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The Art of Computer Game Design

The Art of Computer Game Design

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Published by Damian Maiorano

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Published by: Damian Maiorano on Jul 31, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Get all books for free at:http://Abika.com 1
 The Art of Computer Game Design
by Chris Crawford
 Get all books for free at:http://Abika.com 
Get all books for free at:http://Abika.com 2 
 I am deeply indebted to Madeleine M. Gross for her painstaking and thoroughcriticisms of this book. In many cases she invested greater efforts into hercriticisms than I had put into my original thoughts. She strove to restrain my wildhyperbole and place my arguments on a firmer foundation of rigorous logic. Thelogical consistency and reliability in this book I owe to her; the speculative flightsof fancy must be laid at my doorstep.
The central premise of this book is that computer games constitute a new and asyet poorly developed art form that holds great promise for both designers andplayers.This premise may seem laughable or flippant. How could anybody classify thelikes of SPACE INVADERS and PAC MAN as art? How can TEMPEST orMISSILE COMMAND compare with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony,Michelangelo’s Pieta, or Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms? Computer gamesare too trivial, too frivolous to be called art. They are idle recreation at best. Sosays the skeptic.But we cannot relegate computer games to the cesspit of pop culture solely on theevidence of the current crop of games. The industry is too young and the situationis too dynamic for us to dismiss computer games so easily. We must consider thepotential, not the actuality. We must address the fundamental aspects of computergames to achieve a conclusion that will withstand theravages of time and change.There are many definitions of art, few of which makemuch sense to the uninitiated. I will present my ownpedestrian definition: art is something designed toevoke emotion through fantasy. The artist presentshis audience with a set of sensory experiences thatstimulates commonly shared fantasies, and sogenerates emotions. Art is made possible only by the richness of the fantasy worldwe share. Art is nevertheless difficult, because there are so many practicalproblems associated with stimulating fantasies deep inside another person’s mind.
Get all books for free at:http://Abika.com 3A major problem is getting the attention or participation of the audience. Most artallows very little participation. You sit quietly and listen to music that otherpeople created and perform, or you stroll through a museum and stare at picturesor statues other people made. You sit passively and read a novel, or a poem, or ashort story. With all of these art forms, the role of the audience is passive. Theartist does all the active work, makes the biggest emotional investment. Theaudience is expected to absorb quietly the fruits of the artist’s exertions. Activeparticipation is severely curtailed. Without participation, attention dwindles andimpact crumbles away.This is in no wise a criticism of art or artists. The technologies of art precludeparticipation. If we had every klutz jump into the orchestra pit, or prance on theopera stage, or slop paint with Picasso, we would have some great parties but noart. it seems the curse of art that artists can say so much in their work and mostpeople will hear so little because they cannot participate in the art.Enter the computer. Conceived long ago, born in war, reared as the servant of business, this now adolescent technology has exploded out of the computer roomand invaded shopping centers, pizza parlors, and homes. Popular characterizationsof the computer alternate between the old image of the computer as omniscient,cold blooded, giant calculator, and the new image of the computer as purveyor of video thrills and 25 cent fixes. Originally developed as a number cruncher, thecomputer assumed a new personality when it was given graphics and soundcapabilities. These capabilities gave the computer a powerful asset: it could nowcommunicate with the human, not just in the cold and distant language of digits,but in the emotionally immediate and compelling language of images and sounds.With this capability came a new, previously undreamed of possibility: thepossibility of using the computer as a medium for emotional communication art.The computer game has emerged as the prime vehicle for this medium. Thecomputer game is an art form because it presents its audience with fantasyexperiences that stimulate emotion.Unfortunately, the current generation of microcomputers cannot produce asensory experience as rich as that produced by, say, a symphony orchestra or amovie. This weakness is more than offset by a fundamental advantage lacking inmost other art forms: a game is intrinsically participatory in nature. The artist hashere a tool that is more subtly indirect than traditional art. With other art forms,the artist directly creates the experience that the audience will encounter. Sincethis experience is carefully planned and executed, the audience must somehow beprevented from disturbing it; hence, non participation. With a game, the artistcreates not the experience itself but the conditions and rules under which theaudience will create its own individualized experience. The demand on the artistis greater, for s/he must plan the experience indirectly, taking into account theprobable and possible actions and reactions of the audience. The return is fargreater, for participation increases attention and heightens the intensity of theexperience. When we passively observe someone else’s artistic presentation, we

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