RND/ To consider a philosophical reality theory of videogame emptiness. Some paintings:

3440 x 1440 .jpg – via SCUM (just another D.O.A. survival multiplayer game-thing, by ‘Gamepires’)

In which you’ve often considered why the vast majority of videogames have not truly appealed to you for a long time. That it might be something to do with what you term the ‘poverty of reality’. That you’ve begun to notice a little too often that videogames have virtually zero true substance whatsoever. That they are in fact and from the very outset entirely devoid of anything whatsoever. Devoid of life and soul – even devoid of movement and objects. You get the strong feeling that’s simply nothing there. And, rather than a cause for alarm or depressions, this radical derealization, this brutal desimulation and ontological estrangement from what you term ‘The Video Real’, feels far more akin to an awakening into true emptiness.

Most videogames seem incredibly flocking boring to you know, because (for some reason) you can no longer see them as ‘more than the sum total of their parts’. That is, rather than some beautiful and intricate dance of pixels light color motion and interactive possibility, they’re now never usually more than nothing except these (useless, obsolete) parts. Precisely and exactly no more less than wind blasted fragments, atomized little bits of digital next-to-nothing. Not entirely without meaning – just without ‘significantly meaningful Meaning’.

This extreme alienation you feel about videogame reality, andor the reality of videogames does not however feel liberating. There’s a brief respite from the (admittedly minor) revelation that ‘videogame reality is basically empty’ – say half an hour of puttering around in their small landscapes, or ‘blandscapes’. And then all that synthetic, addicting Prosumer joy and wonder begins to rapidly tail off – take a rapid freefall nosedive back into Terminal Boredom and and Extreme Unimpressedness (which were really there all along. Waiting like old true friends.)

Perhaps it would help if you had friends to explore these supposedly mysterious digital spaces. Friends make everything fun and interesting. But at some point you have now begun to feel the listless lethargy and tiresomeness of these digital non places. You watch your own hand move the mouse at random. Your dumb little onscreen character moves about in response – a remote controlled puppet without a mind. (You wonder to what degree games have been controlling you like a brain dead Meat Puppet for all these lonely, useless years spent Gaming.) Some small thing then happens on screen – an empty paint pot clatters off the shelf onto a floor with scientifically accurate physics. Try as you might, you simply don’t and can’t care anymore and watch with casual deadpan blankness and emotionless stony indifference. All the Ludocapitalist hype(TM) has worn off and the bare, heavily oxidized, tin plated drabness of The Game is revealed for what is and always was: a drab, hollow virtual nothingness. Smoke and dusty mirrors. Stale bread and abandoned circuses (all the clowns are dead and the elephants escaped long ago. The entire sad sideshow is currently in extreme existential receivership.)

A few interesting experiments remain in the Indie sphere. As they always did – out on the margins where all the truly interesting work and play takes place. Drips and drabs. Blips on the radar, suggesting something far greater which will forever remain on the distant storm clouded possibility horizon. Games andor spaces which take no longer than five minutes. That never truly arrive (shining with that hyper-generic AAA polish and Crunchy worker exploitation) and therefore always leave one with an odd feeling, not necessarily happy – just curious and alert. Abstract and conceptual. Loose and ready. Absorbed, but not controlled or ‘immersed’ *spits on ground*. Videogames as small existential potatoes.

// how to play big science

RND/ To consider the silent emptiness of Formula One 2020 videogame by (literally straight up evil Hypercorporation) Electronic Arts. Hot, airless, bland, and absurd:

3840 X 2160 .jpg

Round and round the track we go
And why we bother nobody know$

// how to play big science

RND/ To consider some – at this late stage in the game of AAAA Global Videogaming (/Culture) – ‘plainly odd’ screenshots of Paris, as much a fantasy as place – a grand displacement:

In their nascent incompleteness, indeed in a form still more dreamlike than actual, these technologies are ripe, as it were, for various imaginary schemas, projected futures, dreams, hopes, and fears. Just as the emergence of steam, electrical, telephonic, and other technologies clearly exerted powerful effects on the imaginations of the populaces in which they appeared (which seem to decrease to the degree that these technologies become normalized and socially integrated into the banalities of everyday life), exponential growth has also occurred not simply in technological advances but more significantly in cultural fantasies surrounding the eruption of new and altogether different futures from those we had previously envisaged.

Cyberspace and virtual reality (VR) represent arguably the most intensely concentrated focal points for this phantasmatic explosion, firing the imaginations not only of the technologically literate but of those interested in entertainment, knowledge, and information – in short, of global populations.
– Elizabeth Grosz, Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space (The MIT Press 2001)

3840 x 2160 .jpg

In which the large grey blocks of undeveloped real estate seem to be encroaching on the (virtual) Paris. Or perhaps they’re its default state – the ideological / architectural underpinnings of the whole (hyper-fragmented) city.

