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Empathy as play, and vice versa.

Started by droqen, September 24, 2021, 10:11:13 PM

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QuoteI act on impulse most of the time, and otherwise do what I can to design a life that rewards my impulses with beautiful outcomes. I think designing games is like that: designing little spaces that reward my avatar's impulses with beautiful outcomes. Only, when I make a game I can share the experience with you; you can inhabit the same space, embody the same avatar, perhaps act on the same impulses, and – if serendipity allows – behold the same beautiful outcomes.

Through making and playing with games and other art, I hope to come to some deeper understanding of not the science of my brain, but the experience and meaning of being some specific person.

I want to design games that I like to play, because that's the way I like to connect with games -- for the most part I like to imagine "how was this meant to be played?" like an archaeologist unearthing a mysterious artifact and pondering its purpose.

Why make games? Make games because you love to play them, first and foremost.

To play is to empathize with other players. This is what I like about the art form, and about indies, and perhaps what I once loved about roguelikes and roguelites: they felt like mysterious "entertainment engines for one". And sometimes, I could make that two.


Quote from: Discussion: The Forbidden - Electron Dance (comments)JOEL GOODWIN:
I'm actually pretty happy with giving up the term "game" myself because it has so much historical baggage associated with it. I grew up with Space Invaders and the Atari console and Star Raiders: these came to define the popular meaning of the word "game" and trying to fight the will of people is like trying to stop a flood with your bare hands (cf. roguelike).

I miss the historical baggage. I've tried to put into words my heartache many times: there is no word that means what game used to mean.

I wrote here that "there is no word that means what game used to mean."

There is some concept that exists, even if it has lost its name. What do I mean when I say, "what game used to mean?"

I seek out a game designed by its player - by someone who is enthusiastic about the idea of playing the game. There is this strange idea that a game might be able to present an idea that could only have been expressed through play... I think the most self-evident idea that can only be expressed through play is empathy with another player. To play a game and feel something is to connect with anyone, and everyone, else who has played the game and felt something. There is no content that only a game can deliver; the thing that is unique about games is that they are games.

I want to design games that I want to play, and replay.

What does that look like?

Have I forgotten?


Quote from: Ian Bogostrefusing to ask what could be different, and instead allowing what is present to guide us

Quote from: Zeigfried Cashhow does this game want to be played?

These direct me to a place of empathy... the first allows me to free myself from the idea that I can, or should, change the thing. The second points me forward at the work itself, so that I can adopt a responsive, seeking attitude.

The question I arrive at:

"How did the designer play with this game?"

which is really very similar to "How does this game want to be played?" except with a slightly more human bent. And in some cases it's not "How did the designer..?" but "How did my friend..?"


I think it's critical that I repair my relationship to playing games. I need to let go of old forms of play that I don't enjoy anymore...

What do I like now?


In a way a game is a time capsule... it's an artifact to be unearthed, to be studied through play.

"How was this used?"


I think that the best things I've ever written and made are empathetic tools, by which I suppose I mean they allow someone else to empathize with something I've noticed myself feeling. It's hard to explain myself sometimes and my favourite works are those that properly convey a thought.


Quote from: droqen on October 14, 2021, 08:42:57 PMsomething I've noticed myself feeling [..] my favourite works are those that properly convey a thought.

Interview with Agnes Martin:
Quote from: droqen on October 14, 2021, 07:27:41 AMthe worst thing you can think about when you're working at anything is yourself. You start thinking about yourself it stands right in the middle, in front of you. You make mistakes.

The art isn't about me but it is about my feelings and thoughts; how does that work?