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February 26, 2008

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Hey Clint, it was great seeing you at GDC this year and also seeing your talks. During your immersion talk I was wondering, have you read Remediation by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin? The whole book is basically about how when people interact with interactive media, immersion is combined with an acute awareness of the medium itself which forms into a double-consciousness. (Mediation is their term for immersion, hypermediation is their term for that acute awareness, and remediation is their term for the double-consciousness.)

"The mechanics of trust are not harder than simulating rope..." from your rant... there are a couple other gems, but this one was (I think) THE one.

Very well! Agreed and quotable. I had a similar experience with Ico. When the bridge breaks, I reacted instinctively as if I could turn around and reach for the girl/ledge. It wasnt until the second play through that I figured out that it was just a cutscene. Now, that was Ico, a classic in which the force feedback doesnt trigger when you step on the ground, but does when you tug on the girl's hand. That mechanic (not trust... CARING) is implemented through gameplay for the entirety of the game; at least that's what i felt => caring.

What other concepts, trust, caring, etc. are most sorely missing? Passage => time/mortality, Marriage => independence/Companionship, Ico => Caring

Or at least, which one would you love to attempt?

What's great about Passage is that for me it wasn't about time/mortality but sharing ones life with someone. When my companion died, I suddenly felt very alone and I didn't want to leave the grave stone at all. I knew, looking at my character that my time was about to run out and I said, "What's the point? I don't want to leave her here, I'll stay." That moment, of feeling alone and not wanting to leave my companion really hit me personally.

I also agree with Ico and I'll throw in Shadow of the Colossus for the same reason.

Hey Clint, your lecture on immersion was one of the highlights of GDC for me. It's been a while since I've seen a lecture which was both as informing and entertaining at the same time.

Reading the comments here makes me wish I went to the rant as well, but thankfully the audio track should arrive one of these days.

I really enjoyed both your lectures! As usual, you've raised a lot of interesting questions. I do have a question about the rant though - like Purum mentions above, I too found the line about trust to be quite compelling. However, in the real world, concepts like trust and honor work because they entail real risks with real consequences - doing the 'honorable' thing means a real sacrifice with real pain. How can that sense of real consequence be engendered in a play experience, when the whole notion of play is in creating an artificial safe space? Is it just a question of immersion, i.e. convincing the player that there are real consequences to his actions?

"doing the 'honorable' thing means a real sacrifice with real pain. How can that sense of real consequence be engendered in a play experience, when the whole notion of play is in creating an artificial safe space?"

Too many assumptions there. Why sacrifice? Why pain? Why real? Artforms create, express, evoke and transmit feelings, emotions and concepts without making them harshly real to the receiver (or, hopefully, to the creator).

As for games specifically... Why a safe space? Does Passage provide that, since you are going to die anyway? What games need is to break free from the tradition that the only possible consequences are either success, or death and restart / reload.

Just questions, I don't have the answers.

Hi Clint,
The Game Designer's Rant seemed to stand in stark contrast to the "Prototype" presentation and in juxtaposition, your talk in particular left me wondering if it really is currently possible, is it really true or is it just wonderful wording that "The mechanics of trust are not harder than simulating rope..."? Does it boil down to mechanics or desire or something deeper—culture? I was reminded of all the old Westerns, definitely with battle as a central theme but John Wayne always did seem to epitomize honor or at least that generations' ideal of the masculine. Do we hold the same ideals...for masculinity, for conflict, or even is honor an ideal? Beyond that can games as a medium have that power? And if so what does that REALLY mean? All important questions... Love to have you speak at Champlain—we're finally gotten to the place where we're trying to create those answers—and the students are teaching me that I have only more difficult questions.
Ann
PS thanks for your blog!
emergentmediacenter@blogspot.com

Anne:

Yes - I strongly believe that it is currently possible, and am working hard on trying to prove it. Regardless - you understand how difficult it is to simulate rope - right? This is an absurdly difficult problem that we have only even come close to doing well in the last 5 years or so, and still, because it is more an engineering problem than a psychological one the complete SIMULATION of rope might be easier - but the simulation of the MECHANICS of rope might even be HARDER than the simulation of the mechanics of trust. A typical 20 dollar budget-ware poker game for your phone will include AI driven trust simulation within a fairly constrained domain. The rope simulation in SC:CT is similarly constrained. Why not make games where what matters in the player-rope-AI chain is not the strength of the rope, but the strength of the relationship? Yes we can do it today. How well? Well - no one really knows because no one is trying.

Is honor an ideal? Well - if your measure is that we're not making any games about it, and therefore maybe it's not something people today care about - I would counter that since we're not making games about much at all, then your argument extends to complete cultural bankruptcy - since we don't make games about anything we must not care about anything. Clearly that's not true. While maybe honor is not the most important cultural value of our times, that doesn't mean we couldn't make a game about it. It only means maybe it won't be terribly profitable.

Can games as a medium have that power? You tell me. You're the director of a program granting degrees in game development - if you think games can't have that power I'd suggest you're in hot water ethically speaking:) But I don't think you have much to worry about. I think your question is rhetorical and you know the answer as well as I do.

What does it mean that they do have that power? Well - I suppose that today it means that we have a responsibility to ensure we develop an industry that wields that power responsibly.

Hi,

This is kind of late. I'm a casual games writer/designer from Manila and I also teach game design part-time in a university here. I just wanted to tell you how much I loved your rant at GDC (my favorite of the conference), and that I'll be recounting it to my students in class this week. We'll be taking up the dramatic elements of gameplay, and my ulterior motive is to make the students care about creating meaningful stories and themes in their future games.

Also, I found this video that shows some of your rant, just in case you weren't aware it was online: http://www.joystiq.com/2008/02/23/gdc08-watch-highlights-of-the-game-developers-rant/

Cheers!

Hi, I read your presentation material, and I find it great that there are people who are struggling with the concept of immersion. Unfortunately, like any other subjective experience, there is only so much one person can discover about the matter, and a complete study of the subject must be left to large groups of people. I have found, that any explanation of the state of immersion, and suggestions about how to induce it in an audience, ultimately is capped by my ability to know my own mind. Indeed if we are immersed in an experience, there should barely be any residual memory of it afterwards! That's the major dilemma here ;) Keep the good material flowing though, it is a delightful read...

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