Leaving The Game Center:
Closing thoughts

I’m looking back at my experience as the artist-in-residence at the NYU Game Center. It seems incredible, especially now, that this ever happened. Looking back, I see my experience as a braid of shaping practice, producing work, and relation.


I started this post months ago. But then COVID-19 happened, and it seemed strange to share these thoughts while everyone was huddling at home in distress.

Things aren't really better now, but we're used to it. I guess that's the way this works. We get used to almost anything.

drawing of a mask, hand sanitizer, soap, and germs

Product & Process

I’m resisting the pressure to reduce this experience into a list of achievements and products. I'm resisting the quiet pressure from (imaginary) funders, employers, and peers to only notice and value things that are easy to measure.

There's a constant whispering that if only we push ourselves to the front, present the work with enough hyperbole, and shake the right hands while saying the right words we'll find a way to be seen, to find our place in things, and to thrive.

Instead, I'm trying to hold being-in-practice / being-in-relation in the front. They don't have the howling glamour of achievements. But they are the place the real work happens.

What I did as Artist in Residence

The work I did was a braid of shaping practice, relations with the people/ecosystem around me, and producing works. Like a braid, these aren't separate items, they come from the same place and are inextricable from each other.

drawing of a braid

Practice - forming context:

Photo of the book Joyful Militancy

Joyful Militancy, recommended by Jane, lent to me by August

cardboard prototype of the <em>Follow</em> game controller

An early cardboard-box controller so we could test different button configurations

Relation - the living system:

Global Climate Strike

Global Climate Strike

Products - works:

photo of my nyu id and some cloning hardware

Keys 4 All - a collab with Samantha

Emergency Exhibition Care booklet cover

Emergency Exhibition Care booklet cover

Emergency Exhibition Care booklet inner

Emergency Exhibition Care booklet inside

Being a resident

Having a paid artist residency in a space with incredible people is a major gift. It's also a strange space to occupy. I wrote about this earlier.

Timeline

The residency had three parts

work notes

Private notes from Part 1

plan for part 3

Plan for Part 3



Early testing of Arcade Friend


Learning about formal games

During the residency, I learned a lot about games. While studying the formal structure of traditional games I finally clarified some of the things I love about play, and also what I don’t like about games.

drawing of a happy person

One small example: It is strange to me that we (game designers) often use emotional manipulation to generate intense scarcity-based fear. Or that we push players to embody stress-motivated competitive behaviours. As a player, this is not fun for me and I’m totally bewildered that this is fun for anyone.

drawing of an overwhelmed person

Sometimes I think this is just a matter of volume. Like I might like this as much as anyone, but the volume is just too loud.

Challenges

sad house

Regrets

Follow - My No Quarter Project

If I were staying longer?

These are the thing that moved me the most, these are the parts I felt were still unfolding as I had to leave.

invitation for tiny play experiments

The invitations I made for people to collab with me. I left some with plates of cookies and snacks

drawing people connecting

Feedback

When I was leaving I held a hangout/meeting to review the residency. I thought it would be useful for me, useful for the people in the space, and useful for residents who come after. Below are some comments from a people who attended.

Tiny Dance Closet

Photo from Tiny Dance Closet

Thanks

Thank you to everyone at the Game Center and beyond who helped to make this experience so unforgettable. Aaron, Alex, Alina, Arnab, Atharva, August, Bennet, Billy, Brent, Caroline, Catherine, Catt, Charlie, Charles, Clara, Colleen, Dana, Danny, David, Dylan, Eduardo, Elizabeth, Ellen, EMi, Emily, Eric, Eris, Frank, Gabe, Gene, George, Greg, Gwynna, Hermione, Holly, Ida, ITP, Jackie, Jeffrey, Jesse, Jessica, John, Josie, Julia, Karina, Kay, Kevin, Logan, Mailis, Maira, Marie, Martin, Mark, Mary, Matt, Matt, Mike, Mio, Mitu, Naomi, Nathalie, Noah, Peiling, Prabhakar, Prem, Rachel, Raymond, Robert, Robin, Roi, Rowan, Samantha, Schuyler, Siddarth, Steph, Sukanya, Suzanne, Tara, Toby, Toni, Vincent, Yuxin, and Winnie. (If your name isn't here tell me and I'll add it, your name should be here.)

drawing of a happy person

Photo by Dana Foss