Sunday, 31 October 2010
Saturday, 30 October 2010
I will now briefly talk about my draft research report progress. I have the working title “Should the games industry embrace gender equality?” but hopefully this will change into a better hypothesis.
In my first year for critical studies, I explored gender in games in a general manner, talking mostly about gender representation and games for girls. In my second year of study, I looked at female characters in games, particularly focusing on hypersexualized characters. Looking at women in the games industry seemed like the next logical progression. This topic may not directly link with my studio practise, but I am hoping my findings will be beneficial to my future.
My research report will be crafted in the “Industry Report” style, where I can reference trade journals, interviews, financial reports, marketing data, books and websites.
As well as various websites such as gamasutra.com, I have also read/am currently reading the following books:
-Gender-Inclusive Games Design by Sheri Graner Ray
-Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling
-Chris Crawford on Games Design
-From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games by Henry Jenkins, Justine Cassel
-Nintendo Magic by Osamu Inoue
-A Casual Revolution by Jesper Juul
I would also like to read Sex in Video games by Brenda Brathwaite if I can find a copy, as well as “Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat”.
So far, I have written just under 2000 words, using this rough plan that I made beforehand. I have divided my report into 3 chapters:
-Introduction (300 words)
-Why women may avoid games industry (1,100 words)
-Why women would benefit the games industry (1,100 words)
-What women want from digital games (2,000 words)
-Conclusion (500 words)
My three main topics often cross-over, so I have to be careful not to keep repeating myself!
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
PixelJunk Eden is a very atmospheric platform game where you control a small character that jumps and holds onto the environment to progress through its levels. I was drawn to Eden because of its incredible art style, by graphic designer and musician “Baiyon.” I also find the concept of the game very interesting: The player must grow the plants to reach their desired destination. In an interview with Baiyon, he explains that “in making the game, I focused on growth over destruction, on constructing rather than repairing.
Now I will move on from looking at Alice in Wonderland media and look at games. I will first look at the varying art styles of different games, in order to inspire some ideas for my own game. As I am hoping to make a platform game in this academic year, I will try to look only at platform games. However, I may look at other genres if they have art styles and mechanics that could be relevant to my project.
Firstly, I looked at a recent game “Limbo,” for the XBOX 360. The game’s art style is in black and white, using silhouettes to express the characters and environments. Limbo’s gameplay seems to be more about puzzle solving than platforming.
What I have learned from looking at Limbo is the importance of building an atmosphere. Limbo has very morbid themes, and this is certainly expressed through its graphical style and pacing of its levels.
In 2003, Marc Jacobs and Takashi Murakami collaborated to make limited edition handbags for Louis Vuitton. The new print combined Louis Vuitton’s famous LV pattern with Murakami’s colourful art style (which he refers to as “Superflat”)
Since then, a few animations by Mamoru Hosoda have been created as promotion for the collaboration. The two animations below seem to be inspired by Alice in Wonderland, with girls falling into strange worlds, inhabited by some unusual characters. I enjoy these animations because I think that the repeated use of pattern works very well with the 3D animation – creating a kind of psychedelic aesthetic. I also like the strange, but charming characters in the animation. I would like my own game to have this kind of mood: something mysterious and unusual, yet very light-hearted.
Monday, 25 October 2010
Sucker Punch is an upcoming movie directed and co-written by Zack Snyder to come out in 2011. I was first interested in the movie after seeing concept art for it, created by Alex Pardee.
The director for the movie described his upcoming feature as “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns.” The narrative focuses on a girl called Baby Doll whose evil step-father has sent her to a mental institution, where she drifts into a dream-like alternate reality. A lot of the focus on this movie seems to be about the protagonists struggle with her imaginary world and reality and how the two eventually blur. I believe Snyder referenced Alice in Wonderland because of Baby Doll’s fantasy world which may or may not be reality.
