The Issue of Masculinity in the MoMA Through Passage

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an art museum in New York City developed in 1929 and has since been one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art. Its collection offers all types of modern and contemporary art such as architecture, designs, drawings, paintings, film, electronic media, and more. In fact video games are recognized in the MoMA as contemporary art design. As of now there are twenty-three games in the MoMA, some of which are: Minecraft, Pac-Man, The Sims, Space Invaders, and much more. 15moma-exterior-facebookjumbo2

Paola Antonelli

She is the current Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at the MoMA and states that all the games in the MoMA have the same criteria that qualify them as interaction design and are MoMA worthy. The qualities the games consist of are: aesthetics, space, time, and behavior. She defines each term like so: 3wv0m2pq

  1. “So the kind of interferences that you see here that look like beautiful barriers in the game are actually a consequence of the processor’s limitedness, which is fantastic. So aesthetics is always important.”
  2.  “And so is space, the spatial aspect of games. You know, I feel that the best video games are the ones that have really savvy architects that are behind them, and if they’re not architects, bona fide trained in architecture, they have that feeling. But the spatial evolution in video games is extremely important.”
  3. “Time. The way we experience time in video games, as in other forms of interaction design, is really quite amazing. It can be real time or it can be the time within the game.”
  4. “The real core issue of interaction design is behavior. Designers that deal with interaction design behaviors that go to influence the rest of our lives. They’re not just limited to our interaction with the screen.”

Passage, in the MoMA portrays aesthetics, space, time, and behavior, thus qualifying it as interaction design and MoMA worthy, according to Antonelli.

Passage

 passageThe game was created by Jason Rohrer, but it was meant to be a memento mori game, which is Latin for “remember that you have to die.” The reason it represents such a deepful meaning is because the game represents an entire life from young to adulthood to old and to eventually death. The game lasts five minutes no matter what you do, but you continuously move right. The player can choose to go down as well but as the player goes down, he or she will still be moving towards the right. The screen geometry only allows you to view a narrow slice of this maze at any given moment. You can see quite a distance out in front of you, but you can’t see anything to the north or south. You may see a reward up ahead but not be able to see a clear path to it.

Why It’s in the MoMA

Aesthetics: The game has a visual representation of life shown through pixels, therefore a bit blurry. This, however, represents life not being clear and people not knowing how their life will turn out, besides death.

Space: Passage is shown through a narrow line going towards the right. One can choose to go down through obstacles. However, if the player chooses to have a partner, space is limited. This is because it represents that in the real world one can not do much without being considerate of his or her partner.

Time: The game consists of five minutes. However, it has its own time within it, thus ones whole life.

Behavior: Antolleli states that the game should influence our whole life, which it does because we will die, therefore, connecting to all human beings. Howard Becker in Art Worlds and Collective Activity in Art Worlds agrees with Antonelli when stating,

“Someone must respond to the work once it is done, have an emotional or intellectual reaction to it.”(Becker)

Essentially, Jason was able to lead the player onto having an emotional attachment to the character.

Evidently, Passage holds the quintessential criterion that allows it to be considered interactive design in the MoMA.

HOWEVER, there is one issue about this. The main character in Passage is a white male with blonde hair, thus not everyone being able to connect with the character because not everyone looks like that. According to Simon Niedenthal he states,

“An aesthetic perspective can contribute greatly to research discourses, on gaming as an embodied and pleasurable experience, and can give rise to new ways of thinking about game design.” (Niedenthal)

Although, Passage portrays aesthetics through a computation sensation, it does rise a new way of thinking about game design in the MoMA because Jason Rohrerpassage1 is another male whose work is represented in the MoMa. Therefore, this creates a choosing procedure in the MoMa that is problematic because there is not much gender inclusiveness in the art world. Thus a new way of looking at MoMa for not being gender inclusive. Additionally, this contradicts Antonelli when she states the following:

Design really looks upon the whole world and it considers the world in all of its different ranges.”

This is contradictory because although Jason considered the whole world going through death, he did not consider that they all did not look male and blonde. He does mention that the character is supposed to represent him, but there really is no attachment from the character to the player besides Jason. The fact that Antonelli approved this game to be in the MoMA creates an issue of masculinity only in the art world because this has not been the first and last game created by a male in the MoMA.

On the MoMA website it states what kind of art belongs in the MoMA:

“That these forms of visual expression are an open minded series of arguments and counter arguments that can be explored through exhibitions and installations.”

Although, some art pieces do represent a series of arguments and counter arguments, like Passage arguing that people go through obstacles in life, but eventually face death. However, the MoMA is not being open minded about whose art pieces they believe should belong in the museum. Consequently, it is not Jason’s fault for creating a game that he connects with, but it is the MoMA to blame, for not valuing women’s art, thus a gender issue.

Guerilla Girls

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Guerilla Girls is a radical feminist group of women who devote their time fight for women’s art in the art world. Therefore, they are trying to eliminate what MoMA is doing. Either men only sexualizing women in art or only portraying males’ art in museums. Roland Barthes in Death of the Author and Birth of the Reader states that

“the audience should be able to interpret the content their own way.” (Barthes)

Subsequently, Guerrilla Girls are interpreting art as it being gender exclusive, thus not the interpretation the artists want, and if they do not want the audience to only think about that, then the artists need be more gender inclusive through their art.

Conclusion

Passage, of course is just one example of a male dominant game in the MoMA, but other games like Portal and Valve represent male dominance in the art world. The game Portal, Kim Swift was one of the designers, but unfortunately was not given the credit by the MoMA. Only the males involved were given the credit. One can wonder why that is the case, but can conclude that theres is definitely is a gender issue.

Bibliography

Barthes, Roland. Death of the Author. 1967.

Becker, Howard. Art Worlds. University of California Press, 2008.

