This faux attract mode screen was created to emulate the console technology of 1984 when the book was released. Aesthetically the image is reminiscent of the design of bell hooks second and at that time, most major work of critical theory. However, the screen resolution of 256 by 240 is consistent with that of the first generation NES/Famicon system and the color as is the limited color palette. By porting a work of literature into the visual language of games that were its contemporary, I hope to ask viewers what an alternative history of games would be like if it had been able to synthesize other kinds of media (like theory) and how that might have affected their audience and reach both then and now.
Music Plate is a causal game designed for anybody from any age groups, both male and female, including people from different cultural background. The intension is to give opportunities for people to listen to and understand each other and try to interpret each other through nonverbal means of communication such as music and visuals.
Nowadays, people are more and more addicted to social media and online communities. It is common to see people interacting with their smart phones, tablets, play stations on buses, at airports and during class breaks or dinners, while at the same time, ignore people around them. Besides, even when people try to talk with each other, it is not easy to deeply understand what is in their minds due to our background, experiences, conventions or biases. Therefore, I want to create a game which provides an opportunity for people to listen to and understand each other.
There are plentiful means of communication, among which some nonverbal means of communication are perceived even more powerful than the verbal one, such as painting and music. And since music and food are both highly cultural products, therefore, I choose to use food to appropriate music. In the game, one player will need to sing a piece of song or hum a tune, and then the other player will listen to that and try to interpret the first player’s feelings, moods or thoughts and then try to create a picture out of that using food.
This first image was created by one player when she heard another player singing the song title “Rainy Day“. She told me that because she could tell the song told a story of a heart-broken girl who felt lonely on a rainy day, so she created a picture with simple structure. She used black rice to show the dark sky and the girl’s mood. She also used white fungus to show the sad face of the girl.
The second picture was done by a friend when she heard another friend singing a children’s song describing the scene of kids going to school. She said what she heard was a piece with a brisk tempo showing the great childhood. So she picked vegetables with bridge color to show the street scene, and used red beans to show someone just walked by.
The third pictured was about a children’s song as well. It tells a story that a child sees a group of ducks swimming under the bridge right in front of his home. So the player created the bridge with carrots, used detergent as water and picked elbow spaghetti as ducks. All the colors are all carefully chosen to show the happiness revealed in the song.
The last two pictures were done by two players. They suggested that they pick one song and each of them create one picture out of that, so we can see how people interpret things differently. Then they decided to use Jingle Bell and created two nice artworks out of that.
This piece appropriates the QR code as a symbol of cross-cultural perception, the other as viewed across cultural lines (the Caucasian’s Latino, the Latino’s Caucasian). It stands as a decodable matrix whose patterns reflect our own anxieties of the other. The effort of deciphering these codes necessitates a struggle against those lesser demons that whisper, “I have nothing in common with a African-American, Latino, Asian, or Caucasian.”
As such, the QR code play operates as a portrait of the immigrant, a mechanical representation befitting those who hope to relegate illegals to NCIS databases, an attempt to give the inhuman and the numerical a voice to seize back their humanity.
The Portuguese language remains inexorably a human language, infinitely more familiar than a QR matrix. For those who assign the other as an inhumane object, the gulf between Portuguese and English remains as impenetrable as the QR matrix; in turn, Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin, etc. are the language of machines. And so, when spying a Spanish billboard, they declare sacrilege.
When planning the project, I’d hope to interview friends and acquaintances regarding their immigrant experience and their opinions on the rhetoric surrounding the issue. I’d hope to separate these into vignettes (narrated by these individuals in their own native language), then structure these vignettes via a random number generator, scrabbling their order of presentation. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I was able to produce only two such vignettes. Though, its my hope to continue recording the narration and animating new vignettes.
For my appropriation project I really wanted to mess with chess in some way as I used to absolutely love playing it as a kid and still do occasionally. After brainstorming and play-testing a plethora of ideas to break/meddle with the classic rules of the game, I settled for a version of chess in which all the pieces are pawns, with the queening rule allowed (promotion of a pawn to a queen upon reaching the opposite end of the board). A player wins when his/her opponent is either out of pieces or moves.
