Through the Round Window

Posted by Cha

Playing Flower means looking through a window into another world. Something like Play School and its variously-shaped windows, maybe.

Play School uses windows as excursions into everyday life, and as a kid I found this hopelessly dull next to the other crafts, games and stories. The ritual of choosing the window and going through it got my hopes up that it would be something worthwhile, but it was always just people doing ordinary things. Why would I be interested in that? The parts I didn't appreciate at the time were, I imagine, meant to give Aussie kids a view of other kids in situations they could relate to.


The Maturity of Tokyo Jungle

Posted by Cha

There's a lot of fuss about achieving genuine maturity in games. An uncomfortable amount of this discussion is coming from people who want to delegitimise games they dislike. But if they can use subjective definitions for their own purposes so can I.

My definition of maturity involves not caring what other people think. This doesn't mean taking the idea to its ridiculous extreme — you can still seek advice and treat other people well. But maturity is a particular sense of self that, at its heart, does not rely on how others perceive you. An identity secure enough not to amplify its own uniqueness either, just accepting it.

(Enslaved: Odyssey to the West's fish tank scene occurs at the end of Chapter Two, but in some ways it's worth discovering for yourself, so consider yourself warned if sensitive to spoilers.)

The scene: Monkey and Trip come across something beautiful and incredible. A large fish tank is still thriving after approximately two hundred years in the ruins of New York. Trip explains that it's working as a perfect closed system. The sunlight feeds the plants, the small fish eat the plants, and the big fish eat the small fish.


Balance of Nature

Posted by Cha

Earlier this month I was linked to this article on Flower. As an ecologist who works in urban spaces it was fascinating to me, and described something close to my own experience playing Flower. I really wish I'd written something like it, particularly the parts about breaking down the separation between humans and nature. On another level, the article suffers from what I have been known to call 'Matrix ecology' -- a poor choice of terminology, since matrix usually means something else in landscape ecology. I should possibly call it something more like 'popular culture ecology'.

(Tangent: computers and ecology seem to have a few awkward terminology overlaps. We've also started talking about 'landscape defragmentation'.)

Most people probably remember this rant from Agent Smith in The Matrix:


Play Is Everywhere

Posted by Cha

I spent the weekend at Freeplay Independent Games Festival here in Melbourne. I wasn't at my most interactive that's for sure, but did sit quietly and listen to a lot of great speakers. I'm still turning it all over in my head.

Others will probably write about more specific ideas from the various sessions. As usual, I'm going to write about a more individual experience.

I wasn't too sure what I might get out of Freeplay, given that I enjoy playing and writing about games, but have never been interested in making them myself. I expected some new ideas to think about, possibly also a bit more insight into the development process.

I didn't quite expect the level of passion and inspiration. I also didn't expect to start making connections in my mind to my day job, and where there might one day be great synergies. I keep different aspects of my life fairly fragmented, so crossovers come as a surprise.