Rahil Patel

| (• ◡•)|/ \(❍ᴥ❍ʋ).

Category Archives for: Games

Conciseness in Art

06 July 2014 by Rahil

[Witten while quite drunk after a KTV party. Todo: Needs more work.]

Purpose: Conciseness in art is key to contemplation and creativity.

Some of my favorite art, ones that I feel deserve the time of it’s length, are concise.

In single chapter of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, I feel satisfied. I consumed enough to trigger my brain to begin contemplating, creating, mixing in with my own thoughts. The power of literature is not in detail, but in imagination.

If imagination is not the goal, I still feel conciseness is powerful. In Francis Bacon’s Essays, more about ethics is told in few words. Likewise in Borjes’s Ficciones, the stories are told only to display its mechanics. (Although, there is and I dislike the large amount of references)

Film is a medium of visuals, not words. Motion is key.

Wong-Kar Wai’s film’s dialogue is condensed to poetry. Visuals and poetry. The characters don’t speak with social realism, yet it maintains the beauty, because the beautiful visuals and body motion provided by Chris.

Tsai-Ming Liang’s films have little to no dialogue, yet, it retains all the power, even enhanced by the lack of language: a distraction.

Games (and interactive art):
If films can be made without language, so can the medium above it: games. Each game is a language. One interacts with the rules of a game; the grammar.

As proved simply and humbly by Passage by Rohrer, or, with the thrill provided by large scale, Shadow of the Colossus, games do away with language. Furthermore, as proved with playground games, games do not need visual. Just rules. The beauty of games lies neither in language or visual, but with rules. Johann Sebastian Joust is exemplary. Visuals and sounds are supplementary, and often, unnecessary.

New Media:
Simply finding ways to interact is often enough. [need to think more]

Public Art:
Quite different, in that it’s not distributable, but still, conciseness still persists.

Banksy figured out with stencils that it isn’t the skill of a painting, that even a stencil will do. Instead it’s the image, place, and statement. A simple stencil of a rat in the right place is enough.

In a life of constant action, efficiency [todo: link to efficiency post] is key. But that’s digressing more toward a philosophy of life as am creator rather than a critique of work.


Art as Experience:
Humans of New York. Vincent Moon.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Films, Games, Literature

A Sequential List of Game Experiences that I Remember

30 May 2014 by Rahil

todo: fix indenting

Playground games
– tag, tag variants, four square, HORSE
Board games:
– Carom, Monopoly, Mouse Trap
Card games:
– Speed (aka Slam, Spit)
Early games:
– playing video games at Jacob’s house or at my house
– Toejam & Earl, Goof Troop, Earthbound, Track & Field, anything cooperative
– playing video games at Andrew’s house
– anything
– playing video games at Parth’s house
– Herc’s Adventures, anything multiplayer
Trend games:
– CrossFire, that ball with strings in the center and you had to pull wide once the ball came close
Arcade games
PC Games:
Diablo I and II, Starcraft, Settlers II, Caesar III, Team Fortress [Classic], Sim City 2000
Nintendo 64 multiplayer games
– Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye, Mario Party
– Final Fantasy VII and IX, Super Mario RPG, Chrono Trigger
Emulator games:
– Harvest Moon, older JRPGs (Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy III)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Mario 64
Pokemon Red and Blue
World of Warcraft
Team Fortress 2
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Shadow of the Colossus (and Ico)
– lectures by Jonathan Blow, Jenova Chen, Chris Crawford, EGP, and everything else
advent of indie games
– Jason Rohrer, Anna Antropy, etc.
IGF games
playground games revisited
New York:
– lectures by indie artists and professors
– Babycastles
– every game exhibition
– that time where Wu-Tang member had a concert at 285 kent with Pole Riders and MEGA-GIRP in the lobby
– Atari game exhibition with lecture by Ian Bogost and that one dude who spilled his heart into making games for Atari
– Space Cruiser
– that time where Keita Takahashi designed a bunch of games and they made it forreal (was not there, only read article)
– many interactive art exhibitions
And then I started traveling and stopped consuming media, especially games.

