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Directed Project 2020 – Entry #3

The following are mostly random notes that are somewhat part of my creative process. 

Being creative under stressful times is hard.

Stress is a spectrum, there’s never a real zero (as all other feelings I may be experiencing) but it doesn’t cancel other feelings. Various parameters (gender, racial issues, social status, global context etc.) influence stress.

It’s tough to find meaning in the ‘mundane’ when there’s a distorted sense of scale. Things happen in the world at large, yet my current agency is on the ‘small’ thing — a small project, a small job, a small world. It’s the dissonance between the two that’s causing some stress, I suppose.

That dissonance is partly ‘fabricated’ — deeming something big or small, it’s largely influenced by social constructs and norms. Binary thinking. Success/failure, meritocracy. Mundane/Important. The necessity to see contrast to be able to see anything at all. Relying a lot (too much?) on visual thinking, which has become more and more static — trapped in power dynamics beyond our control. We’ve been filtering, layering, transmitting, conditioning our visual space(s). Our auditory space is slightly less controlled at the moment (I think — selfies are photos. We have more and more video and sound but things are still ‘collages’.)

We’ve been both flattened and expanded by the many virtual tools surrounding us. I guess our sense of space, sound, and time is evolving unconsciously. I’m trying not to judge — to avoid a good-vs-bad thinking. It’s so hard though.

Maybe there’s something about collages — how to replicate the complexities of our bodies in a physical environment, we’ve turned toward collages. Pieces on top of pieces (filters on top of filters) like a French mille-feuilles, hoping that the whole bulk will produce a semblance of realness. At least mimic some of its depth. But it’s all about perception, right?

I don’t think this text is very readable, but moving on. 😀

Going back to the Directed Project. I’ll be reading/thinking/browsing the book referred in this article on First Person Scholar: A Multimodal Approach to Video Games and the Player by Weimin Toh.

I’m intrigued by the ‘semiotics’ approach and the breakdown between the various ‘ludonarrative dissonances’ (or resonances, or contrasts) that we could read and detail a bit more in games.

I’m personally interested in the themes around intimacy and playable characters in games. There’s a sense of intimacy in games that’s different from other media (I think?) Current suspicion is that many games systems and mechanics are creating virtual worlds where intimacy is almost always jeopardized. As a marginalized person (of some sort) I’m thinking a lot about boundaries and how intimacy is always under attack VS privileged people do not need so many differences between intimate/public or social spaces. (Hence our social media, where everything is blurred because it’s tailored toward people who are not overtly threatened in their intimacy on a day-to-day basis.) I have seen how the more privileges I’ve gained the more comfortable I have become in social/public environments and also at ease with my sense of self (and notice how I would become more white in some contexts not only as a way to survive, but because nothing else was encouraged in these environments).

Intimate moments in games are often done by accident. I guess games that rely less on overt violence (but even Animal Crossing can be a violent game — see all the people trying to get rid of their ugly neighbors, among many other things) give a better room for intimate moments… but even so. I can name so many books where I felt truly intimate moments with the character, with my sense of self. It’s so different in games because of the systemic thinking that’s almost its core. Not that there is no systemic thinking in writing or literature, but possibly because it had more time to evolve, is more accessible than most media, its ability to question itself constantly and turn something on its head is a bit more obvious. In the end, can we really design systems that are not oppressive? That’s one of my questions.

Going back (or further?) on my project: Building a sense of intimacy between characters (playable or not) is one of my goals. When you build a fictional world there’s always a lot of back-and-forth between ‘the world the characters are living in’ and ‘the characters’ needs’ and how they could echo, interact with each other. I’ve written a lot of stories about outsiders — a world VS character type of conflict is always easy to write, to sell, feels familiar to me, has a lot of potential for things evolving from both the world and the character. When intimacy was involved, there was still that sort of dynamic — 2 characters trying to build some intimacy despite the world around them threatening that intimacy. I wonder if I can do things differently or not this time.

Published in Narrative Design