This Is What That Means And Why
Since I’ve spent today evaluating students’ design pitches for experimental games and also awkwardly trying out some initial words about why Trolley Problem is the way it is for the (very few) people who have tried it out, I’ve been thinking about this whole thing of explaining elements of games. In particular, because I teach this course of “experimental interaction” and consider myself engaged in the process of creating “curious games”, I find myself constantly asking why about each element of a design or game.
This is a good thing because it’s really kind of hard to answer the question when the raison d’etre of your game is not “fun” but rather some other purpose or meaning or experience. In particular, in that case you really should be able to talk about why it is the way it is, I think. And it’s only in practising answering the question that you a) get any better at answering it and using half-way decent combinations of words to express what you think you’re doing and b) often, have any chance of understand what you were doing in the first place (since it doesn’t all come out fully baked, or whatever).
The point being that while I got to a place where I felt like I could explain certain aspects of The Artist Is Present intelligently (waiting as antithetical to games, pushing against overblown notions of “fairness” in contemporary games, etc.), I’m finding it really hard to talk/write about why Trolley Problem is the lo-fi, unhelpful little thing that it is. Yet I know I made it that way on purpose and for various reasons.
So more on that later.