CNM Research Talk: Defamiliarisation and Poetic Gameplay in Art Games- Presented By Assistant Professor Alex Mitchell

Abstract:

Certain video games tend to be perceived as somehow different from the mainstream, not conforming to the expectations that most players bring to games. One common feature of these art games is the way that they often defamiliarize some aspect of the game experience by undermining player expectations so as to achieve a poetic effect.

Starting from Shklovsky’s notion of defamiliarization and Utterback’s concept of the poetic interface, Alex Mitchell draw parallels between poetic language and the techniques used in games to create what he refers to as poetic gameplay: the structuring of the actions the player takes within a game, and the responses the game provides to those actions, in a way that draws attention to the form of the game, and by doing so encourages the player to reflect upon and see that structure in a new way.

In this talk, Alex will provide an overview of the work done to develop the concept of poetic gameplay, including a series of close readings of art games, empirical studies of player response to art games, and the development of a collection of “literary devices” that appear in these games. He will also discuss ongoing work to describe these literary devices in the form of design patterns, and preliminary results from a study of the use of these patterns by game designers. He will then conclude by sketching out proposed future work to explore the relationship between defamiliarization and repeat experience of interactive artworks, and to understand the relationship between poetic gameplay and aesthetic experience.

Speaker: 

Alex Mitchell teaches interactive media design in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Alex’s current research investigates various aspects of computer-based art and entertainment, focusing in particular on games and interactive stories. He has a BSc and an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, Canada, and a PhD from the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering. His recent publications include “Rereading and the SimCity Effect in Interactive Stories” in Interactive Storytelling (2015), “Making the Familiar Unfamiliar: Techniques for Creating Poetic Gameplay” in DiGRA/FDG 2016, and “Making it Unfamiliar in the Right Way: An Empirical Study of Poetic Gameplay”, in DiGRA 2017. His creative work has been shown at venues such as the Displacements exhibition (13 Wilkie Terrace, 2013); Passports: Through the Red Dot Into Other Worlds (Lorong 24A Shophouse Series, 2013); Seni Mini (Mi Casa Su Casa, 2014); Print Lab (Grey Projects, 2014); Interstitium (Lorong 24A Shophouse Series, 2015); 50 Obsessions (LaSalle College of the Arts, 2015); and Repurposing Nostalgia (42 Petain Road, 2016). His fiction has been published in Dark Tales, Balik Kampung 2, and in several issues of the Twenty-Four Flavours series, a collection of flash fiction published by Math Paper Press. He was the general chair for the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS) 2014, and is a member of the ICIDS steering committee.

23 March 2018
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

NUS Central Library
CLB-04-04, Theatrette 1

Register at cnmn.us/gameplay.