Niednthal,Simon. What We Talk About When we Talk About Game Aesthetics 

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Push My Love Over the Borderlands

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Background

Borderlands 2 is an action role-playing first-person shooter video game developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games. I like to think this game has a very different style in comparison to most other shooters. This is as much as an RPG as other games so do not let the title of “shooter” fool you. There are numerous side missions, story quests, collectibles, recordings, skins, gear, guns, guns, and guns. Missions provide you with weapons and gear as well as experience which you will need to level up throughout the course of the game. Missions also provide in my opinion the very best portion of the game and that is the story and lore that is deep inside of the Borderlands Universe. The stories are extremely well done, they are extremely challenging without being overburdening, the missions are equally spaced out enough to where you feel like you do not have too much on your plate. On top of that, they are fun to do which is not something you see too often in RPG’s where usually you have some 3-5 stand-out missions, in Borderlands 2 it was safe to say most missions were fun, stand-outs to me. Like I mentioned earlier with obtaining experience and leveling up, the game serves as an incredible RPG in the sense that you do have a skill tree, there are individual roles that your character can take on to either traverse the world of Pandora alone or with a team (roles such as Tank, Support, and Damage to name a few). There are 4 different classes (now there are much more but I will stick to the pre-DLC game as I think that is fair) each of which possess their own skill trees, preferred styles of play, and abilities to use in battle.

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Axton (Soldier), Zero (Assassin), Salvador (Gunzerker), and Maya (Siren)

This is the second installment of the Borderlands series and plays as a bit of a sequel to the first game. Just like the first game you are to choose from four different treasure hunters. Unlike the name may sound, they do not hunt treasure in order to just find numerous riches but because they have no other choice. All of the selectable players have their own individual backgrounds that explain how they all ended up in the same boat. Essentially they do not have a choice, due to past actions the characters were banished to the desolate planet of Pandora as a means of punishment, the thrill of adventure and the lack of choice leads these 4 protagonists to cross paths, work together, and find the treasure that they seek. These individual stories about each protagonist are not explicitly known in the game. It is through the scoured ECHO devices throughout the game that helps to uncover not just the past of the protagonist but many other characters, as well as you, meet them through the game.

Plot

The Plot of Borderlands 2 pits the player in trainwreck from an explosive trap left by the main antagonist Handsom Jack. This is when you are prompted to choose your character and proceed on with the game. You wake up in the snow to find a small, annoying robot who rambles on and on about everything but more or less, all you need to know is that his name is Clap-Trap and he is a friend. You are then presented with a woman’s voice to trust Clap-Trap and stop Handsome Jack before things get way out of hand. So you like any good Role Playing Game, you listen, do what you are told, and watch what becomes of your actions as the game unfolds. As you progress through the game you can see that there are two sides that combat each other through the entirety of the game, the Hyperion Corporation led by Handsome Jack who is at constant odds with the Crimson Raiders led by one of the main characters from the first game, Roland. Essentially the Hyperion Corporation wants to dig and find the treasure located in something they call a vault. Hyperion has the time, money, and manpower to locate the vault much faster than most and the idea of that scares all other inhabitants of Pandora because they know if that kind of technology, riches, and power fall into the hands of Handsome Jack then everyone is good as dead. So it then becomes the player’s job to help the Crimson Raiders to combat Hyperion, halts their vault search as much as possible, as well as find the vault yourself, all while helping the locals of the planet. The main story is actually really well spaced out and sized, riveting, and most importantly, it is fun to play and extremely funny if you key on what they say or get the bigger picture as to what really is going on in a lot of the missions.

 

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Jack and the Hyperion Corporation

Emotions and Aesthetics 

To start of the aesthetic and emotional journey that Borderlands takes you through, we need to look at a few definition first.

  1. Emotion:  an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.
  2. Aesthetics: relating to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.
  3. Art: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

One final scope I would like us to look through would be Niedenthal’s definitions of game aesthetics as they are thus.

  1. Game aesthetics refers to the sensory phenomena that the player encounters in the game (visual, aural, haptic, embodied).
  2. Game aesthetics refers to those aspects of digital games that are shared with other art forms (and thus provide a means of generalizing about art).
  3. Game aesthetics is an expression of the game experienced as pleasure, emotion, sociability, formgiving, etc (with reference to “the aesthetic experience”).

Borderlands 2 is famous for its spunk, visual pleasing aesthetics, unique audiovisual experiences, music/sound choices, and of course, the emotional rollercoaster that it takes the player on and rarely lets us go. Looking at the setting and art of the game, you will notice that is a very unique, cartoony almost comic-book-like style of art. The actual name for this style is called Cell-Shaded and it basically just bolds all the outlines of objects giving a much more “in you face” kind of feel, as well as it maintains the desolate, wasteland feel that Borderlands captures extremely well in my opinion. One other feature I would like to mention on behalf of the art in the game is the guns and mods within it. There are ENDLESS amounts of guns and loot in this game. One of the biggest artistic feats in a game I feel would be how the individual guns in the game have so many different variants in style, damage, accuracy, sight, range, ammo capacity, as well as most guns have their own unique abilities that they bring such as some guns explode when you reload them, others have elemental effects, some get more accurate as you shoot, and others shoot triple-bursts when aiming down the sights. The sheer number of options in this game keep it so fresh in my opinion because no one playthrough will be exactly alike in this game with a number of different gear options available.

