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Post Its’ and Pimps

Went to the games exhibition at the Science Museum yesterday.  Tremendous stuff.  Aside from making me nostalgic for the nascent gameplay of Pong and Space Invaders I discovered the art of Ocean Quigley, designer of The Sims aesthetic who had some really moving pieces that reminded me of some of the artwork around existentialism and the novels influenced by that movement, where the bodies were often ‘blank’, bodies as vessels and yet more moving and affecting because there was nothing else to the form.  Freaky.  Odd.

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The other was the work of  Koichi Sugiyama who unbeknown to me introduced classical music into gameplay.  Listening to some of his work was wonderful and you can see how some of the more ambient soundscapes in new games is influenced by this work.  Compare that to Roy Hubbard’s Warhawk for the N64, a brilliant early piece of new wave in games [see this top ten games tunes from the time].  I’d never thought much about the importance of audio in gameplay but hearing the history and then playing some of the games on display made me realise how utterly central it is to the experience, it sets the whole tone for how you interact, your mood. So, well worth going for these two things alone. 

But then tucked away at the end of the exhibition is a great piece on the making of GTA IV, complete with Post-Its representing different narrative threads interspersed with sketches of pimps and their cars.  Wonderful stuff.  Didn’t have time to see what the different colours represented and how the post-its mapped out to my knowledge of the game which would have been good.  Haven’t seen anything like this since the Pixar exhibition, again at the Science Museum, and the making of amongst other things, Toy Story and the characterisation and storyboarding behind that which was so full of insight around the way in which the toys themselves would ‘behave’, how their materiality affected their character.  No such character craft in GTA where the  effort and thought seems to reside in the ‘environmental’ factors and geography where the action is played out.

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The geography is just fab… so envious.  I’d love to try and create some sort of psychogeography of GTA, mapping our navigation, movement, the cues we use from abstracted navigational signifiers [roads, signposts, the ‘map’ in game itself!] etc. loosely based as they are around Miami, San Fransisco or New York and our experience of navigating the space through our senses.  Someone must have tried to do that already… or at the very least done work on the geography of gaming ‘environments’?

Gtamap