Abstract and Introduction

With the contextual review finished, I spent yesterday finishing up the first draft of my proposal, chopping some of the contextual review out to create the introduction. I tried to introduce each part of my project and link them together, though I’m not sure how successful I’ve been.

Abstract

Despite the medium’s status as an art form, it can be argued that the current computer game market lacks diversity in terms of emotional output. When designing emotionally effecting games, an aesthetic led process may be beneficial to the intended outcome of the work.

An often overlooked aspect of visual art for games, FX can use the formal elements of art to create stunning designs. As classic art relied heavily on these elements to create mood and meaning, this project proposes that they can be used to create emotionally effecting games.

When combined with inspiration from abstract animation, an art form that explores introspective and meditative feelings in its viewers, a relaxing work can be created. The proposed meditational game will provide an experience different from the norm in computer games, diversifying the emotional bounds of interactive media.

Introduction/Background

Computer games are capable of provoking strong emotions in those that play them. Richard Lemachant, designer of the critically acclaimed Uncharted series, states that “games are a very ancient form of culture and they produce many powerful experiences for us. Experiences of emotion, intellect, experiences of self-discovery and discovery of others.”(Abertay University TV Channel, 2014) Despite this, Jenova Chen, designer of “Flow”, “Flower” and “Journey”, games noted for their use of emotion, states that “there are actually a whole spectrum of feeling that games are capable of creating, but not a lot of them are on the market. Right now there are a lot of action games, there are a lot of horror games, sports games…but where are the dramas? Where are the documentaries? The romance?” (CoCreate,2012) Chen compares the interactive medium to film here, using common cinema genres to depict the lack of variation in emotional gaming content.

Another way of looking at the problem, however, is to look at what a game can offer that a film cannot, and these are personal experiences, not based on characters or narrative. A reaction felt as a player, rather than on behalf of a player character, need not be constrained to frustration and elation.(Tavinor, 2009) Despite his wording, this is actually exemplified in Chen’s “Flower”. ““Flower” presents an entirely new kind of physical and virtual choreography unfolding in real time, one that invites participants to weave aural, visual and tactile sensations into an emotional arc rather than a narrative one.”(Smithsonian, 2013) This emotional arc that a player feels on a personal level, without characters to interact with, has the possibility to create unique, personal, emotional experiences that push the boundaries of games as an art form.

This is exemplified in abstract art, where “…there are no characters with which to identify, there is no dieresis to transport the viewer to a different time and place”.(Furniss, 2007) This can be compared to FX art, an often overlooked aspect of visual art for games. “Special effects animation all too often is treated as an afterthought”(Gilland, 2009). An FX artist’s desire is to convey the idea of a howling storm or a magical spell, ideas rooted in emotion, but without the representational aspects of character or environment. (Blizzard Entertainment, 2012) Games may be a suitable medium in which to experience abstract animation, as the interactive element involves the player in the work, creating a personal relationship with the viewer. “The kinds of work relies heavily on personal interactions (or the process or viewing)” (Furniss ,2007)

Non-representative art uses the formal elements to encourage the viewer to be introspective, and create their own meaning. “It seems that abstract motion pictures are often about the need to expand our ability to see, experience and comprehend things in day to day life. For that reason, they challenge the viewer to participate in the process of creating meaning.” (Furniss, 2007) Abstract animation creates feelings of euphoria and timelessness, due to its activation of the right side of the brain. (Furniss, 2007) Meditation, an act which also activates the right side of the brain, has been an influence on the work of many abstract animators.(Furniss, 2007) They use symbols from this practice to enhance the emotional impact, meaning and sense of self-reflection of their pieces. “he or she can become entranced by the light in combination with the rhythmic, hypnotic imagery projected on the screen.”(Furniss, 2007)

This project aims to prove that FX art, when used as part of an aesthetics led design process, can be just as, if not more, emotionally affecting than other aspects of visual art for games. It seeks to create a relaxing, meditational experience that pushes for diversity within the emotional bounds of interactive media.

Project Aim

To create a piece of aesthetics driven interactive media that explores how the formal elements of art can be applied to game fx in order to relax a player.

Project Objectives

1. Examine how emotion and aesthetics driven game experiences influence their players.

2. Create fx animation for games that uses the formal elements of art to affect a player emotionally.

3. Create a relaxation driven experience in the form of interactive media.

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