The start to a new brief…

I have finally gotten myself round to some actually constructive idea generation and now have a starting point for my independent practice brief. YAY!

I was stuck for ages trying to push a quote that I acquired from the dissertation into the brief, the problem was that the said quote(see below) isn’t very attuned to a practical brief. Don’t get me wrong the quote is perfectly fine and dandy for my critical writing but not really a practical based brief.

Quote by Kirkpatrick:

The “upbringing of the game designers, their education in games like ‘dungeons and dragons’, is why games follow a similar pattern of gruesome imagery, magical powers, mythical creatures and massive battles.”

This quote poses the question of who is it that actually contextualises a video game? Is it the culture of the games designers or the player? and does this pose a cultural cross-over of experience?

From this I have tried to attune a brief that encompasses this core idea of player experiences in relation to cultural differences.

So, my initial thoughts were based directly on this subject matter. I was aiming to develop a game environment and characters that would clearly show the difference between the cultures. For this, two ideas popped into my mind as I started to think how to visually present the idea:

  1. An island of some sort, quite small that would be cut up into different sections. Each section would portray a different style etc.
  2. A progression level walk-through. A fairly linear level that would allow the player to progress through different stages/cultural references.

A couple of problems arose fairly quickly with these ideas. The main one being that, although I would be delivering a critical idea through a game, it just seemed a tad simple. It didn’t feel challenging, I would simply be using reference material to ‘copy’ and mimic other games. This idea so far held no creative insight.

Another issue that arose is that it would be extremely difficult to not mimic other games from a different culture to my own. This is supported by my dissertation research so far which says that we use our cultural and experience knowledge base to contextualise games.

Thus I reached a dead end, in which the only way to get back out of it was to apply a certain amount of time to create a very basic brainstorm of what I actually want to do within games design. I hate to admit it but I actually think that the summer break has made me question exactly where I fit into the industry. So, I really wanted to tune this brief to exploring this.

What came out of this exercise was that I needed to develop a practical understanding for my dissertation topic. I went back to the original quote and broke it down into two important factors: the global sublime and player experience. What I needed to explore was the use of subtleties that the designer puts in to guide the player. The player has a certain experience due to the choices that the designer makes. Subtle hints and clues are key to an understanding of a video game concept. In the current creative climate, you cannot simply over-emphasise certain elements in the game and hence they often get criticism for treating their players like idiots; explaining too much could ruin play-through and immersion. 

From this I realised that what I wanted to test was why games use these subtle hints. For this I needed to choose the right genre. After considering my more favored RPGs and also FPS, I eventually chose to step out of my comfort zone and go into a genre that I admire but dislike playing: horror. I think horror games and films are great. I admire the use of sounds and visual hints to provoke the player/viewer into believing something that defies the laws of nature/physics; but I absolutely hate playing horror games and thus my knowledge of them is pretty basic. This is perfect for my brief as I need a genre that will allow me to knit-pick it and experiment with it, if only in a basic form. By doing this I should become more aware of the technical/conceptual side of ‘play’ as an experience.

Another good thing about this genre (especially psychological horror) is that it is more often than not about the characters journey through a narrative. This will allow a lot of time devoted to the development of key concepts, i.e. characters, environments etc. which is the subject matter that I am interested in as my practice.

I need to start drawing!


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