09 Apr

NewbQuest Ep. 6: Steve Swink, Game Designer of Scale

In this episode I interviewed Steve Swink who is currently working on a game called Scale. Steve is a game designer, author and teacher whose thinking I respect very much. Having taught, written and made games Steve offers a unique perspective which encompasses both the academic and applied views of game design and combines formal rigor with practical, down to earth application. His book Game Feel provides an excellent examination of this often casually applied term including breaking down elements of interactive experience like frame rate and it’s relationship to how responsive a game feels in granular detail.

Steve’s current project is called Scale and it’s a game in which the player can make objects in the world larger and smaller to solve puzzles. Imagine scaling up a vending machine so you could crawl inside it and pull out what you need and you’ll get a bit of an idea of some of the experiences possible. It was a great pleasure to speak with Steve and I hope that you enjoy listening in.

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01 Apr

Video Games as Art Pt. 1: Possibility

Faye Wong in Chungking Express, 1994

I’m 33 and grew up with video games as a part of my life. I have many many happy memories of playing various games both alone and with friends and family, of being totally engaged, drawn into a world and playing all day, all night, till five o’clock in the morning trying to see what came next.  I miss that. When I was younger it was not so hard to find that feeling. There was a lot happening in the world of games, both technologically and creatively. It was exciting and as a young kid and then as a teenager I was, shall we say, easily amused.  As I, and my generation have grown up, I feel that we’ve left games behind to some extent.  Many of us still play but those moments of total immersion are fewer and harder to come by.  As some of us accumulate responsibility in the form of jobs, children, girlfriends and wives many of the gaming experiences which we still enjoy become out of reach due to timing issues and the fact that our girlfriends DEFINITELY do not want to sit and watch us fly a spaceship through endless boring space and talk inscrutable jargon to unseen people over a headset for hours and hours (I’m looking at you Eve Online).

The reason I’m starting this project and my own journey into game design is because I want to reclaim some of those lost experiences, and create new ones which I haven’t had before. I went to film school for a few years at NYU and studied, along with how to make films, the history and critical theory around cinema.  When film making was first discovered by the Lumiere brothers in France it was perceived as a technological novelty.  Look a train is coming at you out of a tunnel! People dove for cover, and then laughed.  No one considered it to be a valid artistic medium for the expression of big ideas or unique experiences, including the Lumieres themselves.  This was in 1895.  It took almost a century for artists to take the technology and use it to create experiences like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972), Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre (1981) and Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express (1994).  In the hands of passionate artists what was a visual novelty became a powerful medium for expressing big emotions, thought provoking ideas and intense visual beauty.

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