The latest issue of Heterotopias (#4) focuses on the theme of landscape in virtual worlds, its contraction, simulation, and exploration.
Below are the highlights:
004’s cover piece is on the forests of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which in this issue are shown in all their glory in an original photo series. In an accompanying feature Lewis Gordon explores how the game’s depiction of real-world landscapes connects to Polish and European folklore, as well as a history of political struggle. A new interview with core members of the CD Projekt Red team completes our series on this exceptional game.
Elsewhere in the issue Miguel Penabella explores the influence of scenography, in particular the work of Adolphe Appia, on Cardboard Computer’s tale of debt and decay: Kentucky Route Zero. Meanwhile Sam Zucchi looks at the relationship between depictions of landscape and colonialism through the lens of the classic Oddworld game, Stranger’s Wrath.
Other features include a photo series exploring the virus-like patterns of No Man’s Sky‘s procedural landscapes, Rosa Carbo-Mascarell’s beautiful watercolor maps of Proteus as well as features on the long forgotten proto open-world of Lego Island and the ecohorror of Night in the Woods.
Also featured are Eron Rauch's haunting glitchscapes, part of his World of Warcraft landscape photography.
LINK: Heteropias #4
GameScenes is conducting a series of interviews with artists, critics, curators, and gallery owners operating in the field of Game Art, as part of an ongoing investigation of the social history of this artworld. Our goal is to document and examine both the origins and evolution of a phenomenon that changed the way game-based art is being created, experienced, and discussed today.
We are currently running Season 7, which began in 2017 with a conversation with Alex Hovet.
This episode features a broad/deep conversation with Gareth Damian Martin, a British artist, game designer, scholar, and writer whose practice focuses on the aesthetics, phenomenology, and logics of contemporary video games. Trained in puppetry and theatre, Martin subsequently moved into graphic and video design, literature, and architecture. His writing can be found on some of the most interesting game publications, including - but not limited to - Kill Screen and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Fascinated by the intersection of architecture and photography in simulated environments, in 2017 Martin launched Heterotopias, on online publication entirely devoted to photographic practices in games. His most recent project, The Continuous City (2018), is a book about game photography available from InBound Publishing.
The following conversation between Matteo Bittanti and Gareth Damian Martin took place via email in March 2018. As usual, the text features embedded links.
I'm delighted to announce the release of Giochi video. Performance, spettacolo, streaming, a new collection of essays on the rise of game videos edited by Enrico Gandolfi and I. Released in Italy, the book features contributions on machinima, videoart, live streaming, speedrunning, let's play videos and much more. It's the follow up to Machinima. Dal videogioco alla video arte and, once again, features a jacket design by Italian illustrator Marco Goran Romano.
Below is the synopsis in Italian:
Oggi, il game video è importante tanto quanto il video game.
Termine ombrello che indica le pratiche di produzione, distribuzione e consumo di audiovisivi inerenti al videogioco – dai live stream di Twitch alla videoarte del machinima, dai walkthrough ai Let’s Play, dagli speedrun ai tutorial – il game video oggi rappresenta un importante fenomeno culturale, artistico ed economico. Giochi video. Performance, spettacolo, streaming propone, per la prima volta, una mappatura di un territorio dai confini fluidi grazie ai contributi di studiosi internazionali. Applicando un approccio innovativo alle metodologie di ricerca e di analisi, gli autori esaminano numerosi nodi teorici, con una forte attenzione all’evoluzione del medium. Tra i temi portanti spiccano le trasformazioni delle modalità spettatoriali, le influenze crossmediali e le contaminazioni estetiche, a conferma che oggi il videogioco si configura innanzitutto in chiave performativa e spettacolare. Il libro si rivolge agli appassionati di nuovi media e a quelli di cinema, televisione e arte contemporanea. L’orientamento pluridisciplinare e il prisma dei punti di osservazione applicati ai fenomeni considerati offrono spazi di riflessione originali all’interno dei game studies contemporanei.
Titolo: Giochi video. Performance, spettacolo, streaming
Curatori: Matteo Bittanti e Enrico Gandolfi
Data di pubblicazione: 15 febbraio 2018
Pagine: 220, con illustrazioni in bianco e nero
Prezzo: 18 euro
LINK: Giochi video
VGA Reader Call for Papers—Issue 2: SURVIVAL STRATEGY
"IT’S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE! TAKE THIS." - Old Man, The Legend of Zelda
In an era of ecological, social, and political crisis, when contemporary media inundates us daily with apocalyptic scenarios, video games can act as a valuable means of psychological escape. However, video games— as unique, participatory works of art— can also model both individual and collaborative means of survival through the experience of play. Video games offer opportunities to navigate both historical and fictional conflicts, traverse landscapes devastated by climate change or nuclear holocaust, and manage the limited resources of individuals, or even whole civilizations, on earth and beyond. They offer players a dizzying array of dystopian scenarios in which to build and invent, cooperate to achieve shared goals, or sometimes merely learn how to survive another day. Video games focus attention, hone visuospatial skills, and shape cognitive control and physical reflexes. How do video games, through these unique methods, participate in the larger context of radical, activist artworks that challenge destructive norms and structures of power? How can we harness the skills we develop through play— or “game the system”— to imagine our best possible future(s) in trying times?
