HAM

The Problem with Games

Where are the young writers?  Where are the young game developers?

According to some, Games are “the medium” of the 21st century.  While I’m not even sure this could be close to being true even though I do love making predictions after two years of relative success.  Staying power and longevity tend to be determined by the ability of a medium (and a community) to not only produce beautiful content, but to have a legion of young authors and producers challenging, reinterpreting and claiming the medium as a space where they can speak to issues they find important.

So where are the young writers? Where are the young game developers?

That’s right, they’re in the middle of nowhere, somewhere inside of a game company.  It’s ironic that an industry whose main goal was works of artistic merit would put their brightest talent in positions that basically restricted them from as much.

It is possible to be beautiful without being meaningful and to be meaningful without being beautiful.  Some of the games released recently have been beautiful, truly.  But to argue that games are meaningful is a tougher claim.  They don’t really do that much.  They are fascinating explorations of the relationship between narrative and interactivity, which is fine, I suppose.  But we often forget that understanding narrative isn’t actually its own end, any more than masturbating is its own end.  We understand narrative (as fun as it might be) so that we might make games to do such things to communicate something important. 

Two games that are often held up as the hallmarks of excellent game design are The Last of Us and Bioshock: Infinite.  Examples that games can in fact be redeemed.

As one author posts…

"Of course we know: Why save the species that killed your daughter? Why give up when there’s a chance to play make-believe with a surrogate of the person you lost? The world can burn, the species can end, but at least you are redeemed – even if you have doomed everyone else."

But just like the actual game is that there is no real question, no actual pondering over what the meaning of it all is.  Even the suffering becomes yet another element to merely be experienced, rather than interpreted. 

You might ask, what does this have to do with youth?  With young writers?

All of this goes as a way of saying that there is no counterpost to the overwhelmingly profit-based narrative of the game industry.  Youth has its advantages that it does not have to cowtow to such desires, because it does not have the responsibilities and politics that come with age.  Instead of developing tools that more easily help lone-individuals and tiny teams develop interactive narrative we are asking students to increasingly specialize, to increasingly only be useful within a narrowing set of specialties.  (Twine is a notable exception)

If I had to argue for a medium of the 21st century, it would be the internet, as increasingly privatized as it is becoming, because it has further increased the level of sharing and challenging that can be done across cultures, across boundaries, by amateurs.  Amateur musicians, writers, scholars, and directors can at the very least share their work, hoping for recognition, if not massive changes.

But in the game industry, we are still obsessed with platforms, still desperate to eke out the last dollar for the most profitable place.  If games are tool dependent, then they aren’t actually a creative medium.  No writer would ever tell anyone that they only write for Amazon.  They would say they write, and then release wherever they could (depending on whether or not they were aiming for profit, impact, personal choice, etc.). 

Games are still an immature field, I suppose, the argument is that that is a somehow extenuating circumstance.  But, at the very least, it feels telling that when talking about video games, the first thing people say, “I want to make millions!” and then perhaps some parting comment about “teaching” something.  Games, at least within our current culture, are more prized for their ability to make money than for their ability to express, to communicate, or to feel.  But perhaps that’s more of a statement about our culture than it is about the medium.


Day 6 at RISD.
Today I focused on creating a logo that I could use to develop a letterhead, envelope, and business card.  The four images you see here are different color tests with the logo itself.  I think my favorite is the black SU and white J on the red background.  Day 6 at RISD.
Today I focused on creating a logo that I could use to develop a letterhead, envelope, and business card.  The four images you see here are different color tests with the logo itself.  I think my favorite is the black SU and white J on the red background.  Day 6 at RISD.
Today I focused on creating a logo that I could use to develop a letterhead, envelope, and business card.  The four images you see here are different color tests with the logo itself.  I think my favorite is the black SU and white J on the red background.  Day 6 at RISD.
Today I focused on creating a logo that I could use to develop a letterhead, envelope, and business card.  The four images you see here are different color tests with the logo itself.  I think my favorite is the black SU and white J on the red background.  

