Thursday, March 11, 2010

james kochalka is making a video game

Victor: i don't really like playing video games. i really like them in theory and but i usually suck at them in practice. i like looking at them and moving a character around in a video game world but i never liked the stress of trying to win them. the only video game i ever beat by myself were donkey kong country, earthworm jim 2 and star fox. but when i was trying to beat them i would always have a couple of those shitty one or two hours of frustratingly trying to do something hella stupid like jump over a snake or some bullshit. i know some people say those frustrating moments are important in video games because they lend a greater sense of accomplishment when you get to the end but that's on some classical narrative arc shit that i find silly. i don't play video games to feel like i accomplished something because winning a video game accomplishes nothing. most of my anger in those "why can't i just jump over this fucking snake" moments is also thinking "why am i getting so angry about not being able to jump over this snake? there a million more useful things i could be spending my time doing. like what? oh shit, i'm in middle school and life is meaningless!" i've always found the best aspect of playing video games is simply feeling like you're somewhere else for a while. i'm pretty sure the first time i ever heard "moonlight sonata" was on the level of earthworm jim 2 where you turn into a blind cave salamander and have to swim through an intestinal tract. i was like twelve years old and it "BLEW MY MIND" because i was "AN IDIOT." i'm really feeling combining capital letters with quotation marks.

but katamari damacy is probably the only video game i've played that i felt really lived up to my expectations of the artistic potential of video games. and i didn't even beat it, my roommate did and i just played it with no time limit because i just dug rolling the ball around and "hanging out in" katamari damacy. it was pleasant and i for some reason felt like i was somehow learning something about myself and the world (Y'ALL EVER SMOKE WEED?). james kochalka actually once posted a link on his blog to this essay on "world building" in literature/art/games here: that kind of speaks on that in interesting ways.

but yeah, maybe this "glorkian warrior" game will be good? dude does talk about his ds a lot. pause? i guess he did say he's "very confident" he could make a good game...

also, this is a great wikipedia page:

[shit, blogger doesn't let you rick roll]


Victor: naw yeah i still think it's funny with youtube preview.  it's kind of funnier. but on the real i just spent the last half hour looking at that wikipedia page and remembering all the amazingly wack games i'd play at my friend's house or we'd rent from blockbuster or cop wholesale at toy liquidators:

then we moved to alameda and we got a super nintendo and i would rent other wack shit from video maniacs across from the produce stand where i would later lose my virginity:

Victor: i would've rickroll'd all of those but i'm lazy.

Victor: video maniacs is now a multi-level parking lot for a multiplex theater. paul's produce is now dan's produce.

Owen: yeah, i hated video games when i was a kid.  basically i didn't have any video games so i would go to my friends house and play, die immediately, and then watch them play for like two hours and then my mom would pick me up and i'd be like, "they suck" and then i'd get in trouble for not having fun.  but it's kind of the same thing as not enjoying poker, or scrabble, i just really never care about winning, but i have had good experiences with video games, like blade runner on the computer was definitely my favorite game ever, for sort of the same reason as you were saying victor, it's the closest to really inhabiting a different world as i've ever had in a game, because there is a narrative and you can "win the game" but it's less clear cut than in games like mario or street fighter or whatever.  you can also just spend hours wandering around talking to people and doing random shit too.  i also really liked the spiderman video game that came out after spider man 2 because the "web slinging" was actually really fun, you could "web sling" all around new york, i think i did that for like two hours. 

i think the james kochalka game might be cool.  i'll probably play the online version but not buy it.  also kickstarter is hell of crazy.  people will give money to anyone if they have good graphic design.

for a while i thought that video games were actually really cool, but i don't know about that.  i saw some video game art here in shanghai, and it was pretty much the same shit as everyone else who ever does video game art, like nintendo games hacked together, except with like communist shit in it. 

i did see some awesome art by liu dao, who i thought was  a dude, but is actually a collective of dudes, which is kind of weird but whatever:

i mean, it's sort of annoying because really i only liked two of the pieces, and now i don't know if they were created by one person or not, but i guess that doesn't really matter.  any way it was like interactivy video gamey LED shit.  which is so cool!

i really want to play katamari damacy though.  what system is that on?  we are dorks.  hey you guys want to go to barcade? on like march 15 or so?

