Here are the two Sol Lewitt’s game rules I created.
- You have only ten seconds.
- Choose the way you want to say goodbye to your lover.
I’ve made a video demo for my game.
The main idea of this game is “farewell”. It’s only a ten-second game, and after ten seconds the virtual world of game collapses immediately. Players are expected to say farewell to their lovers before the world collapses. It’s short, but I’m trying to reveal this fact —— We don’t have enough time to say good-bye to our loves. I believe the game ends by bringing players with helplessness and deep thoughts.
When thinking about “pushing against boundaries”, I examined on the typical games, especially video games we have now, and raised these questions: Who are the real players? Who can define what is a game? Who has the right to define it? I believe the answer to these questions leads to a clear fact: the producers of nowadays games, and the players of nowadays games, are isolated. I don’t mean all of them, but most of them.
I can think of these kinds of isolation : 1. the technical aspect. To get into video game industry today, one is expected to be an expert in either programming, arts, modelling. It’s obvious that only those who receive related education are welcomed by industry. 2. the discourse power. Based on the fact of technical isolation, the content, form and purpose of games today are totally determined by producers. Those game production companies claim to know what kind of game players will play and have to play. And players, like me, all we can do is choose from thousands of games that seem “interesting” to us from steam. These isolations are very similar to the isolation between art institution and art audience. In art aspect, those who hold strong power, to decide what is art or what is not, are not audience at all. They receive long-term art education, and thus acquire some skills. They tend to use these skills to “decide” what audience like us should look, and what should not. That’s not fair, cause art is about creavity, about life, and about emotion. Anyone can create some kind of art.
I thus believe that everyone can create a game. I want to push against the boundaries among institution, “experts” and audience with these two rules.
The first rule tells that the game is only ten-second long, which is quiet extraordinary compared to our common understanding of games. I believe ten-second is the minimal time to read through two or three sentences, and make choices. In common games, players usually have limitless time for clearance. If time is limited, they just save the file and restart. However, in this game, the “time” concept is overturned. I want to create a sense of urgent and desperate, when game over, everything is over, even if player choose to play again, they’ve lost a chance to say goodbye to their lover in a parallel world, and the desperation would enlarge gradually.
The concept of the game, “farewell”, is revealed in the second rule. This is also a “boundary” I play with. In common games, we come across things like “escape from an abandoned city” or “collect all the jewellery to win ”. Compared to these concepts, “farewell to your lover” is with strong atmosphere of life, which is not limited in games. This reminds me one of the ideas of conceptual art: “the idea itself can be an art”. Video game is only a platform where players can experience saying farewell. However, we may come across this situation in any life condition. I can make this concept a video game, an oral game, or even not a game at all. The concept can be revealed in literature works, music and paintings. “Farewell” is decided even before I bring it into actual being.
The provocations I created are not limited to these two rules. The game is a text-based game, only consisted of texts and sounds. This means that using game engine such as Twine, almost anyone can create games like this, he or she do not have to acquire much programming or modelling technique. This immediately shrinks the gap between institutions, producers and players. People may ask: “Can something without pictures even be called as game?” Well, why not? It’s easier to narrate one’s emotional experience by texts rather than movies or music. The concept as self-identity, gender and emotion scars are seldom payed attention to by common games, however, with texts, it’s not hard to imagine that “anyone”, especially women, uneducated, children, the old, can create their own game experience. In this way, the gap between players and producers are eliminated. People know what they want, they just create it. When the game is created with texts, in this special case, it’s also getting closer to the form of literature, which has thousands of links with art.
Also, in this game, I’m trying to answer the question:”Who are the real players?” In nowadays game system, players and non-players are of two totally different world. Roger Ebert claims that “ for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.” However, in this game, the concept “farewell” is something everyone in this world can think about. Everyone is a part of this game and there’s no gap between gamers and non-gamers.
Above are mainly my analysis of the rules and the game I created.