Leave a comment | Categories: Game Philosophy, Games

Game Philosophy

30 May 2014 by Rahil

note: I’m just starting this! Hold on.

I’ve been admitted to Parson’s The New School for Design’s Design and Technology program.

And I feel it is important to think about the following:

1. What do you want to do at Parson’s? (see my statement of interests and intentions I sent to Parson’s, NYU game design, and NYU ITP)
– write ideas, clearly, with purpose, and prioritize them to find the most meaningful one
– propose (idea or ideas?) to audience at Parson’s once I get there

2. Summarize what experiences imparted some philosophy in games
list games and experiences
– create own manifesto
– see philosophy’s of great game designers
– see old notes and thoughts I wrote

Life related questions:
3. Is attending Parson’s necessary? Is being in New York necessary? Can I do this on my own outside of a city? Should the money go into business instead? Can $18,000 buy a tea shop in Taiwan? Can I live without much social life?

Leave a comment | Categories: Game Philosophy, Games

Prose is Superfluous: Active Communication through Play and Art

03 May 2014 by Rahil

As one gets older, one cumulates concepts, only the content [in life and media] changes slightly, the content of target is often prose, which itself is often superfluous.

When learning a new [to the learner] concept, prose can be omitted. It is only there to communicate what’s one knows to another person, or to validate it in writing. And even then, it’s quite difficult. For example, as some professor said, try to explain a bike ride, physically. Everyone knows how bikes work: you pedal, the chain goes around the gears, which in turn turns wheels, but describing the mechanics precisely requires much effort and time. The force pressed down at a certain angle of the rider’s foot results in a certain centrifugal force, blah blah blah.

People learn concepts quickly, sometimes instantly, through play [life], games, film, and whatever other new mediums.

If one knows how several concepts work, at least without the drudgery of standard notation, why slow children down by teaching them standard notation? If one removes writing, children would be able to grasp far more complex concepts. Then, when it comes time to actually write, that is, to prove a new concept or discovery, one may need to finally learn how to explain it through writing. Isn’t this more practical, time-efficient, resulting in more exploration and discovery?

To conclude, the process of learning is backwards. Schools teach kids to learn a concept, then learn how to write it. The writing is superfluous, a hindrance, limiting. It can be skipped. Kids should learning, until there is reason to write.

Edit: A later thought. Writing is often used as a way to test the individual’s knowledge. This is a good reason. But perhaps there should be a better way of testing then.

There are many instances in art that I feel prose is superfluous. The medium of art should be chosen by the artist to best display their feeling. If the medium is not literature, then writing should likely be a very small part, if at all.

I’ve always had a problem with reading. I could talk about things I like, but otherwise, I’d dread reading. I consistently scored poorly in English classes. My dad embarrassingly, but now I feel with great care, bought me Hooked on Phonics. It didn’t work.

Why would a 15 year old care about The Great Gatsby? As a 15 year old I didn’t even understand the modern world, how could I grasp the 1920s? What’s the point of all of that content, description. I’d rather have watched a film and take it all in within the time frame of a single class, instead of spending several weeks.

Perhaps it was because reading is a passive activity. Sure, reading and talking about it together in class helps, but it still didn’t evoke much activity. Or, not enough to hold my attention.

It wasn’t until I read Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino that I felt the amount of words used was not superfluous. Reading it felt great. I’d read a piece, think about it, perhaps create my own ideas, and be satisfied.

Literature should only have enough words [content] to convey an idea. Any more is superfluous.

Graphic Novels, Comics, and Photography
Graphic novels (and comics), the natural step up from literature, often convey meaning without prose. Sure, there’s dialog, but in good graphic novels, imagery, sequence, and framing deliver meaning. Interpretation is to be made of framing and what happens between frames. If there’s too much prose, then it might as well be literature. There is a clear distinction between the two.

I’ve only read a handful, but reading (looking at) Watchmen was an extremely contemplative experience. I was only able to read a chapter per session, sometimes only a few pages. It left so much to think about up to the reader, all of this, with little to no prose.

[I don't normally consume photography, but I felt it belongs in the same category.]

