Reading Response #2 

to Artful Design • Chapter 2: “Designing Expressive Toys”




Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University

Reading Response: Ends in Themselves


From this week's reading, I'd like to respond to the video “Aaru: The Idyllic Video Game Sublime (An Essay) - Artful Design TV” as well as  Artful Design Principle 2.6, which states:

Principle 2.6: Technology Should Create Calm

The video “Aaru: The Idyllic Video Game Sublime (An Essay) - Artful Design TV” reviews the experience and some of the wonderful features of the game Assasins Creed Origins. I have actually played some of this game before and agree wholeheartedly with the videos assessments on what makes it sublime. The environment, its people, the details of there day, even the sky and weather all are made to contribute to a very diverse but focused vision of a world long lost to us. That game is absolutely gorgeous while also being thought-provoking, completely immersive and laying out complicated but compelling plots and characters. I remember spending a lot of time in that game just wandering around, or riding horses, jumping onto random ships in the middle of the lakes and rivers there, or even flying from the perspective of the bird companion that the game had be a part of your character at times often to help you spot people, creatures, objectives etc on the map, but also to give you another perspective on the incredible world they created. I wholeheartedly agree with the videos assessment of this games sublime status and characteristics not just from the example, but from my own experience and the many details that weren’t even shown in the video. While I never got to the afterlife that the majority of the video takes place in, I did see many other environments that gave a similar kind of awe and peace to its player. Coincidentally is one of the principles in the second chapter of the book Artful Design, which states that Technology should create calm. This is something our world today especially craves, we are facing what feels like more and more overwhelm in our day to day lives wether that be due to higher stress from day to day issues, mass threats like global warming or Covid-19, or even from the technology we use in our everyday lives that seems to provide its own good and bad aspects that simplify and complicate everything it touches. In the case of the textbook, this concept is discussed in the form of a reflection on an interview done by the books author in which he discusses his work with Ocarina and what his work means to its users and to the world around it. I find this chapter to be interesting in its thoughts on how it seems like less music is being made today because of the overwhelming availability of everything thats already been made that seems to make users feel unable to think they can provide something new, like there is a stress in starting. But the focus on how this shouldn’t be the case, and how technology should be made to break down people defenses and make them feel like they can be playful, they can try new things without fear of judgment to help them believe they can experience something new and still feel calm, is something life changing and worth fighting for. I hope that the calm created in such a high budget game like Assassins Creed Origins and Ocarina, can be created by something I make someday, and I hope that more people start to live there lives hoping to achieve that goal as well.