But it’s only 9-5, right? Right?! WRONG! Along with the many, many advantaged of being constantly connected to many devices all floating around in this wonderful, mysterious goo we call the World Wide Web, also comes the concept of liquid labour. Traditionally worker bees bumbled along to the rhythm of the machine hum, fast forward a hundred years or so and that hum has escalated to a piercing shriek that you just can’t quite get rid of.
The flow of information that was once a novelty has become a commodity and a rather desired one at that. What’s the most important factor in any capitalist society? All together now kids: Money. Profit drives the flow of information (free or otherwise) and the flow of information drives the flow of labour needed to match it. Young professionals (Bah who are we kidding?!) are judged on their skills, diligence, competence and availability. Work hours are no longer rigid and dependable but never-ending and demanding.
I’ll preface this by saying that I am a huge fan of Wikipedia and it is both an extremely overrated and underrated resource simultaneously.
Aaaaaaanyway … In this age we are existing in, technology basically dictates all aspects of everyday life. What was once considered intangible is becoming tangible, fantasy blends with reality.
With so much of our lives controlled by and dependent on devices the most important things about them is the speed at which they receive and deliver information and the level of control we have over them. The scale of the information hub handling all of this information directly correlates to how effectively it operates and the speed at which it can process and transport data. When the system is working fine, the whole world is working fine. When it’s not…
Current technological generations may not know exactly what they want but they sure know when they want it. The emergence of immediate communication has allowed people of every age, gender, race, religion, cartoon preference to reach across time and space to converse with whoever they desire. To quote our lord and saviour Albus Dumbledore; “words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” Language is what makes us human, the ability to manifest our thoughts in a verbal form and communicate this to others distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
The idea of real time communication was revolutionary and inspired an explosion of technology and ideas that have not only improved our way of life (on a personal and societal level) but has shaped the political, social and economic landscape unequivocally and forever. But as with most things instant connectivity comes with ramifications both glorious and tragic.
The notion of wonder or wonderment is by its very nature subjective. What one person finds a source of wonder depends on their personality, their experiences, their context, and may be entirely different to that of a stranger, a friend or even a family member. To explore this concept I have chosen to present a static work of art in the form of a collage consisting of a large array of materials placed chaotically on a large piece of canvas. It is a two dimensional platform, however, the art itself will break the wall into the third and even fourth dimension. The materials and objects I have used represent both a personal and historical understanding of wonderment as well as a blend of natural and man-made. I have always had a fascination with eyes, mirrors, flowers and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and so they will feature in my work but I am also combining my individual perspective with that of humanity. Aspects of life that humans have always been baffled and awed by: space, natural phenomena, feats of engineering and the mysterious. The materials I will use consist of paint, lead, metal, plastic, stone, rope, paper and glass while the objects include gears, flowers, pieces of clothing, beads and other everyday items that can be reinterpreted. By combining personal and historical, natural and synthetic my work will display the scope to which the concept of wonder can infiltrate the worlds and our lives. That things we take for granted, things of seemingly little significance can inspire awe and appreciation.
I have taken my inspiration from the Wunderkammer but have moved away from Joseph Cornell’s work and cabinet of curiosities to create more of a museum or memory theatre. A Wunderkammer is a collection of objects without categorical boundaries. To inspire awe and wonder these works rely on the viewer to interact with the work on an intangible level by creating meaning through thought and examination. Just like with the idea of wonder the outcome is different for each individual, as it is up to them to draw links between the works and what they see will depend on who they are. I have taken this idea and pushed it a step further. Instead of a collection of individual works I intend to fuse many ideas onto a single piece of canvas, creating a seemingly haphazard mess – which in itself will generate wonder – and leave the audience to try and put the pieces together. The interactivity and participation in my work resides in the personal interpretation of the viewer. As much as the artwork is the artwork it is also discourse it creates both within and without.
My motivation for creating a work that requires such conceptual participation derives from the fact that most of my classmates are creating interactive pieces including technologies such as Arduinos and makey makeys. This caused me to question whether or not something is a source of wonder if it is it not interactive, if it is stationary. In this technological age where consumer have become prosumers and even children are being encouraged to learn and grow by interaction or playing, can something hold their attention if they can only observe not touch. I am anticipating that many people will wonder whether it does in fact do anything but this in itself is a sense of wonder. If the audience is confused by a stationary piece of art then it becomes a commentary on the social practices in our society. This is not a good or bad thing and I am not attempting to say as much but I aim to point it out all the same. Although my main goal is to inspire wonder I am also attempting to exploit the subjectivity of meaning. No matter what viewers gets out of my work it will not be what I intended and if viewers gets nothing out of my work they will be reinforcing the idea that the value of art changes with the context.