The VGA Reader (VGAR) is accepting submissions that critically analyze video game art as a means of survival. Though “survival strategy” exists as a defined gaming genre, all video games can be considered as methods of human conditioning, coping, and creating.
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
● How video game artworks development, design, and play are uniquely situated to explore personal, social, or ecological crises.
● How video games participate in larger activist and radical art communities/collectives.
● How video game art prototypes collaborative approaches to survival.
● How video games explore the long-term implications of human activity in relation to ecological crisis.
● How the history of games engages with dystopias and utopias themes of the past and present.
● How video games provide methods of constructive and collaborative play.
● How we might develop a critical discourse of “casual” games through psychological and physiological conditioning.
● How might we investigate the relationship between survivalist subcultures and resource management games.
● How video games can work as systems for mediating or mollifying conflict.
● How the economies and cultures of world simulators and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) can be viewed as models of real-world growth or collapse.
● How video games create, reflect, or critique current apocalyptic real world tragedies, crises, and political upheaval, as well as the media narratives that surround them.
Deadline for Submissions is February 28th, 2018
All submissions and questions should be sent to: tfunk (at) vgagallery (dot) org.
The VGA Reader is a scholarly electronic and print journal. It is blind peer-reviewed, invitational, and open to submissions in the form of theoretical papers, interviews, practitioner statements, and reviews on video games and video game-related events. The journal is published annually as a singular summer edition. The electronic and print versions differ in format but are similar in content.
There are four types of articles the VGA Reader publishes. Each have a distinct focus and designated word count:
1) Essays - 2,500 to 5,000 words
The VGA Reader welcomes essays pertaining to any investigation of video games, be they historical, theoretical, instructional (dealing with the hardware or software involved in creating games), or experimental in nature (manifestos, essays proposing new kinds of games, equipment, or approach to gaming in general, etc.). We welcome writers of all kinds, be they practitioners (game designers, writers, etc.), academics, or enthusiastic gamers with novel ideas and information to share. Manuscripts must be under the 5,000-word count limit (including references and figure captions) before it will be considered for review. Because of the length of these essays, they must be accompanied by a 100-word abstract.
2) Practitioner (Artist/Designer/Writer) Statements - fewer than 2,000 words
The VGA Reader welcomes practitioner statements, constituting articles detailing the video game-related work of the author, be it a video game, video game-themed artwork/performance, multimedia work/event, etc. These essays can take the form of longer artist statements about conceptual and narrative-driven concerns, but we also encourage details regarding issues of game play, troubleshooting during production, user testing, and anecdotes about the creative production process.
3) Reviews of video game-related events (gallery shows, multimedia events, etc.) - fewer than 2,000 words
The VGA Reader welcomes reviews, selected by the VGA Reader’s Editor and Editorial staff. This section of the journal offers opportunities for authors to report on a variety of video game-related events in brief, exploratory essays detailing the experience. These essays must be accompanied by media (images, video) of the event as illustration, provided by the author.
4) The VGA Reader will also publish selected interviews; however, these submissions will be by invitation only.
FORMATTING FOR SUBMISSION:
All submissions must be formatted as follows:
-In Microsoft Word .doc or .docx
-Font: Times New Roman
-Alignment and Spacing: Horizontal, Left aligned, Single space
-Endnotes: Do not use automatic formatting. Place any endnotes after the main text of your essay but before your Reference/Bibliography list. Place the endnote number reference in parentheses in the left margin, using the same number as in the text of the paper. All references/citations are written in the format of the Chicago Manual of Style. For more information, see: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html.
-Media (images, video, and/or sound files) should be submitted as attachments via email. DO NOT embed images onto your Word doc. After acceptance, the editor will send copyright permissions documents.
Submissions should contain the following information, in this particular order:
1. Essay title
2. Author’s name
3. Author’s affiliation/academic position/affiliation/ etc.: (e.g.: Collective/company name, independent designer/artist, researcher / Assistant Professor / Professor)
4. The body of the essay
5. References (in Chicago Manual of Style format)
6. Author’s Bio – 50-word count. Email and/or www. can be included at the end of the bio.
SUBMISSION FOR ACCESSIBILITY:
Keeping articles accessible to a large, but interested audience is a primary goal of the VGA Reader. While general “good-writing” practices demand attention in your use of language, style, and organization, writing video game scholarship and practitioner statements should also avoid too-specific jargon, acronyms, and other specialized language, unless defined specifically in the article. Include subheadings and bullet points along with section introductions when necessary for organization purposes.