The more films I watched, the less prose they had. They focused on the other aspects of film: cinematography — imagery, screenplay — sequence of images, body motion of actors; to express feeling and ideas. The film, that is, the video, is the the center of the medium, not the dialog.

Some of my favorite directors such as Hirokazu Koreeda, Tsai Ming-Liang, and Edward Yang use very little dialog. Without dialog, the viewer watches more intensely at the image and actions. It asks the viewer to be a little more active, to think, to reflect. Not of comprehension of the narrative of the film, but how one’s own experiences and world views — knowledge of psychology, economic systems, culture, human development — interact with the film.

Usually if a narrator has to inform the viewer, it’s a failure of the film. Hence my indifference toward most documentaries.

Games usually don’t have much prose. I currently can’t think of many. JRPGs and film-like video games? Those are dated. Early use of video games.

Games, the most active form of the arts thus far mentioned, is a medium that has the ability to omit prose entirely. Playground games often don’t have prose, only in its rules. Card games also don’t have prose, just numbers and/or shapes; If the cards do contain text, it’s often necessary to to the game — a rule of the game. Think about this: Take any video game, strip it of it’s prose, and it’s very likely the game is still playable. It’s just extraneous content. I remember as a child I’d continuously mash buttons through text because I knew it was unnecessary (and because the content sucked compared to the quality of literature). The method of communication of a game is play, not prose.

The method of communication of life is not prose, it’s play. It’s the sensory input and response stimuli, the interaction, the resulting affect it has on the mind. Prose cannot interact. Few prose are powerful enough to elicit response on the level of an interaction in real life. And even then, another medium likely could have been chosen to do the same thing in a more efficient manner. Prose is ancient. Passive mediums are old. Learning through prose is directional, but passive, uncreative, and inefficient (requiring skimming). The most practical and efficient use of prose is merely for reference, usually in the form of a Wikipedia article, or a quick Google search (a modern form of skimming).

This ends again with me in thought of a more ideal method of living and learning, without the boring, forgetful, superfluous, prose.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Education, Films, Games, Literature, Personal, Philosophy

Pokemon Snap: People are now pokemon

19 April 2014 by Rahil

People use their phone cameras to find pokemon and take pictures of them.

Choose pokemon based on facial features or body shape or both.
After the pokemon is identified, begin tracking the movement of it
When the human body turns, the pokemon also turns
Track certain parts of human to mirror skeletal movement of pokemon (arms, legs, body turn, head turning)

later possibilities:
upload pictures to a database (in-app and website) where people can rate them for certain characteristics, awarding them with badges

Leave a comment | Categories: Ideas, New Media

Playground Maker: The world is now a playground

19 April 2014 by Rahil

Using Second Surface, one can create playgrounds for others to play in the real world. Only doodles for boundaries are needed to create levels.

later possibilities:
walls (thick lines) that can be adjusted
boxes and circles that can be scaled
add rules to the game, perhaps just writing a doodle at the start is enough
colors, rules can define what they do: green for good, red for bad, etc.

Leave a comment | Categories: Games, Ideas


21 January 2014 by Rahil

I decided to play a game, alone.

It has been a very long time. Steam informs me almost a year.

It’s weird to do something alone now.

I tried Costume Quest, and despite it having a funny little script, good humor, a Halloween theme, nostalgia of my upbringing in suburban America, and an all around great production, it’s still a genre game. Therefore it did not appeal to me. Furthermore it carries over the cons of JRPGs: chore quests like finding things, a JRPG battle system of which numbers do not matter and fighting requires no tactics or brainpower, ‘n some other junk. I stopped very early in.

Then I played Proteus. I walked from one side of the island to the other, at awe at the visual and audio, quickly concluding it was a simple audio-visual experience. It reminded me of a 3d version of Seasons [made during NY GGJ 2012]. Something fitting as an installation piece at a museum.

I nearly turned it off. I didn’t. Instead, I decided to circle the island, just to soak it in for a few more minutes.

That was a crucial decision point. The first 5 minutes of any media. And it was successful.