My Neighbour Totoro is a 1988 Japanese animation from Hayao Miyazaki. The animation is set in the countryside of post-war Japan and the narrative shows two young girls who befriend forest spirits.
Like the Wizard of Oz, I feel like this movie has subtle references to Alice in Wonderland. For example, the younger girl “Mei” finds Totoro by crawling through a hole, after following a white, rabbit like creature.
Also, I think that the “Cat Bus” character is similar to the Cheshire cat in appearance.
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Next, I want to look at media that has been inspired by Alice in Wonderland and uses elements of the book to build on existing stories. Firstly, I will look at the Wizard of Oz series of books. I think it has a few similarities to Alice. For instance, both are transported from their ordinary lives to strange, fantasy worlds.
I seem to find even more similarities with Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz films. For instance, When Dorothy’s house is in the twister, you can see things flying outside her bedroom window. It very much reminds me of when Alice in falling down the rabbit hole in Disney animated version of Alice in Wonderland, which was released in 1951. Maybe the Wizard of Oz film influenced the animation?
Also, I find that Dorothy gets lost on the yellow brick road, just as Alice gets lost in the woods. In the Wizard of Oz, there are flowers that turn into people, Alice finds talking flowers in the garden…etc
I found that watching the 1939 Wizard of Oz Movie was useful for my game idea. I especially like how at the start of the film, where Dorothy is in Kansas, the film uses Sepia colours, but when she gets transported to the land of Oz, the film uses very bright and bold colours. I think this had a powerful effect on the film because the change in visuals directly affected the audience, making the difference between Kansas and the Land of Oz.
I will now talk briefly about some very recent responses to the Wizard of Oz.
Recently, I have been reading the Wizard of Oz graphic novels by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young. These comics have taken a much dark approach to the Oz books, yet it works well. The story is compelling and the illustrations are very well done. The comic books seem to cover a lot of the content that was in the original books, and pays no references to the films.
Another recent adaptation on the Wizard of Oz that I witnessed was Lady Gaga’s “Monster Ball” tour that I saw earlier this year. Although it may not have been obvious to the audience that the concert was Oz themed, it was certainly apparent by the various costumes Lady Gaga wears, as well as the narrative that was added to the show. In the show, Lady Gaga starts in New York City with her friends. She washes a car, goes to the subway etc. Half-Way through the show, Lady Gaga is swept into a tornado (like Dorothy) and then the stage is dramatically different, a lot more dream-like and surreal.
Writing this post has made me realise how subtly one media can influence another. I will now look further into other media texts.
Kukula is another artist who has made some interesting Alice in Wonderland themed artwork. The characters in her drawings are delicate and doll-like, making her artwork look very innocent, and sometimes gloomy. However, Kukula often likes to add obscure meanings to her art by adding adult and sometimes sexual themes. I think her art is a good addition to my research, as I am interested in incorporating overly feminine themes to my game.
Mari Katogi is an artist I’ve recently discovered and loved. Katogi mostly creates illustrations based on Western fairytales and stories, including Alice in Wonderland themed artwork. I think the reason I like her art so much is because it feels elegant and dream-like, something I would definitely want my game to be. Many artists have created dark/gothic representations of Alice in Wonderland and I feel it’s now become over-done and boring.
Alice in Wonderland is a novel first published in 1865 by Lewis Carroll. The story is about a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a strange and peculiar world, inhabited by talking animals and strange characters.
Since its release, Alice in Wonderland has influenced hundreds of responses and imitations across varying media. When I first thought about making a platform game, I wanted to respond to Alice in Wonderland, because of its unusual cast and environments. I want my protagonist (whose name I have not thought of yet) to also exit their own, ordinary world, and fall into a mysterious and nonsensical land.
Most people are familiar with John Tenniel’s famous illustrations of Alice and Wonderland, so instead I am going to research some lesser known artists who have created Alice in Wonderland visuals. I will mostly be looking for very feminine representations of the book, in order to aid my game idea.