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 

Canabalt! Art? Game? Art Game? Game Art?

canabalt

The only reason I came across this game was because I called my little brother asking him what was a good known game and he told me about this one. Canabalt consists of the player only pressing one button which is the space button on a PC. How it works is that the player controls a man in a suit and tie and all the man does is run, but the player controls his jumps. The man jumps from building to building and over objects such as boxes that get in his way. If one misses to jump the man falls from the building and the game is immediately over. Once you die the game tells you how many miles you ran before you died.

 

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Canabalt as a Game
According to French intellectual Roger Callois in the Definition of Play and Classification of Games, there are six qualities that qualify a game as a game. He states:

“1. Free: in which playing is not obligatory; if it were, it would at once lose its attractive and joyous quality as diversion;

2. Separate: circumscribed within limits of space and time, defined and fixed inadvance;

3. Uncertain:the course of which cannot be determined, nor the result attained beforehand, and some latitude for innovations being left to the player’s initiative;

4. Unproductive: creating neither goods, nor wealth, nor new elements of any kind; and, except for the exchange of property among the players, ending in situation identical to that prevailing at the beginning of the game;

5. Governed by rules: under conventions that suspend ordinary laws, and for the moment establish new legislation, which alone counts;

6. Make-believe: accompanied by a special awareness of a second reality or of a free unreality” (10).

When applying Canabalt to Caillois’ definition of a game one is able to clearly understand why and how the game does apply to his defintion. First off, the game is free because I was able to find it online without having to pay for it. Secondly, my time restraint consisted on how far I ran without dying, so yes my time was limited. Also, when playing the game i don’t receive anything, not even points. All it tells me is how many miles I ran, so mo prize. Canabalt did contain rules which was only to run and jump, if I did not, I would obviously die and the game would be over. Lastly, it was make-believe because it’s suppose to represent a man leaving his work and just continoutlsy running throwing all of his paperwork towards the sky.

Canabalt as Art
G.W.F Hegel in Philosophy in Fine Art states:

“It has already been said that the content of art is the Idea, while its forms is the configuration of sensors material. Now art has to harmonize these two sides and bring them into a free reconciled totality” (80).

When Hegel says, “the content of art” he means the IDEA and when he says, “configuration of material” he means FORM. Basically for something to be considered art the person has to come up with an idea and then make his idea happen, thus the form. Then, there has to be a correlation between the content and configuration and if there is someone must respond to the work once it is done, have an emotional or intellectual react to it. This enhances Simon Niedenthal argument of what art is in games in What we Talk About when we Talk About Games Aesthetics. Niedenthal states, “Game aesthetics refers to the sensory phenomenal that the player encounters in the game (visual, aural, embodied) such as fame mechanic, computation, interface, story, genre, sensation, or perception” (2). Consequently, game aesthetics is clearly seen when playing Canabalt because the player wants to feel the sensational feeling of getting as far as he or she can. The game is pretty addiciting, so the player can play it as much as he or she wishes because he or she has endless turns.
In the end Canabalt is considered an Art Game because the game is a medium of expression, meaning the creator of Canabalt wanted to create something more than just a game. This is evident because Adam Saltsman said he created the game as away of escaping in an interview.

“I used to have fantasies at my old office job of running down our long, long hallway just for fun. And to literally escape. I’d forgotten about that until months after Canabalt came out. There used to be an intro cinematic that I was designing, where the character receives an email, but it was all getting in the way of the main thing.”

Therefore, this game was used as medium of expression of escaping reality and just running away through a game. He also explained that the player is wearing a black suit so that he could stand out from the gray scale background, thus taking in consideration the texture of the game.