Day 6 at RISD.

Today I focused on creating a logo that I could use to develop a letterhead, envelope, and business card.  The four images you see here are different color tests with the logo itself.  I think my favorite is the black SU and white J on the red background.  


Getting roughed up intellectually is tough.  I learned today that RISD really is the big leagues in terms of the design world.  My work is just not on a level that most of the rest of the class is at.  And my understanding of the Adobe suite is even worse.  
Here are the “final” versions of my most recent project, 3 book covers.  They’re still not in a state that I’m particularly happy with, and if I have some extra time I will be sure to come back to them.  Getting roughed up intellectually is tough.  I learned today that RISD really is the big leagues in terms of the design world.  My work is just not on a level that most of the rest of the class is at.  And my understanding of the Adobe suite is even worse.  
Here are the “final” versions of my most recent project, 3 book covers.  They’re still not in a state that I’m particularly happy with, and if I have some extra time I will be sure to come back to them.  Getting roughed up intellectually is tough.  I learned today that RISD really is the big leagues in terms of the design world.  My work is just not on a level that most of the rest of the class is at.  And my understanding of the Adobe suite is even worse.  
Here are the “final” versions of my most recent project, 3 book covers.  They’re still not in a state that I’m particularly happy with, and if I have some extra time I will be sure to come back to them.  

Getting roughed up intellectually is tough.  I learned today that RISD really is the big leagues in terms of the design world.  My work is just not on a level that most of the rest of the class is at.  And my understanding of the Adobe suite is even worse.  

Here are the “final” versions of my most recent project, 3 book covers.  They’re still not in a state that I’m particularly happy with, and if I have some extra time I will be sure to come back to them.  


I promised myself I’d do a blog post every weekday while I’m at RISD, and dammit, I’ll do it. 
These are three bookcovers I’ve been working on, in various stages of readiness.  
The final versions will hopefully be ready by tomorrow.I promised myself I’d do a blog post every weekday while I’m at RISD, and dammit, I’ll do it. 
These are three bookcovers I’ve been working on, in various stages of readiness.  
The final versions will hopefully be ready by tomorrow.I promised myself I’d do a blog post every weekday while I’m at RISD, and dammit, I’ll do it. 
These are three bookcovers I’ve been working on, in various stages of readiness.  
The final versions will hopefully be ready by tomorrow.

I promised myself I’d do a blog post every weekday while I’m at RISD, and dammit, I’ll do it. 

These are three bookcovers I’ve been working on, in various stages of readiness.  

The final versions will hopefully be ready by tomorrow.


Elite Performances

Americans love underdogs.  Bullshit.

We say we love rooting for losers, for halfwits, for scoundrels.  But I really don’t think that’s true.  Underdogs don’t win, winners do.  We just wrap up them up in cute underdog stories because it makes us feel better about ourselves, because somehow an underdog victory is a moral victory.  For the most part I think when viewing a film, watching a game, or reading a story we realize this is in fact bullshit, but it makes us happy so we go along with it.  

Teams that win championships aren’t underdogs, they’re champions.  The 1980 hockey team was perhaps a team of unlikely contenders, but they trained like it, and they won.  The 2004 World Series title by the Red Sox was not a win by an outclassed team, it was won by a team that had the training necessary to overcome surprising odds, because they prepared.

But that’s not to say all victors are moral or all losers are immoral.  That’s also not to say the corollary either.  

But I’m not here just to talk about sports, I’m here to talk about Elite Performances, because I actually think that’s what people love seeing.  There are two in particular that I think are especially interesting, that come from far outside the sports arena.  Paul Rand’s filibuster, and Wendy Davis’ filibuster.  