Paying attention to these tenets will ensure a fair critique of the work, and will greatly improve your chances of publication.
Published through the Video Game Art Gallery, the Video Game Art Reader is a peer-reviewed journal for video game audiences and video game practitioners interested in the history, theory, and criticism of video games, explored through the lens of art history and visual culture. Its primary aim is to facilitate exploration and conversation of video game art, documenting and disseminating discourse about the far-reaching influence of video games on history, society, and culture.
LINK: Video Game Art Reader
I'm happy to announce the release of my new book, Machinima, dal videogioco alla videoarte [Machinima. From video game to video art]. Published by Mimesis Edizioni in the Heterotopie series, the book investigates the relationship between art and video games from a variety of perspectives. Featuring eight contributions from international scholars, Machinima. From video game to video art introduces new ways of looking at game-based video art.
The book is available on Amazon.
Here's more information [in Italian]
Link Center for the Arts of the Information Age has just released How To Play Eddo Stern, a critical monograph on the avantgarde artist and game designer Eddo Stern written by critic, curator, and writer Domenico Quaranta and co-produced with Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel.
The digital version can be downloaded here.
The print version will be available soon through Link Center for the Arts + Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel.
Below is the full synopsis:
Artist and game designer Eddo Stern explores the uneasy and otherwise unconscious connections between physical existence and electronic simulation, surrounding the subject matters of violence, memory and identification. A game manual, a catalogue, a making of and an archive, "How to Play Eddo Stern" revolves around a selected body of works developed with di(erent media that can be understood as “games”. Featuring an essay by Matteo Bittanti entitled "Radar, Envisioneer, Artist. Two or Three Things I Know about Eddo Stern", the book is a deep dive into the massive amount of small bits and pieces that make up the folders of Stern’s game projects: 3D models, texture maps and atlases, backdrops, animation frame sequences, code snippets, circuit diagrams, as well as emails, design documents, meeting notes, and installation diagrams. Co-produced with Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel.
LINK: How to Play Eddo Stern
An outstanding examination of what makes gaming truly fascinating by Stephanie Boluk (Assistant professor in the English department and Cinema and Digital Media Program at University of California, Davis) and Patrick LeMieux (artist, game designer, and assistant professor in the Cinema and Digital Media Program at University of California, Davis).
This is not a review. More like an imperative: read it now!
It's incredibly inspiring for anybody who thinks that there's much more to games than gaming. Featuring, among other things, technical glitches, Renaissance painting, algorithmic trading, professional sports, and the War on Terror.
My favorite bit? Chapter 4: "Hundred Thousand Billion Fingers: Serial Histories of Super Mario Bros." Instant classic.
Below is the synopsis:
Metagaming uncovers alternative histories of play by exploring the strange experiences and unexpected effects that emerge in, on, around, and through videogames. One of the only books to include original software alongside each chapter, Metagaming transforms videogames from packaged products into instruments, equipment, tools, and toys for intervening in the sensory and political economies of everyday life.
One of the only books to include original software alongside each chapter, Metagaming transforms videogames from packaged products into instruments, equipment, tools, and toys for intervening in the sensory and political economies of everyday life. And although videogames conflate the creativity, criticality, and craft of play with the act of consumption, we don’t simply play videogames—we make metagames.
Also. Check out Patrick's brilliant art games, e.g. Frank Stella in Morro Castle, Andy Warhol Crash Infinite Times and White Painting after Robert Rauschenberg and Stephanie's ongoing projects/research (e.g. Steam Works and On Kawara and Kawara Machines). Killer kombo.
A brand new book from one of my all time heroines: Anne-Marie Schleiner, The Player's Power to Change the Game. It's out now from Amsterdam University Press and it's a must read. It's a slim book (162 pages) but contains multitudes. Here's the synopsis:
In recent decades, what could be considered a gamification of the world has occurred, as the ties between games and activism, games and war, and games and the city grow ever stronger. In this book, Anne-Marie Schleiner explores a concept she calls 'ludic mutation', a transformative process in which the player, who is expected to engage in the preprogramed interactions of the game and accept its imposed subjective constraints, seizes back some of the power otherwise lost to the game itself. Crucially, this power grab is also relevant beyond the game because players then see the external world as material to be reconfigured, an approach with important ramifications for everything from social activism to contemporary warfare.
Here's a sneak preview (table of contents and introduction).
Anne-Marie Schleiner is an artist, hackivist, educator, curator, theorist and a curator. Among other things, she created the legendary artmod Velvet-Strike with Brody Condon and Joan Leandre in 2002. She currently teaches at the National University of Singapore in the Department of Communications and New Media.