The beginning of most playthroughs was very conservative and almost paranoid at times. This was followed by an almost inevitable mid-game deadlock. At this point, most or all the moves available to either player came with some sort of decisive risk. The focus now became making that one hole through the opponent’s pawns to pave the way for an undisputed promotion. These “breaches in fortifications” resulted in queenings for both players in quite a few playthroughs. Once there were queen pieces on the board, the tactical pillars of the game tended to shift from being centered on working through pawn standoffs to advance to a promotion to strategically eliminating any remaining pieces. There were quite a few polar shifts in the “tides of war” in scenarios where a miscalculation resulted in losing the decisive advantage of getting the earliest promotion. All in all, the changes implemented made for sharp fluctuations in the momentum which introduced varying types and levels of tension and strategy that weren’t always akin to those that appear in the traditional format of the game.
The original motive behind this piece was to make a statement about how modern forms of war are usually far kinder to the politically-driven, high-authority people calling the decisive shots (pieces higher up in the hierarchy in the classic medieval format of the game) than the actual soldiers who need to get involved hands-on, risking their lives, to actually fight those wars. However, the queening rule and the complications that came with it created sharp transitions from highly tense deadlocks to one side suddenly breaking through and getting a decisive advantage in firepower through a promotion. A friend who was helping me play-test this piece felt like those sharp transitions, escalations and fluctuations in tension and strategy was very reminiscent to him of the political and military dynamics of the cold war. He saw the queenings as analogous to nukes and saw parallels to the fear of all-out nuclear war which was highly prevalent during those days. I was even suggested to maybe name it, “Cold War Chess”, with the respective changes in terminology for the pieces and maneuvers. As a concluding note, it was very interesting to see how a simple change employed as a re-appropriation of a classic game could trigger some pretty strong fluctuations in player emotion and approach withing the span of a single session.
The following are the screencaps of some of the decisive moments in the most dramatic play-test session I had. I played black, he played white. He won (See last screencap).
Start of Play
The Mid-game Deadlock
He broke through and got promoted first, but I got a queen in the process anyway
Queen Vs. Queen deadlock
I start pushing for another promotion, not paying attention to his queen’s position
Still even, not really
Second queen forcing my hand
I ran out of moves and lost!
The initial idea for the appropriate was to use print advertisements as the material. There has been debate about the validity of print advertisements, comic strips and few other forms of commercial media. Are they products of blatantly mundane commercialism or are they genuine artwork?
The reason I choose print advertisements as the theme is their ability to influence people. The intent of an art work is to make an impact on the audience and good print advertisements do have this impact on a large number of people.
Some people like Andy Warhol have interpreted print ads in a similar fashion and brought in the concept of pop art. I was heavily influenced by some of his work and also examples in the book by Marshall McLuhan,”The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man”. Marshall McLuhan, in his book provides analysis on aesthetic considerations as well as on the implications behind the imagery and text of print ads. I wanted the experience of the game to give rise to a similar analysis by the players.
To gamify this concept, I wanted to design something that would involve the user interacting with the artwork and also being able to analyze the artwork. The game I wanted to build would have three main concepts- interaction, storytelling and an occurrence of chance.
Initially I was thinking along the lines of a tetris like game with blocks as advertisements over time (chronologically ordered). But this did not give much room for analysis or storytelling.
I then built a model with a set of cards and the player had to arrange it in the right order. Something along the lines of a game like Jumble (scrambled words) with images instead of letters. I then introduced an additional “chance” feature by making each card a flipcard with an anecdote in the back which would help/hinder in finding the right order.
Each set of cards would symbolize a product or genre of print ads. I looked for the best Coke Cola ads over the years as it has been an important product in the advertising world. It was interesting to note the subtle and sometimes very obvious changes in the theme of the ads over the years. After digging a little deeper, I found that some of the most famous coke ads represented important events occurring in the word at that time (global warming, gay rights, working women). I also wrote an anecdote implying the event addressed by the advertisement.