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/26/tech/social-media/texas-filibuster-twitter/index.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57572883/rand-paul-filibusters-vote-on-cia-director-nominee-john-brennan-over-drones/

Why are these so riveting? I think it’s because they are true elite performances, the mix of courage, determination, and physical output that is required are magical.  They’re magical because they are manifestations of our proudest beliefs.  They’re magical because the nature of the individual doesn’t have to be elite, it can come from anywhere and from anyone.  I suppose it’s more exciting if it comes from someone who doesn’t have a history of elite performances, but the point remains, we love watching other people working within rules systems, pushing them to the limits in order to accomplish something that they feel is meaningful.

And I think, especially in Wendy Davis’ case, a 13 hour filibuster is comparable to a perfect game in baseball.  She shut the opposing team down.

But like baseball the season is long, and a game, elite performance aside, is a still a game.  


RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.RISD Day 2
Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  
One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.

RISD Day 2

Today was my last day of the form/counterform assignment.  I began more indepth explorations of font and shape pairings and started adding color to express different feelings and ideas.  As you can see, certain themes got picked up stronger (the A + triangle) instead of others (D + circle, to name one).  

One of the things I began to realize was that design really is limited by time, not by thought.  I could have easily let the many different ideas expand infinitely and never even got to the color portion, but the existence of a timeline forced me to start biasing some projects and not others.  In a small sense, it really was a tutorial on the power of deadlines in design iterations.