 

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Example of Gun Stats and how they vary

 

The emotion behind this game is immense as well. This game will have you wowed at times, leaving you breathless to the sites, sounds, and findings throughout. Other times you will be sad, you will see the horrors of Hyperion and how terribly they treat and use everyone. You will grow attached to characters and watch them make the ultimate sacrifice. The game will shoot adrenaline up and down your body. The combat to this game, in my opinion, is second to none. From insane boss battles to an overwhelming number of enemies, too resistant enemies, scaling, ranged, up close, fast, slow, invisible, big, small, you will see all sorts of different encounters in combat, and you will find that they all have their weak spots. I always find myself leaning up in the chair every time I enter a big battle because this combat is so fast-paced but smooth as can be. You will laugh, it is bound to happen, this game HILARIOUS. Yes, the humor varies from each person’s perspective but for me, this game had me laughing out loud to some of the crude, sadistic humor that it throws at us. Plus the easter eggs found throughout and the relationships between the characters always make for a nice break from all of the action as you sit back and laugh alongside the other characters. As Niedenthal stated

“The core of formal meaning of a game, according to many current approaches, radiates out from the procedural nature of games, through rule sets and mechanics to sound, graphics and the controller; the core of experienced game meaning radiates out from the brain and cognitive awareness towards the senses and hands. Game aesthetics research allows us to pay full attention to what we have tended to think of as peripheral, the edges of the spheres. New gaming technologies point us towards these peripheries, and new understandings of the significance of touch, the senses, form giving and pleasure help us better understand what really happens when we take the controller in our hands. Where hands, senses, bodies and the tangible qualities of games meet, the aesthetic meaning of games emerges.”  Niedenthal

 

Conclusion

Borderlands 2 stands as one of my highest rated games of all time, not just because it had the cool guns or the combat itself, but because this game took me and never let me go. I found myself invested, I cared about the characters and what became of them because I saw a lot of humanity in the depictions that Borderlands gave me. I saw characters laugh, I saw them cry, I saw them mad, I saw them fight. Being witness to all these humanistic characteristics is what put me in the game. The fact that I was laughing at the witty writing, and that I found myself actually upset at the deaths of some characters really showed that the game itself did not just put on a show, that it really dug deep and invested the player into it, making me feel like I was just as much part of the story as anyone else. That style of game, that engaging combat, that customizability, that emotional investment that Niedenthal mentioned is why I am willing to argue that Borderlands 2 can be labeled as an “art”.

Resources

Niedenthal (2009). What we Talk About When we Talk About Game Aesthetics. http://www.digra.org/wp-content/uploads/digital-library/09287.17350.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderlands_2

http://borderlands.wikia.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Pong

The Creation of Pong

Pong the game was not the first videogame but it was the first game to grab the publics attention on a large scale. The game developers Atari initially released the arcade game in November of 1972. During the development of the game, coin-operated, arcade, test-versions had been released and the coin-boxes came back overflowing. So, Atari took that as a sign of the games potential and had tens of thousands of copies sent out across the country (“Pong”). The games growing success as the arcade version led Atari to create and release a home version in 1975, allowing the fun of Pong to continue at home.

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Home Pong became the hot Christmas gift, selling hundreds of thousands of copies, introducing millions of children to video games, and transforming the TV from a passive medium into an interactive plaything. Decades later, Pong’s iconic sound, intuitive controls, and satisfying game play still resonate, inviting people to try their hand at keeping the ball bouncing as long as possible. (“Pong”)

tumblr_nk9f1dbk9r1tgmzako1_500Pong is a tennis-like or table tennis game that features two-dimensional graphics, which displayed two sides of a black screen _ divided by a dashed, vertical line _ each with a controllable line or rectangle and a ball  that bounced back and forth. Pong brought video games to a mainstream setting; because of the simplistic games popularity, home consoles could be found in more and more homes giving rise to the video game industry. Pong, remains the second longest running video game franchise to exist (next to the Oregon trail), spanning over forty years and demonstrating the longevity of the game. In 2015, Pong was officially inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame, which stated that “[b]y most measures of popular impact, Pong launched the video game industry” (“Pong”). Pong was not the first video game to be invented; it did, however, introduce video games to the mainstream public and set a precedent for all that would come in the video game industry.

What came next

Since the release of Pong, video games have risen immensely in popularity and what a video game is has evolved. Within this evolution, the debate of whether or not video games could be considered art had arisen. The establishment of the debate came when Roger Ebert, a celebrated and respected film critic, donned video games to not be art despite the growing claims to the contrary. There are sides to the debate of video games and each thoroughly explains how video games definitively are or are not to be classified as art.

When Paola Antonelli, curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), had announced that she would be curating an exhibit of interactive design featuring videogames, the debate was ignited. The fourteen original videogames to enter the exhibit in 2012 included: Pac-Man (1980), Tetris (1984), Another World (1991), Myst (1993), SimCity 2000 (1994), vib-ribbon (1999), The Sims (2000), Katamari Damacy (2004), EVE Online (2003, Dwarf Fortress (2006), Portal (2007), flOw (2006), Passage (2008), and Canabalt (2009). The

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Antonelli giving her Ted Talk

exhibit did not stop there, however, a year later in 2013 the MoMA added seven more video games to the collection: Magnavox Odyssey (1972), Pong (1972) , Space Invaders (1978), Asteroids (1979), Tempest (1981), Yar’s Revenge (1982), and Minecraft (2011). Pong had been added to the collection, demonstrating the significance of the game to the industry’s development. The curator, Paola Antonelli, explained why videogames had been added to the MoMA’s collections in a Ted Talk where she explained that:

I really do believe that design is the highest form of creative expression…You know, video games can be truly deep... So time, space, aesthetics, and then, most important, behavior. The real core issue of interaction design is behavior. Designers that deal with interaction design behaviors that go to influence the rest of our lives. They’re not just limited to our interaction with the screen... you can see how video games are the purest aspect of interaction design and are very useful to explain what interaction is. (Antonelli)

The presence of the games in the Museum of Modern Art was not widely received. In 2012, Johnathan Jones, a journalist for the Guardian, wrote the article, “Sorry MoMA, video games are not art”.  In the article Jones claims that, “electronic games are more like playgrounds where experience is created by the interaction between a player and a programme” (Jones). The dismissal of video games as a form of art gave rise to the defense of video games not only having a place in the MoMA but also as an art form.  In response to the Jones article, John Maeda at Wired wrote the article titled, “Videogames Do Belong in the Museum of Modern Art.” In which he explains how the games were not acquired as art but he continues to make the argument that “in some cases, games edge past being design to being art as well” (Maeda). He continues to explain how “videogames… played an important role in bringing about the digital age” (Maeda). With Pong at the forefront, there has been public support for the impact that video games have made.

