Game Culture: Under The Mask 2008

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Information about Game Culture: Under The Mask 2008

Published on June 10, 2008

Author: pixellab



David Hayward of Pixel-Lab gave this keynote on games culture at Under The Mask. Most images licensed by creative commons, link to credits on last slide.

I work for Pixel-Lab

Sometimes write for this

Level design for this

Involved with this

previously this

and this. Nearly gave up in games in 2004 because...

bored of this

and this

but this stopped me.

Lots of interesting games, just needed to look for them.

People assume games are this.

For these





and these

Games originally a family thing - only one TV in the house when the Magnavox launched

quot;In 1982, 40% of Americans said they'd played a game in the previous week. Then came the punch- kick-fight games like Mortal Kombat which were massively successful. They were so successful amongst this pimple-faced eighteen year old demographic who were spending so much money on those games, that it obscured the fact that the violence lost the women and the complexity lost the casual gamer. The economics of the marketplace didn't shrink, but the population plummeted from over 100m people to less than 15. And we're just recovering from that.quot; - Nolan Bushnell

Band website

Grimm Brothers didn’t write tales - collected variants from European cultures.

Before mass media, performance was local.

20th century would change this.

Culture with a big C - on a pedestal.

Culture with a small c - interaction of people.

All things have their own culture/sub-culture

Media became abnormally consolidated in the 20th century - things that were previously cultural property suddenly retreated behind wall of copyright.

People trying to reclaim right to make cultural property with ideas like copyleft

and creative commons.

Definition of gamer by BBC: Console, PC, Handheld, web, mobile, interactive TV. 59% - play once every six months or more. Once a week or more: 48% Sample was 3500 people, 6 - 65 year olds 45%F/55%M

38.5 Corrected to include 0 - 6 and 66+, assuming none in those age groups play games, which isn’t true. Actual percentage of UK population that play games is a little higher.



Football: Major internationals involving a UK team

Football Internationals: non-uk teams

37.5 visit the cinema once a month or more.

While there will always be non-gamers, Demographics going to march upward.

My house. Full of people, all abnormally social... and regularly use these consoles

A few of these

Within a group of about 35 people who live at my house or visit regularly, are age ranges from 16 to late 30s. Comparitively few of us hardcore gamers, but we put a lot of time into things like GTA IV.

A small group who have Pro Evo 2008 tournaments, including our housemate Tanya.

She likes Wii games, anything social, short play.

such as pool on the Ipod touch.

Everyone who visits plays 4 player Mario Kart on this.

Another small group of hardcore gamers I know play Starcraft every week. They say it’s still the best RTS they’ve played.

They also play a lot of FPS

And have been bitten pretty badly by the WoW bug recently.

Another couple of people I know don’t want to spend lot of money on games, but last gen hardware is so cheap now that they each have a last gen console and fairly big collections of games.

When I was playing with this, Amigas and a PS1, there was nowhere near that kind of variety in gamers.

Even the most hardcore have disagreements: “in terms of gameplay, I expect something a bit more substantial than holding a tin foil-wrapped WWF figure in front of my TV and making quot;pew-pew!quot; noises. ¬¬”

Differences in opinion are going to grow, and that’s a good thing.

Games growing into higher age brackets. Interactivity is becoming an expectation.

quot;Here's something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here's something four-year-olds know: Media that's targeted at you but doesn't include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change.quot; - Clay Shirky

Videogame crafts are an expression of people’s values. Again, this wasn’t around when I was playing games as a child.

Pictures mostly came from, excellent source on game crafts

Chiptune communities

Sound going mainstream through various bands that use 8 bit sounds

(Crystal Castles have been accused of chronic plagiarism and IP abuse by the chiptune community and others)

I even saw a Ska band perform the Super Mario Brothers theme tune at a festival in Utrecht a few weeks ago.

This is GameCamp. These crafts and discussions represent a broadening of the cultural base of games.

Games criticism is moving beyond numeric scores

Cultural variation and growing maturity also reflected in indie and amateur game development no commercial aspiration pushing the medium in different directions for the sake of exploration.

Interesting genre dubbed “Masocore” games

quot;in an age where game over is seen as undesirable, masocore games approach player death as a narrative technique.quot; - Anna Anthropy Tanya Krzywinska: Playing games is about learning the right cues. Masocore games take those cues and use them to confound you.

Started with hacked versions of MArio designed to be very hard.

Clones started turning up, such as Syoban Action, all full of evil tricks.

I Wanna Be The Guy

Masocor is pretty hardcore.

Some casual well produced, but most are shovelware, hardly groundbreaking.

points and rules: seem arbitrary, but really can make things meaningful.

Exam invigilator I knew used to play “Ugly Kid Battleships” with workmates to make it more interesting.

One-Behindmanship turns good manners into a competitive game. Amazing array of dirty tricks emerged.

Again, this leads to dirty tricks. Basic rulesets, with other people, are fundamentally engaging.

Myths from anti-game lobby are becoming more demonstrably outlandish by the day.

A few game designers in 2004 stopped me from giving up on games altogether.

Now I can’t go a week without accidentally seeing something interesting related to games that threatens to fill my time up.

Links to most of the things I've talked about today: Most images used under Creative Commons, credits: Contact / Stalk:

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