I released Art Game into the wild today. Where “the wild” is “Twitter” and my very exclusive mailing list. It’s a game I spent a lot of time on over the last couple of months, and really I’ve been thinking about it in some form for maybe almost a year. So it was an important one to me, is what I’m saying. Did a lot of testing with great testers (where “testing” includes some pretty excellent philosophical discussions about games and art). Everything was looking great! And then the people in the gallery decided to kind of have a mass seizure and march off screen…
This probably isn’t the first game I’ve released with some serious bugs – I feel it’s happened before. But for some reason this one really hurt, especially after all the effort by testers, and really wanting this to be a smooth experience, because I think the game relies rather a lot on the whole thing feeling relatively seamless. Nobody wants seizures in their show-of-a-life-time. Because I kind of believe in this blog involving some real disclosure about the activity of making games, I can tell you I felt panicky, that I had the burning cheeks of embarrassment, and that I really beat myself up about for quite a while.
As I debugged, I briefly toyed with the idea that if it was a rare glitch I would pass it off as spontaneous performance art. But it wasn’t rare, it was… always.
But I fixed it (by doing nothing at all as far as I could tell, and with a great deal of help from Eltons Küns), and I fixed another bug (I think), and Art Game floated along, not too much the worse for wear. And I’m pleased with it I think. So far people seem to like it, which is deeply gratifying. I think it does some of the things I imagined it doing when it was just a little baby idea on my list of game ideas.
I think it’s possible to feel proud about the work you make. I think it’s possible to feel angry with the curator for not selecting a particularly excellent example of your oeuvre. I think it’s possible to feel indignant when someone in the gallery takes a cheap-shot at one of your painting. I think it’s possible to feel elated when you’re on the cover of Artforum. And I hope it’s possible for the game to serve as a platform for people to muse about the whole weird games and art business, too. And the art and games business, for that matter. Most of all, I think it’s possible to express yourself as an artist and to invest in that and not have the game let you down too much.
Perhaps I’ll write something more coherent about the game another evening. For not, I’m glad it’s out there and that people can take a look and maybe paint a painting or two.