The presence of videogames in the daily lives of so many people there was bound to be a discussion of their importance and impact. The discussion of their existence as art, may not have been the initial intention when Pong was released and brought video games to all those people but it is how the medium has developed.

Pong’s Legacy

In regards to the question of video games as art,  Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a 19th century German philosopher, considered art to have an ideal form and that the ideal form of art is reached through a series of evolutions that occur in the display of art (Hegel). Hegel’s claim of this progression of art can be seen over time; not to say that it is improving to an ideal but the introduction to new forms of art and the development of the qualifications for art are obvious. Hegel may have believed that it was his time period that possessed the “Ideal” art but his claim that art is changing and evolving can still be seen throughout the art world. If there is a progression in the definition and qualification of art and videogames have now joined that debate, then it is understandable that videogames could be a progression in art with Pong have leading the way. It could also be said that “typical digital art will arrive… it will become something new” (Hunger). Meaning that the acceptance of video games as a new form of art could occur. With Pong having led the way for videogames to their present popularity, it was also the important basis for all that video games have become.


Sources:

Antonelli, Paola. Transcribed by Joseph Geni. “Why I brought Pac-Man to MoMA”.ted.com (May 2013).

Hegel, G.W.E.. (1998 [1826]). “Philosophy of Fine Art.” In The Art of Art History: A Critical
Anthology, edited by D. Preziosi. Oxford University Press(Oxford: 1998[1826]) pp. 80-88

Hunger, Francis. “Perspective Engines: An Interview with JODI.” Videogames and art. (2013). http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=3014898.

Jones, Johnathan. “Sorry MoMA, video games art not art.” The Guardian. (30 November 2012) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2012/nov/30/moma-video-games-art.

Maeda, John. “Videogames Do Belong in the Museum of Modern Art.” Wired. (December 2012). https://www.wired.com/2012/12/why-videogames-do-belong-in-the-museum-of-modern-art.

“Pong: Inducted 2015”. The Strong National Museum of Play. (Rochester, NY: 2017).

League of Art

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There has been a controversy for a while now to decide if video games are actually art. Recently more and more opinions have been feeling that video games ARE art. There are several things that goes into making video games and about them that could consider them art. Things such as collaboration to finish the design of the game continuously making progress to get one final project and the aesthetics factor of the game. I will be arguing that League of Legends is art because it uses progress as in patching every couple weeks changing the game just a little bit causing for players to react to it, the aesthetics of skins allowing you to make your character’s look different with some different animations, how it requires collaboration of designers working together to achieve a certain goal of improving the game more and how you must work together with your team to win the game. ga_word_0

What is League of Legends?

League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena, also known as moba, that was first started in 2006 and was later released by Riot Games on October 27,2009. When League of Legends was first released it was only available to those people that signed up to be a beta tester of the game. For being one of the few beta testers you were given a special icon to display that shows you were one of the fortunate ones to be a beta tester. The main objective of League of Legends is to work together with your team to destroy the enemy’s team nexus. The nexus is what spawns the minions. In order for you to get to that level of destroying the enemy team’s nexus you need to get stronger throughout the game to be able to destroy your opponent’s base. There are currently 136 champions that you are able to play with each one being very different from the rest. Each champion has certain abilities such as healing, shielding, and etc. For the beginning minutes of the game you are spent killing minions to get gold that ranges may vary depending on the minion killed. Another way of getting gold is by getting kills and assists. After you have sufficient amount of gold you are able to buy specific items that results in you getting stronger. Just because you are stronger doesn’t result in you automatically win, it certainly does help because you would be able to kill the opponents resulting in you being able to destroy their base. Initially, when League of Legends first started up there were 3 main maps you can choose to play from which are : Twisted Tree line, Dominion, and the most popular Summoner’s Rift. Later on Riot Games added the map of Howling Abyss and later retiring the map of Dominion. Each map has a different way on how the base is set up.

Maps as Art

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With the 3 initial maps each one is very different from the others making it unique. In Twisted Treeline, it’s the only map that is a 3v3 or 3 against 3 map while the rest are 5v5. With Twisted Treeline being a 3v3 map it results in having a smaller map than the other possible maps. In Twisted Treeline there are 2 “lanes” that 2 of the 3 players usually go to with the last player being in the jungle which is the middle area of the map. The jungle spends their time killing monster camps and then tries to attempt the kill the enemy team’s laners to get their own team an advantage. The main differences that Twisted Treeline has from other maps is that it is a map designed for 3v3 and how it has a Vilemaw monster instead of the usual Baron Nashor on Summoner’s Rift.

Dominion Crystal Scar

Dominion is unique in the fact that it is the only map that you’re not trying to destroy the opponent’s base. In Dominion, each team starts off with 500 points and there are 5 pillar towers that are the primary objective. This game mode is very similar to Call of Duty’s Domination. With each pillar controlled your opponent begins to lose more and more points. Eventually when a team reaches 0 points it results in the nexus being destroyed. Dominion is different from the other maps as how there are speed pads that make you run faster and health packs for you to heal from rather than for you to go back to base and potentially lose control over the pillar tower. Even though it seems as an interesting game mode it was not played as much and then was later retired as a result.

Howling Abyss

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Howling Abyss is the most recent map that has been added to the game. Howling Abyss is the map where you play the game mode ARAM or All Random All Mid which is that everyone gets a random champion and tries to win with their randomly selected champion. This game mode has been known to be less competitive because of the fact that you don’t get to choose your champion. Supposedly this game mode is more for fun and messing around. A very cool thing about Howling Abyss is that it’s just all on an icy bridge.

Summoner’s Rift

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Finally the last map is Summoner’s Rift, which is the most popular map that is played on. Summoner’s Rift is one of the most played maps because it is a relatively large map and has several factors like different types of dragons, a Baron Nashor, and 3 lanes (Top, Mid, and Bot). Being so big it requires more teamwork since if you are left alone in a certain area without your team then it is easier for the other team to come and kill you resulting in your team being down a player for a couple of seconds. As being one of the original maps there are some special events that changes the aesthetics of the map such as in winter the map changes to a more winter type of environment such as with snow and etc. The map design has been finished for a while, but the changing aesthetics gives a different look for the map.