 

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

Roger Caillois. (2006 [1959]). “The Definition of Play and The Classification of Games” in

Game Design Reader. Edited by K. Salen and E. Zimmerman: pp. 122-155

The Trail: A Frontier Journey

trail-frontier-journey-guide-walkthrough-tips-cheats-hack-how-eat-eden-falls-recipes

When I first played this game on my iPhone I did not know what to expect at all. However, as I began to play it I came to a conclusion that it is a game based on trading, crafting, and exploring the New World. First, I chose my character and then I got checklist of what had to be done. The checklist stated:

  • Find a helpful guidetrail-frontier-journey
  • Follow the trail to Eden Falls
  • Collect and craft items
  • Trade my crafted wares
  • Settle in Eden Falls
  • Take on a profession
  • Develop a community
  • Find my perfect partner
  • Raise a family
  • Build my business empire
  • Make my fortune

In the game, players start off with nothing but clothes on their backs. As they go on their trail they explore the wildlife and scenic views . The player also collects items to eat and to craft into valuable goods to trade with other travelers. Also as they begin working together they build a community.

Peter Molyneux 

peter-moly“The Trail has been an exciting project for me,” said 22cans founder and Creative Director Peter Molyneux. “It allowed me to get back to my roots as a game designer and put my passion for creating transformative play experiences into this unique and engaging game for today’s mobile audiences. My hope is that whether they have 5 minutes or 5 hours to play The Trail, they continue thinking about their journey long after the game screen has been closed.” Evidently, Peter Molyneux is the designer of The Trail and part of 22cans; however, he did not design the game all by himself. Peter partnered with Kongregate, which is a mobile and PC publisher and web gaming portal that is owned by Gamestop.

Emily Greer 

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Emily Greer, co-founder and CEO of Kongregate states:

“When I saw The Trail, I knew it was a special game and one that we had to publish. It’s been a pleasure to work with Peter and his team, and I am proud that our company’s founding principles of supporting indie developers and bringing truly unique game content to players worldwide are as true now as they were when we started the company 10 years ago.”

 

Evidently, both 22cans and Kongregate worked together to create The Trail. Therefore, one can say there is not one concise person that created the game. According to Sociologist Howard Becker social actions surround art. So what does he mean by that? He means that everyone does something or everyone has a role when it come to producing art. There is not simply one person producing it all. For example, publishers and developers exist in the gaming world. And in this case, Peter Molyneux is the developer that creates the ideas and puts it into application and Emily Greer is the publisher who does the marketing for it. Although, publishers and developers are huge influencers in the game world they are not the only ones, especially in The Trail. There is music that is added that someone else. Also Game Stop owns Kongregate, so they are also part of the art production work in The Trail.

Considering the artists’ influence on the game is important because it allows the player to understand the game beyond simply playing it. According to Sociologist Becker, “someone must respond to the work once it is done, have an emotional or intellectual reaction to it.” Therefore, by the player having one reaction to the game he or she becomes part of the art world in producing the game without realizing it. This matters because art is a collective activity that not everyone involved in gets credit or recognition for. So, understanding where games come from gives the player much more appreciation or criticism towards the game and I was able to do that when playing The Trail.

Howard Becker. (1982). “Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press: p. 4.

 

Tuboflex, have you heard of it?

For this blog I played a Molleindustria game called “Tuboflex.” It was definitely a game I had never played before that I found pretty interesting. Tubloflex is a game based on the need of human resources. With that, I mean that the player is a worker that caters to its customers. Tubloflex consists of the player having different jobs within one game sitting and trying to satisfy its customers. If the employee or player fails to do so, he or she will become either homeless or blacklisted.uilxdd

Is it an Art? 

Tublolex, I say, is considered “art,” and to be more specific it is an “art game.” According to John Sharp in Works of Game: On the Aesthetics of Games and Art art games, “uses innate properties of games—among them interactivity, player goals, and obstacles providing challenge for the player—to create revealing and reflective experiences” (12). In other words, an art game is a game that is used as a medium of expression. Furthermore, Sharp states that it “creates revealing and reflective experience.” Therefore, the game allows the player to reflect on a personal experience giving the game more credibility of it being called “art.”