I asked a few of my friends to play the initial version of the game. Some feedback I got was that I should introduce other genres and also leave the concept more open. I expanded the genre to comic strips and newspaper clips of major events as well with some inspiration from Mechanical Bride. I also decided to make it a two player game where one player creates the cards- inserts a set of related images into the front side of the card and inserts clues/anecdotes at the back and picks an order (chronological, most famous to least famous etc) The other player then starts the game and tries to arrange them in the right order.
Since multiple trials would eventually lead to the right answer, I cut down the number of tries to 2 wrong tries to make it harder. Another idea was to obfuscate the image to make the game harder.(create a sort of appropriation of the image itself!).
Rules of the 2 player game-
Player 1 picks a theme (print ads, comic strips, newspaper clips).
Player 1 decides the order in which the cards need to be arranged (chronological, popularity of artist/image according to a poll etc)
Player 1 chooses five images corresponding to the theme and order.
Player 1 places the images on the cards in the order shown (31524).
Player 1 then flips over each card and writes a small anecdote to help or hinder the other player in finding the right order.
Once done, Player 1 clicks done and the game starts.
Player 1 has to inform the other player about the theme (print ads, comic strips) and the order in which it has to be arranged (chronological etc.)
Player 2 now looks at the card and flips each one to read the anecdote.
Player 2 drags each card to the drop box she thinks is appropriate, such that the cards are ordered in a sequence.
If the player drags a card to the wrong drop box, the card is rejected and goes back to it’s default position. If it is right, the card is placed inside the box.
The player has only 2 wrong drag tries. Once the player reaches no. of cards+2 tries, she loses the games and the game is refreshed.
The players can either try again or the players use new images and themes.
The images show Player 1 uploading the images after picking the theme of Coca Cola ads over time. The player enters the URL of the image and hits upload.
Player 1 inserts the comments on the other side of the card.
Player 1 then hits the “Done. Start game!” button
The video shows Player 2’s perspective while trying to guess the right order of the cards. The first instance is the coke ads over time and the second one is top New Yorker cartoons according to a legitimate poll. (Top to bottom of the rating list).
Cross-pix is a wild adaption of crosswords wherein words are replaced by numbers. To make the resulting artwork more creative, the black and white grid is replaced with a more colorful one. Clues are used to help fill up the boxes in the grid. Images should be used instead of words and letters to fill up the grid.
- 2 or more teams of preferably equal number of players.
- You choose one of the colour cards.
- Once you see the chosen colour, you get the clue and the box in the grid it goes into.
- With the given materials,create an image associated with the clue.
- The team that finishes with the most creative image owns the box.
- Place the winning image in its box.
- Continue until all cards are picked.
- If the clue cannot be figured out , the box is lost.
- The team with most boxes in the end wins.
- They get to keep the artwork.
Some sample clues are :
1. King of Pop
2. King of Rock and Roll
3. Like a Virgin
4. World’s tallest building
5. Michael Corleone
6. Just do it!
7. I’m loving’ it
8. Open happiness
9. Seven Dwarfs
10. Think different
13. Avada Kedavra
14. Open your world
15. The serial killer hero
16. Sugar, spice and everything nice.
Documentation Video :
For my project, I chose to appropriate Pac-Man, the classic arcade game. I was inspired by art that takes an existing game and modifies a single element of the game to subvert its original purpose, such as Yoko Ono’s “White Chess”. To that end, I decided to use Pac-Man to call attention to natural mapping of keys.
My single change to Pac-Man is that after a random number of seconds, the arrow keys become mapped to random directions (this process repeats for the duration of the game). For example, the Up may now move Left, while Down moves Up and so on. This makes playing the game much more challenging than before; even though you may quickly discover what the new mapping is, you must fight against your instincts for the logical, default mapping. As you collect more pellets, the randomization happens more frequently, such that it becomes even harder to keep up with mappings. The changes in the controls are denoted by a brief flicker of static.
I took a lot of time in recreating the authentic Pac-Man experience, and in doing so I began to appreciate the level of thought that went into every aspect of the game. Although it appears simple on the surface, there is plenty of complex behavior underneath that assures the game is challenging but not unfair, and that players can get progressively better at the game. In fact, there was so much detail in the game that there were several elements I was not able to include: slight speed variations dependent on conditions, ghosts moving through teleporters, fruit, cornering, and level scaling are only a few that I simply didn’t have enough time to implement. I was able to reproduce the core of the game with the original graphics, however, which should be sufficient to tap into people’s intuition regarding the game (although the lack of sounds was an unfortunate loss).