Professional League of Legends

In League of Legends there are seasons, just like how basketball and basically every sport has seasons. So far League of Legends is currently in it’s 7th season, every year there is the World Championships, where the top 3 teams of every main region plus 2 wild card teams battle it out and see who is the best team in the world. Every year the World Championship changes location. Back in season 3(4 years ago) the World Championships were held in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the Lakers and Clippers play. You wouldn’t expect for an Esport game to sell out completely a  legendary sports arena like the Staples Center. This shows how much progress professional League of Legends  has made beginning from playing the Riot Offices to now huge sports arenas around the world. Majority of the professional League of Legends players choose to play competitively than to go to college because it is something they are passionate about and won’t have the opportunity to do so later. There are players that make about 6 figure salaries with all expenses paid for just for being a part of the team and competing. This is an extraordinary number because the average salary right out of college is significantly less than 6 figures.

How is League art?

League of Legends is art because since League of Legends was starting the designers had to continually make progress to have a finished project. Even now that the game is finished with the design there are still changes being made to the game every couple of weeks such as having different patches. In every patch there are several things that are changing such as buffing/nerfing champions, adding new champions, adding a new game mode, adjusting item costs and stats. Howard Becker once stated that

“The list of things that must be done varies, naturally, from one medium to another, but we can provisionally list the kinds of activities that must be performed. To begin, someone must have an idea of what kind of work is to be made and of its specific form. The originators may get that idea long before actually making the work, or the idea may arise in the process of working. The idea may be brilliant and original, profound and moving, or trivial and banal, for all practical purposes indistinguishable from thousands of other ideas produced by others equally untalented or uninterested in what they are doing.”(Howard Becker 1982, p. 2)

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As this shows that the designers must go through some process to get the final project as to what League of Legend does with it’s patches every couple weeks or so improving the game making it better. Another quote of Becker says that

“All artistic artwork, like all human activity, involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number, of people. Through their cooperation, the artwork we eventually see or hear comes to be and continues to be” (Howard Becker, p. 1)

As this also supports how League of Legends and other game must go through process to get to the final object. Another way of interpreting this could be that you must work together in the game if you want to win if not it will be extremely hard. Working together is the easiest way you will win.

Another way that League of Legends is art because its fundamental amount of aesthetics throughout the game such as having different skins for different champions that have different animations. These aesthetics trap the player into wanting to play that champion even more or to get a specific skin for their favorite champion. As stated by Clark and Mitchell:

Video game art is a constantly evolving and mutating field. This is inevitable as it is not built on one dominant application, programming language, medium, or aesthetic, nor does it consist of a single, homogeneous, community. But this also means that the work is very diverse and cannot, therefore, be easily or rigidly defined in terms of its themes, technology or techniques. Even so, the work shares a number of common characteristics, and although not every work will have or display all of them, we can use these to help to recognize video game art and acknowledge it as a coherent genre of work (and a valid critical term to describe this type of work).” (Clark and Mitchell)

This is can tie in with the aesthetic trappings of League of Legends because no skin is the same but they do have similarities such as the warden set of skins, the championship skins and etc.

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References:
“Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press: pp. 1-39.

Andy Clarke and Grethe Mitchell. (2007). “Introduction.” In Videogames and Art. Bristol; Chicago: Intellect. pp. 7-22

Call of Art Series

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What is this” Call of Duty” you speak of?

The infamous Call of Duty franchise known for its one of a kind first-person shooter games has had an impact in the community around it and also for art. The series first started on Microsoft Windows with its first release on October 29, 2003, then later expanded to several consoles and handheld devices such as Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo consoles. The Call of Duty series is owned and published by Activision, while the primary developers are Infinity War (2003- Present), Treyarch (2005- present), and Sledgehammer Games (2011- present). It has produced a numerous amount of iconic games over time with the first original Call of Duty in 2003 and its latest release of a duel package game of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered on November 4, 2016. The game uses a variety of engines to run the game, including the id Tech 3, Treyarch NGL, and the IW engine. The earlier games in the series were set primarily around World War II, but as the series progressed it introduced games about the cold war and near-future setting. The Call of Duty series is one of the most popular first person shooter games today, as for February 2016 the Call of Duty series has sold over 250 million copies. Their sales of all Call of Duty games have topped $15 billion.

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What is art?

According to the definition on Merriam Webster, art is

“the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.”

I see art as an expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. So now we must ask ourselves where do this tie in with videogames, and can they really be considered art? For me it is specifically centered around the Call of Duty series and its community around it. For me really consider it art I first asked myself who was to be the artist behind the art of Call of Duty, which I came to the conclusion are the developers who are the team that really put each game together. Based on what I have learned throughout the course of Gasp 159 I believe the Call of Duty series should be considered art because of the collaboration of each producer team that goes into making the final product of each Call of Duty game, the aesthetics that go into each game, and the Machinima based on the different games in the series.

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Collaboration!:

The collaboration of each developing team that put together their skills through their profession is what really lets us claim that Call of Duty is art. This can further be explained with the quote by Howard Becker that states.

“Artists are some sub-group of the world’s participants who, by common agree-ment, possess a special gift, therefore make a unique and indispensable contribution to the work, and thereby make it art.” (Becker, 35)

Basically stating that the entire team that works on making the final end product whether it’s the Developers, directors, producers, designers, programmers, and even the actual artist for the game each one contributed to the game with their own skill set and is in fact what makes the game art through their efforts. Each individual is the artist in their field contributing to a different part of the end product that brings each Call of Duty game we love and enjoy today. What if you played a game missing something such as background music or in the case of Call of Duty perhaps all the normal sound effects you hear by the characters such as gun shots and walking? Without each contribution it wouldn’t be the great game we know and love today. This can further be explained with the quote by Hunicke et al that states

“Game design and authorship happen at many levels, and the fields of games research and development involve people from diverse creative and scholarly backgrounds” (Hunickle, 1).

