Learn to Play – Announcement

Train by B. Brathwaite
When life is the game, how does one learn to play?

Collected in one place are the most poetic, artistic and artful games that embody the qualities of human existence. These games reflect our nature and our essence back to us, teaching us who and what we are, or can be. Each author has their own perspective, something different to convey, and a unique mode of expression.

Brenda Brathwaite’s award winning game Train confronts the viewer as a physical object and as an historical reference. Its power is in its simple construction as a work of sculpture and in the function of its play. Jason Rohrer’s Passage is perhaps one of the most lyric short games ever made, with play taking all of five minutes. The retro blocky 8-bit graphics abstract us from the experience but also let us see ourselves and our lives in the play of the game.

The other games fall somewhere in between, spanning the gamut from quick play, to epic games requiring many hours to complete.The exhibition focuses on the experience of playing and learning to play. Because of the gulf between “traditional” game design and art, there is a need to reach into the various communities and let people self-nominate. For this reason an open call was issued and works were curated into the exhibition with the help of the community. People of all backgrounds are taking up game making tools to tell their stories and share their experiences and their knowledge.

Learn to Play is also a challenge. During the course of the exhibition, workshops will be held to teach basic game design tools. At the end of the workshops we will have game challenges from which work may be curated into the exhibition.


Passage by J. Rohrer


video games can never be art

Roger Ebert asserts that video games can never be art.

I had planned to take apart the argument piece by piece but upon reflection and talking with Spinach I realize this comes down to an old discussion. The discussion is “what is art?” I want to point out a couple of flaws in Mr. Ebert’s post but then also point out that there is not a clear and concise answer to the question nor to the challenges posed by Ebert.

“Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.”


To this I disagree, and if I may point to Jason Rohrer’s Passage without getting poo flung at me for choosing something so obvious then I would also comment that this simple game plays like a poem, or like a short film. It uses the decision and direction of the player as part of the changing story that is told and can in fact be experienced many ways, though the end is essentially the same. However and this is key, one must play the game to experience it fully.

This is a fatal flaw in Ebert’s commentary, he is happy to judge games by a little video, maybe a snapshot and some commentary. He would never do this with a movie.
Does it make sense to judge George Melies’ “A Voyage to the Moon” (1902) from a single image or a series of images? No, and in fact the proof that it is a work of art is in the exhibition and experience of the whole work.

Games are meant to be played. One cannot judge the quality of a game without playing it. Rather what kind of judgement can one make about a game without playing?

Ebert says, “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.” This is wrong because I do believe that this assertion has been made. Ebert however will never be able to verify this, as he will never play these games. This is a man who has a great depth of knowledge in a field attempting to extend it and to argue about something of which he knows little or nothing.

Finally I want to comment about the idea of art because so many people are just getting this wrong. The definition of art has changed time and again and will likely continue to do so. The problem is that many people who want to say that something is (or more likely is not) art are just not experts. I am NOT saying that people should stfu or anything like that, but if a work is accepted by the community of artists, historians and museums then it IS art whether we like it or not. There is plenty of art I do not like, but that does not make it less art than the stuff I do like.

To that end WACO Resurrection is a work of art, it was made by artists (Eddo Stern, Peter Brinson, Brody Condon, Michael Wilson, Mark Allen, Jessica Hutchins) and has been exhibited at art venues

Gamezone Festival, De Singal, Antwerpen, Brussels
Slamdance Film Festival, Park City, Utah
Ars Electronica, Linz, Austra
Australian Center of the Moving Image(ACMI), Melbourne, Australia
Grand Arts, Kansas City, MI
Next Wave Festival, Melbourne, Australia
Rotterdam Film Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
The Kitchen. New York, NY

and is accepted by the new media arts community and historians as a work of art. http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/2005/05/so-the-winners.php

If you do not like it that is your prerogative but you are being silly if you claim it is not art. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is by a young group of artists who show a great deal of promise, whose work may eventually fulfill the challenge laid out at the beginning of this post. But these people are artists and not game designers per se. Artists will make art.

Finally I want to say that I think the whole discussion “is this art” is a dead end. I hope to find the time to post again and talk about the influence of Marcel Duchamp on the world of art. Picking at the difference, and claiming one thing is not art vs another thing which is, reading “value” into an object of art vs one that is not art are spurious. I could care less if something is art, a better question is: Is it interesting? or What does it mean?

(Second Life)vRace

Call For Artists:

(Second Life)vRace: an exhibition about race and it’s intersection with virtual environments

The idea of race has evolved over time. It is not just about color, it is about who we are. How is race of the puppeteer relevant to the avatar? Where are all the people in Second Life? It seems that we travel in a bubble of similarity.