Ever since it emerged in the late 80’s, the Australian videogame industry has been trying to establish a foothold in the international market, experiencing moments of success and decline. The last few years have not been productive with several pioneer studios in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney shutting down, including Pandemic Studios, Krome Studios and more recently, THQ’s Brisbane and Melbourne studios. There are several reason for the loss in traction. First and foremost the fluctuations of the value of the Australian dollar often dictated where Studios choose to develop their projects. With the rise in the late 2000’s early 2010’s it is no surprise that some Studios decided that Australia wasn’t lucrative enough. The second id tax incentives for game developers overseas, for example, Quebec government subsidises 37.5% of videogame studios’ payrolls. This offer is designed to entice Studios to move and open in a certain location meaning that they either close down or simply don’t open in Australia. The third reason is with the increase in Indie gaming and game developers there has been a sharp decrease of middle-ground games, that is games that fall below triple-A titles.
Although Australian consumers are still buying games, they represent only 2% of the world market which means that Australian game companies need to export in order to survive which increases the risk that professionals or ‘talent’ are leaving to work overseas. The fact that the Australian game industry relies so heavily on international game studios and publishers means that in order to flourish they need proactive support from the government both at a state and federal level, like the Gam Developers’ Association of Australia. It is clear that there is plenty of talent and opportunity to develop a sustainable video game industry in Australia; proximity to the Asian market, expertise in online gaming and mobile gaming, and university programs in computer programs. The key is to encourage and maintain an ongoing dialogue between industry and policy advisors
Machinima, Machinima, everywhere. Since the days of “Diary of a Camper”, which is considered to be the first piece of Machinima film, the concept of reappropriating game visuals has exploded into an art of film making. The rise of such an art form is in part due to the low cost of screen capture low barriers of access generated by gaming engines, but the main reason so many consumers have now become prosumers is the creative nature that surrounds the gaming industry. From walkthroughs and Let’s Play’s, Fan art and videos, parodies, and modding, players now have more access and influence over their gaming experience than ever before.
Machinima is an important aspect of the gaming culture and it will only continue to increase as technology and tools of creation become more ubiquitous and less expensive. It is fast, accessible and cost significantly less than actually making your own film and with many platforms of distribution, the more circulation, the more awareness and the more people who will start to create their own content. This means that the demand for new and creative work is, at the moment, endless. The desire for consumer to generate their own gaming content may be a new idea but what has given rise to this is the intrinsic human desire to create. Storytelling and character development has always been a huge aspects of art, literature, film and games so it is no surprise that it has found its way into the newer platforms of art.
“The Eyes of Ara is an immersive, fully 3D Puzzle-Based Adventure game, inspired by genre classics like Myst and modern exploration-based storytelling like Tomb Raider. A game full of devious puzzles and countless hidden secrets!”
This game caught my attention for a number of reasons. First I always have a soft spot for Australians (for obvious reasons) and The Eyes of Ara is produced by 100 Stones Interactive, an Australian creator based in Brisbane. The second is the beautiful cinematography in the kickstarter trailer. It is always important for a campaign to capture the mind of a potential backer but it is also equally important to capture their imagination. The Eyes of Ara does this perfectly. The design lends itself to dynamic locations, striking interiors with warm lighting and an overall style that complements the storytelling. The third and most important reason this game drew my attention is the story. Solving puzzles, collecting items and exploring an old, abandoned castle are all things I enjoy as well as the personal satisfaction of discovering everything, uncovering all the secrets the game and environment has to offer. Another feature of this kickstarter campaign that I found myself drawn to was the effort the creator had put into the ‘about this project’. With over 2000 words detailing the story, the mechanics, the technology, the campaign itself and its goals, dozens of pictures and videos depicting the world and design of the game, viewers and backers become more invested in this campaign than others that haven’t put that amount of time and effort in and because of this I would (and did) support the project.
