« January 2009 | Main | April 2009 »

March 31, 2009

Games: The Art of Making, Bending and Breaking Rules by Andrew Yashar Ames

One of my students is making a splash with the work he did in graduate school. He will be co-curating – with Nick Montfort – a classic game exhibition:

Games: The Art of Making, Bending, and Breaking Rules
By Andrew Yashar Ames

Game-based art has implied and explicit rules that artists expose and exploit for aesthetic and ideological purposes. The thesis develops this theory of interactivity from Noah Wardrip-Fruin's concept of playable media, Domini Lopes' strongly interactive art, Eric Zimmerman's defined modes of interactivity, and Ian Bogost's procedural rhetoric. The thesis explores the aesthetic and ideological in games from Dadaism, Surrealism, Fluxus, and contemporary artists Rafael Fajardo, Gabriel Orozco, Mary Flanagan, Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo, Wafaa Bilal, Natalie Bookchin, Voker Morawe, Timan Reiff, and Matthew Ritchie, and in the game-based and interactive works of new media artist Andrew Y. Ames.

About the Author
Andrew Y. Ames is a new media artist, designer, and collaborator who plays and plays with games. Games, his work shows, are cultural artifacts that not only entertain and instruct but epitomize the cultures that created them. His modifications bend the rules and reinvent board, video, and card games in unexpected ways that invite critical reflection on consumerism, politics, technology, and media.

Ames graduated from Rhode Island School of Design (MFA in Digital +Media), the University of Denver (BFA in Electronic Media Arts and Design), and Red Rocks Community College (AA in Multimedia Design Technology and Animation). Currently living in New England, he's writing and making games. He worked with Miguel Tarango to help create Denver’s first digital gallery, Potential Cloud Formations, and has exhibited at NYCResis-tor, Sol Koffler Gallery, Core New Art Space, Neo Studios, Denver West, and 5th Floor Studios. His game modification, Deconstructing Gender, appears in the 2007 Web Biennial International Contemporary Art Exhibition of the Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum. [Itch] Magazine recently published his paper "On Games, Art and Shades of Grey."

Thesis and Degree info
"Games: The Making, Bending and Breaking of Rules" is a thesis written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Masters of Fine Arts in Digital+Media in the Department of Digital+Media of the Rhode Island School of Design, 2008. It was published by Fylkingen's journal Hz, Issue number 13, 2009.


Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 12:00 AM

March 25, 2009

Rafael has been invited to speak at the Samples Internacional Festival de Video, Puebla, Mexico 2009

         [    ·    ]     
[ · ]
[ · ]
[ + ]
V I E W [ + ] E R
[ + ]
[ F I N D ] E R
[ | ]
V I E W [ F I N D ] E R
[ • ]

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 02:42 PM

Cuteness and Subversiveness at Design Benign

Over at Design Benign Blog, author Nicole Peterson offers a meditation on the subversive power of cute that is right on target. She is prompted to write by a comment to a post on BoingBoing.net about a set of hand-made plush-dolls in the image of the twin towers as airplanes collided into them. Click through to read her whole entry as it tries to make some subtle points.

... I saw a different reaction: "Nothing that happened on 9/11 was cute."; "I find this couple's work infantile at best, and entirely lacking in profunditiy."; "They are basically saying the suffering involved is trivial and stupid." Though attraction to cuteness is programmed into our brains as a survival mechanism, ensuring that younger members of the species receive protection and care, there is still a strong, negative reaction against cuteness, especially when cuteness treads where it dare not.

Cute Can Piss You Off: http://design-benign.blogspot.com/2008/12/cute-can-piss-you-off-how-cuteness-is.html

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 09:00 AM

Toy Bibliography from Francisco Ortega

Friend and collaborator Francisco Ortega has sent me his bibliography on toys and toy culture to help with the Critical Toys research. I will have to wait to read these until I get back to the US from our remote base. We have only seen one book store within a one-hour driving radius, and it is minimally stocked. Delivery of any online purchases poses its own set of challenges.

Plastic Culture: How Japanese Toys Conquered the World (Hardcover)
by Woodrow Phoenix (Author)

Dot Dot Dash: Designer Toys, Action Figures And Character Art (Hardcover)

A Theory of Narrative (Paperback)
by Rick Altman (Author)

The Game Inventor's Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-Playing Games, & Everything in Between!
by Brian Tinsman (Author)

Wham-O Super-Book: Celebrating 60 Years Inside the Fun Factory
by Tim Walsh (Author)

Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices (VOICES)
by Dan Saffer (Author)

The Real Toy Story: Inside the Ruthless Battle for America's Youngest Consumers (Hardcover)
by Eric Clark (Author)