I played through the rest of the game. Exploring. Every sight picture worthy. Interacting with everything, wanting to hear what new sounds come, what new animation occurs. The little crabs and their tribal drum music, the bunny-like creatures, the amazing sounding owl, the elusive white bunny, dandelion seed heads floating about, stars, fireflies. And through all the seasons. A partly cloudy beautiful spring, an equally beautiful summer, looking into the sun causes vision to go white, autumn brings the leaves down and even more rain and clouds just below the mountain, and the climactic, dreamy winter. It was like traveling through a digital world, with all the interactions in tact. Traveling, while in reality it’s raining outside and I’m on my computer.

Perhaps it’s not much of a game, as there aren’t many rules. It takes a single element found in many great games, exploration, and singles it out, resulting in a minimalist experience. The slow-moving, cinematic, 3d exploration of Shadow of the Colossus or any Bethesda game. Then adding a little interaction. Perhaps it’s proof, proof that games can evoke feelings.

Nah, never mind that thought. There just isn’t enough game to prove that here. It’s an audio-visual experience with very little input. My proof of this statement via thought experiment: If I had watched the game instead of playing it, I think it would have offered the same experience.

Game or not, it’s a worthy experience, one I value more than most of the games available on Steam.

Something worth mentioning: Bad Trip by Alan Kwan has a similar exploratory feel with little interaction, with the addition of containing memories of its creator.

Leave a comment | Categories: Game Reveiws, Games

A Personal Statement for Design And Technology

11 January 2014 by Rahil

Written for a certain program’s application.

Outline reasons for applying to the program
The reason I’m applying is because I want to place myself among diverse people with great potential. I’ve been traveling for the past year or so, and I still haven’t been to a place as publicly accessible for human development as New York. I plan to go back, and I want to start it right.

In my experience, compared to NYU ITP, Parson’s alumni seem a bit better rounded. I probably fit the NYU ITP stereotype: overly excited, inconsistent, ambitious, childish; I think I’d work well with a more straight edged Parson’s person, providing the impulse in the team, as I have with past collaborators. I can do the crazy fun experimentation in my free time (Babycastles!).

I also think the curriculum is better suited to create relationships. Collaboration studio and research labs are really appealing to me. The ITP-like electives are still there too.

In what ways will I contribute to the program
Myself: my crazy street-life perspective, my need for universalism – everyone in the world should be able to play my games, my need to have fun while doing all of this, my reluctance to compromise, pushing myself, the people around me, and hopefully, design.

Thoughtful description of my background
[Replacing with description of self, as my background is covered in resume and portfolio]

I self-diagnosed myself to have schizoid personality disorder (SPD). I often withdraw from social situations, have narrow focus, have trouble maintaining relationships, and am indifferent to social norms, despite all of this, I require interaction with people, especially those that I admire or have similar objectives, even if my objectives often change. I rely on communities and/or games to be social. I’ve been struggling with interaction with people my whole life.

Tentative plan of study or area of inquiry in the field as I envision it
When I travel I often have extreme, schizoid-affected feelings from external stimuli. I become extremely playful and confident, as I was in my childhood. I want to explore everything, do everything, and talk to everyone; Empiricism; Learning through play.

My life’s objective is this: I want to make people always feel that the world is a playground, the way I feel while traveling, that there’s always the option to stay out, to physically explore, play, socialize, collaborate, with friends, family, and strangers of all classes of society alike, maximizing physical social time, therefore maximizing memories.

I think in daily life useful interaction can be maximized, filling in non-interactive gaps — public interaction via big games, played with the people around, something anyone can stumble over in a city: in the park, on the subway, inside, and outside; To decrease academic and art barriers, to prevent the social barrier from forming, talk to people, and maintain playfulness. Playfulness begets confidence.

I want to spend time thinking about how to increase meaningful public interaction, especially different classes of society, via thought experiments, and design several solutions on paper. I want to find more ways for people to extract information from the physical world, including people. I want people to interact more physically.

Professional goals
Create non-digital public games. Create a game that results a positive influence on society. Create a specific, useful application or device. Research public interaction, and perhaps the psychological influences it has on people, especially those with schizoid-like symptoms. Start a professional new media studio.