Then and Now 

However, Johan Joachim Winkelmann, a historian and archeologist, states in his book Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculptures, “Good taste, whichjohann_joachim_winckelmann_raphael_mengs_after_1755 is becoming more prevalent throughout the world, had its origins under the skies of Greece” (27). Consequently, there are people who agree in art simply considered as paintings and statues because they were more aesthetically beautiful. Although he states that the Greeks knew art, he also mentions that good and bad taste exists and although we do not have taste in art like the Greeks, “we are improving.” On the contrary, Walter Benjamin in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction would semi-agree with Johan Winkelmann. He would agree that we are improving with art but not that the Greeks “knew” art. Benjamin states that the “understanding and treatment of art and of artistic technique must progressively develop in order to understand a work of art in the modern context.” Therefore, as mankind progresses so does art.

So what does this have to do with Tuboflex?

One of Walter Benjamin’s main points is that art is a form of expressionism, so that is what Molleindustria did with this game. They expressed the issues with bureaucracy and the current dynamic labor market through the video game. Nowadays being able to keep a job is difficult especially with the high demand oftuboflex_1 customers and low paying jobs. When I played this game the first thing I had to do was give the drive-though customers their food. However, if I did not give it to them fast enough they would honk at me. Also, if I got honked at my game level went down stating that I was close to getting blacklisted. Basically, I had to keep the customers content and if not I
would lose my job. In the end, Tuboflex is considered an art game because the artists or Molleindustria wanted to express the issues with bureaucracy through a cartoon video games, thus proving it is an art.

 

Sources

Johann Joachim Winckelmann. (1998 [1755]). “Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture.” In The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology, edited by D. Preziosi. Oxford: Oxford University Press: pp. 27-34.

John Sharp. (2015). “Game Art.” In Works of Game.

 

Walter Benjamin. (1986 [1936]). “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In Video Culture: A Critical Investigation, edited by J. C. Hanhardt. Salt Lake City: G.M. Smith in association with Visual Studies Workshop Press: pp. 27-52.

The Game Among Us

“The Wolf Among Us” developed by Tell Tale Gathe-wolf-among-us-season-2-release-datemes is based on Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series. The game consists of five series and as I was about to begin the first series the first thing that popped up after I pressed the ‘play’ button was: “This story is tailored by how you
play.” As I read that, I though to myself, “dang I guess it all depends on me, no pressure” (obviously in a sarcastic tone). When the game began it was like a movie or a story the game was telling me. As I was watching it, I noticed the colors were dark, but still I liked the details provided in the clothing and in the buildings. Also, as I was watching the scene, the characters began to use profanity and a thought of me not wanting my younger sibling to play this game came to mind.

When the movie scene ended, the toad began talk to Bigby Wolf, or me playing as the character. I, Bigby Wolf, had options on what to respond to the toad. I thought that was odd because I had never played a game that involved language, usually it’s just action, unless it was a language arts came I played in seconds grade. Therefore, choosing what I had to say, I believe does qualify “The Wolf Among Us” as a game. According to Game Studies Scholar Jesper Juul, there are three main ideas that define a game.

1) The system set up by the rules of the game

2) The relationship between the game and the player of the game

3) The relationship between the playing of the game and there rest of the world. If a game has all three attributions then it is considered a game (Juul 28).

The reason I believe “The Wolf Among Us” is a game is because as I played it I definitely saw myself following the rules of the game. The rules consisted of me (the player) choosing the answers I wanted to respond to. If I didn’t follow the rules Bigby Wolf would just be standing there in awkwardness staring at the toad. After Bigby, or me, talked to the toad, Bigby went upstairs to break up an argument between a built guy and a woman. I, then, start physically fighting against the man. The fight consisted of the app telling me where to swipe and what areas to press. Specifically, it would tell me to either swipe left or right when I had to either duck or dodge a punch from my opponent. Other times it gave me options of where to tap so I could throw my opponent like on the couch or at the shelf.giphy

Secondly, according to the Juul, a game is an “investment of player effort to lead to an attachments of the outcome” (34). In other words, in a game there is a relationship between the game and the player. The relationship I have with “The Wolf Among Us” is me playing as Bigby Wolf and making an effort to keep the game going by following the rules. Therefore, I am putting my part in the game by allowing myself to not let the game be over.

