Different Games

An Introduction from the organizers

As the diversity of these proceedings illustrate, Different Games has grown in many ways, including the number of attendees, the number and breadth of panels, the arcade’s size, and the expansion to a three-track panel schedule. The co-organizers have also increased in number, which has allowed us to more closely consider a greater number of submissions. We consistently strive to expand the reach of our call for participation and will continue to work at encouraging emerging designers, scholars and players to feel that their voices are welcome and desired. We’ve also increased our budget for offering travel grants for speakers, in the hopes of continuing to increase the accessibility of the event. Continue Reading

A Game Design Vocabulary

Exploring the Foundational Principles Behind Good Game Design

Anna Anthropy’s 2012 Rise of the Videogame Zinesters made a compelling argument that games shouldn’t be the preserve of a select few: as a mass medium anybody should be able to create a game – and games would be better for it. Her focus was broad – attesting to the variety of games that could be made – and her material tailored to those left cold by academic discourse. Her newer work, A Game Design Vocabulary written in collaboration with Naomi Clark, retains Anthropy’s proclivity for drawing on a diversity of games as examples, but this time around, Anthropy deploys these case studies to help us comprehend the crunchy problems of game design. Here, Anthropy and Clark address players, students, professionals and academics, seeking to start a conversation about the terminology we use in our criticism; they even propose their own analytical framework to get the ball rolling. Continue Reading

Interview – Merritt Kopas

Part I: Feminist Porn, Games, & Capital

Interview - Kopas

Merritt Kopas is a multimedia artist and game-designer. Her work includes LIM, HUGPUNX and Consensual Torture Simulator. She also curates free, accessible games at her online project forest ambassador. FPS Essays co-editor Meghan Blythe Adams spoke to her during a break at the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference, at which Kopas was a presenter. Continue Reading

Procedural Diegesis

Treating the Game Engine as Co-Author

Let’s talk about narration and videogames. In this case, narration refers to a game’s story, as told by the writers and the game engine. When there is discord between narrators, the story suffers, and when there is harmony, the narrative is more persuasive. Let’s call this element of storytelling ‘procedural diegesis,’ knowing that it involves treating algorithmic and authorial processes as co-authors of a narrative. The procedural portion here highlights that we are interested in processes, systems of representation that unfold over time that are dictated by rules and/or conventions. By diegesis we mean to indicate the internal consistency of the narrative. Together, they represent a form of narrative criticism that cares very little for content but quite a lot about delivery. Like Ian Bogost’s procedural rhetoric, which has informed much of this article, this perspective enables one to critique representational processes, only this time we are looking for coherence between narrative processes. In that respect it is beneficial to think of each narrator (writer, physics engine, texture mapping, audio system, etc.) as a system… Continue Reading

Rise of the Videogame Zinesters

by Anna Anthropy

Anna Anthropy may seem disillusioned with the state of gaming, but it should be obvious to any reader of this book that she has a great love of the medium and is optimistic for its future. Anthropy is a long-time gamer and game creator, so the criticism she levels at the industry is grounded in her experience on both ends of a videogame. Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is part-history, part-how-to that gives an overview of games and their histories in the first half, and shows the readers how to start making their own games in the second. Throughout the text, Anthropy calls for games that are more personal, more accessible, and more diverse. While she understands (and explains) why the industry focuses primarily on games where the player spends most of her time killing other characters, Anthropy wants to play a different kind of game, made by a different kind of person. Anthropy wants everyone – regardless of their access to technical knowledge or money – to make games, because she wholeheartedly believes in power of videogames to tell meaningful, personal stories. I found Rise of the Videogame Zinesters to be an engaging book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in small, personal games, as an overview of the genre. Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is provocative and inspiring, an almost-manifesto. It is not heavily engaged in games scholarship (though Anthropy is clearly aware of the work of people like Ian Bogost, for example), so those coming to Rise of the Videogame Zinesters with that expectation may be disappointed… Continue Reading