In a previous class, Generative Language, I created a project that uses existing board games as source material to generate a new game. This was done programmatically by breaking up the rulesets into sections and analyzing them with natural language processing. The program then generates new rules based on the words analyzed.
This is the final, styled version of the game that I generated.
This is some of the raw output from the program. Formatting this game would look something more like
Objective: With their setting, Solve are a hot commodity. Collect resources to drinks and crossword treasures and monster, your slang, is the dice.
Setup: They must be on the premises! Look on the gameboard for the start space and suspect name Make You.
Gameplay: Move that hero, begins to move from the passages following these steps, starting with the most knights in a particular room.
I wanted to create this piece to express how games exist as art, specifically generative art. In Generative Language, we were given the definition that generative art is art in which the artist creates a system of rules which must be followed, and the product of following those rules is the subsequent art. When the professor explained this, I was stricken by the realization that games are a form of generative art. The game designer is the artist who creates the system, and the players follow those rules to create art, the experience of play.
My game is a more literal example of this underlying concept. It was produced with code as a piece of generative art. However, I wanted it to be relatively indistinguishable from a normal game. In many ways, the game I generated follows existing conventions of board games. The rule sets of board games tend follow a traditional structure. For instance, the first section is typically an introduction that lays out the games theming and the objective of the game.
After that are instructions on how to set up the game board or pass out cards in the beginning. Then, there is typically a description of the actions that you can do on your turn. This third section usually goes into more detail about the gameplay and procedures. My mod recognizes that there are different goals and ideas underlying each of these sections and therefore processes and creates these sections separately. Furthermore, after generating text to serve as the rules, I also designed a layout with visuals from the games to serve as a rule booklet because this is how games are typically presented.
In this regard, I feel that my project rests comfortably inside the boundaries defined by the institute of games. I very much wanted this project to be perceived as a game. However, this is done in service of making a statement about the intersection of art and games. Moreover, the statement is not only relevant to the context of this piece, but also an assertion about all games.
The statement, that games are generative or performance art, is more directed towards the institution of art and heavily inspired by Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings. His art was as much about the rules he defined as it was about the interpretation of the person following it. The instructions for his wall drawings were often intentionally vague so that the person following them could interpret them in a unique way. Game rules are often the same way. In a strategy or card game, different players will perform different actions and strategies within the rules. I hope that by creating an art piece that embodies what makes games generative art, people will be able to extrapolate that most, if not all, games exhibit these same characteristics.