The Man Who Changed How Boys and Toys Were Made: The Life and Times of A. C. Gilbert, the Man Who Saved Christmas (Paperback)
by Bruce Watson (Author)

Toy Wars: The Epic Struggle Between G.I. Joe, Barbie, and the Companies That Make Them(Paperback)
by G. Wayne Miller (Author)

Full Vinyl: The Subversive Art of Designer Toys (Hardcover)
by Ivan Vartanian (Author)

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 08:30 AM

Preparing for Anderson Ranch in August

Save the date, tell your friends. I'm "leading" an exploration of Processing as an environment for socially conscious game development in August at the beautiful Anderson Ranch arts center in the mountains of Colorado.
August 3-7, 2009

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I would be leading a workshop exploring Processing as an environment for the design, development and deployment of socially conscious videogames. Unfortunately the workshop has been cancelled. Both my contact at Anderson Ranch and I are bummed, but circumstances beyond our control forced the decision.

I will continue with my explorations. I look forward to working with Anderson Ranch again at some point in the future. It's a special place, and they are eager to expand their offerings of new media art forms.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 08:00 AM

March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day 09 Follow Up

The organizers of Ada Lovelace Day 09 are aggregating post in an online mashup:
While browsing the entries I ran across three posts for a personal hero, Susan Kare. Susan Kare was contracted by Apple to create the original icon set for the Macintosh Graphical User Interface. Her training prior to this was in Art History, medieval tapestries to be specific (if my memory and my source serves).

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 06:00 PM

Omnibus Ada Lovelace Day 09 Post [with an update*]

tag: ALD09post
I pledged to post an entry about a woman in science and technology on Ada Lovelace Day. I have previously published some links to women who I admire on P4Games.org/blog. These posts harmonize with values of Ada Lovelace Day in that they were meant to showcase role models in game development and game studies for all audiences. I repost them here to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day

People whom I admire for their accomplishments in Game Development and Game Studies, who happen to be women:

Jane McGonical and Avant Game

Jane McGonigal is a game designer, a games researcher, and a future forecaster. Find out more about Dr. Jane McGonigal on her website, AvantGame: http://www.avantgame.com/

Celia Pearce

Celia Pearce is a game designer, author, researcher, teacher, curator and artist, specializing in multiplayer gaming and virtual worlds, independent, art, and alternative game genres, as well as games and gender. She began designing interactive attractions and exhibitions in 1983, and has held academic appointments since 1998. She received her Ph.D. in 2006 from SMARTLab Centre, then at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London. She currently is Assistant Professor of Digital Media in the School of Literature, Communication and Culture at Georgia Tech, where she also directs the Experimental Game Lab and the Emergent Game Group. Her game designs include the award-winning virtual reality attraction Virtual Adventures (for Iwerks and Evans & Sutherland) and the Purple Moon Friendship Adventure Cards for Girls. She is the author or co-author of numerous papers and book chapters, as well as The Interactive Book (Macmillan 1997). She has also curated new media, virtual reality, and game exhibitions and is currently Festival Chair for IndieCade, an international independent games festival and showcase series. She is a co-founder of the Ludica women’s game collective. Find out more about Dr. Celia Pearce at her website: http://cpandfriends.com/?p=54

Mary Flanagan

Mary Flanagan holds MFA and MA degrees from the University of Iowa, a BA in Film from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Ph.D. in Computational Media focusing on activist game design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, UK. She teaches in the Integrated Media Arts MFA program in the Department of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College, NYC.[She teaches at Dartmouth College as of this reblogging] Her research group and laboratory in New York is called TiltFactor, a lab focused on the design of activists and socially-conscious software. Find out more about Dr. Mary Flanagan at her websites: http://www.maryflanagan.com/ and Tilt Factor Lab at http://www.tiltfactor.org/

Cindy Poremba

Cindy Poremba is a digital media theorist, producer and curator researching documentary and videogames through Concordia University's Doctoral Humanities program. She holds a Master of Applied Science degree in Interactive Arts from Simon Fraser University, as well as a Hon. BA from the University of Waterloo in Rhetoric & Professional Writing. Her work focuses on rhetoric, feminist and documentary theory as it intersects with cultural memory, recombinant poetics, creative constructionism and aesthetics through digital practice - particularly in the context of games and robotics. Find out more about Cindy Poremba at her website: http://www.shinyspinning.com/

Kellee Santiago and Jenova Chen* and That Game Company

That Game Company was founded in 2006 by Jenova Chen* and Kellee Santiago. In that short time it has already published two[three!] ground-breaking titles for the Playstation 3 and for the PC. Each game, “Flow” and “Cloud” [and now "Flower"], combines incredible visual beauty with innovations in gameplay and technology. More information about the company can be found at: http://www.thatgamecompany.com/about.html

*[UPDATE: Brinstar at http://www.acidforblood.net/about.html kindly pointed out that I am suffering from gender confusion and have inadvertently reassigned Jenova Chen's gender from male to female. For the record, Jenova Chen is male. I apologize to Jenova Chen and to the readers of this post for the confusion. It is not my intention to diminish either the Ada Lovelace Day celebration, nor the accomplishments of That Game Company. Thank you to Brinstar for pointing out my error.