Making it that the artist within the game the creates the mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics of the game with each individual contribution. This is all important with understanding who’s is the artist of the game because without an artist could it really still be considered art? It makes us really understand the work and effort a group of people can put into the final art piece of Call of Duty we see. Each individual person adds a piece in their field of work for how they want you to experience it. In the end when you appreciate their work and continue to play their game it gives them a sense of comfort that artist feel with their art is interpreted and understood.

Aesthetics:

Through the collaborative efforts of each developing team we can examine the aesthetics within the game to also argue why Call of Duty is art. In every Call of Duty, each component of its design is an important facet of the player’s experience; focusing on the visuals and sound alone would neglect the most important difference between video games and other forms of art – the interaction. This can further be explained by Niedenthal’s (2009) three definitions of aesthetics.

1 Game aesthetics refers to the sensory phenomena that the player encounters in the game (visual, aural, haptic, embodied).

2 Game aesthetics refers to those aspects of digital games that are shared with other art forms (and thus provide a means of generalizing about art).

3 Game aesthetics is an expression of the game experienced as pleasure, emotion, sociability, formgiving, etc (with reference to “the aesthetic experience”).

The images, graphics and multiple colors depicted in each game can be seen as art even down to each individual character’s design. Each character, building, and plant took someone time and effort to create making it their contribution of aesthetics of art for the final masterpiece.
We also see the progression of this as each new game is released and the quality only gets better and better such as in the images below comparing images from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2009) and Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remasatered (2016).

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The mechanics that go into the creation of each Call of Duty game fundamentally influence how players experience it (and are thus part of its aesthetic), they cannot be excluded from an analysis of a game as a work of art. Players like what they see and experience through the aesthetics of each game which makes them continue to play each game as the series progresses, because to the gamers it is art just as a painter considers their work art a developer may consider their game art.

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Machinima:

Another important aspect to why the games of the Call of Duty series should be considered art is through the Machinima that has emerged through each game. From playing this series since Call of Duty 4, I encountered Machinima about the game. This brings back my memory of a viral video created using the Call of Duty 4 game called, “The Bazooka Dance,” where they made essentially a simple funny dancing video with game  . Art is defined as a range of human activities that create visual or preforming arts that express the authors imaginative or technical skill. In the article Understanding Machinima by Larrisa Hjorth, she states

As a genre once evolving from gaming cultures, machine has grown to become its own “art-form”. Fusing art, cinema, new media, and games, machinimas genealogy echoes that of other misunderstood genres like net”

This essentially means that we should see machinima on games as perhaps as art in its own individual category, but still as art. As the series progressed we see different forms on machinima created through each game getting more advanced each time. It brought forth Youtube channels on gameplay, short films, and even about real world imitation. So examples of famous channels include Ali-a, Vanoss Gaming, and Reckless Tortuga which through their videos link the community to something greater which is truly art. Another important example of Machinima art with a greater meaning through call of duty is created by J. Joshua Diltz and Joseph Delappe called,” 6 days in Call of Duty.” It’s essentially nine minutes of a multiplayer match with nothing but the visuals, the sound of the game and music for homage to the lives, both military and civilian, lost during the Second War of Fallujah. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2hSbuvvUq0
The impact the machinima through call of duty is another reason why it is accountable for the series to be considered art.

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Conclusion:
In conclusion Based on what I have learned throughout the course of Gasp 159 I believe that the Call of Duty series should be considered art because of the collaboration of each producing team that goes into making the final product of each Call of Duty game, the aesthetics that go into each game, and the Machinima based on the different games in the series. Aside from that, I believe the art is in the eyes of the beholder. People play the Call of Duty series and to them it can be see as art. Of course this brings up the issue of the people that don’t think its art but it can be simply seen as not for them just as in the same idea that not everyone enjoys a painting or see’s the artist meaning within them. This is why for my conclusion is the the most important concept learned in the course through the words of Roland Barthes concept of

“The Death of the Author,” as the art should be interpreted by the player/observer.” The birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the author.” (Barthes 1967, p. 6)

It is the concept of arts meaning not being held by the artist but it is really what the observer, or in this case, player, experience from it is what we truly call the art. They create the game for what they want the player to experience out of it, but it is really on how the player feels and what they experience from the game upon playing it. The entire game itself is a piece of art with how each of its mechanic’s work with more art within for the graphic design’s aesthetics. It is all finally enjoyed through the Call of Duty community by simply playing games from the series or through machinima on the series. In the end, to the true gamers through their experience of the aesthetics created it truly is art which is what’s most important.

The important people that made this argument possible!:

  • Howard Becker. (1982). “Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press: pp. 1-39.
  • Hunicke et al. (2004). “MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research”
  • Ng, Jenna, and Larrisa Hjorth. Understanding Machinima. New York: Bloomsburry, 2013. Print.
  • Roland Barthes. (1977 [1967]). “The Death of the Author.” In Image, Music, Text. New York:Hill and Wang.
  • Simon Niedenthal. (2009). “What We Talk About When We Talk About Game Aesthetics.” InDiGRA 2009: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory.
  • “Art.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2011.
    Web. 8 May 2011.

Why not Art?

MoMA is doing it Wrong.

I think in order to determine whether society thinks something is art or not you need to look at the place in which they are displayed. The MoMA has a bunch a people who say they are forward thinkers but simply aren’t doing it right.

“The labyrinth ritual glamorizes the competitive individualism and alienated human relations that characterize contemporary social experience. it reconciles the visitor to pure subjectivity by equation it with ” the human condition.” And in the garden, as in the outside world, that with satisfies material needs appears not as the result of labor but as if by magic-gifts of a great nature goddess. As an institution MOMA appears to be a refuge from materials society: a cultural haven, an ideal world apart. Yet, it exalts precisely the values and experiences it apparently rejects by elevating them to the universal and timeless realm of spirit. MOMA’s ritual is a walk through a hall of mirror in which isolation, fear and numbness appear as eating and desirable states of being.”