How graduate program will help realize goals
People, time, equipment, studio-type classes, current workshops, and professors. Isn’t that how art schools work? If I run a physical public game jam, I can expect people to come. I think the studio courses will help me manage a studio.

Address anticipated opportunities and challenges
I anticipate working with companies via collaborative studio, join research labs for specific applications: education, biotechnology, etc; assist professors with their research.

I also think it would be nice to collaborate with other departments for more artsy things.

The challenge won’t be to create art or a product; I can do that. The challenge will be to consistently, positively impact society, and eat while doing it.

Future career expectations
Installation maker at the American Museum of Natural History. Playground designer. Elementary school activity maker. MIT-researcher for biotechnology media. Useful toolmaker for medicine and education.

Contrarily, I’d probably be content living in New York, doing a simple job, collaborating with artist friends, many I hope will come from graduate school.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Game Philosophy, Games, New Media

A Personal Statement for Game Design

01 January 2014 by Rahil

Written for a certain Game Design application.

The Internet service man is currently haphazardly pulling cable to my parent’s house in India in a way to avoid monkeys from snagging it. Pardon the superficial errors.

Why I am interested
Games are special to me because it is one form of social interaction that my personality consistently agrees to partake in, a social event that I feel creates a new experience every play, an alternative to socially normal events, which often fail to entice me.

I self-diagnosed myself to have schizoid personality disorder (SPD). I often withdraw from social situations, have narrow focus, have trouble maintaining relationships, and am indifferent to social norms, yet, I often have strong a desire to interact with people. Nearly all of my close friends in my life were initially contacted through games. Games enabled me to be social in a way that doesn’t make me anxious, and is something I actually enjoy. It wasn’t until much later in life while living and travelling in new cities and the world that I began to interact in somewhat more socially normal ways. Without games I probably would be a hermit, a McCandless [Into the Wild]. Sounds like a lame teenage wallflower story, but I believe there’s some rational, psychological reasoning behind the interactions between schizoids and games. My life is constantly experimenting and suffering from this.

Despite my love for several arts, I think the interaction between people have a greater affect on people than the interaction between person(s) and an inanimate medium. It’s simple: moments are more memorable when shared.

Lastly, there’s just more to explore in games, interaction, urban spaces, new media, and that’s excluding its endless applications.

Personal vision, impact on the field, speculation of thesis
My life’s objective is this: I want to make people always feel that the world is a playground, that there’s always the option to stay out, to physically explore, play, socialize, collaborate, with friends, family, and strangers of all classes of society alike, maximizing physical social time, therefore maximizing memories.

When I travel I often have extreme, schizoid-affected feelings from external stimuli. I become extremely playful and overly confident, like a child. I want to explore everything, do everything, and talk to everyone. Empiricism; Learning through play. I often felt that I was the only one interacting with the people around me — in a subway in Seoul, in craftsman shops in Malaysia, on the streets of Taipei — while they were on their smartphones (probably maintaining relationships). I was outside all day everyday. I despised being indoors, hence my choice in Taipei, a very street-life oriented culture. I wondered why people didn’t feel the same way. What people were thinking, if they were thinking, during their routines. I felt over time people, including me, narrow their life to their work, friends, and family, forgetting the world of possibilities. During this time, I saw gaps in society where people are so in routine that fail to maximize their life’s time — on public transportation, lone jobs (small shops, night shifts), and in developed cities without street life (Japan, Western world).

Games can fit these gaps. Public games. Played with the people around. Something anyone can stumble over in a city: in the park, on the subway, inside, and outside. Games should be a part of everyday life. Turn that lonely down time to social game time. Relieve oneself through gameplay, prevent the social barrier from forming, talk to people, and maintain playfulness. Playfulness begets confidence.

A speculation: games in New York public transportation systems to encourage meaningful interaction between strangers via inquiry, without an electronic device.

I prefer public art (and games) to an easily distributable medium because it affects anyone nearby. The audience isn’t narrow. Even if the art is infused on a medium, it should be placed in public a la Babycastle’s public arcades.

