Artful Design Chapter 6 Response

by Daniel Donghun Kim

Principle 6.1: Play is what we do when we are free. Play is what we do to be free.

One of the reasons that I really loved this chapter, I won't lie, is because it give an example of Starcraft. It's a game that I played ever since I was about six until I was about 19. I was mesmerised by the story of Kerrigan, the queen of blades. I think that the quality of the narrative and the worldview in Starcraft is something that later mega-hits like the League of Legends, which is also one of my favourites at the moment, could not mimic or surpass. I think the reason that this is the case is because, as Ge later puts in his other principle about agency, of the fact that the seamlessness of the plot, the reality in the fantasy world, gives so much agency and immersion to the player.

I remember that I used to write my own stories about Kerrigan, about Jim Raynor, and Durand when I was back in primary school. Although I do no remember what it was exactly about, the sort of immersion that I felt in her tragedy (Ge explains she is the 24th century Medea), is definitely unparalleled. I believe this really shows the importance of design, what the care and effort the designer put into his world can create for the players, whose vicars the characters are.

Principle 6.8: All games are played in hyper 1st person.

I loved the example about Save the Date. It reminds me of the Myth of Sisyphus by Camus. The famous piece starts by Camus saying that the biggest question of life is whether or not to kill oneself, as life is so full of pain by nature. There is no inherent meaning in life, Camus concludes through a series of grim but well thought-out contemplation, and every day in a person's life is like that of Sisyphus, eternally damned by the gods to roll up a giant rock up the Sisyphus mountain as punishment for deceiving gods.

The part where Felicia asks if the only thing she could do is to imagine a better ending for the story, I am left thinking if that is what we are left with ourselves. If Cogito Ergo Sum, could we not be just GameObjects in this matrix, as many have questioned in the modern world? The process of getting to this conclusion was much smoother as the player chooses many 'wrong' options that lead to fiascos and gameovers to find out the 'answer' to this game, this universe, and everything. Hence, the hyper first-person player mode definitely helps in terms of conveying the message.

Principle 6.7: All games require interaction and active participation.

During the last academic year, I had a trip to Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab. I experienced a demo of some of the serious games (I was really glad that Ge was mentioning this.) There were two games, one about Earthquake training, and the other one on experiencing homelessness first hand. Experiencing homelessness first hand, and feeling threatened by the actual threats and difficulties that homless people were experiencing on their daily lives were actually an eye-opening experience that not only made me more interested in the topic of homelessness, but in design and serious games.

One problem that I'm currently experiencing with the sequencer is definitely about how to make this more interactive, since I'm thinking mostly about the aesthetics at this point. This is not an easy question to answer, but I'll see how it goes.