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Nov 30, 2009



I'm confused. Which is OK. That's a fine way to start an interesting conversation.

I think when I read "Anything [colon]:" and then something else, it's meant to be kind of a reflective thing. So if I say something kinda ridonkulous, like:

"Sandwiches are like buildings we put together out of food when we're feeling peckish."

I can move up the classy/snobby scale with:

"Sandwiches: architectures of hunger."

It's not any more sensible, but it implies a kind of thoughtfulness that may be erroneous.

Throw a question mark on the end and you've got yourself a panel discussion, because it implies an inherent or incipient argument:

"Sandwiches: architectures of hunger?"

See? Totally more credworthy.

In this case, if I put on my sparkly deconstructionist hat, I can imagine that someone believes:

a) Game design is an art
b) The art of being human, as opposed to the science (biology) of same, is worthy of distinction
c) Something about designing games applies to said art, or...
d) Does it???

It's not quite fatuous. Perhaps semifatuous.


So you're saying "artists are to art as game designers are to people"?

Game designers are artists. Therefore, your point can be reduced to "artists are to art as artists are to people". This further reduces to "to artists, people and art are the same thing".

As to whether that's true or not, it depends on the artist.



I read this as the purpose of humans, the art or knack or being a human is in designing games, challenges and interesting thought provoking problems both for ourselves and others.
The pursuit of mentally interesting things, removing or getting through the mundane and monotonous, which in turn can lead to discovery and advancement seems like a good description for life?


An old Russian proverb once quoted by C J Cherryh:

"Life is problems, living is solving problems."

Consider that in the context of Poul Anderson's

"Games are work you don't have to do"

And that's what I took from Game Design: The Art of the Human. It's the art of designing problems that humans will choose to do voluntarily based on a deep insight into how humans are wired as problem-solving animals.


It's really interesting...


I take it that Richard is right that this is a "milk is to cows as eggs are to" sort of question.

There are some slightly confusing bits, though, and not just the bits that Richard points out. In addition to designers being artists and games being an art form (or at least including art in their form), there's also the question of whether "people" can be equated with art, when designers are also people, and people precede (at least in most accounts) games. Art is normally understood as something produced from raw materials (e.g. paint, clay, musical instruments) and different from those materials.

So can I propose a friendly amendment to your question?

Sculptors: Clay as Game Designers: People

I don't know how different that is from what you're thinking about, but I can get my head around it more easily.


Perhaps the art of making operacinal human relations in a software or even "write" an environment in which the behavior of players to be selected as planned! Oh yes .... art


How about Artists:Art::Game Designers:Play?


Artists produce art, so game designers produce people?

I see the point as being: game designers are artists that use human nature, or human patterns of behaviour, as their canvas/raw materials.

I'm not so sure that they are so different from other artists. Writers, playwrights, film directors; surely also need to understand how to elicit responses from their audience? (Assuming they're creating for an audience). The visual arts, maybe too a lesser extent.


As originally postulated by Ted, it makes me wonder whether our value would go up when the game designer dies.



Perhaps, but probably only in a few hundred years. Once folks recognize our contribution to the development of games as a respected art form. Until then, we'll continue to be incomprehensible and derided as a bunch of freeloaders.

All right, I'm being just a bit facetious.


Games are currently regarded as second-class entertainment. They lack the respectability of "important" forms like motion pictures or novels. Ultimately that attitude will change, and games will be seen as being as relevant to the social mainstream as much as any other form of mass entertainment.

Sadly, I don't think that's going to happen in the next decade, though it may well come to pass shortly thereafter (well, that's my hope at any rate -- if it truly turns out to be centuries than I'm gonna be pretty depressed about it).

I could make a proactive statement about how we should be evangelizing gaming as a way to explore our humanity at this point, but it seems ultimately redundant. I suspect that most everyone here would agree with that stance.

Perhaps the best we can manage is to continually remind those around us that games are an avenue worth exploring, and hope that some youngster manages to craft a compelling argument that shifts public opinion in a dramatic manner.

I'll keep waiting for that to happen, since I didn't manage it myself. Meanwhile, I hope everyone else manages to stay their ground and push forward, even if the gain is measured in millimeters.