More luminaries to cover

In reviewing last year's posts I find that two standouts - who also happen to be women - were missing: Katie Salen and Tracy Fullerton. Their accomplishments are too significant to do any kind of justice in such a small amount of space. I pledge to devote an entry to each in the near future.

Lady Ada Lovelace Day on the web:

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 12:00 PM

March 20, 2009

Minimalist fun at Java4K

Glenn Platt, head of the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS) at Miami University of Ohio, brought this minimalist game challenge to my attention. Tiny games in Java, many recapitulate history, as in an oral tradition, while others try to make something new. The annual competition has been going since 2005, click the All Games tab to see entries from previous years.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 10:10 AM

March 19, 2009

Spring of Ants by Croopier

I found a delightful game by The Croopier on OpenProcessing.org called Spring of Ants.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 04:00 PM

March 17, 2009

ADONEO: Open Environment for Augmented Tabletop Game Design


ADONEO is an exciting new project! They will be presenting at MediaLab-Prado tomorrow on a fantastic double bill with SWEAT friend Gonzalo Frasca.
From their website:

ADONEO is an open project aiming to develop a computer interface design environment for tabletop games. Being public domain and at no cost it will allow professionals and amateurs to easily integrate into their products advanced technologies such as augmented reality, immersive online visualization or perceptual and sensorized interfaces.

ADONEO researches in a field of maximum theoretical and practical interest looking for new ways to enhance traditional tabletop gaming, making it more extensible, accessible, impressive, and definitely fun.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 09:51 AM

March 11, 2009

Gorilla Giant!


Being my first post, I'm a bit nervous. This is the cover of a game I have thought of. You are the person on the bottom trying to feed the gorilla, Apazill, a bag of giant-gorilla food, which is in the lower right hand corner. To feed him you need to climb up the palm tree, seen next to him, and throw down the food. The towns Giant-Ape pet is back to normal.

Posted by Diego Fajardo at 05:49 PM


This is my first time posting, and I really just wanted to see the magic. I am excited to see what this looks like once I click save. I plan to mostly be posting videos and the like to my friends in Colorado as a means of communication, instead of mass emails with pictures. Since I was raised in the age of texting, I doubt these posts will get very long, but they will be in complete (if not run-on) sentences at the least. I am excited to get started! Apologies in advance for all the typos and mistakes I will be making, I'll try to learn quickly.

Posted by Esteban Fajardo at 03:03 PM

Gear List redux: Desert Island Wish List


R: I shared a list of gear for continued creative production in a earlier post. This is, in effect, a desert island design studio gear list. It went without saying - in that earlier post - that we would have access to "always on" internet and electricity. That hasn't been the case. The infrastructure in the northern pacific coast of Costa Rica is more fragile than we had imagined. High winds cross the plains from east to west and from north to south for the first four months of the year. These winds play havoc with phone, electrical and cable lines strung along low-tension poles. We have experienced days long outages. That said, we have been much more fortunate than other areas of the country that also experienced earthquake, flooding and disease.

The area of Costa Rica where we are spending sabbatical is still listed as "out of the way" by real estate speculators. This code language is to be taken seriously. There are five small supermarkets within easy - fixed gear - bicycle distance. These are like a highway side truck stop convenience store, overstuffed into a footprint the size of a standard Kwik-E-Mart. They are reasonably well stocked with food-stuffs and dry goods, of both international brands and of the local variety. It's surprising to me what I find myself wishing I had brought along and can't find. The romantic, exotic, farmer's market doesn't exist here. These tiny "super's" are where the local residents shop for their needs. There is a large, high-ceilinged, well-lit, north-american style Auto Mercado a thirty minute drive away in Tamarindo. It caters to the international tourist trade there.

I imagined that I wouldn't need for tools, given that we were going to be here for only six months. I did bring my swiss army knife, but that's it. I gazed longingly at multi-tools as we were planning the trip, but didn't give in to what I thought was gear lust. Now that we are the owners of two - used and rusting - fixed gear bicycles I wish I had brought not one, but two multi-tools with a wrench component. The wheels are bolted on, and a flat would make it difficult for us to fend for ourselves. We have modest mobility needs. We bought a tire patch kit, a spare inner-tube, and an inexpensive hand-pump. We also bought a wrench guaged to the size of the wheel bolts. This gave us an increased sense of security. A week later I bought a vise-grip. It's possible to perform wheel maintenance with a single wrench, but I think it's better to tighten the wheel with two, counter-rotating wrenches. The nuts have some rust on them, and so I got some 3-in-1 oil, and may have use for the vise-grip. I haven't lived with a multitool yet, so I can't make a firm choice for my "go bag" but the Crunch and the Skeletool from Leatherman are both attractive, as is the Gerber Diesel.