One is also reminded of the opening of EVANGELION 3.0+1.0.

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RND/ To consider William Chyr’s architectural puzzle game Manifold Garden: a general critique.

0. Manifold Garden works best as an ambient mood generator. At no point in the ‘mood trailer’ are Puzzles even mentioned. This is telling:

Some 4K screenshots (PC version):

Some notes arising:

1. Aesthetically, M.G is pleasing – plain, straightforward and exacting. But the unique appeal of its spectacular pastel landscape fades away too quickly. Developer William Chyr states the game is a first person puzzle exploration game with unusual physics, impossible geometry and ‘crazy architecture’.

There seems little particularly ‘crazy’ about M.G’s architecture. Indeed consider arguing it has no architecture as such, but rather merely repeated geometrical structures within a tightly bounded logic space. In comparison, NaissanceE by Mavros Sedeño more truly expresses architecture. While certainly architectural, M.G lacks the strong sense of place felt in NaissanceE. There’s just no there, there.

The trees don’t feel like trees, the birds do not fly as if around futuristic ruins of some vast abandoned megacity. It’s coldness and abstraction are M.G’s only strengths, and loose talk concerning attempts to place it within the context of ‘traditional’ videogame architecture are highly problematic. M.G seems more of a conceptual space outside of space, than a place. If only this particular aspect of its existence had been developed and emphasized.

2. M.G’s comparisons with, and contextual placements within M.C. Escher’s visionary universe seem to miss the point. Consider that the ‘physics’ of Escher’s classic lithograph print “Relativity” from 1953; while certainly unique, they are not in fact the main philosophical interest. Rather, it’s the radical changes of psychological perspective of the beings who live there, who must be able to process such shifts instantly.

They seem to live in such a world in harmony, without confusion. While M.G succeeds at the job of forcing players to continually (literally) re-orient themselves within the game space in order to progress, it says very little about why precisely they should bother. Progress from one puzzle to the next is lifeless grind with fake rewards.

3. Why does (/such) gameplay even exist? Why does anyone have to ‘solve puzzles’? Why this pathological obsession with logic based rules regarding interactivity? Why do videogames have to be intractable? Indeed who really gives a flying shit about Puzzles when such a rich and potentially strange space ‘exists’? The question of why such a space as M.G would even feature goddam puzzles as core part of its existence is in no way answered. The enforced-fun ideology of ‘Because Videogames’ isn’t good enough, and hasn’t been for a while.

4. A possible key story context for M.G:

You are a freelance theoretical mathematician, working late one night on a strange new theory of conceptual space. Falling asleep at your desk, you dream of a ‘manifold garden’ of unearthly physics based delight and impossible architectural fantasy.

5. As it turned out, Manifold Garden precisely needed no less than a minimum of seven  whole years of developmental struggle. Yet, if only The Real Game was the actual development cycle itself – rather than the dubious end goal of another extremely polished, ‘AAA-Indie’ title. Dubious that is, because it’s based on seven years of crunch, rather than seven years of active, dynamic evolving play. In this new paradigm, “Gamedev” should be the always live, realtime game and not merely the (bone-achingly slow) means by which to churn out another highly artistic digital product, cynically used to sell an exclusive gaming platform owned by war mongering hyper-capitalist billionaire assholes.

6. Rather, consider if Manifold Garden were a set of advanced research and developmental tools for playfully generating (and actually exploring) such delightfully odd spaces. Mere dumb puzzles alone can’t sustain M.G, no matter now cleverly designed – especially when the most interesting thing about it is the ability to simply drop off a ledge and fall, fall without a care. What about a landscape that endlessly changes over time as one soars through the airless digital air? Imagine this game mixed with fractals and Gravity Rush.s

7. A game breaking bug preventing saves stopped one from continuing. I found I wasn’t sad enough to leave. The game also needs VR support and (/better?) Rim Lighting to more clearly identify and differentiate edges (added artificially in screenshots seen above.) There are too few strong emotions on display in the Manifold Garden. It’s initial beauty soon turns out to be cold and emotionally alienating – a little too much like Jonathan Blow’s soulless game The Witness.

8. Puzzles are dead. Balls to puzzles – what are you, the fucking Riddler? ([..] ‘exhibits personality disorders consistent with a fanatic narcissist, egocentrism, and megalomania crossed with severe obsessive compulsion’ – Wikipedia.)

// how to play big science