Carol Duncan et al. The Museum of Modern Art As Later Capitalist Ritual

Now this quote can be taken with a grain of salt because it comes from a marxist publication but it does illiterate how the MoMA is aligned which in my opinion alludes to their closed minds and inability to accept a new wave of change. They push the same point of view that people have had since the dawn of paint but now have slowly come to adopt the new baby of film into such a prestigious category that the likes of Picasso and Michelangelo reside.Unknown234

If you look at a place like the Smithsonian, where the games are championed and explored for their interactive properties and the context in which they were made, you can clearly see that the MoMA has an pinky in the air view on video games as interactive design. I do think they fall into that category although I do not think it is up for them to make a line in the sand and say that not all of them are art. Antonelli doesn’t think that the feeling that video games brings people is in any way worthy of anything but praise to the code.

Ratchet and Clank: The Game

For this final analysis I chosemaxresdefault to play the game Ratchet and Clank on the PS4. Number one on my list is this little thing called nostalgia. It brings you back to the ‘good ole days’ when you and your buddy were eating pizza beagles on his space bed after 6th grade, and the smell of his mother smoking cigarettes in the back yard while you joyfully took turns conquering this tiny make believe world on your massive 20″ screen. Or it could simply take you back to a time of blissful freedom. Either way nostalgia brings about a feeling deep down that stirs and sits, sometimes relaxes, soothes or breaks you down.

Parallel to Film

I think that we are waiting. In transition is a way I like to think about it, just as film went through this in it’s early development and study. Whenever a new technology comes out

Oh wait, there is Film.

Ratchet and Clank the movie is out and available for you to watch on your Netflix account if you would like to take a look. If you had no idea about the video game and went to watch the movie you would be able to be captivated by it and possibly laugh. Now, it is true that a few of the jokes do cater to the people who are familiar with the past Ratchet and Clank games. Although, this was not enough to keep my roomgiphy534.gifmate intensely watching this movie from start to finish. He is one of those people who doesn’t like cartoons or shows with cartoon characters.
So to have him be so into a movie such as this one was a novelty. He even laughed at some of childish jokes and stupidity of some of the characters, which leads me to believe that video games can reach other people through film. QUOTE!!! Although, I do not believe that is the end game for video games in the art world as seen by the art community. Because let’s face it, we are actually talking about how do we change the mind of these people and make them see it the way I think most younger academics and non-academics see video games. It is extremely similar to the way most of them think of film and film study.  When film first came into existence, no one knew what it was, how to properly use the technology, and what it meant to people until it had been in the popular culture for quite some time.

Conclusion

Nostalgia is an integral part of this whole experience. And that is not to say that games who do not use nostalgia as either a sales tactic or simply the MoMA’s antiquated idea of design and Art. It is not up to the MomA to be to paternal with f11545be0d37b2872412d78911b4f32apeople art form and to let them speak for themselves. Sometimes the more educated or financially lucky forget that most of societal change happens outside of their bubble. But those were the same people who fought for film. If you look at the first discussion we had about how Ebert did not fathom video games ever becoming an art form.

I do think that video games jump into cinema was an important development, although not the only way it could be art. I think of it more as a step to show people that video games are not like the “boob tube” people called the television when it first erupted but instead something that they should take a look at and have an open mind rather than discounting the video games because of outdated misconceptions. In todays American society, video games are seen by the older public as children games because only their children and like minded adults play such things. And that is not their fault, the closed mindedness is. But like anything opinions can be changed through presentation on common ground or over time.

For me art is more than if something has an interactive element or allows you to manipulate it and forge your own path, it is appreciating the aesthetically pleasing visual and auditory inputs. That is when you look upon something and appreciate not only the work that was put into the creating of such a project but also the feelings of experience, knowledge, discovery, excitement, and many more. It is a matter of perspective for each individual what he thinks is art. No one has the right to say this painting is art and this table is not for everyone because it doesn’t have the classic elements of that world. It is much in its own world just as Howard Becker says in Art Worlds. Yet it seems that the art community and even the gaming community is dead set on putting these terms into fine neat boxes for people to start virtually dumping each game into some category of ‘ART’ or ‘Not ART’. I think that in the end video games will be looked back on as a similar art form to film and that it was a derived from film with a strong deviation towards interaction of human with the virtual.

Citations

Duncan, Carol, and Alan Wallach. “The Museum of Modern Art As Late Capitalist ritual: An Iconographic Analysis.” Marxist Perspectives (1978): 28-51. Web.

The Art of Grand Theft Auto V

Introduction

For my final Blog, I have decided to switch things up from my original idea and dive in deeper into the world of Grand Theft Auto V. I did a blog about this game before but I wanted to go into much sensitive details in how Rockstar’s GTA V matters in the world of “Art”. Grand Theft Auto V was designed by Leslie Benzies who was also the lead designer of many of the Grand Theft Auto Series. Looking at the list of Benzies’ works, they have the great common of being violent games with games including; L.A Noire, Red Dead Redemption, and Max Payne.

GAMEPLAY

GTA V gives their users a wide range of possibilities when playing . From its crazy, action-packed story campaign to the online mode. Grand Theft Auto V is the first game since the original where the player can control several characters. The player can switch between Michael De Santa, Trevor Phillips and Franklin Clinton at any time off-mission, and at certain points during missions. The characters themselves are called Michael, Trevor and Franklin. Michael is a retired bank robber, while Trevor is a former military pilot and associate of Michael, while Franklin – the youngest of the three – works at a luxury car dealership. The idea is to expose the player to as much of the action as possible during missions.

One of the most interesting aspect that differs it from the rest of the series is its map. From the start of the game, every part of the map is available for them to explore unlik

e the previous Grand Theft Autos where you had to achieve missions to gain access to certain areas.  With this comes to my main point of why Grand Theft Auto has an importance to art. With the online mode allowing the players to connect with others around to roam the  city and complete missions together, there are so many possibilities for this game.