When looking for a game to review I began rummaging through the recesses of my memories past the multitude of crappy online flash games I played in high school until I stumbled across a gem. The hilariously infuriating Impossible Quiz by Splapp-Me-Do kept my art class entertained for hours when we were supposed to be on Photoshop. In my prime I could whip through the questions in minutes, challenging anyone else to try and beat my time. When starting this review I thought it best to go back and give myself a refresher course and let me tell you, muscle memory is a beautiful thing. After just one try I was hooked and spent the next two hours desperately trying to beat the game in progressively less time. For those who know their general knowledge and enjoy winning quizzes and trivia, you should know this is not the game for you.
Not only does this not require general knowledge, but it requires an intelligence of another kind. The questioned asked are not on sport, politics, history, geography, or anything to do with popular culture but bind benders that are infinitely more entertaining. The Impossible Quiz is a fast multiple choice game that encourages players to think outside of the box, way, way outside of the box. It is strangely addictive and makes you want to beat it for the sheer satisfaction of running around with your hands in the air yelling “I WIN! I WIN! I WIN!” Childish, yes but true. I highly recommend this game to all whose lives were not shaped by this game and I encourage all whose were to replay if for no other reason than pure nostalgia. The questions along with the sound effects make for many hours of frustratingly good fun.
While not my preferred genre of gaming, it cannot be denied that in the early 90’s with the release of games such as DOOM, first-person shooter games rocked to the top of the best-selling game charts and has remained there ever since, selling billions of games worldwide. But what is it that had made this genre so successful? It’s not just the first-person perspective, the three-dimensionality, the violence or the adrenaline of the fight or flight response, but rather how the first-person shooter combines these features that most games today encompass. The first person shooter game distinguishes itself from other genres by presenting a visual environment which generates feeling of nostalgia where reality falls away. This feeling of nostalgia eventually creates an absorbing experience that becomes self-reinforcing, inspiring players to come back to feel it again. If video games are about decision making, then first person shooter games takes this to a whole new level. What might be a very simple decision with time and refection becomes a difficult and stressful choice under pressure, one that stimulates players and ignites an intense emotional response.
Attaining this affect requires a balance of skills and challenges, an environment that creates a personal identity for the player and a strong sense of control. Control, compounded by first-person perspective, is the key to the enduring appeal of the first-person shooter genre. It plays into the idea that our happiness ties directly into how in control we feel. The more control we think we have, the more at ease we feel and vice versa. First-person shooter games give us the ability to control our environment, and our perception of our own effectiveness. Along with a sense of control and nostalgia, technology has allowed games to become more realistic making it easier for the player to lose themselves in the fictional world and make connections to the characters inside it. First person shooter games also have the added bonus of shooting, a compelling deviation from regular life that most people have never experienced. The violence is only one aspect of the appeal of shooting. It’s not that players want to be violent but rather they wish to have a way to release pent-up emotions and give in to base impulses in the form of adrenaline-generating decision-making.
According to Gonzalo Frasca the concepts of simulation and representation are two ways of dealing with reality, that both coexisted throughout our culture, but representation and therefore, narrative has been dominant, mainly due to the fact that complex simulations require a level of sophistication that is near impossible without a computer. This not to say that it did not exist it was just less ubiquitous. With the recent and exponential advances in technology we have the tools to push simulation into previously unexplored territory. Simulation can now be used to model systems that were before too complex to deal with, providing a powerful alternative to representation through which to attempt to understand our world. Simulation does not necessarily have to be a tool for education, but also for art and entertainment including, and perhaps most notably, videogames. Unlike narrative, simulation offers a first hand experience of a dynamic system allowing for greater understanding of rules and relationships.
Probably a better way to understand the difference between simulation and representation is to compare their characteristics. Narrative usually presents a bottom-up sequence, describing a particular event from which we can infer rules and relationships. Simulation, on the other hand, present a top-down sequence, focusing on general rules which we can then apply to specific cases. Both concepts are commonly associated with education, however, simulation is greater tool for teaching complex rules because it allows for experimentation. An obvious example of simulation is the multi award winning pc game, The Sims. Comparing a game revolved around life simulation with a movie or TV show about coming of age, growing, learning, the key concept separating the two is behavioural rules. A TV show or film can show the mechanics of living, aging, relationships, in a narrative structure through which it is up to the viewer to interpret the rules. The Sims is a dynamic system that behaves like a family, like people, like life and also having the characteristics, while the TV show or film only provides characteristics.