Victor: hahahaha barcade. i think katamari damacy is on playstation? playstation 2?  you realize you are a white man in asia blogging about videogames? CLASSIC NERD!

naw but yeah when i saw the commercial for that spiderman game i figured if i ever played it i would just swing around for two hours and not fight crime. just like if i were the real spiderman. naw i think i would probably "fight crime" (whatever that means) if i were the real spiderman. or maybe just save people from fires. maybe i would rob a bank too. but if i'm fake spiderman why go through all the effort? i'll just swing around. 

i also really dig playing grand theft auto with hella cheat codes for that same aimless wandering effect.

but yeah, i think i'm feeling this liu dao shit.

you peep that cory archangel joint at the whitney biennial a few years back?

i really dug it at the time though i was bad at explaining why.  i think i still am.

there's also this:

and this:

and this:

[shoot, blocked in japan for some reason]

Bob: i cant tell you how much i loved video games as a kid, and as a young adult, and as a somewhat-functioning adult (which is what i call college years), but i don't think i ever got the jazz from winning as most kids did, and in fact, when i felt i was nearing completion of a game, i would purposefully meander and lose lives and play levels over and over just to keep the experience going. i havent played a game in years (except katamari), so this might be the least biased about video games that i've ever been, and if i had to say now, i would figure that for me, growing up, it was totally about that mind-displacement experience. the only thing i loved growing up were movies and video games and comic books and action figures (Y'ALL EVER SMOKE NERD?), all of which were about immersing oneself in a completely different world – and of all of those, video games was the best, for obvious reasons.

I also will admit that I grew up in a household where mental acuity and puzzle-solving were treated as a more admirable quality than anything physical or social, so video games were often an even better outlet for me. having a meaningless goal within a distinct set of rules with effectively zero consequences – which is the basis of every single video game – was exactly what my lil bob brain craved. when the novelty of the mind-displacement experience of a certain game had worn off, i could always fall back on completing that shit for completion's sake.

that being said, katamari is by far the best game i've ever played, i think because it knows and recognizes that that displacement is all video games are about. it knows all ya wanna do affect the world around you, and it does that in the most tactile way video games can allow.

which is why that slinging shit in spiderman was so awesome, and i definitely did that for a couple hours in a best buy once.

im down with archangel stuff definitely, because his shit points out that it's not just straight interactivity that people crave (if they did then his games would be "fun") and it was way ahead on that 8bit lofi haxx0r shit, but im sad that his style's sorta become a trend/aesthetic (though the liu shit is kinda dope) which just sucks cause he made his point so clearly and simply that it don't need to be said again. basically im just annoyed that no video game art has been any better or more adventurous than shit he made 8 years ago.

oh though i did hear about a video that Penn Jillette made called "Road to Reno" or something where you just drive a bus from Vegas to Reno, and it goes real time, so you just drive down an empty road for 8 hours (probably looks a lot like that archangel piece), and when you get there, you get 1 point. And they made so that the bus drifted to the right every so often, so you couldn't just tape down the accelerator button and walk away, you had to sit there and drive it. i thought that was pretty dope. any art that says "You want fun? Fuck You" i fucking love. like that movie Funny Games. and the act of talking to girls.

anyway, is this a blog?

Victor: talking to girls is the most dangerous game.

Bob: see, and some real games were way better video game art than anything today:

Owen: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, life without youtube sucks.

on the other hand, i just watched my 6 year old cousin play lego star wars wii game for like 2 hours (he's still going) and it was totally a lot like the conversation we've been having about video games, like he's a little too young to actually understand what's going (young bob weisz playing video games is hilarious btw) but he's just killing shit with a light saber. (sabre?) and he's completely immersed in the game, like when i ask him if he wants breakfast (he's been up since 6am btw, when he woke me up at 7 he was like "i've been waiting for an hour", LITTLE KIDS ARE INSANE) he doesn't even respond (kind of like victor checking his email at the studio sometimes) and i had to physically move his head so that his eyes were facing me before he even realized i was saying something to him, and he was like, "i'm not hungy" because he's only been playing wii for 2 hours so far. also, my 10 year old cousin actually refers to me as "cuz" like exclusively.


Anonymous said...

I just have to wonder what you guys think of Jason Rohrer. Personally I think that he's pretentious and overhyped and a perfect example of what's wrong with the art-game movement.

And then on the other hand there are some great mainstream games which are also clearly art of all sorts of different kinds. The Pixeljunk and Bit Trip series (for PS3 and Wii respectively) are great little tiny artsy gaming experiences, and Heavy Rain is... well, it's the first time I've ever seen quick-timed events as meritorious.

Anonymous said...

Oh and then there's Braid! Braid would have been a perfect art game if the designer/programmer didn't decide to shoehorn Meaning and Metaphors into the alleged plot. Without the interstitial text that tried to set it up as a ridiculous allegory for the atom bomb it would have been wonderful. With the interstitial text it just becomes pretentious as all hell.