout for some uncanny hunks near you!

Here's the blurb from the ICA website:
Organized by guest curator and artist Nayland Blake, Tag: Proposals On Queer Play and the Ways Forward explores how the expanding influence of digital and online technologies, fandom subcultures, and artistic discourse has created new possibilities for queer identification, changing how personal roles and forms of expressions are defined in contemporary society. Based on the premise that the cultures of role play, sexual play, and digital play have all flourished beyond the boundaries of art structures, this exhibition provides a gathering place and platform for the exploration of queer play created by individuals and groups from the worlds of game design and theory, performance, kink, and activism. Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward will be on view on view February 2 through August 12, 2018.

For the exhibition, Blake illuminates these new and evolving forms of representation and examines the implications these developments have had on art and social action through a curatorial approach that draws on his own preoccupation with themes of interracial desire, same-sex love, and racial and sexual bigotry. Artists include A.K. Burns, Clifford Hengst, Arnold Kemp, Savannah Knoop, Dusty Shoulders, and Robert Yang, among others.
Admission is free and open to the public, and it runs February 2nd - August 12th, 2018.
118 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3289. (215) 898-7108. ADA accessible.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Games in public; games as public exhibitions

pictured above: "Now Play This" at Somerset House, London, UK. 2016.
Sometimes people want to exhibit my gay sex games for the public. It's an understandable feeling. If it's a large funded and ticketed event, I sometimes ask for a small honorarium... and in most cases, I usually give my blessing, send over some special builds and give advice, and ask for event photos afterwards.

When I look at these photos, they usually fall into one of two categories. One category is the huge industrial game expo. Because of their large scale and scope, each indie game inevitably takes the form of a standardized booth within a huge grid of booths. At minimum, that means a laptop sitting on a forgotten table as part of a large expo -- or if you invest a lot more, maybe there's a whole booth with black cloth partitions.

While I do appreciate any resources or labor that these events provide to me, I also wonder whether we can create alternatives and different ways of presenting games in public. Why does these public games events always look the same and function in the same way?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

re: "Possibilities and Pitfalls of the Video Game Exhibition"

In "The Possibilities and Pitfalls of the Video Game Exhibition," Nicholas O'Brien talks about his experience in attending game exhibitions at Museum of the Moving Image and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and finding their curation and installations lacking -- specifically, they don't afford visitors interacting "properly" with longform single player games, because the self-awareness and performance of a museum context means you will never really engage with the game.

A couple years ago, I was of the same opinion and I even complained about the same institution, and now I'm surprised that I've changed my mind and I find this opinion kind of short-sighted...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Portrait of the game designer as a young artist: Avant-Garde, by Lucas "AD1337" Molina

In the short but esteemed tradition of "games about being a struggling artist in the art world", like Jonathan Blow's Painter or Pippin Barr's Art Game, here comes the new and charming RPG-sim Avant-Garde. Look, it even has its own domain name and everything.

Friday, February 8, 2013

On Limits and Demonstrations, and games as conceptual art.

This is a sort-of-review about Limits and Demonstrations, by Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy. It gets just a little spoiler-y, but not in a way that'd seriously compromise your enjoyment.

Most people play chess with pieces and a board, but to many players that's not the actual game -- it's just a mnemonic aid, a thing that keeps track of chesspiece locations so you don't have to remember where your rook is. The people who live and breathe chess, however, can play chess just by reading chess notation in a book, which is to say that the game takes place entirely in their minds. This is more or less what happens when you lose a heated multiplayer match of Starcraft and agonize over what you could've should've didn't do, and wonder what alternate paths you might've taken. Likewise, I'd imagine the most skilled Starcraft players can play Starcraft entirely in their minds.

It's not just in games either: Beethoven was deaf but he could imagine the notes and harmonies so well that it didn't matter, and a Chinese concert pianist was jailed for 6 years but stayed skilled by "practicing in his head."

But I think game designers, designing games directly as a form of conceptual art, is still a relatively new thing.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Triple Jam Pile-up this weekend!

This weekend is the classic monolith of game jams, Ludum Dare #25! Theme is still pending for a few more hours...

Also, this weekend in New York City is a special game jam hosted at Parsons called "Game On", co-sponsored by Github and Mozilla. The main requirement is to make an HTML5 game. Prizes include a trip to GDC 2013 (wow!) and I think there's free food to jam with, at least. (And as long as you're here this weekend, also check out Spacewar! at the Museum of the Moving Image, charting the long lineage of shooters from ur-game "Spacewar!" on a PDP-1 replica through Metroid II and ending with Halo 4.)