Some struggle to keep a distinction between their identity and their avatar, but is even that possible? Can you separate your gender, race and culture from your online persona? The avatar is nothing but a shell waiting to be filled by personality, thoughts and actions.

Do we gravitate to people of the same cultural background in virtual environments?

Ars Virtua is looking for work that challenge our ideas, exemplifies our ideals, exposes our struggles and represents our racial identity within virtual spaces.

Specifically we are looking for images, low prim objects (including scripted ones), short video, and performance that combines race and virtual worlds. Objects and images will be shown within the Second Life environment and need to be “ready” for that space.

This low prim show will be in the mainland community of Chilbo, and curated by a guest curator Indea Vaher.

Please send inquiries to gallery@arsvirtua.com or contact Rubaiyat Shatner or Aliah Nakajima in world.

Deadline for letter of interest is April 20, work to be delivered by April 27.

Show will open in the beginning of May.

frist friday April 2 ( yes I spelled first wrong : )

The first CADRE art crawl what a concept, and frankly it only makes sense. Ali is focused on community and that makes the difference.

Gods (is that from Caprica) I hate the waiting, but with Vera @fanya it is not so bad, and at Caffe Trieste it is even less bad but is the beginning of bad habits. The art Venice v Venice is reasonable, though not exceptional and finds this person wishin he had saved up space for the delightful spread no doubt sponsored by the artist.

Wait <time rewind> KALEID is the first stop, and though Ali, the generous sponsor and late leader of the ragtag group has FAILED to include this in the crawl, must correct him as the people in the space at 6.30 are awesome and the artist is still writing on the walls though I get the whole pink sequined thing, the whale element totally baffles me. Newish works in KALEID including a brilliant set of works from the perspective of the ghosts of pac man and damn good cuppin’ cakes, yikes I think KALEID wins with the snackies as the coffee is teh awesome as well, and I have to leave before my meeting arrives</time rewind> nevermind.

We wait a half an hour which is enough time to have a drink and to meet the posse, and it is so good to see Fanny again and make the CC design connection.

Onward… First Friday is about motion as Vera would indicate…

Anno Domini pretty awesome, as usual. Posse finished with the gallery before I got out of the lobby, but managed to connect to the artist and start a conversation.

Works – Found Female, damn I love Works, and FF really appeals to our painterly pals, the presentation is great, and the work has a great consistency. Dennis Champion(?)’s first show in the P2IS space also underscores the NEED FOR THIS SPACE IN SAN JOSE. Dennis’ first show, sorry it was a rainy good Friday, but it was Powersfull.

And the reason I do the art walk: Joel Slayton. Okay running into Joel is always a bonus and spending 10 minutes with the executive director of 01 is priceless. There is one day a month that I love this town.

MACLA had a drag performer whom I missed, sorry and the rap act wasn’t my speed. But it had an audience.

Quilt was amazing. I think I missed it by partying up at the TechShop last month but I am fucking stupid, the work was just there, the mashup between image and quilt, the hint at the digital and the mixing of the media all threw me for a loop. Do not ever skip Quilt museum on a First Friday, Jane knows what she is doing and knows where it sits in contemporary culture, save the money (they charge on a daily basis) and SEE THE SHOW. But more importantly see THIS show and what they have in store for 01.

ICA had their threadless show and a peek at the next, threads are sooo worth seeing, the delicate ephemeral quality of some of the work really calls back to Quilt, but pushes it in an interesting other direction.

SGA Comics. Gawd love them, the front room is a comic shop, seriously WTF Guitar Hero action figures? I thought I was the action figure. Anyhow the work on the walls was notable, and the jazz band was kickin’ This is the place that I spent money, what does that say? Bought a black T-Shirt for a mere $5 cash and got a Hot Tub Time Machine poster, cause I ended up likin’ the movie.

<space rewind>(there is no closure for this tag as it machts nichts) Back at Quilt: introduce Ali to Jane, Ali is terminally late, but smart and Jane is the most exciting curator in San Jose. Conversation ensues.

Back at Works. Shilpi! Marvin et al, talking to Joe and the gang, the auction is coming up, needs mah help and needs your art. I am donating a laser painting.

Back to AD. ZOMG stage act kills, talk to Brian about Arduino Domini, need to connect to lilly pad, wait I can’t call it Arduino Domini because it confuses people, meh. But I love AD and so I need to shape up. Talked with Johnny, and Mike and Dmitry. Maaaan why does the evening have to end, having fun.

Oh well, left some of my American Psycho cards around and will see what happens. No pix. Boring text post means only people who care will read and reply.

Gear up for CADRE Crawl next month.