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One of the most interesting aspect that differs it from the rest of the series is its map. From the start of the game, every part of the map is available for them to explore unlike the previous Grand Theft Autos where you had to achieve missions to gain access to certain areas.  With this comes to my main point of why Grand Theft Auto has an importance to art. With the online mode allowing the players to connect with others around to roam the  city and complete missions together, there are so many possibilities for this game.

What Is MACHINIMA?

Many people have began creating their own art Grand Theft Auto V with the use of machinima, which is:

“Making films within/using a game or virtual environment. the film maker records and edits together gameplay. The gameplay can be natural, or it can be highly directed, with players acting according to a script. Editing of the platform (game/virtual world) in which the filming takes place, and post production editing can both be quite extensive.” (Mandiberg, Class 19 slide)

Machinima is a form of game art that uses a game to create a film/video. Like the clip above, a group of gamers use Grand Theft Auto V to create their own version of the movie , “The Purge”. Here they use mods to add specific tools and characters that can be used to recreate the movie. It takes multiple online players for them to process a piece like this. The film becomes its own form of art that has been derived from the game.  This is similar to Rooster Teeth using Halo to create  Red vs. Blue or Joseph Delappe’s dead-in-Irag.

Aesthetically Pleasing?

A key aspect when it comes to machinima is the aesthetics of it. Aesthetic is is the feeling you get when you hear, feel, or see smell, or taste something that we enjoy.

“The core of formal meaning of a game, according to many current approaches, radiates out from the procedural nature of games, through rule sets and mechanics to sound, graphics and the controller; the core of experienced game meaning radiates out from the brain and cognitive awareness towards the senses and hands. Game aesthetics research allows us to pay full attention to what we have tended to think of as peripheral, the edges of the spheres. New gaming technologies point us towards these peripheries, and new understandings of the significance of touch, the senses, form giving and pleasure help us better understand what really happens when we take the controller in our hands. Where hands, senses, bodies and the tangible qualities of games meet, the aesthetic meaning of games emerges.”(pg. 7, Niedenthal)

The way technology has been constantly changing, the capability of an artist to use different video games in order create art like this is ridiculous. If we were to compare other Machinimas such as Sheik Attack  by Eddo Stern Do one was capable to get their message passed through their piece. The aesthetic of using GTA V to create  their film, its ability to make mods gives the user  unlimited ability to created certain tools. Instead of using the simple features that is a part of it, having the ability something for our own taste and purpose is the main aesthetics of the game and is simply the highlight of machinima.

Aesthetics of a game includes the following:

  1. The sensory phenomena that the player encounters in the game.

  2. Aspects of digital games that are shared with other art forms.

  3. An expression of the game experienced as pleasure, emotion, sociability, form-giving etc. id=”ref2″>(pg. 2, Niedenthal)

With Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode, we are able to connect with people across the world and team up to create art. This brings in the social aspect of art within its community.“The scenarios, rules, stimuli, incentives, and narratives envisioned by the designers come alive in the behaviors they encourage and elicit from the players, whether individual or social.” Paola Antonelli (2012)

Death of the Designer? 

As mentioned multiple times in ur lectures, when it comes to works such these films, do we lose the author? Or in this situation, the game? When Roland Barthes talks of “The Death of An Author, does it imply that when gamers who use Grand Theft Auto to create their own art henceforth taking the credit of the designers of the game?

“the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author.”  (Barthes 1967, p. 6)

When these films are created by the gamers (readers) does the game loses its designer when we talk about art? because in art, the artist of these films are the gamers who took there time to use machinima, modifications, etc to create the videos. Therefore, we forget that the original designers of the game like Leslie Benzies (the author) even exist.

“Once the Author is gone, the claim to ‘decipher’ a text becomes quite useless. To give an Author to a text is to impose upon that text a stop clause, to furnish it with a final signification, to close the writing. This conception perfectly suits criticism, which can then take as its major task the discovery of the Author (or his hypostases: society, history, the psyche, freedom) beneath the work: once the Author is discovered, the text is ‘explained:’ the critic has conquered; hence it is scarcely surprising not only that, historically, the reign of the Author should also have been that of the Critic, but that criticism (even ‘new criticism’) should be overthrown along with the Author.” (Barthes 1967, p. 5)

(Barthes 1967, p. 5)

In our lectures we looked over videos of people playing Dance Dance Revolution, but what we were mainly looking at was the person playing it and not necessarily the game itself. And this is where it shows “the death of an author”.

What is the difference between watching a guy play Dance Dance Revolution and watching people play Grand Theft Auto V on Youtube? In both cases, we are there to watch the players but not exactly give respect tothe game itself, especially to its creators. This is how we also see Grand Theft Auto V have an importance in art.
This is also similar to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s. (1991). “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)

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in how his original art piece is having a stack of multicolored candies that weigh in a total of  175 pounds. But with his piece, the purpose was for people freely take as much as they wanted, expressing how his partner was constantly loosing weight with his battle against AIDS. And in comparisons to 

Alex Melki’s pieces above are similar to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s in how a new piece of art can is created from its original. This is where again we see the “Death of An Author” because we now more focused on the adapted version of GTA V movie poster rather than its original.

Conclusion

There are so many ways to see Grand Theft Auto V as art rather than just another video games. With the way that its programmers created the game to where their users have so much freedom to explore its space and manipulate its characters to do much more than play its mission. Grand Theft Auto V simply becomes a canvas for the users to create their own type of art. And this is why I have enjoyed playing it for this project.

Work Cited:

  • Roland Barthes. (1977 [1967]). “The Death of the Author.” In Image, Music, Text. New York: Hill and Wang.
  • Eddo Stern. 2011. “Massively Multiplayer Machinima Mikusuto.” Journal of Visual Culture 10: pp. 42-50.
  • Niedenthal (2009). What we Talk About When we Talk About Game Aesthetics. http://www.digra.org/wp-content/uploads/digital-library/09287.17350.pdf