In the 1980’s Fluxus wrote “Learning through conversation, inquiring, group play, and games serves as the most effective educational model for the future generation who will live in the information society.” In the same vain I believe that even games without a specific purpose such as learning or research will return positive results because one is interacting with new people. Simply putting a diverse group of people in the same space to interact can lead to powerful outcomes. A good social event is an interactive one.

Another speculation: Big games that have a specific positive affect to the environment: to clean trash, generate power, help the needy, teach, log and map data, etc. If people cannot do something creative, at least they can do something productive.

Why select focus, what I can contribute to a team, and what makes me a strong candidate
On a team I can contribute to game design and implementation (including programming). I’m a DIY problem-solver type that narrowly focuses on interaction and gameplay, so much so that I feel technology gets in the way. Naturally game design will be my focus, but I’m really interested in specific ITP courses to gain more knowledge and possibility.

I believe my strength (and weakness) is retaining the idealistic, child-like vision of play, and my desire for universalism. I’ve lost care for digital games because of my time in Asia.

The main reason I want to go to school is because I no longer want to create games alone; Game development should be interactive. Also, I have great peers in New York.

Perhaps the underlying grandiose reason of why I want to enter game design is so that I myself can maintain those child-like feelings. To live, learn, and play, simultaneously; To avoid narrowing my focus to work, getting bored, withdrawing, changing direction, moving, again, as I’ve always done.

After writing this, I noticed there’s a lot of feelings and a lack of direction, more fitting for ITP, yet I feel that there is a clear love for games itself, particularly its replayability.

Leave a comment | Categories: Games, Personal, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Travel

A Critical Analysis of Super Smash Bros. Melee

31 December 2013 by Rahil

Written for NYU Game Design MFA application.

It seems that I chose this game because of my love for it rather than a game whose critical analysis could lead to a new direction for the future of games. Nostalgia and subjectivity exist. Also, this analysis only focuses on versus mode with tournament settings.

In my college there was a public room with three TVs, all of which solely had Super Smash Bros. Melee (SSBM). My friends and I used to watch videos of professionals play, be inspired, incorporate their skills into our tactics, then participate in regional tournaments, cheering local players. Clear now, but only in hindsight I realize it was a sport.

What makes this game stand above other fighting games of its time is its accessibility. That’s Nintendo’s strength. It had simple controls, no button combinations to memorize, a short learning curve, and an eccentric, lovable selection of characters. This attracted diverse players whom later formed a similarly eccentric, lovable community.

Despite its accessibility it has a complex, successful fighting system — the more skilled player always win. There are several mechanics (rules) to the game leading to an infinite amount of possibility and therefore knowledge. Players explore the possibilities because they are motivated to win, incorporating newly found knowledge into their tactics. It’s a creative process. After 12 years people are still finding new possibilities; It’s existence at EVO 2013 exemplifies is longevity.

However, complexity doesn’t necessarily prolong the life of the game, as proven by ancient games such as chess, but in this case it does help maintain excitement for a cartridge game, just as new content (maps) and core updates do for other competitive games. Perhaps there is even some satisfaction in learning a complex system. Many Asian gamers tend to play knowledge heavy, calculating games. It’s unnecessary, resulting in a higher competitive play learning curve, yet, requiring more skill.

Another pro, especially compared to sports, is that SSBM has nearly no down time. As long as the match is running, there is likely something to do to gain advantage.

A possible con of SSBM is that its complexity flows over to the input. Professional players need quick hands and great hand-eye coordination, practicing certain hand movements to execute advanced moves. I believe it’s sequel (SSBB) attempted to alleviate this by limiting the input, but it resulted in a less exciting game, especially to watch. Decisions need to be timed to generate excitement, but limiting input limits decisions, which limits possibilities.

In my life, no other game or sport has created more exciting moments than matches of SSBM. And, just as any other sport, it is repayable, timeless.

In 2011, indie game designers began creating accessible yet complex sports games. Will Hokra with its simplicity generate enough excitement to be taken seriously as ultimate flying disc did? Regardless of its outcome, I believe Super Smash Bros. Melee is a prominent precursor.

Leave a comment | Categories: Game Reveiws, Games

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