I playtested the game with 4 of my roommates, and not a single one of them succeeded in completing the level. After a few rounds of practice, I became proficient enough at the game to win (although infrequently).
I chose to appropriate the game of chess, combining it with bingo and chance cards (similar to those in the game of monopoly) to introduce some chaos into the gameplay. The game of Chess plays a central role with the game of Bingo acting as a way to increase the complexity involved. Chess is meant to be a metaphor to the strategies involved in war but the metaphor lacks in one major aspect- there is no chance of change in loyalty or allegiance. The chance cards introduce this aspect. Cards containing randomly selected popular lines from movies are also added to the mix, partly to introduce pointlessness/randomness but mainly because I could only come up with a few such cards for the game and the stack of cards looked small.
- 2 chess sets
- 1 chess board numbered 1 through 64
- Bingo cards (pieces of paper)
- Chance cards (like the ones from Monopoly)
- Players choose 25 numbers (arbitrarily) from the empty spaces on the numbered chess board (at the start of the game and after the end of every bingo game)
Every time a piece lands on an empty space for the first time, strike off the number from your bingo card (if you have it on your card)
- Every time a player captures the other player’s piece, s/he picks a card from the top of the chance cards deck
- Example chance cards
Switch sides with opponent
- Your king has decided to dress in drag and is now your queen. Elect a new king from the pieces on the board
Miss a turn
Scratch off any number from your bingo card
Your knight does not like your policies and has decided to switch sides. If you don’t have a knight left on the board, then your opponent can bring a knight from his/her second chess piece set into play
“Surely you can’t be serious”
“I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley”
— Airplane (1980)
(the name of movie is folded/hidden in card)
- “If I’m not back in five minutes, just wait longer.” — Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
- Example chance cards
- Every time a player wins a game of bingo, s/he can bring a captured piece (or a piece from the second chess set) back to the board
- The game ends when one player beats the other in Chess (checkmate). If there’s a draw then the players pick cards turn-by-turn from the chance pile until they get a card that can change the game or they get a movie quote and they correctly guess the movie
I liked playing Chess but many of my peers did not share this interest. The game can be intimidating to those who think they are bad at it. It can also cause others to lose interest if they see no perceivable change or improvement in their gameplay (which is often the case during the initial stages). The game can be considered as a metaphor to war and this metaphor falls apart in the sense that it lacks the unpredictability that is inherent in battles. The chance cards introduce this aspect- there can be mutinies, role changes, pieces can get demoted or promoted, etc.
I also wanted to change the experience of playing chess. To me, it seems like it is a game where the destination seems to be much more important than the path taken to reach it. That is, good gameplay and enjoyment is rarely expected from the game and only the outcome of the game matters. By introducing randomness and the chance cards (where there is a chance that a player can win the game simply by guessing which movie a quote was taken from), I hoped to take the pressure of winning off from the game and make the gameplay more interesting and enjoyable. There is also very little conversation between players in a normal game of chess and this appropriated game changes that as some of the rules can be intentionally ambiguous so that there is a discussion between the players (and maybe even a heated debate). There is a good chance that some of the game rules can be interpreted differently by two different sets of players.
1. Each person (3-6 players per game) gets their own personal deck of cards and 10 poker chips from the poker chip bank.
2. Depending on how long you want the game to go, each person must shuffle their deck and discard 20, 25, or 30 cards from the top of their deck. Those cards are now their build pile. The cards that are left will be each person’s war pile.
3. In order to determine who goes first, each person must draw a card. The person with the highest card goes first (the highest card being an Ace). In order to break a tie, new cards must be drawn by each person in the tie until somebody has a higher card. Each card that was drawn must then go to the bottom of their respective war piles.
4. Each player must then draw 5 cards from the top of their war pile because each player must have only 5 cards in their hand at one time.
5. Going clockwise starting with the person who won during step 3, each player must take a turn that consists of a build phase and then an attack phase.