Wow, I've gotten totally absorbed in this stream-of-consciousness stuff this evening. 'Nuff said for now :)


This is random and not relevant, but I don't see an overall email address for Terra Nova here, so I just wanted to let y'all know that I'd love to hear your take on this study:



Let's rephrase this so it doesn't imply causality:

Teenagers exist who are (arguably) addicted to the Internet and are known to engage in self-harm behavior.

I don't think one can say whether the chicken or the egg comes first. What we do know is that lonely, depressed, and yes, probably self-harming, teens are drawn to the Internet. Sometimes things happen that trigger or exacerbate symptoms, but that happens in real life, too.

What needs to happen is for root causes to be addressed. Adolescents are immensely pressured in many cultures, notably in Asian countries like China and Japan, where high rates of teen mental issues and suicide are well-documented.

My research would suggest that kids (and adults) can, in fact, experience connection and belonging in digital spaces, beyond what they can in physical ones, especially when they are affected by language, disability, socialization, anxiety or other social engagement issues. True this doesn't always occur, but my sense is that it is the norm, rather than the exception.



The question you must ask is "if there was no Internet, what course of action would these individuals pursue?"

This is absolutely a question that resolves to whether the chicken or egg came first. Either there has been a significant increase in mental dysfunction in the youth population that corresponds to access to the Internet, or not.

Suggesting that there is a correlation between specific instances of traceable behavior in individual cases vs. global trends is no better that suggesting that Ozzy Osbourne is responsible for the corruption of the young. Access to the net is either good or bad, and we must take an honest stand based on our belief of which side is most appropriate.

I realize that you're not promulgating a negative stereotype in your assertion - that you're in fact suggesting that Internet relationships may be highly beneficial to individuals whom are not able (for whatever reason) to develop relations with others through more traditional means.

Sadly, I find myself spent for this evening. Discuss amongst yourselves.


I have these moments too. ALL THE TIME. So I feel you.

I read this as game designers are artists. That assertion along side this little hunch I have that right now artists are looking into everyday life expressing it through whatever medium, performance, video, and other experimental forms. Does game design fall into one of these experimental forms by manipulating human reactions/action? Don't lots of other art forms do this?

Is this just further validating that game design is an art form?


Games are an art form in which the participants are part of the medium. Game design is the scientific methodology by which we create art in the form of games.


Thank you all for these comments. You really help me think! It's hard enough without anyone's help.

As I dig around in my own brain, I am getting this idea that game designers *make* people.

Consider a starting endowment of human desires and interests. Call it D.

People start with D.

Then someone builds a game. People enter the game with D. Indeed the game is designed with D in mind: it succeeds because it feeds D, it gives people good feelings based on D.

But when people leave the game, they have a new set of desires and interest, D'. The new set is predictable. People have D' because the game designer, knowing D, built a world to encourage D'.

Thus the game designer is building people. That is her art.

A painter makes a painting, and the painting may change people who look at it.

But the game designer makes something that only becomes a creation when people are using it. A game does not exist separately from the people who use it. It is like a building: Without users, it is mere stone. Without users, a game is bits, cardboard.

The artifact that game designers build is a combination of things and people. As part of the creation, the designer refashions the people, just as the painter refashions his canvas. She changes them from people who desire D to people who desire D'.

Thus where painters make canvases, game designers make people. Artist: Art :: Game Designer : People.


Does "Art" exist in the absence of viewers (users)?


Yes, it is great art. A Game designers need dozens of different skills, but one of them is far more important than the others, because it underlies everything else that a designer must do. Everything from fine arts to theme parks, from Michaelangelo to Mickey Mouse, will illustrate how this skill can be used on your game, your team, your audience, your client, and most importantly, on yourself.

Hannah Montanah Games


That makes an architect , not an artist.


I believe that viewing games purely as art seems to be a very lacking perspective, because it discounts many of the design-based elements good games have. I wrote a short response to this article over at my blog, which for some reason was marked as spam when I tried a trackback to this post:



I wrote something on the difference between craft and art a while back that seems relevant: http://raccaldin36.livejournal.com/2102319.html

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