Category: Electric Cartilage

An Artistic Device Unique To Digital Games: Conflict Displacement

flood v 2 elites

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So, I wanted to talk about a type of gameplay that I’ve been thinking about lately, one in which the player can set things up so that the game continues, progress is made, but the player can choose to sit back and watch things unfold. It creates a very specific feeling, or sensation, of being in control, but also not in control; it feels both powerful and relaxing.

I first talked about it in my Fun Gun Award for the Resistance series, specifically when I was talking about the Mutator gun. Then in my post about Diablo 2’s Necromancer, I talked about it again regarding the Necromancers AI altering skills. And it was at this point (during the Necromancer post) that I realized that this specific type of gameplay/gamedesign/mechanic is actually a unique artistic device that you don’t normally see outside of digital games. And it’s a very specific and unique experience that I don’t think I’ve seen anyone explicitly describe before.

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Gameplay depth in Inversus and 0space (thoughts I had from playing these games at BitBash)


[~1300 words]

There’s an indie game event-thing called BitBash that’s been going on in Chicago for a few years now. They’ve got a big one that happens in the summer as well as a few smaller events scattered throughout the year.

A few games I played at these events got me to thinking about depth in game design.

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The difference between the physical game and the conceptual game

Looking back on my old posts I realized that I already wrote on the topics in this article previously. Not only that but the previous post is more entertaining. At least in my opinion. So, check it out if you prefer: Differentiating Between Physical And Conceptual Interactions

Gamers, there is a difference between art object and art subject which needs to be addressed when talking about games.

It seems most people that write or talk about games seem to fail to understand that every aspect of games, and art & entertainment in general, has both a physical component, the object, and a conceptual component, the subject, that comprises the whole. Most of them seem to feel there is just one component of games and I’ve seen people refer to the physical component and then the conceptual component of a game as though they were the same thing. I don’t need examples.

When we say we are “playing a game” we are actually saying two things simultaneously: we are playing the game physically, which means we are interpreting and manipulating physical objects in precise and purposeful ways, and we are playing the game conceptually, which means we are interpreting and manipulating the ideas and concepts that the physical objects link us to. We can see the exact same thing is true of a book or a movie. When we say we are “reading a book” we are talking about two books, one which is made of tangible matter and one which is made of intangible ideas. We are holding the physical object in our hands as we turn the physical pages and look at the physical symbols printed there. We are also holding the conceptual story in our minds as we progress through the intangible concepts, characters, and ideas.

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Authoritarian Control

How authoritarian control is holding games back and the Solution that will help games move forward

Table of contents:

  1. Intro:
  2. Intro 2:
  3. What is authoritarian control?
  4. A note on comparing books to games
  5. The Solution (and examples of anti-authoritarianism)
  6. What’s wrong with authoritarian control?
    1. Waste’s player’s time with involuntary restrictions and by undoing the player’s work
    2. Jumps between different games without the player’s control
    3. Makes games less accessible by making exploration more difficult (Part 1)
    4. Makes games less accessible to scholars (Part 2)
    5. Handicaps designers and developers
    6. It is a sign of a designer’s cowardice
    7. It is disrespectful to the audience
  7. Why the solution is not a problem
  8. Outro

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Differentiating Physical And Conceptual Interactions In Video Games (And Art)



Recently I read an article on a site called Nightmare Mode called “How You Got Games Wrong: It’s All Interactive”. It was written by a gent named Eric Lockaby.

There are a lot words, especially in the beginning and the middle, but the most interesting words were at the end of the article where Dr. Lockaby gives his opinion on what makes video games unique. I think he’s wrong, though, and I think he’s wrong because of a cognitive illusion that many in the game community fall under when trying to compare games to other forms of entertainment.

But before I get into that, let me say that I like Corporal Lockaby’s last name; I think it’s cool. Also, let me say that the main purpose of his article is to point out how other forms of art and entertainment are just as interactive as video games. This is something I totally agree with and I’m happy to see someone addressing this idea. Games are just as interactive as anything else…


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Cinema Verité

When a friend made the mistake of leaving his camera in my possession and forgetting to ask for its return I quickly went to work making a movie. My original plan was for something much longer but I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to film more than this brief scene which is an homage to a famous film and a metaphor for life in an era of globalization.

Watch it:



As you movie buffs have guessed the scene was from the blooper reel of the classic film Casablanca starring Humphrey Boggart and Ingrid Bergman. Snoopy takes the place of Bergman while the stuffed dog, which in my childhood I referred to as “Puppy”, takes the place of Boggart who is being interrogated. This scene was placed in the blooper reel because one of the key grips, represented by the tire of my DX 4000 Panasonic, was accidently in-frame and Bergman couldn’t stop laughing for some reason; there’s also no character named “Bill” in Casablanca.