Rahil Patel

| (• ◡•)|/ \(❍ᴥ❍ʋ).

Category Archives for: Games

What makes a classic, classic?

22 October 2014 by Rahil

In answering this question, one comes closer to what one should focus on creating.

Though for each medium (or new media) there are steps in aesthetics that accumulate to what makes a modern example of that medium, the steps are often forgotten.

What makes a classic are those things that offer a perspective of life, and allows time to reflect on it.

As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite films are the slow, contemplative ones by Asians: Still Walking, Like Father Like Son, Yi Yi, Tokyo Story. These films capture families realistically, allowing the viewer to observe human condition.

Those aren’t just my favorites, there are more that I consider classics. My favorites happen to have nuclear families as their subject, but it isn’t limited to such. Other films I’d still consider classics: Tree of Life, Apu trilogy, Chop Shop, 400 Blows, La Haine, Vive L’Amour, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, Nobody Knows, Grave of Fireflies, Bicycle Thieves, Ikiru, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Certified Copy, A Separation. All of these films contain people. They too portray life realistically and explore the human condition.

It seems to me that’s it. A classic is an art object that realistically portrays life and deeply explores the human condition. To have good aesthetics (design, pacing, style) are icing.

I have not read classic fiction books, but I imagine the following novels of realism do similar justice: Anne Karrenina, War and Peace, Madame Bovary, Middlemarch, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment.

Video games vary, and I have not experienced one that offers nearly as much insight into human life as the other mediums, but it’s possible. Jason Rohrer’s early games come very close. Jonathan Blow’s Braid had a good character. Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia is the greatest example I can currently think of. All are linear experiences. Still, none compare. But there are many other directions for games. When art is an interaction, it can’t be duplicated, which is kind of a requirement of a classic, that it can be re-experienced.

New media, performance art, public art, interactive art, etc. are different beasts They usually serve as steps by pushing aesthetics forward (Duchamp), from object to experience (Fluxus), from experience to interaction (Fluxus again?), and so on. Once they become interactive, they follow the same fate as interactive games: unable to become a classic. Ai Wei Wei’s work and Banksy just don’t quite fit or compare to those classic films or books. [I may be missing some classic performance arts, such as plays and dance]

I may argue for Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York photograph and text series, and Vincent Moon’s music and performance video series, as they provide insight into humans too. Both are archived on the internet, so it is possible to see it all in one viewing, as one normally does classics.

Of recent note, I found the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury within the Cannes film festival with this stated goal: “honour works of artistic quality which witnesses to the power of film to reveal the mysterious depths of human beings through what concerns them, their hurts and failings as well as their hopes.” Their goal is great, but their films tend to be more philosophical.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Essays, Film Philosophy, Films, Game Philosophy, Games, Literature

A Design Strategy for Data

19 September 2014 by Rahil

This was inspired by the first week’s Creativity and Computation class’s lecture by Sven Travis.

A neat way design new media (which may be in the form of a game) is to think of the input and the output, based on the perceptions of humans.

I used this strategy in the past for games, where I’d think about all of the inputs the medium has, often an iPad, then create games using them. However, it only dawned to me during the lecture that data is not limited to mediums. Everything is data. In and out.

design strategy for data

Personal designs:

  • Track the motion of a falcon, whenever it swoops for an attack, output a “falcon punch” sound through a speaker in the public.
  • When a sentence with the word love or hate is said on a social platform, have a speaker in the public output the sentence.
  • Track rats over time, post the results in the form of a transportation transparency and paste it over a transportation map.
  • Put a camera on a bum, output the video in a public square.
  • Each time someone e-mails a government official a letter to appeal something, trigger a catapult to throw a ball of sand approximately at the official’s office window.
  • Each time a human dies from the fault of government, trigger a mechanism to splash blood on the White House.

Leave a comment | Categories: Design, Design, Games, New Media

Traditional Music Games

18 September 2014 by Rahil

Connect Taiko No Tatsujin to tablas using Makey Makey at a Gurudwara.

traditional games

Foreigners will have to go to a Gurudwara, take off their shoes, perhaps pray, then play. Perhaps kids who play it will be inspired to learn to play traditional instruments.

Further design:
Perhaps can think of other traditional instrument, game, and place of worship combinations.

Drawing digitally is a waste of time. I thought it would convey designs better, but perhaps paper is better if I can find a good workflow.

Leave a comment | Categories: Design, Design, New Media

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

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