ALSO, this month in Chicago, there's the Six Pack Jam. Jake Elliott and friends are putting an arcade cabinet in some bar in Wicker Park and they want cool games to put on the cabinet! Here, the implied constraints are 2 player compatible modes with short arcade-scope play sessions, but maybe that's just my interpretation.

You could, potentially, make a 2 player HTML5 game with [LD theme] and submit everywhere. Whoaa.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Zobeide" at Playing The Game, 27-28 October in Milan

I'm fixing up Zobeide / adding a few features for yet another Lunarcade event, this time at "Playing The Game" in Milan from 27-28 October at Spazio O' Artoteca. If you're around, then you should attend, if for no other reason than to play XRA's mesmerizing "Memory of a Broken Dimension."

Machine translated website copy (from Italian to English) is after the jump:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The flat as art; the aesthetics of UV maps.

So the celebration of visual arts in video games like "Into the Pixel" is cool in one sense, but a little dishonest in another -- concept art is not video game art -- that is, it's not the art asset that goes into the game. Rather, I'd argue that the more authentic video game art is the sprite sheet, the texture atlas, the lightmap, the UV map. It's all about the flats. Understanding them requires understanding games on some level. ("UV means ultraviolet, right?")

I propose three aesthetics / three approaches to appreciating the flat:

Friday, July 13, 2012

The shape of crime and escape.

From "Payday: The Heist"
I went to another BLDGBLOG / Studio-X event: "Breaking Out Breaking In." This time, it was a panel with FBI agents, crime experts, and architects, all focusing on heists: what does it mean to break into a bank and how should we approach bank design?

As I sat there, I pondered a much, much, much more important question: how does it affect the ways we design video games and levels about heists. How should we abstract the heist?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Process as pastime

This post will be published (or so I'm told) in new media journal Switch v28 but I'm just cross-posting it here since that might take a while. I was asked about "process." I came up with a rant of sorts, that basically attacks everyone except Glorious Trainwreckers / Pirate Kart people. Please don't be offended; polemic is just too much fun to write:

“Process” is a heavy word in video game design.

It refers to procedurality, the ways in which a computer manipulates or generates data. It also refers to proceduralism, the idea that a video game is a formal system of rules and interactions, not a narrative nor a simple toy. Most often, it refers to the iterative process, the act of prototyping over and over again until the game is least awful. The game industry and nascent game development schools they sponsor would have you believe that best practice involves mastery of all three. They want you to think the act of making video games is some sort of art or science, an arcane magic performed only by hyper-literate and experienced masters.

And they're right. For now.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"The Artist is Present," by Pippin Barr

"The Artist is Present" makes you wonder why we're bothering to have a museum of video games when it's clear that museums suck for (most) video games.

Games don't kick you out at closing time. Games can withstand flash photography and direct sunlight. Games don't need to pay people minimum wage to stand there and protect their integrity. Games want to be touched. Games can be copied so that no one has to wait and everyone can play.

In fact, it seems more like museums have video game envy. They try so desperately to have participatory exhibits with their small ideas of interaction design. Engagement must be something elusive in a building that encourages you to stroll through and then promptly leave so someone else can go in and do the same thing. The whole thing makes gamers laugh because a Powerpoint presentation is a sad excuse for an interactive system, but that's what's on display in half of these "interactive kiosks" in museums. They might use the verb "explore" but really they have no idea what it means.

If games aren't art, it's only because they're already better than art.

I'm also super-jazzed that someone's made a game that talks about the stuff I've ranted about before, but better, and in game-form. So play it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"It belongs in a museum!"

It was all tucked-away in a half-hidden nook on the lobby level of the Museum of the Moving Image: games.

Several kiosks running Space Channel 5, Katamari Damacy and other critical darlings that represented an uncharacteristically decent sample from commercial canon. Aha, perhaps the curator was a fellow gamer! And far, in the very back of the exhibit was a dim chamber housing a lone pedestal, a keyboard, a mouse and a projection of Half-Life 2 on the wall.

The game was still stuck in the train station, the part where the guy mutters, "Don't drink the water," as if you could. So at least one person (probably more) tried playing the beginning of this era-defining computer game and stopped after the first few minutes.

I was angry. This was art and no one was appreciating it!