I took my first day of classes at RISD’s Summer Graphic Design program. Intense is actually an understatement.  I spent the better part of 4 hours staring at font trying to understand how the different angles and shapes could be used to create other images and ideas.  It was incredibly eye opening because it was the first time I saw a distinct relationship between random abstract symbols (like lines and shapes) and the ideas they were trying to represent.  
It’s the relationship between the lines and the shapes can hint at potential letters and typographies which further hint at broader themes.  If design theory is founded on graphic design and graphic design is founded on type theory.  Basically, it’s the notion that design is somehow about the communication of diverse ideas in the most elegant way.
For game and interaction design, it means creating emotions by shaping the way people behave.  
The images above are some of the sketches I came up with today.  They’re not much, but in the design tradition, I worked quickly and without regard for quality so much.  When I go back in tomorrow to create the final drafts, I will focus on a couple of my favorite ideas and explore them more fully, trying to tease out meanings where I can.  I took my first day of classes at RISD’s Summer Graphic Design program. Intense is actually an understatement.  I spent the better part of 4 hours staring at font trying to understand how the different angles and shapes could be used to create other images and ideas.  It was incredibly eye opening because it was the first time I saw a distinct relationship between random abstract symbols (like lines and shapes) and the ideas they were trying to represent.  
It’s the relationship between the lines and the shapes can hint at potential letters and typographies which further hint at broader themes.  If design theory is founded on graphic design and graphic design is founded on type theory.  Basically, it’s the notion that design is somehow about the communication of diverse ideas in the most elegant way.
For game and interaction design, it means creating emotions by shaping the way people behave.  
The images above are some of the sketches I came up with today.  They’re not much, but in the design tradition, I worked quickly and without regard for quality so much.  When I go back in tomorrow to create the final drafts, I will focus on a couple of my favorite ideas and explore them more fully, trying to tease out meanings where I can.  I took my first day of classes at RISD’s Summer Graphic Design program. Intense is actually an understatement.  I spent the better part of 4 hours staring at font trying to understand how the different angles and shapes could be used to create other images and ideas.  It was incredibly eye opening because it was the first time I saw a distinct relationship between random abstract symbols (like lines and shapes) and the ideas they were trying to represent.  
It’s the relationship between the lines and the shapes can hint at potential letters and typographies which further hint at broader themes.  If design theory is founded on graphic design and graphic design is founded on type theory.  Basically, it’s the notion that design is somehow about the communication of diverse ideas in the most elegant way.
For game and interaction design, it means creating emotions by shaping the way people behave.  
The images above are some of the sketches I came up with today.  They’re not much, but in the design tradition, I worked quickly and without regard for quality so much.  When I go back in tomorrow to create the final drafts, I will focus on a couple of my favorite ideas and explore them more fully, trying to tease out meanings where I can.  I took my first day of classes at RISD’s Summer Graphic Design program. Intense is actually an understatement.  I spent the better part of 4 hours staring at font trying to understand how the different angles and shapes could be used to create other images and ideas.  It was incredibly eye opening because it was the first time I saw a distinct relationship between random abstract symbols (like lines and shapes) and the ideas they were trying to represent.  
It’s the relationship between the lines and the shapes can hint at potential letters and typographies which further hint at broader themes.  If design theory is founded on graphic design and graphic design is founded on type theory.  Basically, it’s the notion that design is somehow about the communication of diverse ideas in the most elegant way.
For game and interaction design, it means creating emotions by shaping the way people behave.  
The images above are some of the sketches I came up with today.  They’re not much, but in the design tradition, I worked quickly and without regard for quality so much.  When I go back in tomorrow to create the final drafts, I will focus on a couple of my favorite ideas and explore them more fully, trying to tease out meanings where I can.  I took my first day of classes at RISD’s Summer Graphic Design program. Intense is actually an understatement.  I spent the better part of 4 hours staring at font trying to understand how the different angles and shapes could be used to create other images and ideas.  It was incredibly eye opening because it was the first time I saw a distinct relationship between random abstract symbols (like lines and shapes) and the ideas they were trying to represent.  
It’s the relationship between the lines and the shapes can hint at potential letters and typographies which further hint at broader themes.  If design theory is founded on graphic design and graphic design is founded on type theory.  Basically, it’s the notion that design is somehow about the communication of diverse ideas in the most elegant way.
For game and interaction design, it means creating emotions by shaping the way people behave.  
The images above are some of the sketches I came up with today.  They’re not much, but in the design tradition, I worked quickly and without regard for quality so much.  When I go back in tomorrow to create the final drafts, I will focus on a couple of my favorite ideas and explore them more fully, trying to tease out meanings where I can.  I took my first day of classes at RISD’s Summer Graphic Design program. Intense is actually an understatement.  I spent the better part of 4 hours staring at font trying to understand how the different angles and shapes could be used to create other images and ideas.  It was incredibly eye opening because it was the first time I saw a distinct relationship between random abstract symbols (like lines and shapes) and the ideas they were trying to represent.  
It’s the relationship between the lines and the shapes can hint at potential letters and typographies which further hint at broader themes.  If design theory is founded on graphic design and graphic design is founded on type theory.  Basically, it’s the notion that design is somehow about the communication of diverse ideas in the most elegant way.
For game and interaction design, it means creating emotions by shaping the way people behave.  
The images above are some of the sketches I came up with today.  They’re not much, but in the design tradition, I worked quickly and without regard for quality so much.  When I go back in tomorrow to create the final drafts, I will focus on a couple of my favorite ideas and explore them more fully, trying to tease out meanings where I can.  

I took my first day of classes at RISD’s Summer Graphic Design program. Intense is actually an understatement.  I spent the better part of 4 hours staring at font trying to understand how the different angles and shapes could be used to create other images and ideas.  It was incredibly eye opening because it was the first time I saw a distinct relationship between random abstract symbols (like lines and shapes) and the ideas they were trying to represent.  

It’s the relationship between the lines and the shapes can hint at potential letters and typographies which further hint at broader themes.  If design theory is founded on graphic design and graphic design is founded on type theory.  Basically, it’s the notion that design is somehow about the communication of diverse ideas in the most elegant way.

For game and interaction design, it means creating emotions by shaping the way people behave.  

The images above are some of the sketches I came up with today.  They’re not much, but in the design tradition, I worked quickly and without regard for quality so much.  When I go back in tomorrow to create the final drafts, I will focus on a couple of my favorite ideas and explore them more fully, trying to tease out meanings where I can.