FILE GAMES 2017: Voluntary Discontrol
The curatorial concept behind FILE Games 2017 considers the experiences which motivate players, reflecting on their interaction with the games and exploring their aesthetic impact, seeking to discover meaning in the tension between voluntarily handing over control and the primitive urge for response.
Digital games have the potential to not only express representations as a collection of images, text, and sounds, but as a dynamic behavioral system which evolves and transforms organically.
These transformations, which are both caused and experienced by the player as they communicate mechanically, on account of the digital nature of the communication – with a virtual system, in fact, establish a second and deeper layer of dialog between the expressions of the author, who is the conductor who unifies and directs systems and rules that emerge as latent experiences for the player; and the user interacting with their avatar in the system which becomes both a reflection of the expression of the player and part of the channel which maintains a dialog with the immaterial voice of the implicit author of the game.
The feeling of control given to the player, which is sometimes sophisticatedly false, is carefully maintained by the voluntary suspension of disbelief which sustains this fantasy world, where this ephemeral and mutating dialog is rebuilt and slips away at every decision the player makes as part of their game-playing. This pulse between domination and uncertainly is, perhaps, the artistic culmination of a gaming system as an aesthetic element.
This interaction is fueled by the intentional imbalance between the satisfaction derived from power of choice and the conflict caused by abstaining from control. This inconstancy facilitates the dialog that is at the heart of the gaming experience. The communication goes beyond the immediate representation of the impulses emanating from the interface, as introspective meanings are unfolded with the discovery of meanings which are assumed to be uniquely belonging to the author. The player becomes empowered not by controlling the exchange, but by their ability to perceive the creative intentions of the author. The expressive intent behind the game now belongs to the player.
This inversion of responsibilities is an epiphany in “Inside”, which discusses the relationship involved in control, drawing parallels with the young protagonist chased by a sinister dystopian state. This same boy exercises telepathic control over other human beings; and, perhaps, acts as a meta-player, challenging the assumption of user interaction.
In “Old man’s Journey”, the player moves mountains to help the protagonist on his journey of reconciliation, while revealing the loving and painful narrative of his past. The journey through the landscapes is a meditative process shared between the protagonist and the player, and exposes the weakness of both, by opposing the power to remake the world to the inevitable passage through life.
“Everything” is a contemplative game which explores the sense of “being” in a multiplicity of forms and scales. The player takes control of creatures, objects, quantum particles, heavenly bodies or of the cosmos, in a casually philosophical exercise of reflection and curiosity. Participation in the game demands the recognition of a certain interconnectivity between all the beings that make up the universe while, at the same time, dissolving the notion of the individual as the player “jumps” between entities.
FILE GAMES 2017 Curator
FILE GAMES PROGRAM
1 Alec Holowka, Scott Benson & Bethany Hockenberry – Night in the Woods – The United States
2 Broken Rules Studio – Old Man’s Journey – Austria
3 Carlsen Games – THOTH – Denmark
4 David O’Reilly – Everything – United States
5 Dinosaur Polo Club – Mini Metro – New Zealand
6 Geert Nellen – Metrico+ – The Netherlands
7 Marc Flury & Brian Gibson – Thumper – The United States and South Korea
8 Piotr Iwanicki – SUPERHOT – Canada
9 Plastic Studios – Bound – Poland
10 Playdead – Inside – Denmark
11 Oculus Story Studio – Dear Angelica – The United States
12 Quicksand GamesLab – Antariksha Sanchar: Transmissions in Space – India
13 Tomorrow.gy: Agustin Abreu, Pablo Bounous & Ignacio Platas – Kid Nano – Uruguay