Saturday, September 3, 2011

Creativity, Art and Game Play

I've been trying to come up with a way to explain this, but I've come to conclusion every game I play is a little work of creativity.  It is just one where more than one person is involved at a time.  But where to begin...

I'm going to put forth that movies are the least creative form of art...from the perspective of the audience.  True, the actor and directors bring the story to life, but everything is spelled out for the audience.  Sounds, visuals, even moods.  Everything is given to the audience, they are idle in the process, being force fed and have no involvement with the creative process.

Consider books as an alternative.  Books spell out (pun not intended, but I'll take credit for it!) everything possible, but some finishing touches are required by the reader.  If a book describes a person with a "hawkish nose", everyone will have their own version of that individual in their mind.  But there would be differences from individual to individual.  One reader may imagine a long, thin nose while another envisions a more blunt but down turned nose.   If a character enters a green ford mustang, what year?  What shade of green?  Are the tires whitewalls?  Is the car in mint condition, or does it have the scrapes and dings every car gets over time?

Often these details are left to the reader to decide.  So, in this case, every time we read a book we exercise a little creativity.  We fill in the gaps not mentioned.  In a way, we participate in the act of creating art with the person who authored the book.

And so it goes with playing games, or at least the well designed ones.  Every time we play a game a story is told.  Moves are made as the game changes and variables are put in place.  But it is social, cooperative act, even as it is competitive.  Each player strives to 'win', and so all players are provided a common objective. Each player than must exercise their creativity, skill, and learned knowledge to bring about that common objective.  I believe this is the definition for creativity and artistic expression.  Every player in a game takes part in a creative act with every other player at the table, and with the designer who created the game.

A well designed game will provide each player a unique art work when completed.  Each player's moves, in totality, will differ from every other play of that game.  The outcome of every game should differ slightly too, although the eventual outcome (who won and who lost), may not.  In this case, it is not only the end result of the game which is the art form, but the way in which it was accomplished.

As a game player, and a potential game designer, it is my hope to achieve this level of interaction in every game I play or design.  I hope to examine moves from different approaches, stretch my creativity a bit, and create a little piece of art.
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