Lastly, Juul states that what defines a game is the “relationship between playing the game and the rest of the world” (28). Consequently, the player agrees to be happy if he or she wins the game, unhappy if he or she loses. When I was playing The Wolf Among Us, simply winning the fight and having control over the opponent felt pretty cool. Having control over someone felt good, and when my opponent would beat me I would get upset and replay again searching for that drive to keep on beating him. In the end, I had fun playing the game for my first time.

 

Juul, Jesper. “Video Games and the Classic Game Model.” Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. 23-54.

Space Invaders or Fun Invaders?

Hey guys!
Interesting class isn’t it? I mean come on? What other classes here at UC Merced can you play video games and then get to talk to others about it? Hmm, as of now I can’t think go any. Anywaaaaayyys, the game I decided to play was Space Invaders.

spaceinvaderAt first I did not know how to play the game at all. In fact, I did not even read the rules because I thought it would be a simple game that would not be difficult to figure out. So, I just told myself I would figure it out as I would start to play. However, when I started I could not figure it out at all! I was moving the arrows on my laptop thinking I had to dodge the attacks from the aliens, but as I was moving back and forth my score stayed at zero. I knew I was doing something wrong, so I decided to read the instructions to understand how to play. Then when I understood the game I though it was fairly easy, and as soon as I thought that, the aliens started moving down making it easier to attack me. So then I started moving faster and as I did a red thing came out on top and started moving. I got scared not knowing if I had to kill it or dodge it. I decided to take a life risk and shoot it, but luckily received points for it. Unfortunately right when I shot it, the aliens were too far down that they got me and I died. tumblr_m0j2zxcwlc1r4u23qAfter my first few attempts I thought I should give the game a try again. At first when I started playing it I thought it was fairly easy and did not understand why I thought it was difficulty. I, then, easily passed the game, and when I thought I had won the game, I thought it would be over, but then it took me to the second level. Right when I had started I noticed a lot more aliens moving way faster, but I was doing good by hiding under the blockades and killing the aliens when i had the chance to. Towards the end, there were two aliens left thinking I could kill them, but all of a sudden they started shooting at me nonstop. Eventually they got me and I immediately died.

So would I say playing this game was fun? Yes and no.

gif-yes-or-no

In his book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design Raph Koster states, “I also have experiences where I stare at something and simply don’t get it. I hate to admit it, but my typical reaction is to simply turn away” (6). That was exactly how I felt the first time I played the game when I did not read the instructions. I did not know what to do but just stare at the screen. I wanted to turn away too, but this was an assignment so I played the game. However, as I began playing the game it was fun because I understood how to play it and it was exciting seeing myself win. According to the “optimal experience” chart I landed in the worry and arousal part, but it was the good type of worried. I was worried that I was going to lose but at the same time felt a stimulating feeling of winning. It all changed when I went onto the next level. My optimal experience went to bored and anxiety. I was getting bored of losing and feeling anxious every time an alien got close to me. Again, I relate to Koster when he states, “Games that are too hard kind of bore me and games that are easy also kind of bore me” (10). After some time of playing the game and feeling excitement during the first levels and then worrisome and anxious after the following levels I got bored of the feeling all those feeling in one game.

playBrian Sutton Smith, author of The Ambiguity of Play, argues that we need to play to make us happy about this crappy world and I agree with that. To me “fun” is something that amuses me or makes me happy. When comparing Space Invaders to Sutton Smith’s argument I understand how the game is better than real life. This is because in Space Invaders the gamer can shoot aliens as much as he can and feel dominant about his skills. As the audience, we are glad aliens don’t just come and attack us, but it is pretty cool how we can have control over them even if it is just for a minute through a game. In the end, I definitely recommend the game because to gets addicting for a while due to the adrenaline rush of trying to survive.

 

Source:

Koster, Raph. A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press, 2005.

Sutton Smith, Brian. The Ambiguity of Play. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.