Return of the Geek: Where have I been?!

June 2, 2008

So, I’ve been gone for quite some time from here. No new posts. Silence. Where have I been?!

Well, a lot has happened in the past couple of months. My step-father passed away, I had a job interview in San Diego, I graduated college, I got a new car….lots of things. Now that I have some free time, I plan on starting back up with the blogging, which all but disappeared as I tried to finish school, find a job (which I am happy to say was a success) and get ready to move across country.

There should be more posts coming in the near future…no….really. I promise this time.


The Abstraction of Reality

November 29, 2007

I recently posted a comment on a fellow designer’s blog. She had posted about first amendment rights, and I had commented about the irony of written word censorship over digital medium censorship. To find out if my statement was accurate, I contacted a local nation-wide bookstore to inquire about purchasing a copy of Lolita. I told them that my son (oh god) needed it for a book report and wondered if there would be any problem with him purchasing it since he was sixteen. (Do I sound that old I wonder?) The clerk told me there wouldn’t be.

While I was making this phone call during my work break, one of my coworkers overheard me and wondered what I was talking about. I told him about my statement; how it takes an 18 year old to purchase the movie version of the same book that a 16 year old can purchase. He responded with “Of course, there’s no pictures in the book.”

This, of course, is a common mentality about written word. A book of erotic fiction is never as damaging to one’s sensibilities as a picture of the same content. I pointed out to my coworker that my imagination has an unlimited resolution with far greater detail than any photo could ever have.

All of this lead me to a sort of mini-epiphany. The written word is an abstraction of the spoken word. Written word is just a permanent form of the spoken word, but it loses much of its content during transmission, such as inflection. Spoken word is an abstraction of body language. Before spoken word, our ancestors used grunts and gestures to communicate. Spoken word allows us to express more complex ideas quickly, as long as there is a common denominator (language) amongst communicators.

At SeigeCon this year, I had the fortunate opportunity to listen to a panel, composed of Ian Bogost, Ernest Adams and Dan Greenberg, talk about the idea of Game as Art. To me, Dan stood out on the panel because he didn’t want games to be art. In his explanation, he mentioned a form of communication, what he called the most basic and primal form of communication: mimetic impulse. Mimetic impulse was a method used by our ancestors to communicate. The shaman of the group of tribesmen would setup a ritual of role playing, in which certain members were hunters and the other were prey. By going through these mimetic impulses, the tribe would practice the hunt, allowing the tribe to understand and communicate what would go on in the real world. This is what body language abstracts, the mimetic impulse. And the mimetic impulse is an abstraction of reality.

So what? Well, two things came from this realization. The reason that people aren’t as threatened by written word as they are by pictoral representations is the level of abstraction from reality. Even if the content was the same, such as in Lolita, the abstraction from reality that is given by written word is not as threatening as the pictoral representation. Games are more closely related to the mimetic impulse, the most primal form of communication, which is why it is so powerful at expressing concepts. Because of its interactive instead of passive nature. This is also one of the reasons people fear it, and other digital medium, more than written or even spoken word.

It was a minor revelation, I’m sure, but it was also one of those profound moments that you feel you just need to share with others.

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A Busy Jeff = A Lonely Blog

November 6, 2007

I haven’t had much time in the past couple of days to update my blog, since it’s getting to be crunch time around here. Finals and all. I also just realized that I haven’t done my weekly design practice that I was planning on doing. It’s something that is going on the back burner for a week or so while I finish up with finals.

In other news, it seems that my ARG has made quite an impression on a lot of people in our major. I’ve had a couple of people not on my project offer to help in anyway they can just to be a part of it. Makes me feel good as a designer to have the potential to create a project that can get so many people interested.

Matt Kohr and SketchBlogging

October 24, 2007

Matt Kohr is an aspiring concept artist. Actually, he’s not aspiring. He’s a “currently working in the industry while still going to school” concept artist. His work has always impressed me. You can see his stuff over at his website.

Anyways, he recently started a sketch blog on Blogspot, and it got me to thinking about the weekly game design sketches I wanted to do for my own blog. Basically, the plan is that every Friday, Saturday, Sunday (whichever day of the weekend I decide) I’ll goto Wikipedia and find a totally random article to use as the core of a game (be in narrative or mechanic). This is to not only break out of my habit of using the same narratives over and over again, and also to let me “sketch” as a game designer.I actually tried this out with the students we taught in the first week at the Summer Seminar, and it seemed to worked rather well (as far as finding random articles to make games off of), so hopefully it won’t turn into an exercise in futility.

Approaching – The Real World

October 23, 2007

T-Minus seven months and counting. That’s how much time there is until I enter the “real” world again. While I do have experience with being a part of the non-academic world, since I took time off between the end of High School and the start of College in order to better figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life, this time I’ll have not only a college degree but I’ll also have a large amount of debt. I would lie if I didn’t say that this scares the hell out of me. I just need to accept the fact that I’m going to be in debt for quite some time and move on.

I need to focus on getting my digital presence stronger (hence one of the reasons for this blog). I also need to finish up my flash game(s) and get them up on the web, along with redoing my website to hopefully incorporate all of my writings, research, game concepts, game prototypes, etc.

In other words, I need to figure out how to not sleep. Ever. Any suggestions?

Test Blog Posting From Journler

October 22, 2007

I’m trying to find a good Mac OS X Client for use with WordPress. I came across Journler through a Google search. I like the layout of the program so far, but I’m trying to figure it all out. This post, for example, is to check and see how to get writings from Journler onto my blog. Keep your fingers crossed and let’s hope this works.

A change in venue

October 22, 2007

I’ve decided to move my blog over to WordPress instead of Livejournal for various reasons (personal and professional), so please bear with me while I get this site setup.