If we should get a flat, I think I can get the tire off the rim with my flat-head screwdriver on my swiss army knife, but, again, it would be much better to have two, and better still to have a set of tire tools. I've also found need for some allen wrenches around the house. A Hexus 16 from Topeak would be wonderful.

Riding the bicycles on the beach and the gravel roads demand footware with the attribute of well ventilated rugged washability. I brought leather sandals instead. I've already worn through two pairs of thong-type rubber flip flops that have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity this past year. The part the goes between my toes has pulled clean through the sole, and left a tear that was unfixable. I left behind in the US a pair of Nike ACG sandals. I can't for the life of me remember why I didn't pack them. My sandals are an older version of the one currently available. Teva also makes sandals of this sort.

The closest art-supply store is an hour-and-a-half drive away in Liberia, at the small enclosed mall just off a cross-road to the Pan American Highway. They don't carry my favorite brush-pens, the Faber-Castell PITT, but they do carry Crayola Paint Brush Pens which I hadn't seen before. We've been running through the PITT pens much faster than I imagined. I bought some traditional watercolor tubes and two brushes. Old tech may be best to keep the visual explorations going.

As part of the critical toys explorations I've been looking at "urban paper", an old technique applied to contemporary symbologies. Paper craft occupies an intersection of interests: DIY, low res, FLOSS, the next evolutionary stage of paper, creative production, popular or low culture. I don't have access to a printer to prototype the digital files, so I'm making unique, one-of-a-kind, hand measured prototypes. I'd like to be able to print out models made by others to study their methods and outcomes. We've also had some need for the kids' school work as well. Space and weight were factors that made this prohibitive. Import taxes make it an impossible expense while we're here.

I'd also like one USB game controller so I can test some of the Processing experiments for feel. Processing can only handle one key at a time. I will likely need to learn how to write a keyboard buffer, one that doesn't cause performance to degrade.

These wishes will have to remain wishes. Anything shipped in from abroad will be held at customs. One will have to go to the airport in person to retrieve a package and to pay an import tax. My wife had to pay a tax on some textbooks that a client sent her as reference material for her work. Globalization still has some limitations. I won't be ordering anything from Amazon.com just yet.

Posted by SWEAT at 01:00 PM

March 09, 2009

Sabbatical project: Critical Toys - progress report

R: I have been collecting images of interesting work. This visual diary is being collected at http://www.imgfave.com/rafaelfajardo and have added a sidebar to SWEATblog so that they can be sampled here as well.

We have been in country two months now...

thinking alot about teak and mangos. haven't found any guayaba (guava) trees. there is an introduced species called colloquially "guayaba china" that seems to be the only one produced for retail. it's not so sweet as so-called "guayaba de arbol" and never achieves the impossible to describe aroma and color.

also sketching out papercraft toys for Juan and the Beanstalk. found much inspiration online and am adapting the template from http:/www.CubeeCraft.com/, hoping the curator will accept the submission(s) when published. uploading sketches to http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweat/

there's a whole lot of sawmills for teak around here. teak is an introduced species that causes alot of controversy. melina is another introduced species that is used in the production of paper. the controversy stems from greenwashing. introduced species that are plantation grown count as reforestation even though they are a mono-culture that provides no habitat for the native fauna, and don't contribute ecosystems here. the introduced species are ecological dark matter in the ecological fabric.

Looking at next gen paper, all spimey! http://is.gd/57Pb makers and thinkers gathered for "paper camp" an offshoot of "book camp" that are imagining the future of paper and of books respectively.

saw report of the world's smallest fuel cell. could be used to draw vapor from air to power simple electronics. thin as two sheets of paper. envision smallest fuel cell attached to cardboard papercraft bots imprinted with efflourescing conductive inks. squeeeeeeee!

irony of looking at DIY papercraft is that we did't bring a printer, and there aren't any "business centers" nearby.

[update: moved text from "extended entry" to main body]

Posted by SWEAT at 10:29 AM

March 01, 2009

Collaborators Esteban and Diego Fajardo to begin contributing to our blog

Esteban and Diego Fajardo have been quietly collaborating on the Juan and the Beanstalk project, as well as pursuing some original creations. They have agreed to add their voices to SWEATblog.

Posted by SWEAT at 12:00 PM