6. Build Phase (optional) – During the build phase, a player may either cash in their cards or build cards. A player may only cash in or build up to 5 cards.
a. Cashing in cards means exchanging a card in your hand for poker chips from the bank. Specialty cards (jokers and 2s) are worth 3 poker chips, cards worth 10 points are worth 2 poker chips, and all other cards are worth 1 chip. Each card that is cashed in must be replaced by a card from the top of your war pile.
b. Building cards means taking a card from the top of your build pile in exchange for two poker chips. If you take a card from your build pile, you must place a card from your hand in the bottom of your war pile.
7. Attack Phase (mandatory) – During the attack phase, the player must choose another player to attack. The player being attacked must place a minimum of 2 cards from their hand in front of them. One of these cards must be face up, while the other cards must be face down. The player who is attacking must then place the same amount of cards face down in front of them. Once that is done, all of the cards must be flipped over, and the person with the highest point total wins. The winner must then put his or her cards in the bottom of their war pile while the loser must place their cards in their discard pile.
a. Point totals are found by adding up the points on the attacker’s cards and the defender’s cards. Aces are worth 11 points, face cards are worth 10 points, and all other cards are worth their respective numbers (ex. – a 3 card is worth 3 points).
b. If the cards are flipped over and the attacker has a lower card total, he or she may buy a last resort for 3 poker chips. If a last resort is bought, the attacker must draw a card from the top of their war pile and place it next to their attack cards. The point totals are then recalculated to determine who is the new winner and the new loser.
c. During the attack phase, a player may choose to borrow cards from another player (and only that player) that isn’t the defender. The attacker must give a player 1 poker chip for each card that they borrow, and the maximum amount of cards that they can borrow is the amount placed by the defender (letting an attacker borrow cards is optional). These cards must then be returned to the bottom of the borrower’s war pile or the top of the borrower’s discard pile depending on whether the attack was successful or not.
d. If a joker card is played, the person who played the card is the automatic winner of the attack.
e. If a 2 card is played, however, both the attacker and the defender must each place their cards in their discard piles (even if a joker card is played).
8. After an attack occurs, the attacker and the defender must each draw cards from the top of their war pile until they have 5 cards in their hand.
9. Once your war pile is empty, you’re out of the game, and the last player with cards left in their war pile wins the game.
A player’s hand, their war pile, and their discard pile. There isn’t any build pile in this shot because in this play test I wanted to see what it would be like if there was a single build pile that every player could take from.
A Statement by the Artist:
For this project, I wanted to focus on some common concepts and give them a bit of a twist. I was really interested in the ways that artists like Yoko Ono expressed their views about war with pieces like White Chess, so I decided to create my own piece that brought to light the common concepts of warfare as well. Chess seemed like something that would be too obvious to utilize since many artists have used the game already to examine warfare, so I decided to utilize objects that were analogous to chess, cards. Like chess, each deck of cards holds pieces with different levels of importance. Cards like the king and queen hold similar value to the kings and queens in chess, and the numbered cards are basically the pawns of most card games. There is even a card game called War, which I figured is a game that could be used as the perfect starting point for the creation of this project. However, in order to make the game War feel more like an actual war, I felt that it would be necessary and fun to add some new game mechanics to its game play.
In War, players battle by drawing a card from the top of their deck, and the player with the highest card wins. This seemed too simple to me, so I decided to add rules that made battles more strategic and risky (just like real battles). When I play tested some of the new rules, it seemed like the defender would win an unusually larger amount of battles than the attacker. I wanted to make sure that both the attacker and the defender had an equal shot at winning a battle, which is why I added rules like the last resort. It takes money to fight a war, which is why I also added an economy to the game. I made sure to add as many uses for the economy as possible (otherwise it would be pointless), but the more uses for the economy I added, the more I had to play test because added certain uses could make the game too easy or too difficult. Because wars usually involve alliances and multiple parties, I thought it would also be fun and necessary to turn War into a game that required more than 2 people. When a game has more than two players, it is important to add as many interaction mechanics as possible, or else, the game will be less fun because of it. That is why I added rules like the borrowing of cards.