multi-user

GAMES, PLAY AND CONNECTIVITY by MARC GARRETT AND RUTH CATLOW

The particular skills that we evolve with different kinds of play help to construct and shape who we are, how we view our world and what we become capable of as individuals and societies. Among other things play informs our ideas about agency, social relations and the technologies that we develop. The works in the Game/Play exhibition subvert and extend the logic of everyday play and games. They invite audience members (individually and collectively) to take the role of players and contributors to their meaning. When interacting with these pieces in physical space or across digital networks, audiences/players generate alternative, active ‘social spaces’ through their experience of the work and dialogues with each other. The aesthetic experience is primarily “based on the dynamics of communicated consciousness rather than visual criteria” (Larner, C. et al. 1995).1

The Endless Forest by Tale of Tales (2005)


Download the Endless Forest 'social screensaver'

The Endless Forest by Tale of Tales is a game about beauty, wonder, calm and peace. There are no stealth missions, no guns to swap, no armour or enemies. Taking on the role of a somewhat dreamy deer who wanders through an endless forest imbued with magical powers that seem as unpredictable as mesmerising, players of The Endless Forest are invited to hang out and roam amidst beautiful trees,old mysterious ruins, an idyllic pond and happy flower beds. Without a goal of any sorts, they soon find that there’s more to the forest than just mere eye candy. There are other players in this forest, all of them male deer with different, human-like Hayao Miyazaki styled faces, majestic antlers and their own distinctive fur patterns, and that’s where the fun starts.

VisitorsStudio by Furtherfield.org (2006)


http://www.visitorsstudio.org

When placing Furtherfield.org's VisitorsStudio in the context of a 'work' (sic) in the traditional sense, one might have a problem with definitions. For example, VS, an interesting acronym upon reflection, is formally a 'stone soup' model. That is, VS acts as a container, connector, and root node for artists and performers wishing to virtually get together and 'jam' online. This is a brilliant metaphor for an artspace informed by elements of rave culture, where in many cases, the participants network, do their own performances, like fire-dancing, trade 'props', and share one another's presence. In many ways, it almost creates a networked 'Temporary Autonomous Zone'1 in which the participants freely trade media, perform, and chat under the loose rules of behaviour established upon entering the VS.

[giantJoystick] by Mary Flanagan (2006)


Video of the Joystick

For the past few years, computer games have become one of the most fertile grounds for artistic exploration in new media art. Ranging from games developed by artists to mods (modifications of existing games), the spectrum of “game art” has critically examined the architecture, politics, and aesthetics of its commercial counterpart. (Massive) Multi-User games, in particular, have increasingly gained attention and, intentionally or not, have nurtured the emergence of new forms of collaboration, governance, and economy in their respective virtual worlds. Yet the hype of collaborative endeavour surrounding the buzzword ‘multi-user game’ tends to distract from the fact that the ‘territory’ one occupies in playing the game is characterised by various disconnects. As opposed to the good old board or card game, which is framed by shared physical space, the communicative exchanges and group experiences occurring in computer games take place in virtual worlds that are (a few exceptions aside) accessed by individual players from the privacy of their home through the use of devices such as game controllers, mice, keyboards and joysticks. These interfaces themselves exist on the periphery of perception, as translators that extend users’ hands and movements into dataspace.

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